What's it all about?

This blog is about photography and photoediting. Its purpose is to provide hints and tips and links to interesting and useful resources for digital photographers, regardless of their level of expertise or experience. It is aimed at people who use digital SLR cameras and who process their images using the latest versions of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

The author of this blog is Glenn Springer and you can read more about him at his web portal at faczen.com. Information on workshops, and links to everything is at photography.to. Glenn's original blog, which is an ongoing journal of his photographic meanderings goes back to 2006 and contains many additional hints and tips, as well as representative images that he has made. Gallery quality prints are available through his Smugmug gallery site. It is an interesting place to visit to see a variety of quality images, as well as an ongoing general journal of photos going back several years.

Photography workshops are scheduled every few weeks starting in the Spring. For an overview of what's happening, please visit the photography.to website.

The most recent blog post is below. Scroll down to the bottom to see the list of previous postings or search for any particular topic.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Approximating Line Art

This is about approximating line art in Photoshop.

Now credit where credit is due: I didn't invent either one of these methods, I found one of them in a column by Larry Becker in the Dec-11-Jan-12 issue of Photoshop User Magazine (which you get if you are a NAPP member — click here) and the other one in a tutorial that I found via the forums on the NAPP site (again, — click here!). The tutorial is one of several by Dee Dee Martin (Swampy) who is also a NAPP denizen. Please visit her tutorial site here. Her video tutorials are excellent.

Thank you Larry and thank you Swampy for two great tips on using Photoshop.

Some background: I wanted to do a different treatment for some images I shot the other day. I've been thinking about line art and I remembered reading something about emulating line art in Photoshop (it was the Becker article but I couldn't remember where I saw it) so I posted the question on the forum and I quickly got the two links above. Both methods work, both are brilliant and both are entirely obscure! No way I would have found them on my own! I still don't understand why they are where they are in Photoshop but why look a gift horse in the mouth? As usual there are 80 different ways to skin a cat in Photoshop!

So I'm posting this here for two reasons: (1) to share what I've learned and give my readers some ideas about some new things to explore, and (2) as a convenient place to put these tips where I can find them again! One of the biggest problems with Photoshop is how complex the program is, and how easy it is to forget how to do something if you don't do it regularly. These fall in that category, especially in view of how obscure they are.

So here goes:
This was a somewhat 'nothing' image that I took at the beginning of the party I was shooting, more for testing exposure than anything else. By the way, lighting came from my SB-600 flash mounted high on a light stand, controlled remotely from my D300 in Commander Mode. I had the Gary Fong diffuser on the flash, pointed towards the ceiling mostly (although the nature of the diffuser is that it also acts as a soft direct source). The pop-up flash was set for 1 stop under just for a little fill, and white balance was set to "flash" (some of you like details, I know!)

Nikon D300/Nikkor 70-200mm @ 155mm. 1/180 sec@ f/2.8, ISO 200.

First, the "Becker Method" from the magazine.

How do you do this?

■ Working on a duplicate of the background layer, select FilterBlurSmart Blur (note: you have to be in RGB 8-bit mode or it will be greyed out)

■ Change the Mode at the bottom of the popup to "Edge Only"

■ Play with Radius and Threshold until you get the right 'look' you're after

■ It will give you white lines on black. If you want, invert the image with ImageAdjustmentsInvert (Ctrl/Cmd-I) to black on white

■ Change the opacity or the blend mode (or both) of this layer to let a little colour through

■ (and this is my change to Larry's method) apply a layer mask then paint on it to let more of the colour from the original through.

That's what I did in the above image. I like the charcoal-like texture of the lines and the subtle pastel colours.

Now the "Swampy Method"

It works like this:

■ Duplicate the background layer. Change the duplicate to a monochrome grey layer with ImageAdjustmentsDesaturate (Shift-Ctrl/Cmd-U)

■ Duplicate the new layer and invert it to a negative with ImageAdjustmentsInvert (Ctrl/Cmd-I)

■ Set the blend mode of this inverted layer to "Color Dodge"

■ Apply FilterOtherMinimum and adjust the Radius slider to your liking

Here's what you have at this point:

■ Merge these two new layers together (Select the top one and "Merge Down" or Ctrl/Cmd-E)

You can add some colour at this point by reducing the opacity and letting the original layer leak through. You'll get something like this:

Alternatively, you can change the blend mode to "Luminosity" before merging the layers down

AND play with the opacity, yielding still a different result:

For what it's worth, every time I reduced the opacity, I found that a setting around 60% gave me the best result, but hey, it's up to you!

Two different obscure approaches, both of them work!

This PS is added in May 2012. I often find myself going back to this post to remember the keystroke sequence to do these line drawings. In the meantime, I found some other ones so I'm adding this note so I can find them all in the same place. I wish I could remember where I found this...

Create a new layer (Ctrl-J) and change the blend mode to "Divide". Now use a blur tool: you get different results with Gaussian Blur or Box Blur or other ones I haven't discovered yet.

Here's another method, added in October 2012: courtesy of Bonnie Glidden. This one is even easier: create a new layer, then select "Filter → Stylize → Find Edges". You're basically done! You can vary the opacity, add a black-and-white adjustment layer, etc. if you want.

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