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TRY-IT: Virtual Painter creation that doesn't look like Virtual Painter

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  • TRY-IT: Virtual Painter creation that doesn't look like Virtual Painter

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    This TRY-IT is applicable to users of Photoshop 5.x and above.

    To complete the tutorial you must also have the Jasc Virtual Painter (VP) plugin installed. If you don't have VP, you can apply the concepts of this tutorial to native Photoshop filters, other plugins you may have and/or actions.

    VP can be ordered directly from JASC (, or if you’re an existing Paint Shop Pro 8 owners I understand it’s available to you for $29.

    Jasc recently began selling VP via eBay auctions where (as of a few days ago) the going rate for the boxed edition was $39 (+ shipping) and $35 for the download version (no box, no CD, no reprint of the built-in HELP, which isn’t that helpful anyway).

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    Anyway, true confessions (again).

    As I've stated previously when I first got Virtual Painter about 18 months ago, after a few spins around the block I got tired of it pretty quickly. The effects generated were truly unique, so unique other VP users can spot them a mile away. “Oh, you used Virtual Painter for that one, didn’t you?” became a comment I didn’t want to read about my latest photo-art masterpiece, so I put VP in the garage until recently.

    With a renewed interest and enthusiasm for blending layers generated by various plugins and filters, I was experimenting with VP today on this image:


    Attached is the result generated by combining layers created by five VP filters and some minor tweaks using native Photoshop filters. If you haven’t yet, take a look now at the attachment to get a sense of the final outcome.

    Let me say at this point the attached image may not appeal to everyone, but a universally applauded image wasn't the objective.

    What I’ll attempt to illustrate is the concept of generating different versions of an image (each on its own layer) and using blend techniques to get the best out of them. The steps that follow specify effects generated by Virtual Painter, but the concepts apply equally to your favorite actions, filters and/or third party plugins.

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    1. Save the Mick and Keith image on your hard disk and open it in Photoshop.

    2. Duplicate the Background six times. (6, really)

    3. Use copy/paste commands to name the duplicated layers (top to bottom in the Layers Palette) something like:

    F=(Normal, 65%), Watercolor copy

    E=(Overlay) Impasto+Emboss(135,3,125)+Desat+Invert+Ocean Ripple

    D=(Hard Light, 50%), Gauche+Emboss (135,3,125)+Desat

    C=(Overlay) Drawing+Emboss (135,3,125)+Desat

    B=(Darken) Watercolor

    A=Color Pencil + Ocean Ripple(4,2)

    Note the Background layer is off.

    4, To layer A, apply Virtual Painter’s Color Pencil filter. Your choice on the VP settings. Then apply Photoshop’s Distort > Ocean Ripple to “rough it up” a bit. Your choice on the settings. I used 4,2.

    5. Layer B: Apply Virtual Painter's Watercolor filter. Set bend mode to Darken.

    6. C: VP Drawing filter. Then Stylize > Emboss with settings 135, 3, 125 (or your choice). Image > Adjustments > Desaturate and set blend mode to Overlay.

    7. D: VP Gauche filter. Then Stylize > Emboss with settings 135, 3, 125 (or your choice). Image > Adjustments > Desaturate and set blend mode to Hard Light and lower opacity to ~ 50%.

    8. E: VP Impasto filter. Then Stylize > Emboss with settings 135, 3, 125 (or your choice). Image > Adjustments > Desaturate. Image > Adjustments > Invert (to reverse the Emboss effect). Render > Ocean Ripple (4,2). Set blend mode to Overlay.

    9. F: VP Watercolor. Blend mode: Normal, Opacity 65%. Add a “hide all” Layer Mask.
    Layers > Add Layer Mask > Hide all. This creates a black Layer Mask thumbnail on the layer.

    (Yeah, I know layer B could have been duplicated and the duplicate dragged to the top of the layer stack.)

    10. Notice at this point how Mick’s and Keith’s faces are pretty much unrecognizable (not in and of itself, bad, but most people like to see a little more detail than this).

    To bring back some detail:

    * Click (literally) on the thumbnail of the black Layer Mask created in step 9. This ensures the Layer Mask is the active layer.

    * In a minute you're going to want to apply paint using an airbrush. How you get an airbrush effect depends on which version of Photoshop you have. The method is different in PS 5, 6 and 7.

    "Adobe: We like to keep things interesting."

    Check Photoshop's HELP if you’re not sure how to invoke the airbrush effect.

    * Check the color swatches at the bottom of the Tools palette. You want to paint with white. If white is NOT the foreground color, click the X key (to swap foreground and background colors).

    * Using fairly low Opacity and Flow settings, airbrush around the faces of our celebs. What you’re doing is revealing some of the detail on layer F. Switch to black if you revealed too much detail and paint over the applicable areas. Tweak the opacity of this layer if you like.

    That ought to do it.

    Try turning layers on/off to see how they affect the image. Try differnent blend modes or opacity settings.

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    WORTHY OF NOTE (maybe)
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    * Applying the Emboss filter on the Drawing, Gauche and Impasto layers, desaturating and setting the blend mode to Overlay allows you to take advantage of the interesting textures generated by these filters without being gagged by the goofy colors they sometimes render. Instead of Overlay, try Hard Light (for a stronger effect) or Soft Light (for a gentler effect).

    * Try the Emboss/Desaturate/Overlay trick using other filters, e.g., Stained Glass, Mosaic. Paint Daubs + Emboss + Desat + Hard Light can be interesting, too.

    * Applying Image > Adjustments > Invert to layer E reverses the embossed effect, which can be an interesting alternative.

    * One of my favorite “arty it up filters” is Distort > Ocean Ripple. Use this filter to give a little character (“rough up”) to layers whose characteristics look a little too regular, like ones rendered by Colored Pencil or Emboss.

    * Using a Hide All layer mask to and airbrush to selectively restore some facial detail.

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    OK… Now it’s your turn. Here’s the assignment if you’ve read this far.

    * Try the above technique on the Rolling Stones image to see how it goes. DON’T post that trial run result.

    THEN try it (in concept) on an image of your choice using plugins, filters and/or actions of YOUR choosing. Virtual Painter, Impressionist, Photoshop native filters, mix-n-match, whatever. When you get something you like, post THAT one for show-n-tell in this thread.

    OPTIONAL: Providing detail of how you achieved your results. You can if you wish, but if you’re hot and heavy into creative mode, just let those fingers fly.

    Have fun.

    Attached Files
    Last edited by DannyRaphael; 10-16-2003, 07:39 PM.

  • #2
    The next five posts contain the layers that went into making up the final result...

    This one is Virtual Painter's Colored Pencil filter.
    Attached Files


    • #3
      Output of the DRAWING filter. This was one of the effects that was embossed.
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      • #4
        Virtual Painter's GOUACHE effect...
        Attached Files


        • #5
          The IMPASTO effect.

          Great texture, but is this a dead giveaway tipping off Virtual Painter or what? Kinda messes up the facial features, too.
          Attached Files


          • #6
            ...and finally, the Watercolor filter.

            Now that you've looked at the individual VP effects, I hope you can see how blending them together can mask their pedigree while yielding a more interesting result.

            Attached Files
            Last edited by DannyRaphael; 10-16-2003, 05:53 PM.


            • #7
              Danny--You know I can't resist try-it challenges. I stuck exactly with the directions you posted, but there is interesting food for thought/experimentation in this one.
              Attached Files


              • #8
                Danny - excellent results. I think the order in which you applied the filters worked very well.
                Cheryl - I really like your rendition as well. Nicely done.

                After viewing your examples, I'm in the process of downloading this plug-in.



                • #9

                  thanks for the explicit description.
                  I bought psp8 recently and there are two vp filters included : those you didn't use! :LOL
                  Now you said not to post the mick and keith pic but I don't have VP so used other filters : mostly impressionist and once the cutout and this is the result


                  ps : Cheryl : just one up in your alley again?? nice one this
                  Attached Files


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