Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Photoshop: Blend Modes

If you have never played with blend modes in photoshop, you are missing out. This started out as a picture of Courtney and I added a photo I took of wood planks. One day when Kyle and I were in the Railyard Park in Santa Fe, we took a mini photo safari getting lots of texture pictures. This was one of them. 

Just to give an idea of how blend modes can interact, here is a breakdown of what I did. I started out by masking so just Courtney was showing and did some brightness/contrast fixes on her and then just on her face to get it to match the brightness of the rest of her. All of those adjustment layers used the multiply blend mode. Then I put the wood photo over top and duplicated it, blending with luminosity on one layer and color on the next. Then two more wood layers masking to add a frame blending with vivid light and hard mix. Then a curves adjustment layer with a mask for Courtney blending on overlay. I was really trying to get it to look like she was painted on the wood, but keep her bright enough to see all the detail. Lastly I did a texturizer smart filter to give that wood grain look to the Courtney part of the picture. 

I am quite happy with how it turned out. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Photoshop: Quickpages

A couple years ago I signed up for classes over at JessicaSprague.com but never really did them. Now that I know photoshop, I went back to look at her classes again. I took a free class called the Photoshop Top 5 and it was a great review. She had some great tips. Something I learned about was quick pages. They are just drag and drop templates, and don't come layered so they aren't something I would use over and over again because it is hard to customize the pages. But they did make for some quick, cute layouts. All I did was add journaling (and used a brush to add the bracketed journaling areas) and my own photos. I love how they turned out...and I love how quickly digi lets me scrap my most recent photos!

 All of these photos come from our Spring Break 2013 trip we took to see Roswell, Carlsbad Caverns, and White Sands, New Mexico. And all of these pages were quick pages from JessicaSprague.com.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Photoshop: Filters and Blend Modes

This week we practiced with filters and blend modes. My favorite way to use the filters is as a smart object. I love to go back in and play, which you can't do if you do a simple filter on a photo. I also played around with digital scrapbooking, since that is where I see myself using my Photoshop skills most often.  And because it seemed like a good forum for sharing a photo edited like this--photoshop for the bad, my teacher calls it. But Courtney loved it and she was excited for me to make a page with it.  My title was made with alphas from Sahlin Studio. Being a newbie, I finally figured out the difference between alphas and fonts. Fonts you can type with. Alphas are elements that need to be dragged in and placed one by one. BTW, the smart filters I used for the photo are plastic wrap (why do I love this one so much?) and glowing edges.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Photoshop: Retouching places

And with this post, I think I am finally caught up on sharing my Photoshop class projects. We continued learning about retouching and for homework needed to retouch something instead of somebody. Last week our family went to White Sands, where we encountered stink bugs. Turns out they aren't too keen on someone putting a ditch in front of them (a.k.a: drawing a line in the sand with a stick). Courtney had fun setting up this bug race, after the bug got up on it's haunches from her drawing the starting line. He was kind enough to stay there until we got the finish line drawn.  Unfortunately, our son Ben had fun making footprints in the sand and walked right through the middle of our race. Also, the day was overcast. Great for playing outside in the sand without the glare, not as good for lighting on our photos. Photoshop to the rescue!  I removed the footprints and made the white sand more, um, white. And I just had to throw in a close up of our little buggy friend.

Photoshop: Retouching and Masks

Apologies, Mom. In class when we were learning more about retouching, we used someone with wrinkles to learn to reduce the lines. So, I found this picture of you and thought I could practice my retouching on you. I love you Mom. :)

You'll notice that in the after, she still has some lines on her face, but they are hardly there. I wanted to make it natural, not give her plastic surgery. And I also worked a lot on color and lighting. The shadow behind her was too dark and blended in to her too much. And I also removed some color in her face. My teacher recommended working on the color of the skin behind the glasses to help it blend in to the rest of the face, and I tried to do that, too. This picture was taken at the wedding reception of her first granddaughter.

Photoshop: Brushes

One of the Photoshop Week videos is about brushes. I played along with Khara (the teacher) and came up with a couple projects. The first one is a graphic piece using a brush I made from the truck photo I used on the beach composite. It also uses shapes built into Photoshop and a starburst brush I found online at brusheezy.com. It was fun playing with blend modes on this one. 

The other project I did was making a brush using Lorem Ipsum text in different fonts and at different angles. I turned it into a brush and used one large stamp of the brush as the background for this scrapbook page. I also used my mad retouching skills to remove my son rolling his eyes from this cute photo of my daughter Courtney and her best friend. Courtney wasn't too thrilled with the jibberish text in the background, so I used this chevron brush to cover it up to her liking.  The banner and flower are from the Persnickety Prints All You Need is Love kit. The butterfly is from their Storyteller kit.

Photoshop: Composites

We have been learning a lot about compositing and using layer masks. Understanding masks can be difficult, but it is integral to most photoshop work. This week we had to do another composite image. I used these photos I took in Forks and LaPush, Washington. Again, there is a lighting issue. I tweaked this picture so many times, trying to get the truck to look like it belongs on the beach, but I couldn't get it to do what I wanted. Part of it was the lighting, (bright sun on the truck, cloudy on the beach) and part of it was focus. The truck is too in focus for it's placement in the photo. But, as our teacher says, she isn't looking for perfection. These assignments are for us to practice and learn. She loves for us to come in with our problems so we can learn in class how to fix them. She showed me how to use gaussian blur to blur in the truck. But getting the light coming in from the same side as the tree, that will take a bit more work.

In this composite, I did a lot of work on color and brightness to get the truck to fit in better. I didn't think it would be this hard to make these two pictures go together. :)

Photoshop: Composites and Masks

Can I make a sidenote before I even start my post? I think I have the skills now to make a page topper for my blog. That should be my next project.

So, week 4. As I mentioned in the previous post, we worked on document size and also more on selections. This time I took photos specifically for the homework. We were at the farmers market and saw this train axle, I believe it is. So I took photos of it and the boys separately to then make this composite. I added lots of adjustment layers, using blend modes and painting on masks, and came up with an artsy image that I quite like. Again, it is only 72 ppi, but it printed out ok. For our midterm exam, we had to print out an image and I chose this, being my favorite thus far.

There is a bit of an issue with the direction of light on the boys and the barbell, but not enough to make me care for this project. This is one of my biggest issues, though, in my editing. I have to learn how to see the light and change the light in photoshop.

Photoshop: Selections and Composites

This week we learned about making selections and combining them into a composite photo. I bit off a little more than I could chew with this photo, because the strings were nigh unto impossible to select. So I did what I could and in the final product, he was not connected to his chute. But I still liked the idea of my project, to show us paragliding for real. When we took our class, we were led to believe we would make a jump. Turns out, it is a rare case that someone can make a jump after one class.  So, in the after photo, neither of us were actually on this mountain in Arches making a jump. But it sure sounded fun!

Determined to be successful in getting those strings, I went home from class and tried a new method. I believe I used the background eraser, and was much more successful in getting some of those strings in the picture. Not perfect, but a lot better.

I also decided to try my hands at a scrapbook page using the new and improved paragliding composite photo. Unfortunately, it isn't the best for printing. Our assignment for week 4 was to make a 72 ppi document, and so I started my page with that, forgetting that if I wanted to ever print it, I should have started with a 300 ppi document. Oh, well.  But, I made a page all on my own. I found a free kit (Fly Boy from www.freedigitalscrapbooking.com) for the background paper and clouds. The rest I did on my own.

Photoshop: Retouching and Adjustment Layers

For our next assignment, we were to practice adjustment layers and retouching. Retouching is removing blemishes and areas we don't like. I reduced my eye wrinkles and removed a few blemishes. This photo isn't super high quality, but it did the job for practicing these skills. I then added a black and white adjustment layer, a color balance layer to warm it up (the black and white gave it a greenish tint), and then messed with a curves layer to brighten it up.

I wanted to make the sky blue, but there was a tree on the right that looked funny and made it difficult for me with the skillset I had. Well, it wasn't just the tree that made that hard. I couldn't add color to a white sky and make it look good, so I cropped the photo and eliminated most of the tree and the sky.  This is a photo of me with my youngest in downtown Santa Fe. Looking back at this edit, I would work more on my face because it looks pretty splotchy still. But, if I change all my edits now, I won't see how I have improved. :)

Photoshop: Adjustment Layers

Our first assignment was to bring in a photo and add some adjustment layers to it.  This is me. In the original photo, I was a little red in the face.  I took out the redness and lightened up the photo a bit. I used hue/saturation, brightness, and curves. All on adjustment layers to make them non-destructive to the photo. That is one of the most important lessons in photoshop, I think. As much as possible, make all changes on their own layers. And use adjustment layers instead of doing an adjustment from the drop down menu. I love being able to remove adjustments or change the opacity of the adjustment. Did I mention I love non-destructive work on photoshop? Me and my fickle self love the option to change my mind. :)

Photoshop: Why?


When I decided to go back to school and take classes, I was really looking at the digital photography classes. But, to take the beginner's photography class, there was a prerequisite of Photoshop. I thought it was a little crazy (in my mind, photoshop was for digital scrapbooking, which I didn't care about at the time).  But, hello...Photoshop is first and foremost for fixing photos. Silly me.

So I signed up for the class. Kyle was extra excited because he has been using the simpler (and cheaper) Photoshop Elements program and now I was going to be able to teach him everything I learned in class AND get a huge discount on the program. Well, on the first day of class I fell in love with the program. I've been soaking it all in and now the teacher calls me her assistant because I help other students when they get stuck. Who knew?


In my college class at Santa Fe Community College, we are using two books.

They both include videos and have different explanations of how to use the software. I haven't decided yet which book I prefer, if I were to choose just one book. The blue book teaches you photoshop by walking you through projects that they show you in videos, using the sample photos included. The red book is more of a reference of how to use the software. We have been using both books this semester.

Another wonderful learning tool that Kyle and I have been enjoying is Photoshop Week on creativeLIVE.com. We received a discount by buying the videos the first week they were available. There are over 40 videos with accompanying PDFs. We really enjoyed all the instructors and felt these videos were well worth it. 

Back to school and back to me

In January I went back to school. With my kids gone all day and me trying to avoid housework, I finally got myself into some college classes. I'm not going for a degree or anything...I have a BS in Psychology and a Master of Social Work. What I really want is something to do to help me grow and not sit stagnating at home feeling like a really bad maid. It worked! My two classes have been just enough to help me feel excited again. What I have learned from my Yoga and Photoshop classes:

1. Yoga is not going to keep me fit. Relaxed, yes. Fit, not so much.
2. I am more flexible than I thought...and getting more so. Another benefit of yoga.
3. Photoshop is not the scary monster I thought it was.
4. I am actually pretty good at Photoshop and I am loving my class!!
5. Once again I must swallow my pride and rescind the statement that I could never be a digital scrapbooker. It only took several hundred dollars in software, books, and classes (online and in person) for me to figure that out. :)  That's ok. I have spent much more than that in paper supplies. If I eventually use up my stash I could transition even more to a digiscrapper. But the more likely scenario is that I will do a mix, including hybrid work.

So, I thought that while I am still excited about Photoshop, it would be a good idea to document what I am learning in my class to help me with my goal to make it a permanent part of my scrapbooking life. I still have a long way to go, but I feel like I can do pretty much anything I want to on there now!