You can create an abstract colour image from a greyscale image with
PaintShop Pro in which you assign colours to replace different grey
In this tutorial we will convert a greyscale image into a
colour image - but not your typical colour image - it will be a colour
image with a difference!
This really isn't a tutorial for a newbie to PaintShop Pro or someone
who lives for the One Step Photo Fix in the Enhance Photo menu.
You need to bring something to the table - imagination, the drive to
experiment, patience and time.
The abstract colour technique will always surprise as unexpected combinations work and
predicted ones don’t. don’t be worried about which combinations
of images to use – the final image as you chose it is the important one.
This tutorial is fun because you'll be using a lot of different
PaintShop tools and techniques to create an abstract colour, including
tone correction adjustments
If you're at all fuzzy with any of these techniques you can review
them at the following links ...
Abstract Colour Step One
Generate a Black and White Image
The image which I chose from a magazine freebie disc was already in
B&W, but you may need to convert a colour image.
You need an image with a full range of tones. The histogram tells
you how well the tones are distributed. My image had the tones
skewed to the shadows.
using Adjust >
Brightness and Contrast > Curves. The
contrast was adjusted to give a more even histogram.
Curves Adjustment of Black and White Image to increase
And here's the change in the Histogram
The order of the first two steps is crucial.
You can perform them
in the reverse order, but then the subsequent steps do not work. Go to Image >
to check out the status of your image. What you want is for the
image to be 8 bit. If your image is 16 bit then go to Image > Decrease Colour Depth and
select RGB - 8 bits/channel
Now convert the image to greyscale Image
> Greyscale (or use your favourite black and white
Abstract Colour Step Two
The top band shows a greyscale image with the full range of
tones. The second band shows what happens to the image when we
apply the threshold filter. If we set the filter to 90,
everything below the 90 value becomes value 0 or black and everything
above the 90 value becomes 255 or white.
In our B&W image we are going to choose tones, and filter them ‘in’
Abstract Colour Step Three
Select your B&W image, and make at least another 4 copies (on the
original image - Ctrl-C then Shift-Insert four times - now
you've got five).
Decide at which points you want to set the threshold points,
then using a fresh copy of the image on each occasion Adjust > Brightness and
Contrast > Threshold
using these values
The moon image was filtered at
I saved my images using these as their names, so that I could return to
Abstract Colour Step
Look back at our theory image (that is the greyscale and threshold conversions).
The fourth and fifth bands show
what we are about to attempt, by overlaying two of the images. We can
select the tone range between the two values we chose OR exclude the
range. In my demo image, the fourth band shows that only tones
between 90 and 156 will be excluded; the fifth band shows the tones
between 90 and 156 will be represented.
To do this, decide on the two filtered images for the selection or
exclusion, and select one Edit > Copy.
Select the other image then go back to the baselayer image and Edit >
Pasteas New Layer.
20 filter layered with 80 filter layer.
Set the blend mode to Difference to get the exclusion of 20 to 80.
To get the inclusion of 20 to 80, merge the layer down and select Image > Negative Image.
Repeat this process for the rest of your filters to achieve 3 different
images. Because you are using two images from the four to build a
new image each time, you can have six image pair combinations.
and 2, 1 and 3, 1 and 4, 2 and
3, 2 and 4, 3 and 4
You’ll also need the black and white original which you started with,
since this adjusts the chroma value or saturation of the colour.
To adjust the contribution to the chroma (that's the K in CYMK), select this black and white
image Adjust > Brightness and
Contrast > Curves and choose the RGB option. Slide the
curve to achieve the mix (you
may need to do several experiments with the final image to get it as
you want it).
Chroma Full Adjust
Chroma Small Adjust
Chroma No Change
Abstract Colour Step Five
With the four images, which you intend to combine, open Image >
Combine Channel > Combine from CYMK.
NOTE: If it's greyed out then you've done something wrong, probably at the end of Step1.
You should have a colour image. You can change the colour
sequencing by selecting the colour channels from the images in a
different order. You can adjust the chroma by redoing the adjustment on
the curves in step four.
No matter how ‘good’ your image, no edge goes from a very low tone to a
very high tone over the space of one or two pixels.
It is always
a gradation over several pixels. If you are trying to mask and
cut out from an image this always presents a problem, however if you
want to be clever and creative, then this is one of the places where
use this feature to your advantage.
The threshold filter will let you set the place at which you want to
set the edge, because the threshold filter makes a defined black (0)
into white (255) transition and the edge is fixed by you.
How it works ...
Here's a nice greyscale image of a bridge ...
An image like this one with strong lines has patterns and implied
patterns which you
I made some threshold filtered images from the
greyscale image using the technique described previously.
were at 20, 32 and 70.
The next step was to set these as edges with Effects > Edge Effects > Find All.
Then to recombine them, and invert the image Image > Negative Image.
The edges are defined in colour by you.
More Clever Stuff
You can combine the greyscale image as one of the parts of the CMYK
The greyscale was chosen as the cyan contribution.
The K or black contribution was the chroma adjustment which had no
value or adjustment.
The final abstract colour image was then inverted as a negative image.
If you repeat the use of the edge finder on the separate images which
contain the edges, the edges become doubled and accentuated.
These take on a slightly different appearance as you take them through
the CMYK recombination.
The combinations and re-combinations are endless!
To get a greater range of colours and apparent textures, for the next
variation on the theme, I made six threshold images of the bridge at 7,
16, 25, 36, 56 and 100.
The edges were found for each of these.
Then these images were paired as layers eg 7 with 25.
layer was blended into the lower layer by the Darken blending mode and
then merged down.
The three images made from merged pairs were
then used with the greyscale image to be made into a CMYK combination.
Abstract Colour Summary
Let’s review what we’ve covered.
So What Do You Need For The Process?
1. An image
with a pattern or an implied pattern
with good contrast or can be adjusted to give a good contrast
with defined and separated highlight and shadow areas
with not too much fussy texture
2. Imagination or the drive to experiment
3. Patience and time.
technique will always surprise as unexpected combinations work and
predicted ones don’t. Don’t be worried about which combinations of
images to use – the final image as you chose it is the important one.
The only real rules to make the final image are ...
4 images to combine in the CYMK step, of which
Each must be greyscale, and
Each must be RGB 8bit
4. What do you need to do next?
If this tutorial has whetted your appetite, find an image and try it out for yourself.
Keep it simple and be prepared to go back and redo chunks of the process.