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Damien Symonds

READ THIS FIRST - Posting guidelines and download files

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I really enjoy trying to analyse different types of post-processing, to figure out how it was done.  If there's a style you want to emulate, share it so I can help you achieve it.  Please observe these guidelines:

  1. Post links to other people's images.  Don't upload photos that aren't your own - that's bad manners.  Provide the link to an image with the desired effect, so that we can visit it.  Don't link the file itself; link the page on which you found the photo, so that the photographer gets the credit and the traffic.  
  2. Upload a photo of yours on which you'd like the style applied.   Note that by posting your image, you are effectively giving me permission to download the image, so I can experiment with the edit and respond to your question.
  3. Make sure you choose an appropriate photo.  The characteristics of the photo play a big role in the application of the style.  For example:
       - If the photo you'd like to emulate was taken outdoors, don't post an indoor photo;
       - If the photo you'd like to copy has a bright background, don't post a photo with a dark background;
       - If the photo you'd like to copy has lots of background blur, make sure your photo has lots of background blur too;
       - and so on.

    I really can't emphasise this enough. If you are wanting to emulate somebody else's post-processing, but you can't find any photos in your library that emulate their photography, then the post-processing is a moot point, isn't it? Photographic skill is crucial.  If your photo isn't suitable, I won't be able to help you with your request.
  4. Make sure you have clean-processed your image first.  Don't post a straight-out-of-camera (SOOC) photo.  Artistic styles are best applied after clean processing has been performed.  I would not teach my gymnasts to somersault before they could roll safely; nor will I teach photographers to get artistic before they can competently edit cleanly.  You can find more information about clean processing in my article here.
  5. Please scroll down this page, because you'll find dozens of styles I've already played with.  You might find what you're looking for right here!
  6. Lastly, there will inevitably be questions which I must decline to answer because they coincide directly with my classes.  These will generally be questions regarding clean processing.  I give away a lot of information, time and expertise for free, but I am also trying to make a living and support my family.  Thank you for your understanding.
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The following are PSD files that I've created over the years.  They're a mixed bag - artistic kind of stuff that people have asked for occasionally.

The purpose of these files is not to teach you any specific methods.  It's to encourage you to PLAY PLAY PLAY.  Truth is, I didn't have a clue what I was doing when I was creating some of these.  I was just fiddling around to see what I could come up with.  If you find yourself wondering "How did Damien choose the value of 228 for the green slider?" or whatever, I probably don't know.  I was simply experimenting, and I hope you will do the same.  Learn the way children learn - by playing.

Two important notes:

  1. What works for one photo won't necessarily work for another.  Don't expect to be able to copy the layers in these files and get the same result on another photo.
  2. Artistic editing must only be done after clean processing.  Always get your base edit looking fabulous before dabbling with artistic styles.

How this thread works:

  1. Make sure you're on your computer (these files won't work on mobile devices)
  2. Scroll down the page, and find an edit that interests you.
  3. Click on the PSD download link to save the file to your computer.
  4. Open the file in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements and examine the layers that I used.
  5. If there's something that you don't understand about the file, start a new thread right here in this forum and we'll discuss it.

Two more notes:

  1. You'll probably notice that I'm not personally fond of some of these styles.  Of course that doesn't matter, I'm always happy to help you explore whatever you want to explore.
  2. Sometimes, it won't be immediately obvious what each layer is doing.  To see its effect, turn it on and off several times.  To understand its adjustments, make sure you check its blend mode, and all of its sliders.  For example, on a Levels layer, make sure you examine each of the individual Red, Green and Blue channels, as well as the main RGB channel.
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569b6d81a3b11_AwfulBlur.jpg.4b861a7d7da7

I am not a huge fan of this look.  But to achieve it, use two blur layers at different levels of Gaussian blur, then "Levels 1" and "Photo Filter 1" to add warmth, "Levels 2" and "Levels 3" to manipulate the background light, then "Levels 4" for the matte effect and "Levels 5" (below it) for the nauseating vignette. Then lastly, "Levels 6" because I realised that the shoes were just glowing too darn much.

Download the file here.

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569b6de19ba60_Darkanddesaturated2.jpg.d6

First, a Levels layer to change the coat colour, because the bright coat really didn't suit the effect. Then a midtone contrast layer (I used a B/C layer, but any layer at all would have sufficed, as long as it was on Soft Light mode). Then the vomit on top.

Download the file here.

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569b6eb300ee9_MatteBW.jpg.d8956bee7d8e7b

This is a colour photo which I first did a clean black-and-white edit on, then a vignette layer followed by the two layers which are used to make the nauseating bloody matte look which is briefly popular at the moment. Those layers work just the same on colour photos as well, so play all you like.

Note: I can't show you the layers which went into the clean-processed version, sorry. You'll have to take my Levels Class for that.

Download the file here.

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569b704ac93c7_Darkanddesaturated1.jpg.8c

On this one, I did the Levels layer first. Then I added the D&B layer below it, when I realised I wanted a bit more darkness in that area. Normally you'd add new layers on top of other layers, but that's not necessarily the case when adding artistic effects. Generally the artistic layer/s remain on top.

Download the file here.

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569b7277cae49_RowanReddish.jpg.67ea54e7d

An inverted High Pass layer to give that softer look, then an aggressive vignette and just a hint of purple - not enough to make me throw up, but just enough to put me off my lunch.

Note: If working from a raw file, it would be much better to use the Clarity slider (to the left) than the High Pass layer. But if you want to use High Pass, you simply duplicate the background layer and change its blend mode, then use Filter>Other>High Pass, then invert the layer.

Download the file here.

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