Category Archives Updates

OK, today in Part 2 we’re looking at the Post Processing I did to yesterday’s image, and for that I used the new Lucis Art Pro plug-in (which I’m going to mini-review in this same post).

DISCLAIMER: If you hate the Dave Hill look, or you’re tired of it, or whatever…do me a favor—just skip this post. The reason I did the post in the first place is that this is the #1 most-requested technique I get from readers, and I thought I’d give it a whirl. Obviously, this was a huge mistake on my part, because apparently it just mostly made people mad at me (I don’t know why it always has to come to this—it’s just a Photoshop technique for goodness sakes). But since I did part one and promised to show the post-processing, I feel like I should finish it, so I’m going to. However, it’s mean comments like the ones I received yesterday that make me think I should stick to safer topics, like the Nikon D3x pricing and more Lightroom conspiracies. ;-)


Step One: Before you run the Lucis Pro 6.0 plug-in, you’ll need to do something to soften your subject’s skin, because the hyper-sharpening the plug-in adds will greatly magnify every blemish, spot, or skin irregularity and it looks pretty bad. So, I started by using the Healing Brush. I Option-clicked [PC: Alt-clicked] in a nearby area that didn’t have a blemish (to sample that skin texture), then I chose a brush size just slightly bigger than the blemishes I wanted to remove, then I moved over the blemish and just clicked once to remove it. So, I went through the image and did that first.

lucis-21Step Two: Next, you’ll need to do an overall softening of the skin. What I did for this picture is apply the same type of skin softening I might to a portrait of a woman, but I used a higher amount of blurring than I would normally use. I started by duplicating the background layer. Then I applied a 25 pixel Gaussian Blur, then I lowered the opacity of this layer to 50%, as shown here (so it’s half as blurry). Then I held the Option key [PC: Alt-key] and clicked on the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layer panel. This hides the blurry layer behind a black mask (as seen here). Then I changed the foreground color to white, and I took the Brush tool and painted over just his skin. I avoided the edges of his skin or any areas that were supposed to have detail (like his eyes, eyebrows, lips, etc.). This left the rest of the image sharp, but his skin very soft.


Step Three: Now I applied the Lucis Pro 6.0 plug-in (shown above). All I did in this plug-in was to drag the Enhance Detail slider over to 65, and then I clicked OK. Simple enough.


Step Four: Now, the key part of this is Dodging and Burning the heck out of the image, in other words, over exaggerate the highlights and shadows, so the photo almost looks cartoonish (basically, you’re going to make the darkest parts darker, and the brightest parts brighter). If you have Photoshop CS4, you can use the Dodge and Burn tools, because they’ve been greatly enhanced. We’ll start with Burning; after you choose the Burn tool, go up to the Options Bar, set the Range to Shadows (so it just effects the shadows), and lower the Exposure amount to 20%. Now paint over the shadow areas in your photo (like in the folds of his shirt, his pants, on his hat, etc.). You have to really exaggerate the shadows, so you’ll have to paint over the shadow areas a few times, and let it build up a bit.


Step Five: Now switch to the Dodge tool. Up in the Options bar, switch the Range to Highlights, and paint over the highlight areas in his shirt, pants, and along both side edges of him, where the brighter light is hitting. Again, you’ll probably have to paint over these highlight areas a few times to really exaggerate the look.


Step Six: Lastly, you’ll finish off by darkening the edges (kind of an edge vignette effect). I did mine by duplicating the background layer and switching the Layer Blend mode to Multiply. Then I made a rectangular selection that’s about 1 inch in from the image borders all the way around (as shown above). Then I added a 250-pixel Feather, and then hit the Delete key, which knocked a hole out of the darker layer, which gave the darkened edge vignette look. That’s how I did the final image you saw yesterday (and the final shown below).


Lucis Pro 6 Plug-in Review
I had reviewed the previous version of this plug-in, called LucisArt2, last year, and while I liked the plug-in, there was a problem (one problem for Mac users, one for Windows users). On the Mac, to use the old plug-in you had to launch Photoshop in Mac OS X’s “Rosetta” mode, which is a much slower (but more compatible) mode. This slowed Photoshop down quite a bit, but I’d only run in Rosetta when running this plug-in (unless, of course, I forgot to quit Photoshop, turn off Rosetta mode, and relaunch Photoshop, which I did all the time).

Well, luckily, in the new Batch of LucisArt plug-ins, they all run in regular Mac OS X. On Windows, they completely rebuilt the interface, and now it’s dramatically better. Besides fixing OS stuff, there are a lot of improvements, including a new algorithm that gives better, cleaner results, a better more streamlined interface, much more control over how the affect is applied, and in Lucis Pro 6, you can run the plug-in on 16-bit images (the other, less expensive, and less featured LucisArt3 plug-ins can only run on 8-bit images). So, overall—lots of improvements to the effect and functionality.

That being said, in my opinion there are two really huge problems with this plug-in.

  1. It’s crazy expensive at nearly $600 ($595 US). That’s twice what Lightroom costs and nearly as much as Photoshop CS4 itself (you can buy the full version of CS4 from for $639), for a plug-in that is essentially a “one trick pony.” There are less expensive versions of the plug-in (like LucisArt3), but of course, they have less features and can’t run on 16-bit images, but you can get one of those for around $300 (about the same price as Lightroom). Now, the case can be made that if your clients are willing to pay for this look, then it may be worth the investment, but outside of that, I would have a hard time justifying the high price.
  2. I think Lucis Pro 6 has a bigger problem than the price. It requires a USB hardware dongle. To me, this is the deal breaker. I absolutely would not buy the plug-in because of this requirement (Note: the cheaper LucisArt3 does not require this dongle).  I know they’re doing this to cut down on software piracy, but this isn’t penalizing the pirates—it’s penalizing their highest-paying customers. Plus, if I need to use the plug-in on a laptop and my home machine, now I have to carry the dongle in my case. If I leave it at home, and need it at work; I’m out of luck. If I need to use more than one USB port on my laptop, now I can’t use the plug-in. Ridiculous! I don’t know of a single software product in our industry that has become a success while using a hardware dongle (just ask Quark, who added a hardware dongle to QuarkXPress for a very short time), and I hope the people at LucisArt will rethink this going forward

The Bottomline
While the plug-in does a very good job at what it does, I would have a hard time recommending the product for the two reasons I just listed above. While Lucis Pro 6.0 is a big improvement over its predecessor, LucisArt 2, in just about every way, I think the 400% price increase is way off the mark, especially with the limited looks this plug-in can provide (Though the market will ultimately decide if the price is too high). As for the hardware dongle; for me–it’s the deal killer.

Here’s a link to their site for more details, complete pricing for all three plug-ins with a list of each product’s features, and a comparison of how LucisArt 3 compares with LucisArt 2.

……one of my all time favorite automotive photographers, UK-based commercial photographer Tim Wallace.

You’ve heard me talk about Tim’s work here on the blog (Tim’s even allowed me to post a few of his images here), and after seeing Tim’s work once again on Elinchrom’s web site, I dropped Tim a note and invited him to do a guest blog here where he could share his techniques for lighting and shooting fine automobiles. Make sure you check back tomorrow to catch Tim’s post—the first Guest Blog of 2009!

The button with an emblem of an antispam on the keyboard.

This past weekend I uncovered a problem with how your comments to specific posts are being handled. I don’t moderate your comments before they are posted (your comments should appear as soon as your write them), however we do have a very necessary spam filter that keeps tons of spam comments from being posted (and yes there are actually thousands caught by that filter each month!).

Anyway, for some reason it has been taking a lot of your legitimate comments and flagging them as spam, and this weekend I was shocked to find that literally hundreds of your comments were “Awaiting Moderation.” Of course, I immediately went and released them all, and we’re working on a fix, but in the meantime I wanted to apologize for your comments being delayed. Your comments are very important to me (I read each and every one), and to the community we’ve built here, so thanks for your patience as we get this worked out.

Until we do have this worked out, I’ll be checking the list numerous times each day to make sure your comments do get posted.

All my best,


kenya2006_072_copy2Hi gang. I got the official update yesterday from Molly and Joseph Bail on how the fund raising has been going to finish the roof and complete the orphanage in Kenya.

They needed just over $49,000 total  to get the orphanage finished, furnished, and up and running, and I am absolutely thrilled to report that they now, thanks in part to your efforts, have over $64,000 and tomorrow Molly, Joseph and their son Elijah (pictured here) are flying back to Kenya for an entire year to feed, clothe, and care for these children.

I heard again and again how check and Paypal donations have been coming in (still averaging at least three a day from readers of this blog), and I am so touched and thankful to have such wonderful, caring and compassionate readers. There are even readers who have pledged monthly donations to help feed and clothe these children (if you’re so moved, here’s the link).

Gang, this was a BIG win! You did something really special—something really important in the big picture, and I can’t thank you all enough for your generosity and support for getting this project back on track!

I’ll be sure to post photos when the roof is finished, and from the opening day (which won’t be too far away now!) Please keep Molly, Joseph, and their son Elijah, in your prayers going forward, and thanks again for making a difference in the life of a child.   — Scott

P.S. I’ve received some emails from readers who have just gotten their first copies of my CS4 Book for Digital Photographers. As soon as the Spiral-bound editions hit our warehouse, I’ll sign them and get them right out to you all!


Corey Barker, over at just launched a very cool Photoshop contest, and the winner gets (among other prizes) a full conference pass to Photoshop World this March in Boston. Here’s how Corey describes the contest:

“The way it works is you are presented with three tutorials that have been selected from the vast library of tutorials here on Planet Photoshop. After watching the tutorials your assignment is to use the techniques you learn from one or all of them to create an original piece of artwork. Feel free to be as creative as you want. Just think of these tutorials as a springboard as you proceed to create your original art.” –Corey

The deadline is just two weeks away, so for for details (and how to submit your work), click here. Good luck! :)