Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Mixing Media In Photoshop

Click on the image to enlarge.
In the art world "mixed media" typically means two or more different (usually wildly different) sorts of "stuff" is used.  An example might be oil paint and yarn (I've actually seen that one.)  I was playing around yesterday and sort of came up with an Adobe Photoshop (PS) version of what mixed media might look like.  Today's image is what resulted.  I was just messing with the image, not intending to do anything with it or probably not even saving the final result.  Once I was done playing I kind of liked what I saw and committed it to memory (the hard disk sort of memory).  Somewhere in the middle of playing I decided I didn't like what the sky started looking like, so I switched it out.  I tend to do that type of thing on more occasions than you might think.  There's just something about an unnatural sky that bugs me.  So, if I'm experimenting with HDR or a plugin like in today's image I'll drop out the sky and replace it with some version of the original.  To get to today's image was about twenty minutes.  If I were to redo it (for a video post) I could probably cut that down to about five minutes.  (I know, basically, what I did and can probably replicate it fairly easily.)  It'll undoubtedly take me longer to write about it than to do it.  If you'd like to find out what I did, hit the "Read More".

The first thing was to use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR) to make a three shot HDR rendition of the scene.  LRCC's newly added Merge to HDR feature works pretty good if you're looking for a realistic HDR image.  I haven't tried it on the wild side of things yet, so I can't give an opinion on that.

I toned the resulting HDR image in LR.   Did a little cropping to shape it up a little.  Brought down the Highlights, brought up the Shadows and found the White and Black points.  I didn't mess with the Clarity at that point.

Step two was bring the image over into Topaz Labs' Simplify 3 plugin.  Used the Oil Painting preset as a start point and brought almost all the sliders down to make the effect reasonably simple.  Once I was satisfied with the look it was back to LR.

Since the plugin had made a copy of the starting image I could flip back and forth to see what I had and what I got.  I didn't like the sky in either case, so a short excursion over to PS was in order.  Before going I found a version of the image where I did like the sky.  With both the HDR/Simplified image and the natural image selection selected I brought them both into PS as Layers.  (Photo/Edit In/Open As Layers in Photoshop)

In PS I picked only the natural Layer (turned off the Visibility of the other Layer).  I added a (temporary) Levels Adjustment Layer and cranked up the Whites and down the Blacks.  That gave me a high contrast version of the natural image.  I then went to Calculations (Image/Calculations) and changed the Blend Mode to Hard Mix.  That knocked out 95% of the sky and made the remaining portion of the image black.  After Saving it as a new Channel I painted anything related to what was on the ground Black and the one remaining piece of cloud White.  Both with the Brush Blend Mode (not the Layer Blend Mode) in a Normal Mode.  After that I changed the Brush Blend Mode to Overlay and did a quick sweep (once with White, once with Black) to sharpen up the edges.

I switched the Channel back to RGB and went back to the Layers Panel.  I turned the Visibility of the altered Layer back on and loaded the new Alpha Channel (Select/Load Selection/Alpha 1).  With the Selection active a New Layer Mask was applied.  As it happened, that gave me a natural scene with an altered sky.  Yuck!  CTRL I (eye) flipped the Mask and I had what I was looking for.

The image was returned to LR (File/Save, File Close [not Save As]) and any finishing touches added.

That's it.  Like I said, it took longer to explain it than to do it.  Have a good day.