I’m one of those frustrated painters who took up a camera because I’m totally incapable of using a brush or pen to convey my vision. Sometimes I think that if I had spent as much time trying to learn how to use those tools as I have spent trying to learn the camera, perhaps that would not be so. Nonetheless, I find myself frequently trying to use my photographic images in ways that are different from the image that is straight out of the camera.
For instance, I have really enjoyed using encaustic techniques with one of my images as a background to convey a dreamy, surreal look.
And I frequently montage images together to get a different look,
Or I substitute skies into my image,
Or I combine painting and brush strokes.
But what I do, more than any other technique, is combine photographic elements with textures. I have huge numbers of textures—abstracts and blurs that I have made myself, environmental texture elements I have photographed, skies, old barns—you name it, I have a collection of it! In fact, I believe I have more images of textures than I do of anything else.
So, when I start working on one of my photographic images creatively, I find myself searching my Lightroom catalogue for all the texture images I have collected, choosing the ones that I think I might want to use with my photographic image, and open them up in Photoshop to start the imagination process. It’s a bit of a clunky process because I have to go back and forth between Photoshop and Lightroom multiple times, trying and discarding multiple images while searching for the look that I want. With each texture image I think I might use, I have to export from Lightroom to Photoshop, copy and paste the texture image into my image layer panel, convert it to a smart object, and then start blending it with my photograph. If I don’t like the effect, then I have to start all over with a new texture image.
So, at the risk of sounding as hyperbolic as Trump, I will say that the newest version of Lightroom CC which was offered in March of this year is one of the greatest updates I have ever seen in Lightroom since Abraham Lincoln. In fact, in all modesty, I will say that some people say, “Sir, it’s as great as Abraham Lincoln!”
What am I referring to? The ability to upload vast quantities of your own assets into the Photoshop libraries panel. These assets include character styles, colors, layer styles, smart objects, and jpg image files. The libraries panel has been available in Photoshop since 2014 and I have used it, sporadically, for 3D objects that I have created. I don’t know if Photoshop made jpg file types available to upload in creative cloud libraries with the March update or if I just became aware of it at that time. But the ability to upload jpg files means that I now have access to all my textures, skies, photographic objects, to all my adobe creative cloud products on both my desktop and my laptop computer, and to all my portable devices running Adobe mobile apps. It’s a game changer!
Adobe creative suite subscribers are given 100 gb of storage space in the cloud which is lots of storage space to hold huge numbers of texture files in your creative cloud libraries. Once you have uploaded these files and you are processing an image file in Photoshop, all you have to do is open the library panel and you will see thumbnails of all your texture files. Select one and drag it into the image window – Photoshop will bring over a copy of the file, convert it to a smart object, and you can begin your editing process. If you don’t like that texture file? Delete it and choose another one from the open Library panel in Photoshop. It’s as easy as drag and drop and untethers the creative process from the mechanics of your tools.
It’s very easy to import your jpg files into the library panel. Open it, create a folder (click the folder icon at the bottom of the panel), select the jpg files you wish to import into the library, copy them, then paste them into the folder you just created. And voila! now the files are stored in your personal creative cloud space and available to all your Adobe products.