Thursday, November 3, 2011

Playful Indulgences with Adobe Pixel Blender for Photoshop

Sometimes I just find I have a need to play. Not the sand lot type, even though that might be fun, but more along the lines of creativity with my artworks. With painting I can just slop the wonderful colors around and see what happens but clean-up is more effort. But with photography it's not always as easy.

I could throw my camera up in the air with a timed shutter and see what happens, but I am afraid of dropping it and then seeing a lot on money becoming dust on the ground with a broken camera.

Digital editing allows me that freedom and the only cost is my time. Definitely less risky.

I came across a video that shows the use of an Adobe Labs plug-in for Photoshop CS 4&5 called Pixel Bender. Being also a painter I was more interested in the oil painting effects as demonstrated with the image I 'bent' below. I may take this further as I will need to get rid of those bright white objects at the top of frame to make this image useful.

The above image was run once in pixel bender to give texture in the parrot, but I found that the remaining detail was all too much the same and still too fine in detail for the background. I masked out the parrot, used the blending too to see if this would help. Not much, so I ran pixel bender again on several iterations on just the background to get the final image above. I didn’t realize until later that the smudging of texture actually added to the larger texture in pixel bender.

One again for above image I ran pixel bender to get the effect for the chairs and table and then playing around with iterations on just the background and with the smudging tool to get a less contrasty detail here.
In trying to use other images to see how they worked it became apparent that for it to work well there should be sufficient detail and contrast in image for it to produce better results. I also noticed that image size from 800 to 4,000 pixels each had different effects. The largest brush size was 15 pixels and with the large images the effects became smaller. 

The 2 photos of the fall scene are identical except for image resolution. The above was 1,000 pixels wide and below was 4,000+ wide

It's easy to see the difference in effects. For the smaller image I even had tor reduce the brush size so as not to over-dominate the bending effect.

From the experiments, or is it playing around, I noticed that when areas were smudged in linear or curved arches it increased the detail effects to make them larger as in the parrot's background and with the same fall scene but with smudging on the trees in image below.

These may not be exactly to your taste but if you are digitally creating painting-type images then by combining different effects for areas within the photograph, a more pleasing painting effect can be created. It is important for any effect type that there be variation in texture detail, size and contrast, like a real painting to create harmony and vision flow within the image.

The most important aspect is to create images that you like and not for others and that you have fun doing this. While I was playing around I completely lost track of time which for me is a sign that my creative juices are really flowing and I'm exploring new avenues.

Please send me some links if you have any digital creations that were just fun and you enjoyed the outcome.

Niels Henriksen

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