Tuesday, March 29, 2011

CoffeeShop Tutorial: Flower Art, Part 1 - The Studio

It is finally Spring and I have an urge to create some of my own wildflower wall art. And since I am a geek and love to write tutorials, I am going to show you how I make flower "art" at my house using natural light, simple props that I have lying around, and textures.


I always invest a lot of time and money setting up my custom flower art studio.  Yeah right...

For this photo I wanted a dark-colored textured background, so I grabbed one of my husband's favorite shirts and placed it on the back of a wooden bench in front of the garage door.  You can also duct tape any fabric on a wall for this type of shoot.  I love using this area in front of my garage doors as my natural light studio because the light is always very even in the morning.

I needed a nice textured "table" for my shoot, so I found an old board in the garage, which I placed on top of my bench.  You can use any interesting found item for a table top.  I love aged wood and rusty metal.

Finally, I ran out to the ditch and picked a few flowers and placed them in a creamer pitcher.  This pitcher I placed on my board, making sure to leave some distance between the background and the flowers so I could blur the background using a wide aperture.

Here is my fancy expensive set-up.  Oh, I want to mention I locked up the cats and dog in the garage before attempting this shoot.  The boys were watching out of the kitchen window and getting bored, so I had to do my entire shoot in under five minutes so my flower arranging skills are really horrible... 

Here is a close-up of my vintage board.

Photographing the Flowers

I used my Canon EOS Rebel T2i and Canon EF 50mm f/1.8  lens at 400 ISO (it was dark and cloudy this morning) and aperture priority mode and set the aperture at f3.2 (the camera picked 1/100 sec exposure).  I had to play around with the aperture to find the best setting to keep my flowers focused but blur the background slightly.  I keep it simple and use a semi-idiot mode (Av) and shoot .jpg in most cases.

Here is my unedited SOOC (straight-out-of-the-camera) image.  Pretty dismal, but the flowers are in focus and the whites are not blown, so with some editing magic I can turn this into a piece of art. 

On my next post I will show you how I went from the before and after in a few simple steps using textures in Photoshop and PSE.  I will also link the textures I used in the tutorial and this SOOC flower image so you can edit along with me if you want.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

CoffeeShop CutOuts 10: Double Border!

Often when I make digital frames or cards I like to have a pretty border on the bottom. I decided to create a few that I could share with you. This one is a layered .psd file and is fully adjustable. You can adjust the colors or add textured paper (paper above does not come with the download) or resize to fit your own design elements.

You can see a screenshot of the a earlier border download below.  This new one I just posted today can be edited the same way.  To change the colors simply click on the Color Fill layers.  You can also turn off the drop-shadow effect.

If you want to add digital textured paper, simply turn off or delete the Color Fill Layers and drag a texture above the layer, group it, and Ctrl-T it to fit.  You can add paper to both the top and bottom border or mix and match solid color with texture.

Don't be afraid to play!  These borders are great for cards, blog design, headers, blog backgrounds, logos, you name it!  You can make web frames like the one I posted here.  You can also customize the size, but make sure you don't go too big or you will lose resolution.  :-)   You can also cut out just the borders, drag them on to your own design and Ctrl-T them to fit.  Have fun playing!

Download the free CoffeeShop CutOuts 10 Double Border here!

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.

Friday, March 25, 2011

{Friday Photo Bliss}

Inspired by the SouleMama blog's {this moment}, I am posting one image every Friday, taken that week, that really makes me happy. If you end up doing the same I would love to see your photo linked in my comments!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

CoffeeShop Action Flashback: ButterScotch Vintage

I wanted to just mention that my good friend Amanda from EveryDay Elements has a new Texture Mini Workshop on her site that you should go check out.  Just click on her button below and click on Blog and read her post from March 21st for more info.  She also offers PSE workshops.  If you are a PSE newbie or want to use PSE more effectively, I would highly suggest taking one or more of her classes!  Then come back here and play!!! 

New Everyday Elements Button

I just realized the other day I have created well over 100 free actions for my blog.  I thought it would be fun to occasionally post about some my older actions, using them on more current images, so new readers can find them.  And maybe remind some of my loyal readers about actions they haven't used in a while and might miss.  If you have a personal favorite CoffeeShop action or freebie from the past you think I should revisit, please leave a comment!

Today I am revisiting CoffeeShop ButterScotch Vintage, one of my personal favorites.  I used it 100% with no changes on two of the images below, and on the portrait of Imp I made a new layer on top, did Stamp Visible (makes a copy of the image with all layers merged on it, Ctrl-Alt-Shift-e) and turned down the effect to 75%.

You can download the free CoffeeShop ButterScotch Vintage action on this post!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

CoffeeShop Perfect Portrait 3!!!

If you are new to my blog, welcome!!! The CoffeeShop Blog is a one-woman-owned business (by me, Rita!) and I create all of the tutorials and freebies posted here. If you want to grab hundreds of my Photoshop/PSE actions (including exclusive sets not found here on my blog), Lightroom Presets, and professional digital designs (including all of my favorite holiday sets) in a single download AND help support my site please check out my CoffeeShop Download Pack. Thanks to you The CoffeeShop Blog is possible.

I am so excited to present to you my newest free retouching action, CoffeeShop Perfect Portrait 3!  This action is a one-stop portrait action and works on all skin tones.   I have spent so much time working on this action and I am really proud of this updated version.  I have improved Perfect Portrait 2's Vivid Color layer, added a Boost layer that is gorgeous on skin, reduced the amount of contrast overall, and made the skin smoothing layer automatic.  If you love Perfect Portrait 2, you are going to love this version even more.

You must have a working knowledge of layer masks if you want to use this action.  If you haven't used layer masks you don't realize what you are missing, so please read my detailed tutorial.  When this action finishes you won't see a drastic change in your image UNTIL you paint on layer masks. 

Action download at the button of this post!

Instructions for using CoffeeShop Perfect Portrait 3 Photoshop and PS Elements Action:

Original image, SOOC (straight out of the camera).  Other than white balance adjustment and major skin issue repairs, you should be able to start this action with no other adjustment.

Start the action.  The action will flatten your image (if it is in layers) and then a levels adjustment panel will pop up.  Adjust the shadows, highlights and midtones using the little sliders under the graph. You can also select Red, Green or Blue from the pull-down menubar to adjust those individual channels if needed.  Levels is a powerful editing tool and if you want some tips and tricks on using it effectively, please read Amanda's tutorial.  I love holding down the alt key when moving the highlight slider to make sure I am not blowing out skin.

Now the fun part.  ♥  Perfect Portrait 3 uses my new amazing method of auto skin smoothing.  I have been wondering if this was possible for some time, so I sat down and googled- and found nothing...  Then I had one of those "ah ha" moments and after a few hours of playing I figured it out on my own. 

Unfortunately my first method worked brilliantly in Photoshop but did not work in PSE, so back to the drawing board.  But as you know I am stubborn and a few more hours later I figured out how to do it.  This auto skin smoothing works really well and in most cases you don't even have to paint on the layer mask at all.  You have to love that improvement. 

When the  Replace Color  panel comes up, simply use the eyedropper tool (it should be selected already) and click on the skin.  The skin should turn bright white (as seen in this image).  However, unless your skin is evenly lit, parts of it might not be selected. 

If you want to select more skin, click on the eyedropper with a "+" by it (seen above) and click on an area of the skin that was not selected (parts of your image that are not white).  Then dial the Fuzziness slider down to remove the selection from other parts of your image. You can also click on the eyedropper with  a "-" by it to remove parts of your image from the selection.  Don't be a perfectionist, you can always add/remove the skin smoothing by painting over the layer mask after the action finishes. 

After the action runs, you should see 15 layers over your background.  We will start from the bottom and work our way up to the top.

Remove red from skin layer: Make sure your brush is in Normal mode (top menubar) before trying to paint in layer masks!  Click to select the black layer mask, and use a soft white brush at low opacity to brush on parts of the skin that are too red.  You can also adjust the layer opacity if you remove too much red, or paint back over the layer mask with black.

Vivid Color:  Click to select the black layer mask and use a soft white brush to paint over areas you want a pop of color.  Adjust brush and layer opacity to taste.

Boost: Adjust Boost layer opacity to taste (it is preset to 15%) and use the layer mask if necessary.  If you are working with a portrait with darker skin, try changing the blending mode from Overlay to Multiple for a soft glow.  Otherwise the skin might look too light.

Sharpen:   This layer is turned off, so if you want to sharpen your image click on the little box on the left to turn on the eye (as seen above).  Use the layer mask if necessary and adjust the layer opacity to taste.

Brighten:  Adjust opacity of this layer to taste.

White Teeth:  Click on the black layer mask to select, and paint over teeth with a soft low opacity white brush.  Adjust layer opacity to taste.  Don't make the teeth too white!

Urban Grit: This layer will add a gritty feel to your image, and I love to paint over walls, clothing, trees, hair, basically anything that looks good with extra sharpening. Click to select the black layer mask and paint over your image with a soft white low opacity brush and adjust the layer opacity to taste. Don't use this layer on skin, it looks horrible.

White Whites:  This layer is to make the whites of the eyes whiter.  Click to select the black layer mask and paint over the whites of the eyes with a soft low opacity white brush and adjust the layer opacity to taste.  Don't make the whites too white or it looks freaky.

Eye Define:  Click on the black layer mask and then use a white brush to paint over the iris, eyebrows, and eyelashes. I usually use 100% on the iris and 25% or so on the eyelashes and eyebrows.  Adjust the layer opacity to taste.

Bright Eyes:  Use a soft white low opacity brush to brush over the iris to bring out the colors and brighten them.  Then adjust the layer opacity to taste.  Don't make alien-looking eyes, go light on this step.

Soft Skin:  The skin should be soft already and you can adjust the opacity of this layer to taste (preset to 75%).  You don't want the skin to look like plastic, so use this in moderation.  To remove areas of softness on your image, click to select the layer mask and paint on the image with a black soft brush, and to add softness click to select the layer mask and paint on the image with a white soft brush.  I usually don't have to do anything to the layer mask.  I seriously love this action.  :-)

Soft Glow:  Click on the black layer mask and paint on the skin with a soft low opacity soft brush.  Adjust the layer opacity to taste (preset to 25%).  If you are working on a portrait with darker skin, change the blending mode from Screen to Overlay or Soft Light for an amazing glow. 

Dodge/Burn:  This is a wonderful layer to do final adjustments on your image.  Click on this layer to select and use a soft low opacity black brush to paint on the image where you want it darkened (burned), like for a vignette.  Use a soft low opacity white brush to paint on areas you want lightened (dodged).  If you mess up, simply Edit, Fill the layer with 50% gray and start over or paint over the layer mask.

Vignette:  This layer automatically darkens the edges of your image and is turned off.  To turn it on click on the little box to the left until you see a tiny eyeball.  Adjust opacity to taste, and try it in soft light or multiply blending mode to get the best result for you image.

B&W:  This is a simple B&W conversion layer, but it can be invaluable if you want to quickly see if an image would look great in B&W.  If it looks nice but not perfect, turn it off and flatten your edited image and then use your favorite B&W editing technique or action.

If you want to do your full B&W conversion in Perfect Portrait, turn this layer on before doing any other adjustments and then edit the layers.  You can actually get stunning B&W's this way.  You can also easily do selective coloring (as seen below).  Turn on the B&W layer and then click the layer mask to select and use a soft black brush to paint over the image where you want to add color.

I know this sounds like a lot of work, but once you have run this action a few times you will find you can go from SOOC to gorgeous in just a few minutes.

Perfect Portrait 3 works great on all skin tones and also your basic snapshots.  This action should run in PSE6 and up and all versions of Photoshop CS.  I am coming out with a mini action that has the skin smoothing, boost and a cool define layer for those times you just need a simple action to fix skin.

Download the completely free Perfect Portrait 3 PS/PSE action at mediafire.  And please leave a comment after you try it and let me know what you think.  I hope you love it as much as I do.  ♥

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop Actions 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.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Oh, Boys and the Never Ending Pile of Laundry

My kids love to play in the dirt. At least twice a day. I just walked out and found Duke's socks, muddy and "hung" out to dry.  Lovely...
Boy, n.: a noise with dirt on it. ~Not Your Average Dictionary

Perfect Portrait 3 coming out tomorrow!!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

{Friday Photo Bliss}

Inspired by the SouleMama blog's {this moment}, I am posting one image every Friday, taken that week, that really makes me happy. If you end up doing the same I would love to see your photo linked in my comments!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Perfect Portrait 3 Preview!!!

I love to tinker and I wanted to update Perfect Portrait 2 and I am finally almost finished! This version has an improved Vivid Color layer, doesn't have as much harsh contrast, has a really nice boost layer, and has automatic skin smoothing (so you don't have to paint on a layer mask). I also am removing the Skin Repair layer (this should be done before starting the action) and the B&W conversion layer (not necessary).

I am really excited about this update. Perfect Portrait 3 can actually replace Perfect Portrait 1 and 2 (however, the original versions still work great). I will be posting the action with a detailed tutorial in the next few days. I will also have a small auto skin smoothing action following it.

Thank you so much for visiting my blog! I ♥ you.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ordinary Days

I was just sitting in the den, the news on low; listening to the thunder outside and the boys happily playing in their bedroom.  Words can't express how I feel about what is happening in Japan right now.  Life can be so beautiful, and also so incredibly horrific. 

I am reminded of that Yiddish proverb, "Man plans, God laughs".   All we can do is live each day knowing that it could be our last, and remember what is most important to us.  There can be so much joy in ordinary days.

"And as for our ordinary days: they are quicked with silver, bright and brief - and if you are snug as a beetle and free as a leaf - then shout thanks to heaven, and breathe relief, for: our happiness is sewn in delicate threads.  Use a thimble and sew, sew, sew."

Exit the Actress, Priya Parmar

Friday, March 11, 2011

Prayers for Japan and the US Coast

No {Friday Photo Bliss} today.  We are horrified about the quake and tsunami in Japan and are praying for them and the safety of all of the people in the path of the tsunami.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

CoffeeShop 2020 PS/PSE Action!

I have so many actions on my computer that I have written and just haven't had the time to post, and this action is one of them and also a favorite.  CoffeeShop 2020 reminds me of how it feels after you visit the optometrist and get a new set of glasses or contacts.  Suddenly everything seems so sharp and new.

CoffeeShop 2020 is actually a pretty complex action and can't be done without an action in PSE since it loads channels as selections; but it runs beautifully in both Photoshop and PSE.

CoffeeShop 2020 Action Instructions:

1.  Open your images and start the action.  The action will flatten the image, and then open a levels adjustment pane.  You can adjust the levels sliders to taste.  I usually try to move the shadow (left) and highlight (right) sliders  under the beginning of the curve, and I move the gamma (middle) slider to lighten or darken my image midtones.

2. The action will finish and there will be two layers, the background and a layer called "2020".  You can adjust the opacity of the 2020 layer and/or use a soft low opacity black brush on the layer mask to remove the 2020 effect where necessary. 

This action is very practical and I use it all of the time on my images. It really adds that extra "pop" and sharpness without affecting colors.

Download the free CoffeeShop 2020 PS/PSE action.

Want all of my favorite CoffeeShop Actions or Design Elements in one simple download 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.

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