Archive of ‘free’ category

The 12 Days of Christmas 2013 edition – Day 2

Every year after Christmas, a group of elves go on a road trip.  They leave the North Pole and travel down to more hospitable regions.  It’s a time to unwind and relax after the crazy season they had, because, let’s face it, soon they’ll be back at work for the next round of presents.  So that trip is one to build friendship, to get to know each other better, and to discover some far away land where trees aren’t evergreen and the land isn’t covered in white.

Each year they head for a new destination, they plan their trip months in advance and they wait anxiously  for the moment when they’ll hit the road.  As soon as the North Pole lights fade in the distance they feel a pang of mixed emotions, the excitement to discover something unknown and beautiful and the longing to stay in this magical place they love so much.  They know they’ll be back sooner than later, so excitement wins over and off they go!

To be honest, they do miss their wonderful friends and family, but they stay in touch, thanks to technology.  Yes, elves are always one step ahead of us, after all they’re the ones creating all those gadgets that allow us to stay connected even when oceans apart.  And you know what?  They post their trip photos  for the world to see, on Icebergram, that social platform for elves.  They have a tons of followers there!

And they do love some photo tweaking now and then, so they apply filters for Icebergram to their images.  They even shared their secret filter recipe with us, so today’s freebies are three actions to give a vintagey road trip look to your images.  How cool are those elves?

TimberlandDriving through the Boreal Forest, spotted a moose!!  #MooseSightingNo1297 #ElvesRoadTrip


Hi there!  There’s a stranger in our vehicle!  #Who’s this?  #ElvesRoadTrip


Ready to dip our toes in a thawed ocean!!  This is going to be great!  #OceanLife #NoPolarBear #ElvesRoadTrip

Want to add the Icebergram filters to your images, in CS or PSE?  Drive this way —–> Zoom!  Zoom!

The 12 days of Christmas 2013 edition – Day 1

Little elves are hard at work at this crazy busy time of year.  Designing, building, wrapping toys.  Double-checking the nice or naughty list.  There’s almost nothing they can’t do.  But sometimes, they are confronted with a very special wish from a child, and they just can’t figure out how to create it.  That’s when they turn to Santa.  After all, Santa is the master Mr. Fix it.  He will build anything you have in mind, or he will fix that object or toy you wish would still work.  Even the most confusing designing puzzle, he’ll sort out.  He may be a cookie and hot cocoa addict, but he has the mind of a genius, and there’s also some magic involved…  Sometimes.

Santa loves his own personal workshop, he likes to sit at his workbench and figure things out.  He likes the smell of sawdust almost as much as the smell of peppermint.  Mrs Claus secretly wishes that sometimes, he would come upon an object he couldn’t fix and that he would give up.  But he never does…  Like that time when her very old hot cocoa machine died, she would have loved to get one of those shiny new programmable one-cup-as-you-wish machine, but no, he fixed the damn thing, again.  Though Mrs Claus certainly loves her man and her vintage (uh-hmm, old ) stuff, she often dreams of new and more modern ways to help her in everyday chores.  

“I will learn to love the skies I’m under”,  some singer said,  she remembers, and that’s what she does.  Even when life in the North Pole is at it’s worse, and when her days are a blur under too much work, she knows the magic is still there.  Not in the shiny new stuff, but in her heart and in the heart of her man.   And in the heart of every single elf and fairy giving their all for the greater good.  That puts a smile on her face, and then she goes back to her kitchen, puts the kettle on the fire, grates some chocolate, whips some cream and life goes on, as happy as it always was…

Sharing with you today three textures grabbed from Santa’s workbench…

Santa's workbench textures

Santa's workbench textures

Santa's workbench textures

If you’re not afraid of a little mess and of a lot of sawdust, enter Santa’s workshop —–> HERE

Using Gradients in your Photo Editing

I have to admit I love gradients in PS (or PSE).  I think it’s one of the neglected tools in your panel.  With gradients you can easily add fill light, contrast, haze, vignette, etc.  It’s easy to use, but you have to select the right gradient and the right blending modes to get the most out of them.

For this tutorial I’ll use a macro of a flower I did, on which I wanted to softly enhance the center.  Please keep in mind that my photo has it’s own color and exposure, yours will obviously be different,  so layer opacity and angle values (we’ll see it soon…) might need to be adjusted to your own image.  This serves only as a reference to make you want to use Gradients in your editing.

First off,  I had to make sure I had my color swatch set to white on black,  I’ll need it later.

Gradients can be found in two places in PS, on the side bar or under your layers palette, in the adjustment layer menu.  I use the ones in the adjustment layer menu the most because, as with every adjustment in the menu, it adds a layer mask for fine tuning and it’s also easily customizable, just click on the gradient icon and you can change the color and every value you had set, so it fits your image.  The Gradients you find in the side panel also offer many features, but you need to work on a new layer every time and you need to start again if you don’t like the effect.  Though it can be useful because you decide where you want the effect by dragging your mouse on the image, we won’t use it at this time.  Feel free to try both methods though, that’s the best way to learn new things!

So, I clicked on the adjustment layers icon and selected Gradient (Not Gradient Map!).   I started by adding a little haze so I chose a blue gradient, I made sure I had a Radial Gradient to get the fill light/halo effect and changed the scale to 150%.  I checked the Reverse box, to switch the lighter part to the center.  I also changed the angle that is by default set to 90 to 150 to fit my flower’s center the best.  That’s where you need to play with the values, the scale widens the fill light effect and the angle changes where it’s applied.  I then blended that layer in Exclusion mode at 25% to get me some haze.

My next step was adding another Gradient layer, same steps as before, but this time I went with a Sandy colored gradient to add light to my center. Once again a scale of 150% and I kept the 90 degree angle.  This layer was then blended in Hard Light mode at 10% (use hard light mode in low opacity otherwise the light will be too harsh!). 

My flower was hazy, but now I wanted more light and definition, so I added a white to black gradient  (It’s going to pop up by default if your swatch is set to white on black).  Scale at 150%  angle at 135.  This layer will be blended in Overlay mode at 50%.

I could have stopped right there but I wanted more punch to my image.   So, I duplicated this last gradient layer and blended it in Screen mode at 10% to light up the lovely bud even more.

Lastly, I added a Levels adjustment layer to darken my edges so the attention was brought even more on the center.  All I did is bring in the black slider a little, until I was happy with my edges.

And that’s it for this edit!  Writing it seems like a very long edit, but doing it once you get the hang of it will actually take you less than two minutes 🙂

The fun about using gradients is that the possibilities are endless, you can use any color your heart wishes for!  As I said, use blue to create haze, use white or grey to create fill light.  Use light yellow to mimic sunlight, orange to create sunset color.  In this tutorial I used only the Radial gradient, but if you use a linear gradient you can add tone to a landscape, let’s  imagine blue on top and green at the bottom…  I tell you, possibilities are endless!  You can create your own and save them in your gradient editor, just click on the color slider and replace the colors, give your gradient a name and click “NEW”, it will then be added to your palette.  You can find many free gradients online also, and to install them, it’s just like actions, open the gradient editor and click on “LOAD” to add new gradients to your palette.  I’m going to provide you the three gradients I used for this tutorial, they are pretty handy since they’re basic colors 🙂  Get them HERE and have fun! 

Fisheye effect Photoshop tutorial

In a fantasy world,  I would own a fisheye lens,  but reality is,  I don’t.  So,  whenever I want a little fisheye effect in my images,  I have to rely on Photoshop  (It will work in PSE too).   Here’s my photo,  before and after the Fisheye effect.



You will notice,  in this image,  my Fisheye effect is subtle.  Sometimes too much is just too much!  But once you know how to do it, you decide on how strong the effect fits your image.   Remember,  it is PS,  not the actual lens,  so it’s not as perfect,  and like any editing tool, it needs to be used with moderation,  but the effect is fine enough to use it every time you need!

So, let’s start with the actual steps you will need to take,  it’s pretty simple actually,  but it’s just a feature we tend to overlook,  and we might not notice if we do not look for it.

In PS,  duplicate your background layer,  then select all.  Right-click and select > Free Transform.  Once that Free Transform tool is activated,  you get access to the Warp tool,  that’s what we need!  So,  once you’ve clicked Free Transform,  right-click again (or use the top menu bar to access the feature, under Edit > Transform > Warp) and select the Warp tool.  On the top of your workspace, you will see the Warp menu,  it’s set to Custom.  Click on it to develop it and select Fisheye.  It’s set by default to a value of 50.   It’s pretty strong actually,  but depending on your image it could work just fine.  All you need to do at this point is click the check mark,  after you have adjusted the value.  Working on a duplicate layer makes it easier to get rid of and start over again if you find the effect too weak or too strong.  That’s it!  You just needed to know where to find the right menu for the tool!

In PSE,  duplicate your background layer, then select all.   Next go to Filter  > Distort >  Spherize.  Enter the value there,  it’s basically the same tool,  but it has a different name.

BUT I did make things easier for you by writing three Fisheye Tool actions  (values of 50, 25 and 15.  I used 15 in my image ).  Actions work in PS and PSE 7 and up,  via the ACTION PLAYER feature.

Actions will work on a flattened image.

Get your actions HERE,  and have fun!

Free BW actions and free Pastel actions & textures.

If you’re like me you never have enough BW actions.  I need one for every mood I have!  Sometimes I want it dark,  other times light.  So I created this free  BW trio action set.  Three BW actions, slightly tinted,  compatible with PS and PSE.  All files are in the same folder, just select the ones you need.


Get your FREE BW trio action set HERE


My next freebie is another trio of actions, this one for pastel colored tones.  And not only do you get three actions, you also get three matching textures!  A small set with big potential.  Still compatible with PS and PSE.


Get your FREE Pastel set HERE


Have fun with your new goodies!

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