Black Friday and Weekend Specials and Giveaways!

Today I am posted Black Friday/Weekend specials and giveaways from my sponsors.  Find everything from photo printing specials, discounts on photography templates, LR preset and action specials, and even tutorials/design elements to create the Disney "Frozen" effect.

Click on the link to read more about them, and happy shopping!!!

Photoshop Elements 13 is only $56 today on Amazon!  And you don't have to be a prime member.  


Color Inc. 20% Off Site-Wide Black Friday Sale!

******************** 20% Off Site-Wide Black Friday Sale!

Pretty Presets Black Friday Camera Giveaway and 30% off Site-Wide Sale!


It's our biggest sale of the year at Hazy Skies Designs. All photography Photoshop templates are marked down, up to 50% off! You don't want to miss this sale! Click here to shop now!

Black Friday Cyber Monday Sale Photoshop Templates for Photographers


 Welcome to PaintCandy Frozen Digital Art Class. Let your dreams become a reality. In this class you will learn how to create Frozen Photoshopped Art.

Disney's Frozen movie has become a culture phenomenon. Enjoy creating fantasy for little girls everywhere.Every little girl wants to become a Frozen character. Offering these artworks for clients for Christmas is very profitable.

You will receive all the essential tools needed to transform your images. This class is a great addition for photographers and hobbyist alike.
 Learn how to Achieve these artworks using actions , textures, and brushes.

Frozen Photoshop backgrounds.
Enjoy custom-made backgrounds in Hi-Res. Images are sized at 4000 pixels by 2000.

No two background are the exact same. Mountains, skies, snow slope, castle are placed different for each image.

20 Horizontal
1 Fine art
1 Nighttime
= 42 total 


Ashe Design $5 Friday Template Sale!


Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures.

♥ Read more!

Giving Thanks

I have so much to be thankful for this year, and I wanted to share a few recent photos.

I am thankful that it is finally late fall and the days are cool and beautiful.

I am thankful for my friends and family.

I am thankful that I homeschool and we get to take quite a few field trips for "school".  Last month we drove to  the National Pacific War Museum  in Fredericksburg, TX to see the WW2 Pacific Theater re-enactment.

It was incredible.  The actors demonstrated weaponry and vehicles from both the Japanese and American sides.   We got to see an actual samurai sword in action.

That is one big gun on that jeep!

We learned that the pin in hand grenades is clamped down to keep it from falling out.  So when you see the scenes in the movies where the actor pulls the pin out with his teeth, a more realistic movie would show his teeth coming out along with the pin.  ;-)

We also learned that it takes five seconds for the hand grenade to go off once the pin is pulled.  So to keep the enemy from throwing an active grenade back toward them, soldiers often would count to four before throwing it.  Scary, right?

I am thankful for ear plugs and fingers that can be used as ear plugs.  The actors fired most of the weapons using blanks.  They even shot off a few machine guns.

Some dummy brought a tiny baby to this re-enactment and the poor infant shrieked in terror after every gunshot. It was really awful and the constant screams were captured on the video I taped.  The parents kept that baby there the entire time...

I am thankful that God gave me enough brains to realize you should never bring a baby to a war re-enactment with guns and explosions.

After they finished the interesting lecture, we got to experience a tiny bit how the Pacific War might have felt firsthand.  There were tons of really loud, horrifying explosions and gunshots and men running everywhere.

There were quite a few actors, especially on the American side.  The Japanese actors were few, but the Japanese were supposed to be hidden down in bunkers and tunnels so we wouldn't see them anyway.  Two of the Japanese actors actually flew here from Japan to take part in this re-enactment.

I am thankful that none of the actors got hurt.  It looked very dangerous and a few actors got hurt during the re-enactment the day before.

There was an actual flamethrower in action.

And I am thankful the Americans won the war.

I think it is so important for us to understand the sacrifices of war, and I could tell that my boys had a better understanding of the actual messiness and horror of war.  War is not a video game.

This guy was so cool with his cigar and torn-off sleeves. He was one of my favorite actors.

The boys even got to have their photo taken with the young man who used the flame-thrower.

I am thankful we won WW2 and I am thankful for all of the brave men and women who fought for our freedom.

I am thankful this hand-grenade is a dummy.  I am thankful that Imp is not a dummy (usually). ;-)

I am thankful that we live pretty close to the beautiful hill country in TX and I get to see heart-shaped cactus.

I am also thankful that for the first time ever, neither boys kicked or backed into one. Imp did get covered in fire ants and had to strip naked on the trail so I could pick them off.  Imp was not thankful to be naked in public, but he was thankful that no other hikers were around to witness his humiliation.

I am thankful for all of the beauty around me in this great state of Texas.

I am thankful that I am able to use my science degree in a somewhat limited way.  I love making my own beauty and household products, and my latest adventure is homemade deodorant (using this recipe).  I added 5g more beeswax and 5g less almond oil to make it firmer, replaced 3g of the DE with baking soda for a bit more protection, and scented it with lemongrass, lavender, and tea tree oil.

I cleaned out this nasty old Dove deodorant container and poured my homemade deodorant in there to set and it is amazing!  This stuff works and smells wonderful AND has no icky chemicals.

I am thankful that my son loves machines and has figured out how to use our new sewing machine.  I cut out twelve placemats and napkins for the holidays and he sewed them all up for me.  I am thankful he has incredible patience.

I am thankful that we get to have some of our family over tomorrow for Thanksgiving.  I am thankful we have a nice place to live and plenty of food for our bellies. And I am thankful we are all healthy and happy.

And I am so thankful for all of you who read my blog!!!  I am incredibly thankful that I get to blog about photography and my family as my job because of you.

I would love if you would link your own thankful posts in my comments. I would love to read them and see your photos.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures.

♥ Read more!

CoffeeShop "From Blah to Beautiful" Portrait Editing Tutorial for Photoshop and PSE!

Today I am really excited to post this Photoshop/PSE portrait editing tutorial called "From Blah to Beautiful".  I am going to show you how I would edit a portrait using my actions and additional editing layers.  You will learn many tips and tricks that the professionals use in their portrait editing and hopefully have some fun.  :-)

I also want to point out that you don't have to pay big money to rent Photoshop, even if you are a professional photographer.  I used PSE (only $50 at Amazon for Prime members today!) for this edit and I think the results are gorgeous.

If you want to follow along with this tutorial you can download the stock image here.  I ran it through LR to remove some noise but everything else was editing in PSE.  If you don't have them yet, you can download the CoffeeShop 2 Minute Miracle Plus and Aphrodite actions (also included in my Action Download Pack).  Now on to the editing!!!

CoffeeShop "From Blah to Beautiful" Portrait Editing Tutorial for Photoshop/PSE:

Open your image.  This is a beautiful portrait but it needs some editing magic.

1.  I ran the CoffeeShop 2 Minute Miracle Plus action on the image.  This action starts with a Level's adjustment layer prompt, and I use this to adjust both contrast and color in my image.

Contrast Adjustment:  Make sure the RGB channel is selected and drag the sliders under the curve to adjust the contrast of you image.  In this case I brightened the midtones and added some shadow.  Don't be too picky at this step, you can make additional adjustments later if needed.

2.  Color Adjustment:  I think this image is too green so I selected the Green Channel and adjusted the middle and left sliders.  You will have to play with these settings for your own images.  I usually make some final adjustments at the end of my edit, so don't get too worried about perfection at this step.

I selected the Red Channel and added a bit of red using the sliders under the curve.

Finally, I selected the Blue Channel and removed some blue (added some yellow) with the middle slider.

When your colors/contrast look acceptable, press OK.

3.  Skin Smoothing:  Select the skin when prompted by the action.  I usually love my auto-skin smoother but it doesn't work well if your model is wearing light colors as in this case.  But don't worry, you will fix this after the action finishes running.

The action is done and my image is not yet perfect.  Now I will start working on the layers (layer mask tutorial) and adding additional editing layers where needed.  I took screenshots as I worked on this image in PSE, and I am editing quickly "on the fly" so I am going to be skipping around and might appear a bit spastic. ;-)

Skin Smoothing:  I usually soften the skin first.  Click on the Smooth Skin black layer mask to select it.  The auto-smoothing feature was a disaster this time because of her white dress, so I took a soft black 100% brush and completely painted over the entire image to remove all of the layer's effect.

Then I zoomed in and clicked on the layer mask holding shift/alt,option so I could see where I was working (see scary red in screenshot above).  I used a soft white brush at 100% and painted over her skin making sure to avoid her eyes/nose/mouth/hair/clothing/etc.  Switch between a soft black and soft white brush (press X) to make final adjustments, then press shift/alt,option  again to remove the red.

Edit Eyes:  Use a white soft brush to paint over the iris on the Bright Eyes and the Eye Define layers.  Here is a tutorial that explains these layers and how to edit them in case you need some help.  Please don't overdo the eyes and make them look alien-freaky!

Boost Layer:  I reduced the Boost layer to 26% for this image.

Add Color Saturation:  I wanted to make the color more vibrant. If you have Photoshop you can add a Vibrance layer on top which usually doesn't affect the skin.  Since I am using PSE to do this edit I added a Hue/Saturation layer on top and moved the Master Saturation slider up to 12%.

If this makes the skin too red, just select the layer mask and paint over the red areas with a soft low opacity black brush to remove the extra color.

After all of this editing I realized the image was still too dark so I added a Level's adjustment layer on top and added some brightness to the mid tones (middle slider to 1.30).  This is also a great time to make final color adjustments by using the Channel's Red, Green, and Blue drop-down menu.

This new Level's adjustment layer was not kind to her white dress and blew it out, so I clicked on the layer mask and painted over her dress with a soft black brush to remove the extra lightness.

Warming the Image:  I usually prefer warm portraits, so I added a Photo Filter layer on top and set the filter to Warming Filter (85), Preserve Luminosity checked and adjusted it to 29%.    I love the background but I think it added too much orange to her skin and dress.

I used a 50% opacity black soft brush and removed some of the Photo Filter layer from her skin and dress.

Brighten Skin:  This is a nifty trick to really make the skin glow.  Click on the Soften Skin layer and then add a Solid Color adjustment layer set to peach (fae6d9 in my edit).

Put the layer in Soft Light blending mode for light skin and Multiply blending mode for darker skin, and group that layer with the Soften Skin layer.   Adjust the opacity to taste.

Because you have already painted on the layer mask on the Skin Soften layer, the peach layer will only affect the skin once it is grouped to that layer.  I also reduced the Soften Skin layer from 60% to 40% in this edit.  I think her skin looks gorgeous now but I noticed that her arms were a bit red.

Reduce Red:  To remove red tint from skin, click on the "Remove red from skin layer" and use a soft white brush to remove the red where needed.  Ah, better.

Corrections:  I realized that I had removed my vivid color saturation from her eyes when I painted it off her face, so I clicked on the Hue/Saturation's layer mask and grabbed a white soft 100% brush and painted the effect back on her eyes to enhance their blue color.

Simple Slimming Trick:  I wanted to share a really simple trick to slightly slim a portrait.  Make a new blank layer on top and click four keys at once (Shift, alt/option, cmd, E) and this will make a copy of the image with all enhancement layers added to it.  Then Ctrl-T that layer and slightly pull in the side (leave the height at 100%, but make the width approximately 97%). Then crop the image so you don't see the extra bit left on the side.  

This enhancement is very subtle, but it will make many of your female clients quite happy.  :-)

Optional Matte Effect:  If you want to add the very popular Matte Effect, add a Level's adjustment layer on top and move the shadows (left slider) in a bit and the Output Levels slider on bottom to the right.  Adjust for your image.

Using "Arty" Action:  Once your image is cleanly edited you might want to add an artistic editing effect using an action, and lucky for you I have over a hundred of them posted on this blog. ;-)

I did not add the Matte Effect above and instead ran the Aphrodite action on my image and adjusted the layers to taste.  I really love the soft vintage effect of this edit.

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or  here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures.

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.

Below I have posted larger versions of my edits using this tutorial. If you have any questions please post them in the comments on this post.  And please post your before and after's on my Facebook page, I love seeing your work!!!  I hope you enjoyed my newest editing tutorial!

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or  here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures.

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.

♥ Read more!