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DPChallenge Forums >> Side Challenges and Tournaments >> June PaintShop Pro SC: images & discussion
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05/31/2009 11:57:47 PM · #1
The point of this side challenge is to illustrate and discuss various methods and techniques as used in Jasc/Corel PaintShop Pro. Less of a focus on the posting of daily images, and more of a focus on understanding how to do the effects and treatments in the posted images.

Please try to keep the discussion in this thread rather than in the image notes. Since we have some members without on-site portfolios, this will keep it all consistent and all the tips in one place. For those folks who will be linking to offsite images, please try to use thumbnails and link to the full size image if possible. If you are on Flickr, the All sizes+ Greasemonkey script for Firefox is an excellent way of grabbing the needed code to link a thumbnail. (If you need any help with that, just PM me.)

Here's a link to the download page for the 30 day trial of PSP

The participants so far (Others, please feel free to jump in at any time):
21.gif bvy
21.gif dtremain
21.gif Yo_Spiff
21_F.gif icu1965
31.gif atupdate
21.gif awpollard
31_F.gif krcnaples
21.gif JLSmith
21_F.gif kandykarml

Lurkers:
21_F.gif Kelli

Message edited by author 2009-06-02 12:16:53.
06/01/2009 12:14:16 AM · #2
I guess a good way of starting this off may be to see what versions of PSP everyone is using and find out what is considered to be the essential adjsutments. Since we have a mix of experienced PSP users and image editing newbies, that may be a good launching point.

I have PSP 11 & 12 Ultimate on my main PC. I usually use 12. I will use v11 on my 6 year old Athlon 2000, as 12 is noticeably slower (and crash prone) on that box. I also have a copy of Jasc PSP v7, the main benefit which is that it will run from a flashdrive, so I always have a familiar editor at hand.

I consider the essential adjustments to be (in the usual order I do them):

-Levels
-Curves
-Hue/Saturation/lightness
-Resizing
-Sharpening
-Saving at an appropriate file size/compression level.

There is a lot more of course, plus some non-essentials such as clarify that I normally use. It also varies depending on the actual image I am working on, but that's my general workflow.

One other thing, that is only important if you are working on 16 bit images such as TIF and RAW files: Most of the selective editing tools (the items on the left side toolbar, such as clone & erase) only work in 8 bit mode. If you use these on a 16 bit image, PSP will tell you it has to reduce the bit depth first. For this reason I try to do my main color adjustments before any selective editing. If you are starting with a JPG, it does not matter, as that is already an 8 bit format.
06/01/2009 09:36:15 AM · #3
Levels:
763016.jpg

This is one of the fundamental image adjustments and is always the first thing I do before any other editing to correct exposure.

The histogram is visible in many of the image adjustment dialogs. It shows you the distribution of light and dark tones across the image. In most cases (There are exceptions) a well exposed image will have a histogram that shows tones ranging throughout the entire scale. In this example (Courtesy of 21.gif Heavyj) you can see the before sample on the left looks slightly dull and dim, with a flat spot evident on the rightmost section of the histogram. In fact, such an image might be described by a commenter in a challenge as "flat". By pulling in the slider on the bright end to meet the spot where you can see values starting, you are telling the program where the brightest point in the image is. You can see the result on the right. If you were to apply this and then open the dialog again, the histogram would then stretch from side to side.

The same applies if the flat spot is on the dark end, except the uncorrected image would seem overly light and washed out.

I will sometimes intentionally pull in the dark end, within the image in order to "clip" the histogram at the dark end. This will remove dark details and deepen a silhouette.

You can also adjust the midpoint slider and this will have a visible effect as well. I usually find I don't need to touch this or I only make minor adjustments to the midpoint.
06/01/2009 06:42:26 PM · #4
PSP X2. I've been a PSP user since around version 5 (1997 or 98).

I've gotten away from levels almost entirely (with one exception which I'll get to shortly). Doesn't curves give you everything that levels does? You have the histogram in the background and you can adjust the end points around it. I thought I even read somewhere that some tool started combining them (levels and curves).

I've recently gotten into analog pinhole photography. When I scan my paper photographs, I deliberately do as little as possible in terms of digital editing. Some of the shots need a contrast adjustment though, so I started using levels again for that purpose. It's all the adjustment I want.

Example with notes:
780957.jpg

Thanks for the 8 bit versus 16 bit tip. I've always gone 8 bit because I thought the tool didn't support 16 bit at all.
06/01/2009 07:56:21 PM · #5
Originally posted by bvy:

Doesn't curves give you everything that levels does? You have the histogram in the background and you can adjust the end points around it.


Good question, since the two adjustments are similar in that they both lighten lights and darken darks. I consider levels to be a correction of dynamic range, while curves is an adjustment to the amount of brightness at certain ranges in the histogram. I had to test this idea out. Took a little while had to dig through my archives to find a really dull, flat example to use.

Here is the levels dialog showing the original histogram with a huge flat spot on the bright end:
795809.jpg

I did not do any levels adjust at this point. Here is a curves adjustment I applied to brighten up the image:
795810.jpg

Here is the levels dialog showing the histogram after the curves adjust. Though the image has been brightened, there is still a huge flat spot on the bright end, and little differentiation of tones:
795811.jpg

I then reset everything back to original condition and did levels. If you look at the image and histogram after I did a levels adjust, you can see the dynamic range has been improved and the details are differentiated a bit better.
795814.jpg

The curves adjustment did stretch the dynamic range some, but I think the levels adjust does a better job of getting it in the best possible range. Then the curves can be used for fine tuning to taste.

Message edited by author 2009-06-01 20:23:38.
06/01/2009 09:02:36 PM · #6
That's because you curved your curves.

I'm suggesting that this 795828.jpg is equivalent to this 795829.jpg.

What curves doesn't give you is the midpoint adjustment, but I think moving the midpoint really does an S-curve adjustment anyway.
06/01/2009 09:17:06 PM · #7
Originally posted by bvy:

That's because you curved your curves.

I'm suggesting that this 795828.jpg is equivalent to this 795829.jpg.

What does the histogram in the curves screenshot look like after you apply it? I'm still not sure that the curves adjustment does much to maximize the dynamic range.

I tried it with my sample image, and it did stretch the dynamic range (I had a hard time keeping the curve straight, which is why there are 2 extra control points), but the ultimate result was not the same as doing it with the levels adjustment.
795838.jpg

Message edited by author 2009-06-01 21:32:31.
06/01/2009 09:19:44 PM · #8
Here's something I did the other day that was new to me. I did a number of exposures a few seconds apart, then layered and erased through them to get rid of most of the crowd:

795823.jpg

Source images: 795831.jpg

06/01/2009 09:48:25 PM · #9
Well, I would love to participate in this...but I have little to add (as I do NOT know what I am doing) and I have Photoshop Elements 7 BUT I have marked this thread to watch, I think it will get very interesting...
06/01/2009 09:56:24 PM · #10
Originally posted by Ja-9:

I think it will get very interesting...

Glad we could be entertaining for you. Our curves vs levels discussion has gotten nearly to the point of a Nikon vs canon thread. (Of course, Brian is an Olympus guy.) I figured this might be helpful even for someone not using PSP.

Stick around so we can confuse you some more.
06/01/2009 09:59:18 PM · #11
I'll have to get back to you with the histogram. Past my bedtime. I will add that X2 has a levels button in the curves dialog (confused?) that adjusts the endpoints but preserves the line. That's what I did.
06/01/2009 10:03:05 PM · #12
First off, I started at PSPX then to PSPXI now at PSPX2 Ultimate.

I shoot RAW and Convert in Lightroom 2 so Straighten, Crop, Levels/Curves are done before conversion. I am not a big fan of the other tweaks in LR2 (built in and dl'd add-ins) so PSP is my step it up a notch tool of choice.

If we are talking no plug-ins in PSP.

I will sometimes bring up Histogram Adjust (NOT an Adjustment Layer but Levels on Steriods)
Adjust > Brightness and Contrast > Histogram Adjust...
795841.jpg

I do like Levels/Curves because they are mask layers and we can mask if we choose. Also the set White Point/Black Point (on both) works quite well most of the time.

Adjust > Remove Digital Camera Noise (35 - 40)
Adjust > Brightness and Contrast > Clarify (3-5)
Adjust > Sharpen > USM (Highres Normal/Lores Normal depending on noise)
Image > Resize
Adjust > Sharpen > USM (.4, 100, 5)

To kick things up a bit (really sharp/bold edges) I will do a Highpass layer (desat at anywhere from 10-50) with Soft Light blend.
Effects > Edge Effects > Highpass

Message edited by author 2009-06-01 22:04:38.
06/01/2009 10:21:32 PM · #13
So everyone here knows all the Hidden Tools in PSP, Right? Lot's of tools palettes from previous versions of PSP are there but not easily accessible.

If you don't and want to see what is available:

Right click on the Enhance Photo drop down, on the Toolbar, and choose Customize.
Scroll down the list on the left and click on Unused Commands.

Near the Bottom of the List on the right you will see all kinds of cool things like Auto Color Balance, Gamma Adjust, and lots of Auto Enhancement Stuff. Some are useful, some are built in to other applets like Set White Point/Black Point but one thing I found with the Set White/Black point palette is the built in presets do some cool things.

You can drag anything from the list and drop it on Enhance Photo to use it.

Show Hidden Toolbars is evil though... if you run that you will have like 30 toolbars open up... don't try that one.

Message edited by author 2009-06-01 22:23:25.
06/01/2009 10:21:32 PM · #14
Originally posted by Yo_Spiff:

Originally posted by Ja-9:

I think it will get very interesting...

Glad we could be entertaining for you. Our curves vs levels discussion has gotten nearly to the point of a Nikon vs canon thread. (Of course, Brian is an Olympus guy.) I figured this might be helpful even for someone not using PSP.

Stick around so we can confuse you some more.


thanks Steve...like I need more confusing...
06/01/2009 10:23:03 PM · #15
I really should be in bed...

Add curves layer, pressed levels button, merged, viewing levels for histogam
795852.jpg

Add levels layer, pressed levels button, merged, viewing levels for histogam
795853.jpg

Looks about the same?
06/01/2009 10:28:13 PM · #16
Originally posted by bvy:

I'll have to get back to you with the histogram. Past my bedtime. I will add that X2 has a levels button in the curves dialog (confused?) that adjusts the endpoints but preserves the line. That's what I did.


In general, with curves, you can adjust the endpoints by dragging them lighter or darker while the line is still straight, and that's the same as levels. Then you curve the line to adjust the intermediate tones, which levels does not allow you to do.

R.
06/01/2009 11:16:18 PM · #17
Originally posted by bvy:

I will add that X2 has a levels button in the curves dialog (confused?) that adjusts the endpoints but preserves the line. That's what I did.

Aha. I'll try that.
06/01/2009 11:35:58 PM · #18
Originally posted by awpollard:

If you don't and want to see what is available:

Right click on the Enhance Photo drop down, on the Toolbar, and choose Customize.
Scroll down the list on the left and click on Unused Commands.

I think I removed "enhance photo" to save toolbar space on one of my computers, but I access customize through the view menu. As long as you brought it up I'll take the opportunity to toss out this set of screenshots on how to customize your toolbar:
794372.jpg

...and here is what I have on mine. (Though I just removed highlight/midtone/shadow, as I rarely use it)
795096.jpg

Message edited by author 2009-06-01 23:38:01.
06/02/2009 10:38:07 AM · #19
Speaking of Scripts! Scripts are fun and easy to do. If you have ever recorded a Macro in MS Work or the likes it is the same theory. Hit the record button, process your shot using the steps you normally would and hit the stop button when done. The end result is a text file that is read into PSP. There is a GUI editor that allows you to change the way the script behaves (Silent meaning the step runs with settings for a certain step or Interactive where that step waits for the user to change the values.

The bottom line is the end result is a text file.

For example during the Topaz Side Challenge I mentioned a script that Dwayne 21.gif wizardry and I worked on a long time ago to sim the popular (but expensive) Lucis Art. We didn't quite hit it but the results were fun on certain images. Below is the happy medium between the scripts Dwayne and I came up with. We did this in PSP11 but works in PSPX2 and should work in X1.

796043.jpg 796041.jpg

Try it on a Dark Landscape...

Copy from between the lines below and paste into NOTEPAD or text editor. Save the File as DarkNDirty.pspscript in to your My Documents\MY PSP Files\Scripts-Restricted directory (for XP), Documents\My PSP Files\Scripts-Restricted (for Vista)

-------------------- Copy from below this line ---------------------------------------------------
from PSPApp import *

def ScriptProperties():
return {
'Author': u'Dwanye Andrejczuk/Andy Pollard',
'Copyright': u'Dwaye Andrejczuk/Andy Pollard',
'Description': u'Dark and Dirty',
'Host': u'Paint Shop Pro Photo',
'Host Version': u'11.20'
}

def Do(Environment):
# EnableOptimizedScriptUndo
App.Do( Environment, 'EnableOptimizedScriptUndo', {
'GeneralSettings': {
'ExecutionMode': App.Constants.ExecutionMode.Silent,
'AutoActionMode': App.Constants.AutoActionMode.Match,
'Version': ((11,2,0),1)
}
})

# LayerDuplicate
App.Do( Environment, 'LayerDuplicate', {
'GeneralSettings': {
'ExecutionMode': App.Constants.ExecutionMode.Silent,
'AutoActionMode': App.Constants.AutoActionMode.Match,
'Version': ((11,2,0),1)
}
})

# SmartPhotoFix
App.Do( Environment, 'SmartPhotoFix', {
'UseGreyBalance': True,
'GreyBalanceSampleList': [
(21,0.142286,0.0836291,0.106475),
(50,0.591156,0.360234,0.451056),
(0,0,0,0),
(0,0,0,0),
(0,0,0,0),
(0,0,0,0),
(0,0,0,0),
(0,0,0,0),
(0,0,0,0),
(0,0,0,0),
(0,0,0,0),
(0,0,0,0),
(0,0,0,0),
(0,0,0,0),
(0,0,0,0),
(0,0,0,0),
(0,0,0,0),
(0,0,0,0),
(0,0,0,0),
(201,198.92,197.822,196.658)
],
'BlackPoint': 5,
'WhitePoint': 100,
'Highlights': 10,
'Brightness': 11,
'Shadows': -10,
'Saturation': 0,
'Sharpness': 35,
'GeneralSettings': {
'ExecutionMode': App.Constants.ExecutionMode.Silent,
'AutoActionMode': App.Constants.AutoActionMode.Match,
'Version': ((11,2,0),1)
}
})

# HighPassSharpen
App.Do( Environment, 'HighPassSharpen', {
'BlendMode': App.Constants.BlendMode.HardLight,
'Strength': 70,
'Radius': 35,
'GeneralSettings': {
'ExecutionMode': App.Constants.ExecutionMode.Silent,
'AutoActionMode': App.Constants.AutoActionMode.Match,
'Version': ((11,2,0),1)
}
})

# LayerDuplicate
App.Do( Environment, 'LayerDuplicate', {
'GeneralSettings': {
'ExecutionMode': App.Constants.ExecutionMode.Silent,
'AutoActionMode': App.Constants.AutoActionMode.Match,
'Version': ((11,2,0),1)
}
})

# BlackAndWhiteFilm
App.Do( Environment, 'BlackAndWhiteFilm', {
'FilterColor': App.Constants.BlackAndWhiteFilterColor.Green,
'Strength': 70,
'GeneralSettings': {
'ExecutionMode': App.Constants.ExecutionMode.Silent,
'AutoActionMode': App.Constants.AutoActionMode.Match,
'Version': ((11,2,0),1)
}
})

# Layer Properties
App.Do( Environment, 'LayerProperties', {
'General': {
'Opacity': 40,
'Name': None,
'IsVisible': None,
'IsTransparencyLocked': None,
'LinkSet': None,
'UseHighlight': None,
'PaletteHighlightColor': None,
'GroupLink': None,
'BlendMode': None
},
'BlendRanges': None,
'Path': (0,0,[],False),
'ArtMediaTexture': None,
'BrightnessContrast': None,
'ChannelMixer': None,
'ColorBalance': None,
'CurveParams': None,
'HSL': None,
'Threshold': None,
'Levels': None,
'Posterize': None,
'Overlay': None,
'GeneralSettings': {
'ExecutionMode': App.Constants.ExecutionMode.Silent,
'AutoActionMode': App.Constants.AutoActionMode.AllAlways,
'Version': ((11,2,0),1)
}
})

# LayerMergeDown
App.Do( Environment, 'LayerMergeDown', {
'GeneralSettings': {
'ExecutionMode': App.Constants.ExecutionMode.Silent,
'AutoActionMode': App.Constants.AutoActionMode.Match,
'Version': ((11,2,0),1)
}
})

# Clarify
App.Do( Environment, 'Clarify', {
'Strength': 14,
'GeneralSettings': {
'ExecutionMode': App.Constants.ExecutionMode.Silent,
'AutoActionMode': App.Constants.AutoActionMode.Match,
'Version': ((11,2,0),1)
}
})

# Color Adjust HSL
App.Do( Environment, 'ColorAdjustHSL', {
'HSL': {
'Colorize': False,
'Master': (3,35,1),
'MasterColorize': (0,0,0),
'Red': (0,0,0,315,345,15,45),
'Green': (0,0,0,75,105,135,165),
'Blue': (0,0,0,195,225,255,285),
'Cyan': (0,0,0,135,165,195,225),
'Magenta': (0,0,0,255,285,315,345),
'Yellow': (0,0,0,15,45,75,105)
},
'GeneralSettings': {
'ExecutionMode': App.Constants.ExecutionMode.Silent,
'AutoActionMode': App.Constants.AutoActionMode.Match,
'Version': ((11,2,0),1)
}
})

# DigitalCameraNoiseRemoval
App.Do( Environment, 'DigitalCameraNoiseRemoval', {
'SmallDetails': 50,
'MediumDetails': 50,
'LargeDetails': 50,
'Blending': 70,
'Sharpening': 0,
'LockDetailSettings': True,
'NoiseEstimates': ([3,54,166,170,1.78464,1.15342,7.07712,3.61119,7.27468
,3.94435,1.12411,0.767591,2.1421,1.31136,2.57566,1.91208,0.621262
,0.429049,0.901148,0.621168,1.5894,1.2653,1.31095,0.847344,0.944232
,0.486104,0.853788,0.487166,0.825078,0.563297,0.363077,0.185813
,0.210133,0.124757,0.455874,0.312962,0.103257,0.0726145,0.0827794
,0.0620894,3.33799,2.2293,0.6608,0.291523,0.529995,0.267005,2.21745
,1.53506,0.229027,0.111211,0.197223,0.111051,1.23606,0.885261,0.0909341
,0.0500658,0.0884329,0.0598765],),
'NoiseColorAdjustment': ([4,2520,201,2520],),
'Hue': 0,
'Range': 0,
'MinimalLuminance': -1,
'MaximalLuminance': -1,
'GeneralSettings': {
'ExecutionMode': App.Constants.ExecutionMode.Silent,
'AutoActionMode': App.Constants.AutoActionMode.Match,
'Version': ((11,2,0),1)
}
})

# Unsharp Mask
App.Do( Environment, 'UnsharpMask', {
'Clipping': 5,
'Radius': 0.73,
'Strength': 20,
'Luminance': False,
'GeneralSettings': {
'ExecutionMode': App.Constants.ExecutionMode.Silent,
'AutoActionMode': App.Constants.AutoActionMode.Match,
'Version': ((11,2,0),1)
}
})

---------------------------- Copy to above this line ------------------------------------

To run:

File > Script > Run...
Browse to your ..\My PSP Files\Scripts-Restricted directory
Click DarkNDirty.pspscript

We never work on the background layer so the first step is to duplicate to a working copy.
It is a fun starting point for a Grundgy Dark Photo.

Message edited by author 2009-06-02 11:02:50.
06/02/2009 11:22:47 AM · #20
Originally posted by awpollard:

Speaking of Scripts! Scripts are fun and easy to do.

Thanks, I've saved it and will give it a try.

Here is a script I did a while back. Negative layer technique.pspscript

I originally ran across this as a method for faking an HDR look, but I don't usually care for what it produces at full strength. In lesser strengths It has been very useful for bringing detail out of heavy shadows and highlights.

What is does:
-Duplicate layer
-Desaturate duplicate layer
-Negative image duplicate layer
-Gaussian blur of 4 on duplicate layer
-Overlay layers

Final step is to manually adjust to desired amount and merge layers.

Here is an example of what it does:
Original---------------with script
2834762525_357958c998_t.jpg 2855940031_8a12c3fe0e_t.jpg
06/02/2009 11:28:57 AM · #21
Originally posted by awpollard:

Speaking of Scripts! Scripts are fun and easy to do. If you have ever recorded a Macro in MS Work or the likes it is the same theory. Hit the record button, process your shot using the steps you normally would and hit the stop button when done. The end result is a text file that is read into PSP. There is a GUI editor that allows you to change the way the script behaves (Silent meaning the step runs with settings for a certain step or Interactive where that step waits for the user to change the values. ...

You can also create/save a script by selecting steps in your history window (shift-clck for a sequential block, or ctrl-click to select non-sequentially), then right-click on the selected history items and choose 'Save to script...'. Follow the ensuing dialogs for naming choices, etc... Your new script will then be available as a choice when pulling up saved scripts at a later time.
06/02/2009 11:42:18 AM · #22
Originally posted by glad2badad:

You can also create/save a script by selecting steps in your history window

That was something I didn't know. Thanks, that will be very useful when I do something and then want to be able to reproduce it later.
06/02/2009 11:57:19 AM · #23
Originally posted by Yo_Spiff:

Originally posted by glad2badad:

You can also create/save a script by selecting steps in your history window

That was something I didn't know. Thanks, that will be very useful when I do something and then want to be able to reproduce it later.

The context menu (right-click) is also useful by selecting History items, and using the "Apply to other open documents". I find it helpful when I'm working a series of shots that all have pretty much the same settings (ISO, aperture, etc...). Similar to batch processing but quicker for a small, specific need.
06/02/2009 08:50:39 PM · #24
795523.jpg

I know you don't care for this shot, Steve, but this is actually a first on two levels for me. It's my first HDR attempt -- pseudo-HDR attempt. In the original RAW, the subjects are underexposed and the background overexposed. I developed at EC0 and EC+2 and combined them in PSP using HDR photo merge. The results weren't as good as I expected, but I got something decent adjusting the brightness and curves.

Also, it's my first 16 bit image. Don't know that anything dramatic happened as a result -- except that I got a huge file. I'm having trouble knowing what does and doesn't work in 16 bit in PSP. For instance, it seems I can't use blend modes.
06/02/2009 08:59:33 PM · #25
Originally posted by bvy:

... I'm having trouble knowing what does and doesn't work in 16 bit in PSP. For instance, it seems I can't use blend modes.

You should be able to use layers in any of the blend modes at 16 bit, however most (if not all) of your plug-ins won't work with 16 bit files (at least the ones I have installed anyway: Neat Image, nik Color Efex, xero, virtualPhotographer).
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