Coat of Many Colors

Coat of Many Colors

This image started out as just a test project. If I knew I were going to take it this far, I would have started with a much larger base image, but once I got into the test project, it just needed to be completed. My original “vision” for this project was more of a traditional earth toned or sepia toned image, but I kept coming back to the colorized layers.

Layer Parts

This shows some of the steps and layers used in this project. I’ll also include one of the “toned down” versions at the bottom of the page. This project is similar in a way to the Mountain Goat Sentinel project. I used a watercolor style jittery spatter brush on both. This one has an outline layer, created in Topaz Simplify, and set to Multiply mode. The results of that layer were run through the “ripple” filter in Photoshop to randomize the edges. I kept an unrippled version and revealed various areas of both using layer masks.

The “trick” on this project involves selecting the “Luminosity” values of my original layer, then creating an inverted layer mask on a new layer. The steps are relatively simple.

  1. On the base layer, click Control-Alt 2. (On a Mac, that’s probably Command-Option 2). That loads the RGB Luminosity of the layer, resulting in a bunch of “marching ants”.
  2. Make a new layer above the background layer and fill it with white (or add a new, light colored texture on that layer)
  3. Make a new layer above the white layer, and fill it also with white.
  4. On the top white layer, hold down the Alt/Option key and click the “Add Layer Mask” icon at the bottom of the layer tab. As long as the original marching ants were still active, holding down the Alt/Option key while creating Layer Mask “inverts” the mask in one step.
  5. Then simply paint with the brush of choice and color of choice on the top white layer.

Swan Layers

The swan image above shows the layers I would use to start a similar project. That’s just the starting point! Dropping the opacity of the white layer (sandwiched between the background image and the spattered layer) lets some of the base layer show through, which is how I brought back some of the coat colors on the showcased image.

Toned Down Mountain Man

This is closer to my original “vision” for this project. Actually, I like them both! This one has a bit of an Andrew Wyeth watercolor touch.

With Canvas Texture

On this last version, I added some monochromatic grain in Photoshop using the Noise filter, then added a Canvas style texture using the Texturizer filter in the Filter Gallery. Now…scroll back to the top and see if you like the brighter color image? I could also layer the two versions and adjust the layer opacity of the top one, or I could paint in areas using a layer mask to hide the top one.

About This Photo: I took this photo at the Jackson Hole Mountain Man Rendezvous in 2015. I’ve seen Don and his wife at the various Rendezvous over the past seven years. You’ll often see him shooting off his candy canon for the attending kids. If you are interested in reading more about regional Rendezvous, check out:  Mountain Man Rendezvous: on my JH Photography / Travel blog.

If you like this site, please let your friends know about it! MJ



5 thoughts on “Coat of Many Colors

  1. Love that Mike. All the color and textures are amazing. I kinda like the first version too, not as colorful. Don is a great guy, and we will no doubt see him in Arizona this winter. I may have to print this and give it to him as a gift from you. Are you OK with that?

    • Hi Bill, Thanks! Projects like this one take on a life of their own. While working on them, I get personally invested. When I get to what I consider “the end”, it’s easy to look back at a few of the steps or stages and see things I like I didn’t see along the way. This site gives me a little elbow room to experiment, plus I have space to show some of the variations. I’ll probably look at these images differently (or more objectively) a few months from now. Thanks again, M. Jackson

  2. Mike – I am having difficulty understanding this direction – I have a Mac – may be you could explain a little more in depth for this old person–mostly I don’t seem to get any result when doing the first part of the directions (no marching ants) –

    “On the base layer, click Control-Alt 2. (On a Mac, that’s probably Command-Option 2). That loads the RGB Luminosity of the layer, resulting in a bunch of “marching ants”.”

    I really like this texture stuff and getting better at it –

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *