Lazy Nezumi Pro

I’d like to plug a Photoshop plug-in that I discovered a couple months ago and I think it’s absolutely wonderful. Lazy Nezumi Pro. What it primarily does is smooth your strokes for you, which eliminates the regrettable stair-step pixelated lines you sometimes get if you’re zoomed out too far when you draw or when your processor is being stupid. And it smooths out your wobbly curves. It lets you specify how much you want it to average out your strokes, so it’s totally adjustable for your preferences.

Another totally useful things it does is that it has a ton of different types of on-screen rulers to help you draw lines, curves, shapes in perspective, spirals, etc. The great thing about these rulers is that you can adjust the precision. So, when you want to draw almost-perfect shapes or lines, but not so perfect that it doesn’t look hand-drawn, this does that beautifully.

There are a bunch of other cool features as well that you absolutely should play with.

I bought it because my wonderful wacom cintiq had ANOTHER 3-in-1 cord fail on me. Seriously, wacom? Seriously?!? And it took TWO MONTHS for them to send me a replacement because they were out of stock. (If you have one of these, do yourself a favor and buy a spare cord to keep around, because they break ALL THE TIME and wacom can’t seem to keep them in stock. Especially if you’re out of the warranty period.)

So, my cintiq was out of commission for the entire second half of my recent Genie Loophole project. Luckily, I still had my old wacom intuos pro. It is a graphics tablet, but not a screen tablet like the cintiq. It takes a little longer to get the lines the way I like them on the intuos than on the cintiq. The two main problems are getting strokes to fall exactly where I want them and avoiding the stair-step thing on my lines.

Lazy Nezumi saved my skin. After some practice, I was able to use that in combination with my intuos and get results as good as, and almost as fast as, with my cintiq.

Anyway, go buy the thing. It’s worth the money. You will thank me for it.

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Tutorial: A Trick with Kill White

Here’s a trick you can do with the free Photoshop filter Mike and Kael’s Kill White (which is an awesome filter for several reasons).

So I have a picture of a flower.  Nothing special.  There’s not a whole lot of contrast and it’s just kind of blah.  I tried playing with the contrast and the colors and I just wasn’t happy with it.  So, I went back to the beginning and did a trick with Kill White instead.

Here’s the original:

I copied the layer.

And converted it to black and white.  That’s Image->Adjustments->Black & White.  I played with the filters until I came up with one that made mostly the leaves darker, but the petals stayed bright.  This time it was the High Contrast Red Filter, but if none of the pre-sets look quite right, you can manually adjust the filter.

Now you have two layers.  A black and white and a color.  Here’s where I use the handy-dandy kill white filter on the black and white layer.  That transformed all the white in the layer to transparent and you get this:

Almost there, but just a bit too dark.  So I adjust the vibrance of the bottom layer.  That’s Image->Adjustments->Vibrance.  In this case I upped the vibrance and the saturation by 10.  Then I upped the brightness by 40 under Image->Adjustments->Brightness/Contrast.  Then I adjusted the transparency of the top layer to 80%.  And came up with this:

Okay, so maybe not an award-winning photo, but it’s a heck of a lot better than the original.

See what I mean?

Cropping helps.

The reason this works is with the transparent and black overlay, I can up the brightness and saturation of the colors I want without losing the nice dark shadows of the parts I want in shadow.  It’s a very targeted way to up the contrast on a photo.