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PhotoShop CS2 - Art History (continued)

Layers are your friend. Anytime you want to experiment with an idea, just create a new layer and paint away. It is easy to undo and also easy to combine layers at anytime (unlike another program I know and use) . (:-) Much more control using layers.

The time for detail is now.

In the history palette make the Detail snapshot active. Create a new layer on top of Mid and name it "Detail 1". (See left)

Go to the AH tools presets palette and choose the "Joe's AH Sharp Detail" brush. Take a quick look around the AH settings and the brush settings. It is a very simple brush that is pressure adjustable for size and includes color variability. The AH settings are important.

What we are about to do is define some edges. It is the edges and contrasted areas that give the brain the information it needs to fill in the missing details. Start very gently on the leading edge of the face in the highlight areas. We are going to use this a good bit, but if you take this brush over the entire piece then you will just end up with the original photo - not good.

Start detail on the leading edges of the face, arm and hands

View the image at right carefully. It is the start and yet it could also be the finish. This is up to you, but I think more is not necessarily better in this case.

The areas I have touched are:

  • the highlights on the face, shoulder, arms, and hands.
  • a touch on the head flowers.
  • a little on the ears
  • the arm fluffies
  • the dress strap
  • the back edge of the dress

Continue carefully. You can add more layers if you think you need to. Add just enough to try and keep the illusion of detail.

Also I added a separate layer for detail on the curtain because I knew I would want to vary the opacity more than for the detail on the girls.

A detail (not full size)
A detail after individual layer sharpening (not full size)


I think I went a little too far on this version with the detail, but this is entirely your call as you work through the piece.

At left you can see further development of the ears, hair piece, cheeks, fingers, fluffies, etc.











An optional step which accentuates the brush strokes is sharpening. Each layer was sharpened individually starting with Base 1 with the most sharpening, then Base 2 and on through all layers.

At the end try adjusting opacities for different looks. At this point each artist will see their little pet peeves that they want to adjust or blur or smudge or sharpen even more. I won't go there, it is for you.

Layers and Snapshots (save this as a psd file at this time).

Layers and Snapshots

So here we have the snapshot and layers palette. It ended just like this. Nothing is missing here - no layers were combined.

One thing you should notice about the layers palette - there are no layer masks involved. Simply speaking I did not show any of the original detail photo through to the top layers. It just seems a little more pure that way to me. It is a build up process. How you achieve your desired result, however, is up to you.

This version >