How often have we managed to take a pretty good photo of a daylily only to discover that damaged foliage behind the bloom distracts from the photo's overall quality?

Let's start this set of tutorials with a lesson on using the brush tool to 'recolor' damaged foliage. We'll start with this photo below. (If you want to follow along using this photo to test this process, just right click the photo on a PC or two button Mac mouse, or Control-Click on a one button Mac mouse and select the "Save Image To..." option. Then open this image in Photoshop to follow along.

image 1

The foliage beneath the right bloom shows the effect of last summer's drought. Let's "green up" this foliage. (This could also be used to retouch the parched dormant lawn behind, but there's only so much damage worth correcting!)

First, some background. I'm using Photoshop CS for this particular tutorial. Other versions of Photoshop, including the various versions of Photoshop Elements, should have the same tools available. Other graphics programs may have similar tools, you'll have to experiment to see. (See the bottom of this page for a link to a page describing how to use this tutorial with the popular FREE photo editing program - the GIMP.)

Start by using the eye dropper tool to select a sample of the healthy green foliage color.


The eye dropper tool looks like an eye dropper and is located in the main tool palette just above the magnifying glass. It's used to select an existing color from your image and makes that the foreground color for your next step in this process.

So, this selects the color we're going to paint over the brown foliage.

The next tool you'll need is the brush tool. On the palette to the left, the brush tool is next to the "band aid" tool, fourth down on the right side.

Since I'm working on this photo at a width of only 700 pixels wide, I don't need a big brush. I'm picking one that's got a soft edge and is 35 pixels wide. The next step is the 'secret' to this tutorial. By default, Photoshop sets the brush tool to the Normal Mode. For this touch up trick to work, change the Mode to Color and to make the changes gradual, change the opacity to 15% or so. You should pick a brush size that's appropriate for your image size.

pallette 2

Above shows the tool options bar for the brush tool (this should appear below the top menu bar when you select the brush tool) - to change each of these settings to match, click on the blue areas with the black triangles to see the options for each setting. Try to get these to match what's above.

Here's what we have done. Photoshop's brush and layer modes control how the brush tool affects the image as it's used. The Color Mode only changes the COLOR of the underlying areas, NOT the tonal values. So, shadows and highlights will remain untouched, we'll just be coloring over the brown tones replacing them with green. By setting the opacity to 15% we are also applying this effect gradually. Expect that it will take multiple passes of the brush tool over the brown foliage to change it to green. You must release the mouse button after each pass, then click down again for the next one.

Go ahead and try this now. Paint over the brown foliage. You don't have to be real careful except when you get near the blooms. Each pass will gradually turn the brown to green without changing the tonal values. Work over the foliage until all the brown has been painted out. You can also touch up the brown scape on the left as well.

Here's the 'fixed' image.

image 2

I also used the Burn tool, which is just above the Text tool (T) on the Tools Palette above. This tool slightly darkens the area it passes over without affecting the color. I just used it on the edges of the image to slightly darken the foliage and edges, this will help draw the viewer's eye to the blooms too.

Now, to be safe, return the Brush Tools settings to Normal and the Opacity to 100%.

The next tutorial will be on how to use the Clone Stamp to remove bugs, blemishes and thrips damage. (I'll get to color correction too, but I want to do some reading before inflicting too many things on you at once for this process.)

Let me know if this tutorial was helpful. I'd appreciate any feedback to know that these are helpful or not or what I might do to improve them.

Tim Fehr - Eau Claire, WI webmaster@daylilies.org

NOTE: (AHS member, Dr. Robert Stanton, from the computer science department at St. Johns University, has successfully followed this tutorial and others in this series, using the GIMP. GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages. Dr. Stanton's comments and instructions for using this software, as well as links to where to download this are available HERE.

© 2007, 2009 by Tim Fehr - all rights reserved.