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Impressionist plugin: Tips, Tricks and Miracles

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  • Impressionist plugin: Tips, Tricks and Miracles

    Danny prompted me to start this thread, so here goes. However, I expect other members to participate with their Tips, Tricks and Miracles!


    Most of my use with Impressionist revolves around two basic settings that I created. One titled VanGogh, and the other Painter. I've saved these to a settings file.

    To find my presets, click HERE:

    There's no real trick here. It's more the process of discovery and experimenting with all of Impressionist's settings and options. I encourage you to do that too.

    When you come up with a combination you like, open the Impressionist dialog again and click Save. This will allow you to preserve your creative combination of settings.

    Last edited by DannyRaphael; 03-12-2006, 01:55 PM. Reason: Move .set file to custom downloads thread.

  • #2
    Sure like that custom Paint setting, Jeff. This one is based on it. Used 90% coverage and a custom color (kind of a soft yellow) for background. Blended in some detail with the original image by setting to opacity = 50%.

    2nd one: Used the VanGogh custom setting twice on this bouquet from FTD. Vincent would have been proud.

    The VanGogh setting as provided needs a "direction" file in .tif format to control stroke direction. The size of the file must match the image to which it is applied, so I duplicated the flower image, Image > Desaturate and saved in .tif format.

    To use a custom .tif:
    * Click the "More Controls" setting button
    * From the dropdown menu choose Orientation.
    * From the Orient the Strokes dropdown, choose "by file" option and browse to the .tif file created.

    If you want to try VanGogh without the .tif direction file:
    * Click the "More Controls" setting button
    * From the dropdown menu choose Orientation.
    * From the Orient the Strokes dropdown, choose any setting except the "by file" option.

    Great stuff... no sleep tonight. Many thanks, Jeff.

    Attached Files
    Last edited by DannyRaphael; 02-11-2004, 06:00 PM.


    • #3
      Something else to try.

      Note: The attached image is intended to illustrate this process. "What" the final result looks like will be a function of the images used and how you apply the Impressionist settings.

      * Open the image to which you want to apply Impressionist, Image > Duplicate.
      * On the duplicate, use the Crop tool to crop to a specific length, width and resolution.
      * Open another image, something bright and colorful. Optionally, you can use a copy of the target image.
      * Apply the Crop tool using the same settings as last time.
      * Save and close the resulting image in .tif format somewhere convenient.
      * Back to the original image...
      * Invoke the Impressionist plugin and select a setting of your choice.
      * From the Background dropdown menu, choose File... and specify the .tif saved above.
      * Lower the Brush Size and Coverage settings and optionally the Pressure setting and preview the results.

      The image rendered will be a combination of the Impressionist setting selected, e.g., Charcoalefault, applied to the target image and the .tif image showing through in areas untouched by the filter's effect.

      Jeff: This inspiration is all your fault. Most fun I've had (with my clothes on) in a while!

      Attached Files


      • #4
        OK... last one for the night. I really liked this effect. To me it looks very "painted."

        * Open original image, duplicate it and crop the target image to the desired size
        * Close original image
        * Duplicate target image and save the duplicate in .tif format
        * Close duplicate image
        * Back to the target image: Duplicate the Background and drag to the top of the layer stack
        * Invoke Impressionist plugin
        * Setting: Charcoalefault
        * On the Background menu, choose File... and select the .tif file created above
        * You'll need to experiment with with Brush size, Coverage and Pressure. On this one I used 80, 60, 100. These settings yielded what I thought was a very nice combination of strokes and detail.


        1st one: Using this technique
        2nd one: Applying the Charcoalefault without the above changes.

        - - - - - - - -

        By the way, I still have a couple legit copies of this plugin (Microsoft Front Page 98 CDs) left that I'm looking to sell. Send me PM if interested.
        Attached Files


        • #5
          Coverage and Background settings are related

          Here's something that might be useful.

          When the Coverage setting is less than 100%, whatever's "not covered" by the Impressionist variant will be filled in with whatever is specified in the Background setting.

          For example, suppose your Photoshop foreground color is yellow, you chose "Foreground color" from the Background menu and lowered the Coverage setting to 80%. The 20% not rendered by Impressionist would be filled with the foreground color, which in this case is yellow.

          I usually go with "Image" or white. For white (in Photoshop) press the D key (to set foreground and background colors to their default) and chose "Background color" from Impressionist's Background menu.


          • #6
            Pressure and Size are related, too.

            By lowering the Size setting and increasing the Pressure setting, the result is more distinct strokes - color and texture-wise. Note: In this exampleI reduced the Coverage setting, too.

            See attachment examples:
            1 - original image

            2 - Chalk: Bright Strokes on Black
            * Background=Foreground color (very light yellow in this case)
            * All other settings: Default

            3 - Chalk: Bright Strokes on Black
            * Background=Foreground color (very light yellow in this case)
            * Stroke: 48%
            * Coverage: 67%
            * Pressure: 113%

            So what?

            The results of using the default settings for many varients are often times "not very detailed." This is one way to boost detail when you like a particular effect.

            Attached Files
            Last edited by DannyRaphael; 04-27-2004, 09:09 PM.


            • #7
              Impressionist plugin: Previewing brushes or papers

              When using Impressionist it's sometimes difficult to distinguish among brushes or papers when you compare them in their respective Impressionist control panels. The problem is twofold: (1) The tiny thumbnails and (2) screen real estate: 18 mini-brushes and 9 mini-papers.

              It never occurred to me until just a little while ago brush and paper files are in .tif format.

              If you open the \Brushes or \Paper folders and change the view option to thumbnails, you get much larger thumbnails and are able to see many more at one time.


              • #8
                Boosting colors rendered by Impressionist (or any other filter, usually):
                * Duplicate background and apply Impressionist style (attachment 2)
                * Duplicate background again, drag copy to the top of the layer stack, apply the same Impressionist style and set the blend mode to Overlay (or Hard Light)
                * Add a Levels adjustment layer and (usually) move the middle slider to the left a bit
                * Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and move the Saturation slider to the right (attachment 3)

                Based on a suggestion from member CricketB. "Thanks, Cricket!"

                Photo by Jim Amnau.

                Attached Files


                • #9

                  I have to say i really do love looking at your artwork!

                  Very inspirational you are!


                  • #10
                    Danny - have you tried screen instead of overlay? It gives a beautiful pastel watercolour effect.

                    Also try screen with a different Imp. style, but from the same 'family' - eg chalk basic for layer 1, and chalk detailed for layer 2 (screened) - same pastelly effect, but almost ethereal now. Pictures show the ethereally one, and the same one with increased saturation.

                    <Fluffbutt pads off to find a kitty dictionary to see if 'pastelly' is a real word!>
                    Attached Files
                    Last edited by Fluffbutt; 01-21-2005, 09:42 AM.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Fluffbutt
                      Danny - have you tried screen instead of overlay? It gives a beautiful pastel watercolour effect.

                      Also try screen with a different Imp. style, but from the same 'family' - eg chalk basic for layer 1, and chalk detailed for layer 2 (screened) - same pastelly effect, but almost ethereal now. Pictures show the ethereally one, and the same one with increased saturation.

                      <Fluffbutt pads off to find a kitty dictionary to see if 'pastelly' is a real word!>
                      Hey, Fluff:

                      Nice to read your "meow." You make a good point about blend modes.

                      One can get practically unlimited variations by sandwiching Impressionist layers rendered from:
                      * Within the same Style (main category, e.g., Charcoal)
                      * Different Styles
                      * The same variant, e.g., Charcoal > Half sketched and changing options with each layer...
                      ...and experimenting with blend modes and/or layer masks between layers.

                      In this example I used Impressionist's Chalk > Detailed Opaque Strokes variant on all layers, varying the Brush Size on each. Layers A, B and D were created by duplicating the Background.

                      * Layer A (bottom): Brush = 200, i.e., 200% (twice) the size of the normal brush. Results: Really blocky and abstract. Detail is lost. I applied a heavy dose of Unsharp mask to give these strokes some personality.

                      * Layer B: Brush = 50. Pretty detailed. Looks almost like Photoshop's Dry Brush filter without the mottled look. Layer > New Layer Mask > Hide all. Set foreground color to white, chose Photoshop's Chalk 36 brush, airbrush = on, Flow = 50%, Opacity = 50%. Airbrushed in some detail.

                      * Layer C: A duplicate of layer B with layer blend mode changed from Normal to Color Dodge. Added a Hide All Layer Mask and started making strokes with the Chalk 36 brush. Strokes "lightened" dark areas, such as in the water and the all-blue sky, because of the Color Dodge setting.

                      * Layer D: Brush = 25 (25% or 1/4 of original brush size). This results in so much detail that it looks nearly unaltered, but handy when you have a detail area (like eyes, mouth, glasses in a portrait) that needs to be emphasized. Added another Hide All Layer Mask and restored some detail here and there.

                      * Layer E: Alt + Layer > Merge visible to combine all visible layers into the new one without collapsing the individual layers.

                      Good suggestion, Fluff. You inspired me once again. Don't be such a stranger. We need more tips like yours.


                      Attachments below: Layers A, B, D, E
                      Attached Files
                      Last edited by DannyRaphael; 01-21-2005, 12:35 PM.


                      • #12


                        I really like the effect you created on Layer E and would love to learn your technique. If you don't mind (being a beginner) would you go through each stage - slowly, so that I can duplicate?

                        I want to apply this technique to bride & groom wedding photographs.

                        Thanks for the inspiration.


                        I'm waiting for Steve's reply to my e-mail asking him some questions. ~Danny~
                        Last edited by DannyRaphael; 02-28-2005, 05:15 PM.


                        • #13
                          Applying a Texture using Impressionist

                          Among Impressionist's options are the ability to specify a texture (Impressionist calls it a Paper). Some Styles include a Paper while others do not.

                          1. Applying a texture along with the Style.

                          Click the Style button:
                          * Select any Category and Style, e.g, Chalk > Chunky Strokes
                          * Click More Options
                          * From the dropdown menu choose Paper
                          * In the Paper dialog you can choose among the various Paper options, plus set values for Scaling, Grain and Relief.

                          Note: For the texture to be visible after application, the values for Grain and/or Relief must be > 0. If both of these values are zero, then no texture is applied.

                          = = = = = = = = = = =

                          2. Applying texture only

                          * Create a new layer above the rest of your layers
                          * Edit > Fill > 50% gray
                          * Change layer blend mode from Normal to Overlay

                          Create texture
                          * Open the Impressionist dialog
                          * Click the Style button:
                          * Select any Category and Style -- it makes no difference which one
                          * Click More Options
                          * From the dropdown menu choose General
                          * IMPORTANT: Drag the sliders for Pressure and Coverage to 0
                          * Drag brush size slider to 25 (for miminum rendering time)
                          * From the dropdown menu choose Paper
                          * In the Paper dialog select a Paper and set values for Scaling, Grain and Relief.

                          When you click Apply, only the texture is applied.

                          Adjust opacity as needed. Also, try layer blend modes Soft Light and Hard Light.

                          = = = = = = = = = = =

                          3. Using your own texture files

                          In the Paper dialog:
                          * Click the Custom button
                          * Navigate to your own .tif format only texture files. These files can be anywhere. They do not have to reside in Impressionist's \Papers folder.

                          HAVE FUN!



                          • #14
                            Thank you Danny. I've wondered how to do exactly what you just posted. I had always used Photoshop's texturizer because I lacked understanding of how to use the one in Impressionist.



                            • #15
                              Has anyone noticed a "bug" or "feature" (????) in impressionist...

                              In the 'Effects' control, there's a bit called 'Modify Color'. Whenyou select it but set it to zero modification it still changes the image, BUT it doesn't change the colour it changes the way the brush affects it..

                              Wierd, huh!


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