Autumn walk

In order not to get crazy during covid times, it is important to go out. Even though for some reason most people are not wearing their face masks. I won’t discuss whether it makes sense to wear them or not. Yes I am talking to you anti Covid people.

My kids and I love to go for long walks. We try our best to go for a walk every day. Recently the weather was really nice, which is not always the case in Belgium, so I also took my camera.

For my edits I used a new piece of software, ON1 Photo Raw. I shifted away from Luminary as I do not appreciate their user policy.

ON1 allows me to edit photos o my tablet and has overall better experience. I started by performing basic color correction (exposure, highlights and shadows, white balance and contrast). Next i bumped the colors a little bit (or converted to BW where appropriate) and added a white frame. Hope you like it 馃檪


How to create custom Luminar looks and how to group them

I like my Luminar 4, no doubt about it. It is easy to use and does what it is supposed to, help me easily develop my RAW images. One of the coolest features of this program are Lumiar Looks.

They are shortcuts to all develop presets, which you can fine-tune afterwards. But there was always one thing that bugged me. I can store all my presets only in one group, the User Luminar Looks group. I would like to have them grouped the way I want. For example all my BW presets in one folder, all portrait presets in another and so on. A bit like all those presets that come preinstalled with Luminar. I decided to check it out. I was able to download some external presets as you can see on a screenshot above. Sure enough, after a little bit of digging I found a way to group my presets. Here are the steps to follow:

Step 1: Create Luminar Look

Let’s begin from scratch and first actually create a Luminar Look. I will start with this picture:

I always begin by fixing light problems. In this case I slightly increased the overall exposure and contrast. I almost removed the highlights (there very little actually) and increased the shadows. This gave some extra detail on the right side of the pole.

Next I converted my image to Black and White.Those color sliders tell Luminar how you want to affect certain colors in your image. Bring them to the right and parts of that color will appear brighter when in BW, bring them to the left and they appear darker.

Next I went to Creative section and applied some Dramatic setting:

And I also applied some Matte look to my image:

Although same effect can be achieved with Curves adjustment, but those are a bit tricky if you don’t really understand them.

OK! I’m done, so it’s time to save my Luminar Look. Below your image you should see a button that says Save New Look. Luminar will ask for a name of your preset. It can be whatever you wish. Click Save.

If you did everything right you should now see your preset in the lower section of your Luminar window. Mine looks like this:

Step 2: Find your presets folder

This is probably the easiest step. Just open Luminar and go to File -> Show Luminar Looks Folder …

This should take you to a folder like C:\Users\YOUR USER NAME\AppData\Roaming\Luminar 4\Data\Looks\Users

From there you have to navigate one folder up and then go to folder Extra. Your current location should look like C:\Users\YOUR USER NAME\AppData\Roaming\Luminar 4\Data\Looks\Extra

Step 3: Create a group of looks / presets

Now you simply have to create a folder with whatever the name you wish your Luminar Looks Group should have. Now a bit the tricky part, because inside that folder you have to create an XML file that will tell Luminar what to do with it. Go ahead and open Notepad or whatever text editor you prefer and copy the following text:

<plist version="1.0">

Change the text between <string> and </string> to whatever the name you wish your Luminar Looks group to have. Save your file as PresetsInfo.plist

Now you just have to cut and paste your preset from Users folder into Extra\YOUR FOLDER

Restart Luminar and now you should see your group in Luminar Looks box. Click it and your preset should be there. But there is one small issue. Did you notice how Luminar Looks have an image behind the title and your preset group doesn’t? Well, there is a solution to that as well. Using your favorite image editing tool create an image sized by 260 x 180, name it icon@2x.png and put it in your preset folder.

That’s it!

Ladder to the moon

This project in Affinity Photo I started with three photos:

Step 1: Grass on the moon

In first step I had to create a grass, that would look like it is growing on the Moon. This is actually quite easy. Re scale the grass photo a bit and move it over the Moon. Go to Filters -> Distort -> Spherical and by playing with those two sliders you can make the grass look like a bowl. Play with the settings until the image fits nicely. Mask out not needed stuff.

Step 2: The ladder

Now we take the ladder and using the Pen Tool create a perfect selection around it. With ladder layer active go to Layer -> New Adjustment Layer -> Threshold and adjust the settings until the ladder is completely black.

Create a copy of the ladder because now we have to add a shadow that will fall on to the Moon.

Using tools from the Liquify Persona adjust the shadow to look decent. Play with the tools, they are very straightforward.

Next copy and mirror the ladder layer (not the shadow) and mask the part which will be behind the moon. This will create an illusion of the ladder actually being partly behind the Moon.

Step 3: Lady watering the grass

Go to the picture of a lady watering her plants. Cut her out of the picture and use the Threshold adjustment to make the cutout completely black. Re scale and position the lady as if she was behind the Moon. Don;t forget to mask the parts that are supposed to be hidden.

Step 4: Finish 馃檪

That’s it. You’re done.

If you pay close attention to my masking you will notice it is not perfect. I leave a lot of unmasked spots. This is on purpose, because it creates additional “ambience” in the picture. It simulates dirt in the air or maybe a slightly dirty lens. It’s my personal preference, you may of course strive for perfection. Although it kind of depends how you define perfection 馃槈


A man, who fell apart

For this project I attempted a scatter effect of someones face (or body) falling apart. Project made of course in Affinity Photo.

I started with this photo found on free stock site. Since it has a free-to-do-whatever-I-Like license, why not use it for this creative project.

Photo by Spencer Selover from Pexels

Step 1: Make a duplicate and mask it

First of all you will need two copies of the image you wish to transform. In Affinity Photo you can just right-click on a layer and Dupicate. Immediately hide the copy. Once this is done go to the bottom of the Layers panel and select the first button on the left. It will say Mask Layer.

Mask layer and other layer features in Affinity Photo

This will create a sub-layer under you image layer. It will similar to below:

With mask layer active choose the Brush tool from the tools on the left and select fill color black. Since masks only understand black or white no other color will have an effect. Next go to Brushes panel and choose Dry Media.

Those are nice brushes available in the default installation of Affinity Photo that would give you a scatter effect. Start painting the left side of your portrait (mask still active, paint color still black) until you achieve a similar image:

Once done hide the layer and it’s mask. It will be confusing during step 2.

Step 2: Warp and mask the second image

To achieve the effect of a scattered face it has to be stretched, so that you can see similar colors in the scattered part and in the non-scattered part. Activate the copy hidden in step 1 and go to Liquify Persona and play with the available tools (they are very straightforward) until you achieve a similar effect to the one below:

Create a Layer Mask and using brushes similar to step 1 paint in black until you have something similar to below:

Now activate both copies and you should already see a nice effect but we will add a little touch to it. We will make the face cracked.

Step 3: Adding cracks

For this you have to find a texture of cracks. Import your texture to your work file and place it over the face. Create a mask and using regular brush paint around the face until you don’t see cracks anywhere else but on the face. In the Layers panel play with Blending modes. I chose Darken. Final result should look like this:

Sunset over a desert

Another project for which the inspiration came from the internet. I saw somewhere a similar image and I thought it would be great exercise to draw one of my own. Here you will find a step-by-step tutorial on how to draw an image like this in Affinity Designer.

Step 1: The background

I typically begin with drawing a background. Sometimes I might change it’s colors later in the process though. This is the final version for this setup.

To create this background you have to draw a rectangle and then use the Gradient Tool

Gradient tool icon

Click on top of the rectangle, then bottom. Gradient will be crated with default colors. With gradient tool still active, click on top dot and in the color panel type:

And for the bottom dot make sure the color is set to:

Step 2: Details in the background

Using the pen tool draw 3 objects in those wavy shapes. The colors I used, starting from the top most wavy shape, are:

  • R239 G126 B40
  • R239 G184 B40
  • R239 G226 B40

Each time Noise parameter is set to 35%

Draw some clouds. Start with few circles and when you’re happy select all of them and use Add function.

The Add function

Create several copies of your clouds. Color them white and set the layer opacity to 40%.

Next draw a very bright ellipse (circle). With the sun layer active go to Layer -> Layer Effects… menu.

Activate Gaussian Blur and set the radius to 4,3px.

Activate Outer Glow and set the Blend mode to Screen, Opacity to 100%, Radius to 1024px, Intensity to 63% and color to R255 G226 B0.

This will give your sun a nice glow.

Step 3: Start dding mountains

Using the Pen Tool draw two mountains. One on the left, faded, far away. The second on on the right, darker, closer to the viewer. Colors I used for the mountain on the left are R25 G0 B48. For the mountain on the right its R119 G0 B3.

Step 4: Actual desert

To draw the desert you will use the Pen Tool again. Similarly to how you drew wavy shapes in the sky draw them now at the ground level. I drew three but you can draw more if you wish of course.

The colors used (from the lightest to the darkest):

  • R176 G44 B40
  • R153 G35 B33
  • R62 G9 B19

Step 5: Adding details

We need some details to finalize our design. I mean vegetation. Drawing a cactus is easy but a bit time consuming. Using the Pen Tool (I know, everything is with pen tool right? crazy) draw an outline of a cactus. Using Rounded Rectangle Tool draw small rectangles and copy them with random position and rotation around your cactus. This will give your plant some spikes 馃槈

Create few plants like that and put them in different locations around your drawing. Make sure to change colors so they fit nicely with the surroundings. Final image should look similar to this:


If you enjoyed this tutorial please consider subscribing to my blog. There will be more tutorials on Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer coming in the future.


Brother for sale

Inspiration for this project comes from the internet (where else 馃槈 ). I saw something similar and wanted to do it with my kids. So we built a little wooden stand鈥

Kids are holding a blank piece of cardboard. Similar blank board is placed in front of the stand. The girl is supposed to be angry and the boy is supposed to be happy.

The shot was modified to resemble a so-called “golden hour”, as if the picture had been taken early in the morning.

Next I had to create the illustrations of the signs. “Brother for sale”, “I love my sister” and “shop EEE”. Illustration were made using Affinity Designer.

Once everything was ready I put it together in Affinity Photo, and here is the result 馃檪

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