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BookSmithStudio.com | Nikki Smith Book & Visual Artist

Handmade books and various art explorations

Posts Tagged ‘photoshop’

Tutorial: Installing PhotoShop Brushes

March 1st, 2013 by Nikki Smith

One of the most powerful tools in PhotoShop for artists is the ability to install and use custom brushes.  Here is a handy tutorial that walks you through the process:

STEP 1:  Locate brushes.
There are many great places to find PhotoShop brushes including a Google Search or one of my favorite resources: Deviant Art.

Tip:  Pay attention to the licensing of the brushes you discover. Many brushes are free to use in any way you wish while others require attribution or are for personal use only.

STEP 2:  Download and save the brushes (“.abr” files) to your computer. 
NOTE: If the brushes were compressed in a “.zip” or “.rar” file, then after you download it you will need to un-zip the file to find the .abr brush files.

STEP 3: Place the “.abr” brush files in the following location:

Windows Users*:

Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop X\Presets\Brushes

* replace the X with your version of PhotoShop.

Mac Users*:

/Users/{username}/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop X/Presets/Brushes

* replace {username} with your username, and change the X above to match your version of Adobe.

STEP 4:  Open PhotoShop and select the Brush Tool (see 4A below).  Next, click on the small down arrow in the Brushes Palette next to the preview of the selected brush (see 4B below).

Next, click the right arrow in the upper right corner and select “Load Brushes” (see below).

In the dialog window that opens, choose the brush you wish to load.

Congratulations, your brushes have been installed!  Use the scrollbar to scroll through the active brushes and click to select your new brush:

Now you are ready to paint!

I hope this tutorial was helpful to you.  If you are stopping by after reading my article in Somerset Digital Studio (Spring 2013) magazine, welcome!

You can see more of my music-inspired digital watercolors (mentioned in the article) here, or check out some of my other tutorials here.

I’d love to see what you create following my tutorials.  Please drop me a link to your art in the comments!

Tutorial: The making of a Wee Planet…

October 16th, 2011 by Nikki Smith

As promised, here is a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the making of a wee planet:
(UPDATE:  Stay tuned for a special giveaway at the bottom of this post!)

If you’d like to try this at home, first read this important safety message (sanctioned by your mother) about taking photos in silly places like the middle of the street or pastures:

Please borrow a friend as a spotter for the day and use appropriate safety precautions.  (Side note: Sometimes I wonder about all of the legal disclaimers in our culture: professional driver on a closed course; do not try this at home; warning – coffee is hot… A neighbor child promised he wouldn’t sue me as he asked my permission to pogo down the steps in our sidewalk earlier this summer – sheesh!  I know I’m getting way off topic…Just be responsible and use your best judgement.) 

STEP 1: Scout a location. TIP:  The cleanest & easiest planets have something fairly uniform in the top and bottom third of the photo – sky above and grass or water, etc., below.  

The ideal time for taking photos is usually (a) the middle of the day when the sun is above you, the lighting is even everywhere and the shadows are minimal, (b) an overcast day can work for the same reasons, or (c) at dawn or dusk, give or take twenty minutes.

STEP 2: Stand in the middle of your scene (watch for traffic!) and slowly turn in a circle taking photos all the way around.  We’re after a 360 degree panorama of the location, showing sky above everything (take an extra layer of photos if there is a tall tree or building.)  

STEP 3:  Stitch the photos together to create a 360 degree panorama.  Many photo editing software programs will have tools to help line-up and blend your images where they overlap.  TIP:  The horizon should be level in your photo and the left and right edges should line-up.  If not, your planet will have a big crack or cliff edge in it!

STEP 4:  Leave it as-is or get creative and accentuate the image.  You can either do this digitally with the filters and tools in your photo editing program or print out your panorama and enhance it by hand with your own art supplies.  TIP:  One suggestion is to print in black and white and artificially color your image.  When complete, scan or photograph your finished image.

Below is the final version of my panorama photo.  I replaced an overcast gray sky with a cloudy summer sky, added some green leaves to a winter-bare tree, exaggerated the height of the buildings and made the colors pop a bit for an artistic feel.

STEP 5:  There are several ways to convert your finished panorama to a wee planet.  One of the easiest methods is by using the Polar Coordinates filter in PhotoShop.  To do so, first rotate your panorama 180 degrees so that it is upside down.  Next, adjust the image size so that the height and width are the same – your image will now be stretched out.

Finally, apply the Polar Coordinates filter (Rectangular to Polar) to your image.  Ta-da!  Finally, clean-up and add any finishing touches to your planet.

 Here is my “before” wee planet:


And here is the final version of Wee Planet Downtown Bryan, with all of the little artistic touches that make it sing:

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peak behind the scenes!  I absolutely love this art form and plan to do a series of “local” planets in the near future…

P.S.  Have you used this technique to make a wee planet of your own?  Leave a link in the comments – I’d love to see your creations! 

P.P.S.  Do you have a great 360 panorama photo you think would make a lovely planet?  Read about my Open Call for Panoramas!

UPDATE and a GIVEAWAY: 
If you live near Bryan/College Station, Texas, be sure to check out the November 6th Sunday edition of The Eagle.  I am honored that they will be featuring my Wee Planet artwork in the paper.  So to celebrate, I’m giving away an 8″ x 8″ glossy print of a local Wee Planet!  (See my Wee Planet gallery here.)  To enter, simply leave a comment on this post.  (Or Share, Digg, Tweet or Like it and let me know.)  Be sure to include your email address so I can contact you if you win!  I’ll announce the winner at the end of the month.  (And if there are a lot of entries, I’ll add an extra planet print or two…)

Credits: All downtown Bryan photos and wee planets copyright by Nikki Smith.  My good friends Ralph and Susan Brussard provided the source panorama for the volcano planet above from their trip to the Tongariro Volcanoes.  Thanks also to the following kind souls for sharing their cow and car photos with a Creative Commons Attribution license: “A Cow” by Stuart Alldred / SocialRobot and “Retro / Vintage / Car” by Andrew / CubaGallery.  For every Creative Commons photo I use, I am uploading one of my own to share with the community.  See my Creative Commons photo collection here.