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Tutorial 03: Combining Dry Brush and Crosshatch filters
Photoshop filters used:
* Artistic > Dry Brush
* Brush Strokes > Crosshatch
Techique used: Layer Mask
While this tutorial is Photoshop specific, the general concepts apply to any application that supports layers and permits partial blending of one layer with another.
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I remember one of the first times I ran the Artistic > Dry Brush filter against an image of a country scene. WOW! Was that ever cool.
Then I ran it on a portrait of my daughter. WOW. again. While it "artied up" everything in the image as expected, I was very disappointed by the results on her face. I tried various setting combinations, to no avail, and finally resolved Dry Brush was great on scenery, but failed miserably on faces.
Sometime later I learned about Layer Mask techniques and the importance of eye and mouth detail when it comes to photo-art.
This tutorial will demonstrate how two filters can be better than one, if carefully blended with a Layer Mask.
LET'S GET STARTED
Pictures worth 1,000 words or more.
Attached below is the original version of "Mountain Main," the subject of one of the first Mini-challenges.
Click on the link to open the image in a separate window. If you want to participate in this tutorial, save the image to disk and then Open it in Photoshop.
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WHAT TO DO NEXT:
* Duplicate the Background layer (New name: Dry Brush)
* To layer Dry Brush, apply the Artistic > Dry Brush filter, using settings (top to bottom) 10, 1, 1.
ATTACHED: Layer "Dry Brush" with the filter applied as specified above.
Arty, but notice the loss of detail around the eyes and mouth. Just doesn't get it for me.
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WHAT TO DO NEXT:
* Duplicate the Background layer again (New name: Crosshatch)
* Layer Crosshatch: Drag to the top of the layer stack
* Layer Crosshatch: Apply the Brushstrokes > Crosshatch filter, using settings (top to bottom) 10, 1, 1.
Nice sketchy-like eye and mouth detail, but overall it looks considerably like a photograph.
What to do?
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* Layer Dry Brush lacks eye and mouth detail
* Layer Crosshatch has nice sketchy eye and mouth detail, but overall doesn't look that arty.
A LAYER MASK TO THE RESCUE
Many people freakout when they read the term "layer mask." Not to worry. Layer Masks are your friend. When you get a grip on these (and how they apply to adjustment layers as well as regular layers, a topic for another day), your creativity potential will increase about 2,000%. Really.
There are many, many internet based totorials on Layer Masks, so I'm not going to go into great detail rehashing all the ins and outs.
Here's one at RetouchPRO, written by Doug Nelson (click HERE). plus a couple others:
HOW TO USE A LAYER MASK TO BLEND THE TWO LAYERS
1. Be sure the Crosshatch layer is the top layer in the layer stack AND is the current (highlighted) layer.
2. Click the "add layer mask" icon (square with a circle inside) at the bottom of the Layers Palette.
* A white thumbnail appears to the right of the image thumbnail on the Crosshatch layer.
* The "layer mask" icon (square with a circle inside) appears in the second column of the Layers Palette, next to the Crosshatch layer name. The presence of this icon indicates the layer mask is active.
* The foreground/background colors automatically switch from whatever they were to white/black.
3. Click the image thumbnail. The layer mask icon is replaced by a paintbrush icon, indicating the (regular) layer is active and the foreground/background colors revert to what they were before the Layer Mask was created.
4. IMPORTANT: Click the layer mask thumbnail again. The icon in column two of the Layers Palette switches back to the layer mask icon (circle inside a square).
5. IMPORTANT II: Image > Adjust > Invert. Notice the layer mask thumbnail goes black and the layer below (Dry Brush) is revealed.
6. Select a fairly large, soft-edged brush.
7. Depending on Photoshop version, select the Airbrush tool from the tools palette or click the airbrush button.
8. Set the pressure, flow and/or opacity of the airbrush to about 30%. The foreground color should be white, but if it is not, click the D.
9. Start painting around the mouth and eyes. Notice the detail of the Crosshatch area starts to appear. Airbrush until you think it looks right. Turn up/down the pressure / flow / opacity and/or adjust brush size as needed. In general it's easier to achieve a blended effect that's not as obvious by taking this slow and easy, vs. trying to blast through it with high pressure / flow / opacity settings.
10. Oops! Restored too much detail? No problem. Switch the foreground color to black (hit the X key) to and paint out some of the Crosshatch layer detail.
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OK...SO WHAT'S THE POINT AGAIN?
* Some of the "arty" filters, for example, Dry Brush, Paint Daubs, Palette Knife, Watercolor, etc.) generate OK results on scenery, but have a tendency to disfigure details like lips, ears, mouths, eyes, eyeglasses, and hair to the point where the subject is barely recognizable -- which in general is not good, unless it's a former spouse or relative on whom you're seeking a little revenge!
* Other filters such as Crosshatch, Angled Strokes, Colored Pencil etc. can render a pleasing "arty look" to the same features the above filter trash, but taken as a whole, the result can still look more like a photo than artsy.
* Utilizing Photoshop's Layer Mask function one can combine the strengths of both types of filters by blending the details of a not-so-severely-modified-layer with a layer below it, which was modified by one or more aggressive filters. Note: In some cases necessary detail can be restored using the same technique against an unfiltered duplicate of the original Background.
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SO, WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE?
* Give this tutorial a try (as written).
* Then try it again using other filters and/or filter settings.
I always appreciate feedback of any flavor. It helps me write better tutorials like this in the future.
Post your questions and comments in this thread (click HERE).
Hope you had fun on this one!
Last edited by DannyRaphael; 03-11-2003 at 03:28 PM.
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