A preview of Image Blending: picture for February 25th, 2011 (and few notes)

(click on picture for larger version (you won’t be dissapointed)– See item 3, “…an example of blending with Plugins“, below)

Well, there’s not much going on today, as I favor getting this new Sagelight update (4.0.3) out over blog writing, and I think the last few blog posts are interesting enough not to scroll off for a while.  But, I’m writing a post anyway because it’s a good place to put a few random items I’ve been thinking about.  And, it gives me a reason to post this cool lion picture I edited — rather, ‘created’ from an original image — and to make a point about Plugins (since we’re on the Wire Worm subject) — see the item below on that.

So, a few short comments about things to think about with Sagelight:

1. Remember that there is a Sagelight facebook page.

I am slowly wanting to move more general and informal discussion there.  Please Like it and please contribute with your pictures.  It still needs some ‘likes’ before it can get its own URL.  I get e-mails all the time about the discovery of Sagelight features, and this could be a good place to discuss those things.  The facebook page is here: Sagelight Editor Facebook Page

2. “Experiment, Experiment, Experiment”.

So goes the statement on the first screen you see when you launch Sagelight for the first time.  Why does it say it, not just once but three times?

A couple reasons, really…

Sagelight is designed for intuitive feedback.

With Sagelight, you can learn what things do as you go.  You don’t need to actually know what is happening internally — figure that out later.  Experiment, play around, and see what the controls, checkboxes, and other buttons do.  You can’t harm your picture (just don’t save over it).

Sagelight’s premise is that it has a lot of professional tools designed to be used very easily. Some of that means not wanting to present you with a lot of the controls right away. So, you might see a little checkbox that seems like it might tweak a setting, when in reality it opens up a whole new dimension.

Sagelight consists of many “Programs within programs”.   The Photographic Tint & Gradient is a good example.  You can use it to tint your picture, but when you press the “Open Gradient Controls” button, it opens up a new world of possibilities.  Then, when you press “Open Contrast Controls” button, yet another dimension is opened up.

Sagelight is designed to be progressive in this way, so that you’re not presented with so many controls that it becomes intimidating at first.  Sagelight is designed to scale to your experience and comfort level.

I’m about to engage in a slight amount of double-speak…

Sagelight has a lot of controls — only at first

When you first come into Sagelight, you’re presented with the Quick Edit mode, which, in its initial mode consist of 5 basic sections, 10 sliders, over 70 buttons,  a histogram, info window, and if you press the mouse on the screen a whole bunch of things happen.  If you open the Power Box or Curves Window, you’re presented with another set of controls and layers that do even more — all simultaneously.

That’s the power of Sagelight.  It’s also easy.  Just start moving controls.  They’re all intuitive and most of them explain what they’re doing with the ‘?’ buttons scattered all around.

So, just experiment.  I guarantee that after about 5 minutes the amount of controls will seem just about right.

3. My cool lion picture – an example of blending with PlugIns (a future article)

I have to admit, a lot of the fun of designing and writing Sagelight is because I like to make great looking pictures from existing pictures — even if I do tend to oversaturate (I’ve taken a lesson from others and don’t saturate as much as I want, and then when I come back it looks ok).

I think I had mentioned that I was reluctant to put Plugins into Sagelight, as I felt it may move away from Sagelight’s focus as an image-enhancement editor.  But, plugins like Wire Worm and others have shown me that they can be a source of extremely useful elements that might not otherwise be available.

Likewise, I nearly didn’t put in the effects in Sagelight — after all, what does an Oil Paint have to do with image enhancement?  I am very fond of how the Oil Paint came out, but it really isn’t what Sagelight was built for.

(how the original lion picture appeared directly from Redfield’s Fractalius plugin, before blending)

(original lion picture)

(the result of blending — a nice airbrushed, artistic image that also still looks photo-realistic — click on image for large-sized example)

Enter Image Blending.

This section is just a preview of a larger article I have in mind.

As you can see, the raw result from the Fractalius plugin is a very nice artistic creation from an original image of the lion. The basic idea is that if you just take a plug in and use it, you get a certain result.  It’s either nice or not, or somewhere in the middle.  But, if you have an editor that allows blending and other manipulation with the ‘before’ image and the image after the plugin did its magic, it opens up a new dimension of possibilities.   For example, with the Wire Worm plugin, you can do so much more when you use the Undo Brush and Cloning Brush afterwards or in the middle

Similarly, the lion picture above was created with a blend of Redfield’s Fractalius plugin and the Image Blending functions of Sagelight.  I blended the original with the result of the Fractalius plugin with the Overlay mode.  The result was something that is at once photorealistic and artistic at the same time.

That’s really the upcoming article: combining effects for artistic, photo-realistic results.

As an example of plugins that are useful for more than their standalone qualities… The Fractalius plugin is $40.  By itself, I would only recommend it if you’re completely mesmerized by the standalone results (and they are mesmerizing).  For me and what I like to do, I  wouldn’t buy it just for the plugin, because I’d use it a few times and then realize that, while it has a lot of variation, it gets the same sort of look over the passage of time — and $40 multiplied across a number of plugins turns into a lot of money.  But, by using blending functions with certain plugins, the Undo Brush, and other things to manipulate the result, I see many plugins as worthy as tools for not just the amazing artistic results they may provide, but as a way to get results like the one above that are simply amazing.

2 thoughts on “A preview of Image Blending: picture for February 25th, 2011 (and few notes)

    • Thanks! Actually, I was thinking about our conversation on the discussion board wth fake/artistic HDR — the idea of using a light application of it and blending it back into the image to get something a little surreal but yet still realistic. I think this is a good example of what I meant. With this one, for example, I could have gone more ‘artistic’ and less realistic, or I could have used slightly less blending to keep away from the idea of an unrealistic/airbrush look, and use the effect as an enhancement on the image as a photograph, keeping the full intention of realism. Similar to how I like to use subtle vignettes where you can’t detect their presence, yet they have an amazing centering effect on the subject — which I think happens even moreso because the vignette isn’t noticeable as a vignette.


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