Archive for February, 2016

#CreativeFriday – Controlling dry down/darkening of prints from Lightroom or Photoshop CC

If you have ever made a print, either by inkjet or an alternative process (like Van Dyke, Platinum, Cyanotype) then you may have noticed that the image comes out a little bit darker than how it was displayed on the screen. Looking into this, the main reason (especially for inkjet) is that screen is back lit and the print isn’t, therefore the perceived level of luminosity is different. For an alternative process (i.e Chemistry based), this is likely to be the same, also, the print can become darker due to the drying down process (even after calibration of the negative to the chemistry).

The main driver for this post is to document a dry down issue with an alternative printing process with chemistry. For this purpose, the Lightroom way of controlling the output isn’t precise enough, there for Photoshop CC is the only way to control the output. I thought i’d write a post on different ways in both Lightroom and Photoshop CC to solve this problem and then to correct the image before the print is made.


Printing from Lightroom is super simple and works really well for Inkjet prints. When printing from Lightroom within the Print module, there is a slider that can be changed before you print, called Brightness.  This will adjust the brightness of the print to counteract the reduction of perceived brightness in the print. This is great and highly useful, but i’d advise you to make a few prints first to understand how it will affect the physical output.

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Photoshop CC

Photoshop has much more control over this phenomenon and suits specific types of printing, including inkjet printing and alternative processes.

In Photoshop CC there are three effects/controls that can be used to manage the output, Exposure, Brightness and Gamma.


Exposure is one that i’ll touch on first, as this is the one that is most synonymous with Photography. It would make sense that exposure would be a way to control the amount of light within an image, as this is the way that a camera works and ‘exposes’ the final image. Adding 0.3 of a stop to the exposure value on this step wedge (i’ know it’s not very exciting, but it does show the new distribution of values across the gray scale).

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It turns out that when the Exposure modification is mapped to a curve, we can see what it’s actually doing to the image.  Exposure seems to affect the highlight values much more than shadow values. To apply Exposure it is available from the Photoshop toolbar menu, under Layer / New Adjustment Layer / Exposure.


Brightness is another way to altering the relative values of the output. Brightness is available from the Photoshop menu under Layer / New Adjustment Layer / Brightness and Contrast.

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What brightness actually does to the values is

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The brightness control actually increases the highlights gradually, then tails off through the midtones and hardly affects the shadows.


The gamma control is available under the levels adjustment layer, and can be found under Layer / New Adjustment Layer / Levels. In the example below, a value of 0.10 has been added to make the image lighter.

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The Gamma actually controls the gradual equal lift of both highlights and shadows as well as increasing the mid tone values.

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Based on this, i’d recommend looking into the Brightness or Gamma for the control of the dry down/dark prints, these seem to have much more control of the shadows and highlight areas and won’t make a big difference to the contrast of the desired image.


#CreativeFriday – Starting out with painting in Photoshop CC with Stratasys Creative Colours

Last week we started to look setting up the painting environment within Photoshop CC for working with the Stratasys Creative Colours, see the post here. In the post, we introduced the concept of a new colour gamut for some of the colour combinations that can be loaded into the  Connex 3. This post will show how to move to the next step to start the painting on a 3D model using just Photoshop CC’s 2D tools, by making sure that the environmental lights are turned off and the correct colours are being shown on the model (during the painting process).

Let us take the simple moustache once again,

In this document, you can see that the colour gamut/profile is set to Pure White / Magenta and Yellow. These are the colours that will need to be loaded into the Connex 3 to ensure that the correct colours are used during the printing process. Photoshop’s Color picker will show the continuous colour combinations that will make sure that the printer is able to process and print the colours correctly.Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 14.33.56

At the current time, and by default, Photoshop has lights turned on. This is great when rendering and making a scene for a 2D print. But in 3D print world, the lights are going to get in the way and provide you with incorrect colours on the model/screen. Turning the lights off is particularly useful when you needed to sample a colour that was previously used on the model, even more important to pick up a blended colour.

To turn off the lights, make sure the 3D panel is open (it can be opened from the Photoshop’s toolbar menu and navigating to Window / 3D). Selecting this will show the 3D panel.

Once the 3D panel is open, select the “Scene” (marked in red below). Once the scene has been selected, the properties for this will be shown in the properties panel. To turn the lights off, make sure that the “Surface” check box is turned on and the style is set to “Unlit Texture” and Texture is set to “Diffuse”.

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At this point Photoshop’s lighting mechanism will be turned off, and the RAW colours will be shown. Having the lights turned off will allow sampling colours from anywhere on the model, without picking up colours that have their hue values changed by any lights or shadows, which can/will result in an incorrect colour being selected.

That’s all for this week, but hopefully this demystifies how to correctly set up your colour environment in Photoshop CC for painting on a 3D object going to the Connex 3 for printing.

#CreativeFriday – Getting ready to paint with Stratasys Creative Colours and Photoshop for the Connex3

You may have seen last week that Stratasys released the Stratasys Creative Colours painting system with the Stratasys Connex3 printer inside of Photoshop CC. I wanted to get you up and running with this exciting technology in small steps, over a series of blog posts. This one is around making sure that you have the correct colour palette selected inside Photoshop CC.

Before you start to paint in Photoshop CC, you need to tell it how to represent the colours which the painting engine will use. Before you start to paint, you will need the Photoshop profiles and install them, the profiles can be found here and should be fairly straight forward to install by following the guide on the website.

First things first, open the model that you wish you paint on. In the example below, it’s a simple fake comedy moustache.

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The next step is to select the colours that are loaded in the printer, ultimately this colour set will determine the colours used by the printer to print the painted 3D object.

To make sure that Photoshop knows about the colours of the materials loaded into the printer, the working profile of the current environment will need to be changed.

  1. Select from the Photoshop Menu / Edit / Assign Profile
  2. Once selected, Photoshop might say that the colours can change the appearance, click ok
  3. Choose Profile from the next dialog, then choose the colour combination that is loaded into the printer. The one selected here is Pure White, Magenta and Yellow.


Once selected the 3D view port inside Photoshop will change to represent this colour profile.

(N.B. When using RGB colours, either sRGB or Adobe RGB and interchange between them, you most likely won’t notice much of a difference inside Photoshop. In this instance you will, due to the 3 colour range, as opposed to the complete colour range in RGB + white and Black. Also the Connex colour are not a direct map to the RGB colour range. This is why this stage is extremely important when painting in Photoshop for the Connex3).

Everything turns a bit strange (as shown below), because in this case of the white and black mappings. White and Black are at the extremities of both ends of the colour spectrum, therefore in this case white will stay white and black will turn red. Some profiles will show different colour ranges here. The best thing to do next is to selected a colour for the background, so you can see what you will be painting on.


In this case the white areas will stay white (because white is within the profile range), however Black will be turned to red (this is because there is no black in the profile and it’s nearest neighbour is red).

You can test this by resetting the foreground and background colour swatch by pressing the ‘D’ key. You will see the lower and upper most (white and black) range.

Some times the white might not be present, therefore the background might obscure the object. In this case i would create a new empty layer behind the 3D model (by using a new empty layer), and painting it a different colour to the model (as below)

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Now you can carry on painting, using the foreground and background colours with the paint brushes of Photoshop. We will get on to painting next, but for know, please experiment with this setup to get comfortable.

#CreativeFriday – Adding a Photoshop Group to a Creative Cloud Library

I was working on a demo this week, and found a much better way of applying a standard set of Photoshop Adjustment layers to an image. I’ve been working for a while on a certain look to my images that I always apply at the end of a Lightroom edit, in Photoshop CC. Historically to apply the effect, i’ve opened up a previous .PSD file with the same adjustments and dragged the adjustments across manually. Doing this takes a little bit of additional time, as the file is over 600mb.  Also, the files exist on my Photo computer, but sometimes need to use another computer as well (this means i need to copy the file across, which also takes time).

You can see below that there are multiple Layer Adjustments with defined groups in the layers panel (two groups). These are the effects that I use for my images to give a platinum and palladium effect. Most of my images come into Photoshop from Lightroom, once the basic image balance has been achieved. Once in Photoshop CC  and the effects have been added, i then use the Lightroom Smart Object and re-adjust the Lightroom settings using the Camera RAW engine inside Photoshop CC.


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Ideally I would like to store the layer adjustments centrally, in their defined groups. CC Libraries now allows me to do this.

(CC Libraries can store a multitude of things, from Layers, to shapes, 3D objects, Fuse animations etc etc)

In the example above, each group can be dragged to the Library and Photoshop will automatically store this data for me (as a Smart Object, see below). These groups are clearly labeled in the Libraries panel, using the name of the group that was added.

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Of course, with a system of more than one group, it can lead to confusion (especially if i shared this technique with another Creative Cloud member). So a better way would be to store a single group with these groups inside of it.

I can place these two groups inside another group, by selecting them using the CTRL (PC) or CMD (mac) keys and select “New Group from Layers” (Pink), (from the fly out menu, marked in yellow), then give the new Group a meaning full name (red).

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A new single Group layer, containing the adjustments in the correct order will be shown, called in my case “Platinum Palladium Tone”. Once this has been created, it can be dragged to the Libraries panel. Once it’s been dragged, Photoshop will automatically place it into a Smart Object (for safe keeping) and will be available where ever this library is (either private, or shared with collaboration, or shared by a link to another person).

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To use this effect on another image, the object can be just dragged whilst holding down the ATL key into the canvas, Photoshop will automatically extract the contents and place the groups and adjustments into this document (ALT must be used to apply the layer adjustments, because by default a Smart Object will be used to apply the adjustment, however, layer adjustments can’t be applied outside of a Smart Object).

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This is a another great feature that is available as part of the Creative Cloud subscription (Photography plan and Creative Cloud Complete).


Stratasys Creative Colours powered by the Adobe 3D Color Print Engine technology

Stratasys Creative Colours powered by the Adobe 3D Color Print Engine technology


At the Adobe Max event in October 2015, Stratasys and Adobe unveiled a joint vision for re-producing fully managed continuous colour 3D prints from the Stratasys Objet 500 Connex 3 3D Printer using Photoshop CC. Since then Adobe and Stratasys have been working hard to deliver this vision, and we are now pleased to announce the release of Stratasys Creative Colors powered by the Adobe 3D Color Print Engine technology.


Challenges of printing in continuous color

Before this innovation it was challenging to paint and texture digitally within the bounds of a 3D Printers color range, then to accurately soft proof preview in software before the print was made. The result of this was that it was difficult to re-create the same consistent colour from the original 3D design in software applications into a physical 3D print.

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The Adobe and Stratasys joint vision for re-creating continuous color 3D designs into a 3D print, will allow any creative user, conversant with Photoshop CC to paint and texture 3D models with beautiful rich colors and textures, within the colour range of the Stratasys Connex 3 3D printer. Photoshop CC’s powerful 2D tools provides the designer freedom to paint in a non destructive way within the range of the Connex 3’s color spectrum, using projection or texture modes across models with single or multiple shells using brushes, photographs, vectors, illustrations, gradients etc. These designs can be immediately be soft proofed using Photoshop CC, then seamlessly transferred to the printer for printing. The Stratasys Creative Colors powered by the Adobe 3D Color Print Engine technology, will, for the first time bring designs to life, in the way that the artist intended.



This innovation in delivering a consistent and easy to use color pipeline to both the designer and the print operator is a huge leap forward for the 3D printing industry, and the first of it’s kind to deliver a fully colour managed workflow from 3D design/paint to the actual 3D print.




Before the 3D model can be printed, it needs to be prepared and possibly reduced in size. The uniqueness of Photoshop CC and it’s part in the 3D printing pipeline, is too not only fix/repair models and prepare them for the printing process, but to also provide intelligent mesh simplification tools that will reduce the polygon count, without changing any geometry and preserve any textures.



Preparing the model for printing


Photoshop CC includes automated print preparation and model fixing/repair that intelligently looks at the model geometry (custom built for the printer and material combination). This automation will identify and correct any design flaws that would prevent an object from being successfully printed. Not only does this analysis make printing more reliable, but our service bureau partners have noted that using Photoshop CC 3D printing engine, speeds up the process of getting a model ready to print, as well as reducing the amount of unprintable models and increasing customer satisfaction. In some extreme cases, this automation has reduced fixing/repair and printing times from many weeks to minutes.




Before submitting the model for printing, Photoshop CC will automatically fix the models geometry and provide an indicative price for printing. As part of the 3D printing preparation process, Photoshop CC will provide a soft proof and preview in color with the ability to see any areas of the model(s) that were repaired during the process.

Photoshop CC will show any model repairs that have been automatically made to the mesh (marked up using Green for original mesh, blue for walls that have been thickened (based on the printer/material minimum wall thickness parameters) and red for any holes that have been closed).


With Stratasys Creative Colors in place for re-creating color 3D prints, it makes it super simple for designers to paint/texture, soft proof and review the model with it’s actual colours on the screen and make sure the print will be created as intended. The printing bureaus and printer operators will also reap the benefit, as making the final prints on the Connex 3 is much simpler, removing the need to apply color to the model based on the artists wishes, as well as a simpler printing process.

Print formats

Stratasys Creative Colors employs Adobe’s effort with the PDF format, and it’s ability to preserve content. Stratasys Creative Colors utilizes the 3D PDF, which has been part of Acrobat and Adobe reader since 2007, and is an ISO standard. 3D PDF is an ISO standard by itself, called PDF/X. 3D PDF is already in use by many organizations and 3D artists across the world, and is a perfect format for 3D and 3D printing.

Photoshop CC includes the ability to consume and create native 3D PDF documents by using the U3D format, supporting complex geometry, multiple shells, lights, large meshes and textures.


Stratasys Creative Colors, draw’s upon the existing 3D PDF creation support from Photoshop CC and once the model has been fixed and processed, it will be placed into the 3D PDF, enabling the next step of the process. Stratasys Creative Colors and the 3D PDF will enable the 3D printer operating staff to not only preview the model, but also manage multiple 3D PDF objects on the printer bed. Having the ability to manage multiple models on the print bed, will create maximum usage of the 3D printer volume and thus creates cost efficiency for the customer, with more effectiveness of print time for the Connex 3 service bureaus.


3D PDF for 3D printing solves many of the current issues of 3D and 3D printing in a single format: –


            Ubiquity – Ubiquity of the PDF reader removes the need to have a propriety 3D format viewer on the desk of the user to view 3D contents. This also means the viewer is able to experience the 3D model within it’s natural environment, as opposed to the 3D designer using just screen shots. Usage of 3D models in the PDF format has had support since 2007 and is already used within the industry to view models in this way.


            Size – 3D models can be large in size, especially complex ones with fine details. 3D PDF was designed to solve the problem of large file sizes and transportation, 3D PDF is able to compress the file without loss of date, similar to the standard .ZIP format, allowing for the model to take up less storage space and take part in easier digital distribution.


            Security – A weakness in current 3D formats is the ability to store and protect the contents when being distributed outside of the firewall. The PDF inherently offers AES256 encryption for both the document and the 3D object using password protection.



Once the 3D PDF has been processed by Stratasys Creative Colors, it is sent direct to the Stratasys Objet 500 Connex 3, and is ready for printing. Any support material that is required for the print to be successful, will be managed by the printers internal processing.



If you would like to download the Stratasys Creative Colours Photoshop CC profiles, you can download them from the Stratasys Direct Manufacturing site.

You can download a review guide from this website by clicking on the area marked in Red. To download the profiles for Photoshop CC, which allows you to paint in gamut (or as the printer will consume the paint colour information) by clicking on the area in purple.

I’ll be writing an in depth article on painting for this printer in Photoshop CC over the upcoming weeks.

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