Saturday, 25 December 2010

PP Tips 17 - Paint It Black

This is part of a 'How To' series on post process work.

This tip is about using the Vivid Light brush in Photoshop. Similar technique would probably work in any editor which has a paint brush palette where a 'lightening' effect can be applied.

The Vivid Light brush is is one of my favourite tools and is invaluable for adding some extra light, or even darkening parts of an image selectively. In other words, doing localised contrast adjustment.

Image one

This is the original image which I wish to adjust. It is straight from camera.

Image Two

Selecting the paint brush tool from the tools palette, I next select a brush type (soft), and then set the size I wish to use, use the drop down to select Vivid Light, the colour I wish to use and the level of Opacity.

So, my settings are soft brush, Vivid Light, white colour, 380 pixels, Opacity = 5%.

Note : Opacity of 5% is a good all round setting. You can always paint over an area more than once

I have a preset for these values (AA Vivid Light 380) and this is easy to add to the brush menu.

Image Three

Here, I have simply used my 'white' brush to paint over parts of the harvester and also any grass areas. I have avoided the sky and also the bags in the foreground.

Image Four

Having lightened parts of the image, I have now switched my brush colour to black, and painted over the tops of the bags and the grass at the right foreground.

Image Five

Switching back to the white brush, I have now painted over the tops of the bags and some of the grass next to the bags.

What this has done is to create some more localised contrast around the top of the bags.

Well, that's it. Finished.

Image Six

The original, again.

Image Seven

The adjusted image.

Image Eight

The original left, and adjusted image at right.

Hope you found it helpful.

Note : You can use any colour, not just white or black. For example, you may wish to use orange to add lightness, or glow, in areas in a sunset scene. Always good to experiment

Update 26th December - Here are a couple more examples, using the same technique.

Image One

Original image from camera.

Image Two

What I have done here is to do one brush sweep of black over the sky, mountain, tree areas, and then one pass of white.

For the foreground, I have used a couple of passes of white, and then one pass of black, and one more of white. Nothing else was done.

Image Three

The original left, and adjusted at right.

Image Four

The original image, as shot.

Image Five

What I have done here is to do several passes over different areas, simply using white or black. As a final step, I did a pass over the sky area with blue, and a pass over the mountain area with a red/orange shade.

Image Six

The original left, and adjusted at right.


Other posts in this series - Click here for the index page.



  1. Anothr nice tut Dave. One of these days you are going to have to do Photoshop tutorials for dummys and sell it. I haven't the patience for using it and to me it seems overly complicated.

  2. Ralph, Hi.

    Thank you. I think PS is only over complicated if you make it so. Most of what I do is with presets in ACR, or actions in PS. The technique I describe gets used constantly though.