The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is located on the West side of the Town Square in Jackson Hole, WY. You can’t miss it!
This was a quick project! It consists of two watercolor images and a photo of the historic neon sign.
The inspiration for this project came after I was experimenting with the two watercolor layers. The top watercolor layer was set to “Multiply Blend Mode”.
In Photoshop, there’s a command which merges all visible layers to a new layer. I used it several times on this project. On a PC, the keyboard commands are Control-Alt-Shift-E. I believe the command is Command-Option-Shift-E on a Mac.
I merged the two watercolor layers to a new layer, then selected the outer white border with the Magic Wand tool. I deleted the white on that layer. I created a new layer below it and filled that layer with white.
The Sign Layer (Cowboy Bar Sign) was opened as a new document, copied, then pasted into the current document. To create a layer mask on the Sign Layer, I Control Clicked the Merged Watercolors layer to select the watercolor data, then switched back to the Sign Layer. The Layer Mask preserved the selected area and masked the outer portion of the sky.
The Soft Light Layer is simply a new Curves Adjustment Layer set to Soft Light. I left the opacity of that layer at 100%. The Soft Light adjustment layer added some contrast and saturation.
I created another Merged Layer above the previous layers so I could try out some third party filters. Not all companies make a duplicate image, so I usually add another copy of the merged layer above the first one. Typically, I use Control-J keyboard shortcuts.
For this project, I ran the top Merged Layer through a lot of third party filters. I ended up using Vintage Scene by JixiPix. I could have tried hundreds more! And, I could combine several of them. The results of the Vintage Scene was prettying interesting. I tried all of the Layer Mode options and ended up simply using Luminosity at 100%.
After saving the file, I made one more Merged Layer. I copied that layer to a new document where I cropped it slightly, changed to sRGB, resided the image to fit this page and saved the file as a JPG.
A project like this is all about experimenting! After saving the original files, I went back to the layered file and changed the JixiPix layer to Color Blend Mode and then added a Hue and Saturation adjustment layer. There are a gazillion options and possibilities!
Topaz ReStyle is an interesting program if you want to see how other colors can affect and modify an image. There are lots of “Collections” and each of them has a long list of Presets. Pick any one of the presets to see how those color work with the image. The panel on the right lets you adjust and tweak any of the settings, and if you build one you like, you can save it.
Cowboy Bar Version 2: This version has a few more layers, more filters, and an additional neon style border.
This screen grab shows a few of the extra layers. The Neon Border was created by making a selection of the Merged Watercolors layer, then adding a new layer. The selection was “Stroked” with 5 pixels red over the center. That layer was given a Outer Glow of red using a Layer Effect. I used that Neon Border a couple of times if it became too obscured by other layers.
The hardest part of a project like this one is to know when to stop!
- In the “old days”, I might have made an Alpha Channel to be able to retrieve a selection. (Select>Save Selection) I knew I could always select the Merged Watercolor layer at any time by Control-Clicking the layer, so I didn’t use the feature.
- You can always create a “SnapShot” by clicking the camera icon in the History tab. You can create as many SnapShot states as desired while working on a project and return to that state at any time. But, you should know that History and SnapShots are thrown out once a file is closed. I try not to rely on them, but there might be times when you want to “paint with the History Brush”.
- There are usually several ways of doing exactly the same thing in Photoshop. Some make more sense to some people and are easier to remember for that reason. The Merge Visible to a New Layer command is Control-Alt-Shift-E on a PC. You can do the same thing using the normal commands, including mouse movements. For example, Select>All (Control-A), then Edit>Copy Merged (Control-Shift-C), and Edit>Paste (Control-V) does the same thing.
- Occasionally, I convert a layer to a Smart Layer or Smart Filter. Filter>Convert to Smart Filter. This allows me to try a filter, then double click on it in the layers tab to edit it. It works great, but Smart Filters occasionally cause other features to hiccup.