Zinnia art

blueangel(7b)August 26, 2012

My photos turn into art

I grow the zinnia's

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zen_man

Hi Blueangel,

That picture does have a hand painted look. You have indeed turned a photo into artwork. I think that picture looks like an oil painting. I notice that you have magically included some of the trumpet petals from some of my zinnias. As far as I know, I am the only person growing trumpet petaled zinnias at the present time, so that gives your picture a kind of a fantasy look, which is just fine with me.

I understand that, after your stroke, that composing detailed messages here is difficult for you, so just know that I am not expecting any big response to this message. I have in the past had an interest in creating art from photos, and I have acquired several computer programs that help a person convert photos into art, but I haven't used them in recent times. However, this message thread that you have started has brought my attention back to that interest.

I have also been interested in artistic composition for quite some time, and I have a few books on the subject. I have even studied a few of them. I know that, from the standpoint of artistic composition, you should avoid having the focal point of a picture in the center of the picture. But for zinnia pictures, or round flowers in general, it is hard not to put the bloom in the middle of the picture. In the interest of conveying information about our zinnia blooms, we have usually ignored that artistic composition rule.

Software can make it a lot easier to convert photos into art, and I am going to demonstrate some easy conversions, using the Simplify 3 Photoshop plugin from Topaz Labs. I cropped this recent zinnia picture so that the center of the zinnia would be a bit off center. This young "toothy" bloom also had a somewhat "not round" look.

To do an easy artistic conversion, open that picture in Photoshop (I haven't kept up with all the upgrades, so I am using CS3). On the Filter dropdown menu, select Topaz Simplify 3, and when the Simplify window opens, select the Preset named "Painting watercolor", look at the Preview, and select OK. Simplify does it magic, and the following picture is produced.

If, instead, I selected the Preset named "Sketch lightPencil", this result would be produced.

Or I could have selected the included preset named "Painting colorful" to get this result.

Or I could make presets with my own settings, like this one which I named "Delicate Rendering 2".

Using a Photoshop plugin like Topaz Labs' Simplify, it is possible to go a long way toward creating art from a photo with only a few mouse clicks.

I remember your participation in the earlier parts of the "It can be fun to breed your own zinnias" message series. I am sorry that it is now harder for you to participate. But I am glad that you shared your zinnia photo art picture here. I am sure that more such examples would be welcome.

ZM
(not associated with any product or vendor mentioned or linked)

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 1:20PM
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art33(6)

Hi blueangel and zenman,

Actually, I like both of your conversions from a plain photo to something that looks like a painting or sketch. Both of you have a good artistic eye. Another good tool for this sort of thing is AKVIS Sketch. No association with the company but I do use their sketch plugin with great satisfaction. If I have zenman's permission, I'd be glad to post a sketch of his zinnia using that plugin.

Art

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 12:38AM
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blueangel(7b)

Zenman.
love what you have done
here is another

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 7:48AM
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zen_man

Art,

"If I have zenman's permission, I'd be glad to post a sketch of his zinnia using that plugin."

You have my permission. I looked at the AKVIS plugins many years ago, and even considered getting their bundle. I am sure that they all have gone through several new versions since I last looked.

ZM

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 10:10AM
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zen_man

Blueangel,

That gold metallic effect is impressive. I can't match that with Topaz Simplify.

ZM

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 10:20AM
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zen_man

Hi Art,

Let's see what AKVIS Sketch can do with this zinnia picture.

That is my "Shaggy Dog" zinnia from year before last. It had some impressively long dangling petals that had a kind of corrugated structure. That should give sketching software a workout.

ZM

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 10:41AM
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art33(6)

Thanks zenman for your permission. Wow, what beautiful zinnias you grow! Okay, well of course there are many possibilities depending on your choice of settings. With this sketch, I actually didn't use any of the special settings (watercolor, charcoal, color pencil, etc.) I just ran the sketch plugin and placed the resulting b&w sketch layer over the original color layer. Reducing the opacity of the sketch layer (I used 50%) resulted in a blending of the two layers, which brought back some of the color from the original. The entire process took less than a minute.
Using their special settings and/or reversing the stack order and playing with PS's various blending modes will of course result in a multitude of different effects :-)

Here's the first zinnia, I'll post the second one next.

Art

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 11:28AM
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art33(6)

Here's the second zinnia.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 11:32AM
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blueangel(7b)

Zenman I love shaggy dog
the zinnia's I grow are from
seed collected by my neighbors
mother in Mexico
the metallic effect was done in
photobucket

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 12:13PM
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art33(6)

blueangel,

Wow, I didn't know that sort of thing could be done in photo bucket. Very cool, I really like that metallic effect!

Art

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 1:46PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

This is so much fun to look at! I love the different results.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 4:29PM
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zen_man

Hi Art,

I like the way you combined the line art with a color tint. Here is a similar treatment of the Pink Shaggy Dog done in Topaz Simplify 3.

And here is just the line art with no tint, also done in Topaz Simplify 3. I could have made a lot of variations on the line art, but this one seemed "good enough".

It has been so long since I used the AKVIS Sketch demo that I don't remember the details of using it. My guess is that Sketch is easier to use than Simplify, because Simplify has a lot of sliders to adjust in the user interface. It's kind of ironic that Simplify doesn't have a simple user interface, but its implementation of Presets goes a long way toward making up for that.

Before Simplify, I used a Photoshop plugin called BuZZ.Pro, but the company that made and sold BuZZ.Pro went out of business, so my BuZZ.Pro is now an "orphan". The same thing happened to my ArtMaster Pro software. Come to think of it, I think both were put out by the same, now defunct, software company.

Anyway, you are getting good results out of AKVIS Sketch, and I am reasonably satisfied with Simplify 3. I just hope there is a Simplify 4 on the horizon. If you want to try Simplify, Topaz has a fully functional 30-day demo, or at least they did. And I can put up some more zinnia pictures for experimentation, if you wish. If we do enough of this, I might eventually learn how to use Simplify. Maybe I should look around for a Simplify User Manual. I was probably supposed to read that first.

Incidentally, I noticed that apparently GardenWeb re-sizes your pictures to 640 pixels wide. Is that the case? Or did you resize them yourself to 640 pixels wide? It is not quite fair for me to post 986-pixel pictures for comparison with your 640-pixel pictures. If you put your pictures on PhotoBucket, you can link them in here pretty much as big as you want. I mostly stay with 986-pixel pictures because, at one time, before all the advertising was added here, 986 pixels was the largest size that wouldn't put a horizontal scroll bar at the bottom of the page here. Now we have to live with the ads and the scroll bar, but, hey, we love it.

ZM

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 8:31PM
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art33(6)

Hi zenman,

I really like your last Pink Shaggy Dog Simplify picture, you did a really nice job with that! Actually, my use of any sketch type program, or plug-in, is rather limited. To tell you the truth, although I think the sketches are interesting, and fun to play with, I always prefer the original photo. I just don't know what could be any nicer, or more beautiful, than your original Shaggy Dog photo.

Regarding the picture size, GardenWeb re-sized it, probably because it was too large (in KB). I ran these two through Photoshop's "Save for Web" so they are much smaller in KB.

This "sketch" was done in PS without the use of any plug-in. I first duplicated the Background layer of the original image, and desaturated that duplicate. Next, I duplicated the desaturated layer (now have 3 layer), inverted it and set it's blending mode to "Color Dodge". If you try this your image should look all white right now :-) Lastly, go to Filter>Other>Minimum and set the radius slider to your liking (I used 1 for this image). Flatten the image and that's it for the b&w sketch. Blend with original as desired.

Here's the original.

Art

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 10:34PM
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art33(6)

And here's the "sketch".

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 10:35PM
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art33(6)

Of course, it's not a zinnia :-) It's an Iochroma cyaneum 'Royal Blue' and growing in my back yard!

Art

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 10:46PM
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zen_man

Art,

That's an impressive and ingenious use of Photoshop to do what a plug-in might do.

Even though your original photograph is only 160,682 bytes in file size, there is that 640 pixel width thing again. And the "sketch" version of it is larger, at 214,068 bytes, but also is 640 pixels in width. I am beginning to think there is some kind of rule here about the width of uploaded pictures. Here is your Iochroma cyaneum picture enlarged to 986 pixels wide, linked in from Photobucket.

And if you check the file size of this big picture, you will see that it is only 102,367 bytes. So large pictures can have rather small file sizes. Yet, when I use this forum's Image file to upload option, this is what I get. Not only has it been down-sized to 640 pixels wide, but the file size has actually increased to 154,630 bytes. I got those numbers in the Preview Message window, by right-clicking on the picture and selecting View Image Info in the popup. So in the process of making the picture smaller in pixels they actually increase its file size in bytes. A down-sizing that actually increases the file size is kind of hard for me to believe.

ZM

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 12:56AM
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blueangel(7b)

black and white with color readded

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 9:55AM
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art33(6)

ZM,

Yeah, I think (for images directly uploaded into the message area) GardenWeb's software must be resizing the images to a width of 640. I found the following about file sizes (see link below). It's under "Does Size Matter?"

It says, "Desirable sizes are either "thumbnails" which some hosting sites provide, or something close to 640 X 480 pixels." They also say "Physically large photos mess up the readability of the thread - you have to scroll back and forth and back and forth to see both text and image."

BTW - Your example showing that a large image could actually be smaller in file size than a smaller image was interesting. How strange! It must have something to do with the jpeg compression used on the larger image?

Art

Here is a link that might be useful: Desirable Image Size

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 1:37PM
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zen_man

Hi Art,

I think text is easier to read, if there is much of it, in narrower columns, like in a newspaper, so I am experimenting with a narrower text column in this message.

"Your example showing that a large image could actually be smaller in file size than a smaller image was interesting. How strange! It must have something to do with the jpeg compression used on the larger image?"

It does. First of all, at the outset I intended to create a large 986-pixel-wide version of your picture with a small file size. After copying your image to the Clipboard and importing it from the Clipboard to Photoshop CS3, I invoked the Topaz DeNoise 5 plugin to remove all of the JPEG artifacts from the file. Just removing the artifacts simplifies the image considerably. Then I used Ben Vista's PhotoZoom Pro 4 to upsample from 640 wide to 986 wide. (I like PhotoZoom's upsamples better than Photoshop's upsamples.) Then I saved that as a JPEG file using BoxTop Software's ProJPEG plugin to save the large image as a small file by selecting a lower JPEG quality setting. I think ProJPEG does a better job of saving JPEGs than Adobe does.

I don't know what algorithm that GardenWeb uses to downsample images to 640 pixels wide, or what utility they use to convert those files to the JPEG format, but they apparently use a fairly high quality setting to create the JPEG file. The disparity in quality settings alone could account for the smaller image requiring a larger file size.

In my opinion, GardenWeb's recommendation of something close to 640 X 480 pixels is a little over-cautious. I think that something at least close to the default width of the text column (not this artificially narrower width) makes better use of the screen space. But GardenWeb is right that they should take control of the size of photos that are uploaded to their space. If they didn't do that, a lot of people would upload catastrophically large JPEGs straight from their cameras. My Nikon D3200 takes 6016 x 4000 JPEGs, and one of those would seriously mess up a message thread. I think it is true in general that JPEGs right out of most of the digital cameras out there today would be completely out-of-place in one of the message threads here. And it says essentially that in the link you provided.

ZM

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 7:17PM
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blueangel(7b)

the photo

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 5:26AM
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art33(6)

B&W with color re-added, neat idea blueangel! Reminds me of fireworks :-) ... Very nice!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 1:05PM
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zen_man

Hi Art,

This is a Topaz Simplify sketch-type rendering of Iochroma cyaneum.

There are an almost endless number of permutations that you can do in converting a photo into photo art.

ZM

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 11:39PM
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