Friday, January 7, 2011

100 Styles 3 + 4 - Black and White - Photo effect with scalable snow

Photo Effect with scalable snow

Again it's two styles in one, the first one is an interesting way to use a layer style to turn a color photo into a black and white photo, the second is an easy, reusable, and last but not least scalable (as well as movable) snow effect.

Photo Effect

I wanted to try and see if it was possible to get a decent black and white effect using just layer styles, and in my humble opinion I think I've achieved a pretty ok effect. There are of course other (better?!) ways, but it's nice to know it's possible.
Needed effects for the black and white photo effect

Settings for the Color Overlay effect (Click the image to see it larger)
Having the Color Overlay effect set to the Color blend mode with a non-saturated color (White, Black, or any greys in between, doesn't matter which as it only uses the Hue and Saturation data, of which there is none for these) removes the color from the image.

Gradient Overlay settings (Click the image to see it bigger)
Slightly darkens the top of the image while lightening the lower part (The Overlay blend mode lightens the underlaying image where the gradient is white and darkens it where it's black, at 50% grey it's got no effect at all, and in-between the effect is lesser and lesser towards the middle of the gradient). The lightening helps with the illusion as it makes it look a bit like snow, most images will probably need some editing to actually make it look like there's some snow on the ground, but since this is a series about Layer Styles I'll leave that to you to experiment with.

Satin settings (Click the image to see it bigger)
The Satin effect is fairly subtle, but it darkens the darker colors in the image, especially noticeable in the center of the image. It's fairly arbitrary, but to me it makes the image better, use it or not as you see fit.

Inner Glow settings (Click the image to see it bigger)
The Inner Glow makes the image look older by making it lighter at the edges.

Inner Shadow settings (Click the image to see it bigger)
I've been debating a bit whether or not to have the Inner Shadow, but I eventually decided to keep it as it reins in the effect of the Inner Glow in a way that lowering the opacity on the Inner Glow effect doesn't. It does help the image by making it more unified as well.

Scalable snow effect
Now for the snow effect, it's pretty simple once one has the pattern that's used to get the snow. There are countless tutorials on that on the internet, so if you want to know how to do that it's just to head to Google and search for it (I can share the details on how I did it though if there's something specific you're interested in). There's no need to create a pattern of your own if you just want to play around with the snow effect, just download the second file at the bottom of this post and load the pattern file into Photoshop. To do that you follow the same process as for loading a style file, but you choose Patterns in the dropdown menu instead of Styles, after that they can be accessed as described below, but if you load both the styles and the patterns the correct pattern should be chosen automatically. Please tell me if there are any problems.

Pattern Overlay settings (Click the image to see it bigger)
There are two important things here, first the pattern itself, click the triangle to the right of the preview to change it, you can try the "Slow snow" pattern I've included in the pattern file to see how the effect looks with another snow image that looks more like snow falling slowly. The other thing is the Blend Mode, set to either Screen or Linear Dodge (Add), having one of those blend modes makes Photoshop "forget about" the black pixels and only use the white ones, thus making the black pixels transparent and showing the "snow". Using the supplied patterns I recommend using the Linear Dodge blend mode as Screen probably isn't noticeable enough,. It depends a lot on the pattern file though, if you increase the lightness on that file you can probably use Screen (and/or lower the opacity).

Since the effect depends on a Pattern Overlay you can do all the things you can do with any Pattern Overlay effect, including scaling the layer up and down (you probably get a better effect the closer to 100% you are, but there's plenty of room for experimentation) and clicking on the canvas and moving the effect if you want to slightly change where the "snow flakes" are.

  • To get a lower contrast and a lighter image you can simply switch the blend modes on the Gradient Overlay and Color Overlay effects, though you'll probably have to lower the opacity on the latter to avoid making it too light. You can also use the blend mode Soft Light on the Color Overlay effect to make it have a lesser impact.
  • You don't need to download the pattern file if you just want to take a quick look at the effect as the patterns used to produce the image above is included in the style file, the pattern file contains another pattern as well though.
  • The files are 7-zip files to save bandwidth (to make the download faster) just extract the contents to a place of your choice to find the file when you import it into Photoshop. (To extract the file you'll need the free 7-zip utility, can be found here: )

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