Tag Archives: how I did it

How I Did It: Glamorizing Kitty

Remember my Wordless Wednesday post from a couple of weeks ago?

Sparkle the Designer Cat

This is my cat Sparkle, who happens to have a blog that is far more popular than my own! People really liked the effect I put on this photo, and it was ridiculously easy to do in Photoshop. Below is the original, unretouched photo:

Sparkle before the glamour

As you can see, it was a fairly decent photo to begin with. And that is the important thing when you add photo effects: start with a good image. Yes, you can polish a turd in Photoshop, and I have done so more times than I would like to admit, but starting with a good photo really will give you much better results!

If I were not creating this effect, my corrections would have been much different

The first thing I did was make some basic corrections — color and contrast fixes, a touch of sharpening. I also made it lighter than I normally would, and you will see why shortly.

We are halfway done already!

Duplicate the layer (either drag the original image layer down to the layer symbol in the Layers window or hit Command+J (Mac) or Ctrl+J (Windows). Then, with the duplicate layer highlighted, go to the drop-down list I’ve marked here (Blend Mode) and go to “Overlay.” See? It’s a lot darker now.

Soft focus worked for 1940s movie stars, and it works for my cat!

Next, go to the Filter Menu up top, to Filter->Blur->Gaussian Blur. Slide the radius until you are happy with the results (make sure you have Preview ticked!). Most of the time it will be around 8 pixels.

It really was too much before.

In this case, I thought the effect was overdone, so I lowered the opacity of the duplicate layer to about 70%. You can also change the Blend Mode from Overlay to Soft Light, which will do pretty much the same thing. That’s it!

Depending on the lighting of the original photo, you will get different effects. In the above case, it gave Sparkle a glamorous look with almost Rembrandt-style lighting. I used the very same effect on a less contrasty shot of her and got a softer, more dreamy effect:

More of a sweet photo
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How I Did It: the Pomegranate

Creating the pomegranate image from last month was a little complex, but very fun!

The finished image

Here is the original photograph. I was walking to an open house in my neighborhood (I wanted to see how they had upgraded the kitchen), when I ran across a small, skinny pomegranate tree bearing a single, bright red fruit. So I took a couple of photos with my iPhone. I liked this one best:

The original photograph

It was a nice enough photo, but I really wanted the red pomegranate to stand out. First I cropped the image and did some basic color adjustments, then I took it into Perfect Effects, part of the Perfect Photo Suite by OnOne Software. I often use this for my photos to create a lot of great, custom looks. This time I started off easy. First I lightened the shadows, then added an effect called Turbo Boost, which punches up the color, contrast and clarity of the image. Why did I lighten the shadows first? Because applying Turbo Boost without it would have caused me to lose some of the shadow detail that I wanted to keep… at least for now.

The photo with a few adjustments and a couple of effects

Then I masked out the pomegranate because I wanted to preserve the bright red I’d created while going in another direction completely with the rest of the image. I used an effect called Magic Forest because it really punches up the greens.

With the pomegranate removed

Then I added an effect inspired by photographer Michael Orton, to give the image a magical sort of feel, almost like a painting.

The Orton Clean effect

Of course, all that lush color was going to fight for attention with the red pomegranate, so I dialed it down by using a black and white filter and adjusting it to mute the colors. I used a black and white red filter so that it sucked out more of the photograph’s red values than any of the other colors. That way, it would make the red fruit stand out even more. Once I put the pomegranate back into the photo, I added in a touch of the deep forest effect to brighten the green leaves and to give the photo a nice glow. Then I added a border and that was the final image.

Using the green Black and White filter
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