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TOP TEN WINNER in the RDA October Avatar challenge hosted by the Representational Digital Art Group.

We really don’t get Autumn colors in our area. For the most part, we’re surrounded by coniferous trees, so we just get the reddish brown coloring of larch needles in the Fall. They look more dead than like Autumn beauty. What deciduous trees we do have don’t have time to show their glory. By the time their leaves start to turn color, in late October, the snow falls and the leaves drop.

I decided that I would have to create my own Autumn image. I started with the original image (shown below). It’s a shot taken at the end of August in Woodland Park, located in Kalispell, Montana, with a Kodak EasyShare Z712 IS camera.

The image is too dark, so I adjusted the levels, something I always check first, before doing anything with a photo. It’s hard to tell with the smaller image, but it’s also crooked. The easiest way to fix this in Photoshop is to use the guides. Drag them to anything that should be straight, either horizontally or vertically. I usually try to use both, but the tree trunks were the only guides I could find in this photo.

Duplicate your layer, hide the eye icon on the bottom layer and click on the second layer. Then go to Image > Transform > Rotate. You can turn the corner guides either clockwise or counterclockwise until the image matches up with the guides. Hit “enter”.

You will see transparency on all four sides of the image. Drag a guide on each side so that it completely cuts of the transparent pixels. In order to keep the right size for greeting cards, I used the “fixed proportion” setting on the rectangular selection tool, 4/3 for horizontal cards and 3/4 for vertical. After cropping, I went to Layer > Flatten Image. Photoshop will ask you if you want to delete the hidden layers. Click “yes”.

To get the watercolor look, I duplicated the background layer and used an Equalization filter on it. This gives it a slight look of brush strokes, like in an oil painting, smoothes out the colors, and also makes it look more saturated. I duplicated the original layer again and placed it above the other 2 layers. I used the Nik Glamor Glow filter on this image to soften the colors more. You can get the same effect with Photoshop’s Diffuse Glow filter. I prefer to use the Nik filter because I don’t have to worry about finding the right color for the effect. I reduced the opacity of this layer to around 40 percent to soften it, and merged the two top layers. I now had the image that you see below:

To change the colors from Summer to Autumn, I again duplicated the bottom (original image) layer and placed it on top. used the Nik Indian Summer filter to get the warm colors of the leaves. You can get the same effect by using Image > Hue/Saturation, and moving the hue slider till you get some warmer coloring. I changed the blending mode to ‘Soft Light’, which changed the color of the layer below and added some extra contrast to it. Soft light also tends to darken some images, so I adjusted the levels of the lower image to lighten it. I then deleted the bottom (original) layer and flattened the image.

- Kathleen -

9/25/10 – Featured in THE WORLD AS WE SEE IT Group.


  • Corri Gryting Gutzman
    Corri Gryting ...over 4 years ago

    Love it!
    Until I read your description, I just thought it was a naturally lovely fall day!
    We don’t get many fall colors here either. :) Thank you for sharing this. Puts me in the mood for autumn.

  • Thanks, Corri! I’m in the mood for Autumn now, but we still don’t have the Fall colors on this end of the valley. I’ve been trying to get my son to drive me to Kalispell to see the colored maples and oak trees before the leaves all fall off.

    – rocamiadesign

  • SummerJade
    SummerJadeover 4 years ago

    That’s amazing!! I never would have guessed! ☺♥♥

  • Thank you!

    – rocamiadesign

  • AngelinaLucia10
    AngelinaLucia10over 4 years ago


  • Thanks, Angelina!

    – rocamiadesign

  • Aj Finan
    Aj Finanover 4 years ago

    Lovely transformation, very clever :))

  • Thank you!

    – rocamiadesign

  • BigCatPhotos
    BigCatPhotosover 4 years ago

    How brilliant – you have done a great job here and I love your step by step tutorial as well, superb.

  • Thank you very much!

    – rocamiadesign

  • Kim McClain Gregal
    Kim McClain Gr...over 4 years ago


  • Thanks, Kim!

    – rocamiadesign

  • icesrun
    icesrunover 4 years ago

    Wow that is neat!! I dont have the programs or the time to do something like that but so glad you were able to do it. The tutorial was wonderful!!

  • Thank you! You might look for the Gimp program, which is freeware. I had trouble understanding it, because I am so used to Photoshop, but Shaun uses it and said it was easy to learn. It works with layers and blending modes like Photoshop and you can use any of the plugins that work with Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro.

    – rocamiadesign

  • trish725
    trish725over 4 years ago

  • Thank you so much for being so quick to let me know!

    – rocamiadesign

  • vaggypar
    vaggyparover 4 years ago

    Great Work ..!!

  • Thank you!

    – rocamiadesign

  • GiselaSchneider
    GiselaSchneiderover 4 years ago

    wonderful edit and capture Kathleen !

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