Secrets of Digital Photography

iNovaFX Filter Fix iCanvasPainting series



iCanvasPainting1, 2 and 3 are damaged. (fixed in 4.0)

It's ever so slight, but it is important. Photoshop 6 has features that need to be accommodated in these iNovaFX filters.

These filters work just fine as written in Photoshop 5.0 and 5.5.

But when Photoshop 6.0 was created, the VP of great ideas switched a thing or two, causing some of the program's common features to behave differently. The iCanvasPainting series included an instruction that doesn't work the same with Photoshop 6.

So we will fix it. Estimated time: Two minutes.

Here's what it is. When you layer images in all Photoshop versions, the top layer can interact with lower layers using what are called "blending modes".

These include simple things like Screen and Multiply and Lighten and Luminance. Screen is like a double exposure. Multiply is like laying two slides on top of each other making the darker parts of the top image darken the lower image. Lighten makes the light parts of the top image brighten the lower image ONLY where the top image is actually brighter than the pixels below.

Other blending modes defy intuitive analysis. One of these is called Color Dodge, and in Photoshop 6, this mode has gained a new degree of manipulation and control that was never needed in Photoshop 5 and 5.5. It really is a Good Thing, but in this case, it has gotten in the way.

So, what we are going to do is find one instruction and modify it in each of these three iNovaFX filters.

Here are the steps:

1. Open up Photoshop 6.0 and have an image loaded. Any image will do. Perhaps one that you wish to convert into an oil painting?

2. Just to give the repair process an extra layer to work on, Copy the image and Paste it back on itself. Make sure the top layer is selected in the Layers Palette. Now there are two layers for the repair to work with.

3. Open the Actions window and switch OFF the "Button Mode" if it is on. You will find that item in the menu list that opens from the arrow in the upper right of the Actions Palette.

4. Find the iComplexArtFX.atn group and locate the iCanvasPainting1, iCanvasPainting2 and iCanvasPainting3 files. They are the 5, 6 and 7th items in the list.

5. With the List Mode showing, you can open the individual Action by clicking on its twirling arrow to the left of its name. As it points down, a lengthy list of familiar and odd-looking instructions appears.

6. On iCanvasPainting1, the offending instruction is the 7th one down, labeled "Set current layer" and it follows an instruction labeled "Chalk & Charcoal".

It, too, has an arrow to the left, meaning that there are more details hiding inside. If you open it, you will see this:

Set current layer
To: layer
Mode: color dodge

7. Double click on the "Set current layer" type. You will notice that the record spot and arrow at the bottom of the Actions Palette turn red indicating that you are actively modifying the instruction. Also a "Layer Style" window (it's very large) will open up over your photograph.

At first it will look similar to the one pictured here. In the top middle area there will be a General Blending zone under which an Advanced Blending zone appears and this is the new feature that is causing all the problem. The older Photoshop 5.5 had no such thing as Advanced Blending. But the fix here is simplicity itself.

8. Move that Fill Opacity slider from 100% to about 64%. Don't change any of the other controls (unless you are playing around with them to see what happens next).

9. Click OK. In the list, the "Set current layer" instruction has enlarged to include more details. It will look similar to this. The important thing is that now it includes a reference to the "fill opacity".

10. The filter is repaired. Click the arrow to the left of the iCanvasPainting1 and the whole thing will close up. Trash the top layer from the Layers Palette and run the filter on the image. Instant Oil Painting.

When you close Photoshop, the repair will be stored with the rest of the Actions and will re-appear in its newly modified (repaired) state when you open Photoshop next time. You don't have to store it separately. But you can store the entire iComplexArtFX file on your hard disk for safety. The Save instruction that does this is also on the Actions Palette menu that opens by clicking on the upper right arrow.

That's IT? That's all there WAS? This great big build-up and the whole thing boils down to sliding one silly little arrow half an inch on my computer screen?

Yep. I told you it would be easy. Now lets fix the other two:

These fix exactly the same way. But before you repair each one of them, you must turn the top layer back into Normal Blending Mode on the top left side of the Layers Palette window.

iCanvasPainting2 and iCanvasPainting3 open the same way with the arrows to the left of their names.

iCanvasPainting2 has its "Set Current Layer" instruction as #8 in the list, counting down from the top. Like the first one, it follows the "Chalk and Charcoal" instruction.

iCanvasPainting3 has its "Set Current Layer" instruction way down at position #24 in the list. Like the first one, it follows the "Chalk and Charcoal" instruction and that makes it easier to spot.

Filter Play

These three filters do a lot. The iCanvasPainting3 filter has 34 steps and uses five of Photoshop's Plug-Ins to do its job. Feel free to put in different numbers for that "Fill Opacity" step, just to see how it affects the picture.

You can duplicate any of these Actions by dragging its name down onto the icon of a new piece of paper at the bottom of the Actions Palette window. It is the icon showing a square that has the lower left corner lifted up. (Just make sure you don't accidentally drop it onto the trash icon next to it!)

Once you duplicate a filter, you can play with any of the values in any of the instructions to see what happens when you run it on a picture.

I hope by steering you to this simple instruction repair, I've started you on the road to Mastering Photoshop Actions as well.

Have Fun,