The Dave Hill/Dragan Effect
Today I am going to be experimenting with an effect in Photoshop called the Dragan or Dave Hill Effect. I find the Dragan effect difficult to describe, it is a bit like bronzing a photograph and then making the photo look like it has been painted, however that is not it, there is more to it, the darkening of some areas, bringing out more detail in others and much more.
I first watched this video in one of my lectures at Uni, a human interest project by the looks of it, but it inspired me to create some of these amazing images.
After watching this I followed a tutorial for creating the Dragan effect, and here it is!
I then attempted to create my own Dragan images.
Firstly, you want to find a nice image to work with, I find that images of people work the best although some vehicles work nicely as well as landscapes.
I happen to have this image on my computer at the time of creating this post, and also I like to look at it every now and again as it bring a smile to my face.
The first step is to open Photoshop, I have CS2 but any above that work too, although I’m not sure about lower versions.
As you can see in this image, I have duplicated the background image twice. We are doing this because eventually we will merge the visible layers, after applying different effects to the top one, however we will also want to layer blend them to get the desired effect.
The next step is to select the top layer, and apply a high pass filter to it, which can be found in Filter>Other>High Pass. The High Pass window should then spring out in front of you, and you want to play with the Radius. As a rough guide, you want to set the Radius to between 2 and 6 pixels, however you can go over or under this if you want. You want to get an image with most of the detail in it, but not everything, and something that looks interesting.
The next step is to apply a layer blend mode of Vivid Light to the High Pass layer.
The next step is to merge the visible layers, however you must make sure you hide the background layer, otherwise all three will be merged and you may want the background layer to compare your finished and starter images.
The next step is to duplicate the layer again, as we will soon be merging and layer blending in a lightly different, but oh so important way!
Running Photoshop around in circles, I wonder, is it possible for software to get dizzy?
Perhaps in the near future!
Now, for this step you are going to have to apply another High Pass (its in the same place as the last one) to your image. This time you want to aim for between 5 and 8 pixels on the radius, but once again it’s not written in stone, or ink for that matter. Hit OK and away we go!
Once more, we will apply a Blend Mode to the High Pass layer, this time we want to select colour, and then lower the opacity of the layer to between 40 and 60 percent (once more, the numbers aren’t that important, just get something that looks good).
After you have an appropriate opacity, merge the visible layers again.
One of the final slots is to apply a Surface Blur to your layer. To get there, you go to Filter>Blur>Surface Blur. You then, once again play around the Radius, however this time you get to experiment with the Threshold as well, and once again you should aim to get a Radius of between 2 and 5, although 3 is optimum for most images, and a Threshold of around 23. These numbers aren’t exactly arbitrary, but some images work much better with completely different numbers.
You can now, if you want, apply a layer mask to the top layer of your image, and fade certain areas of detail on your top layer, while clicking the show button on the background layer. This will allow you to add more detail to the finished image by deleting certain parts of the Draganized image. I recommend only doing this on beards and perhaps areas of small detail on vehicles, such as car grills. This stage is only optional, and I personally very rarely use it.
The final stage is to apply a Unsharp Mask to the image, although if you did create an optional layer mask to bring out some of the detail you will want to merge the visible layers again before hand. Once again experiment with the options in the Unsharp Mask tool, the recommended values coming in at 100% for the amount, 40 for the Radius and between 0 and 2 for the Threshold. As you can see in my Radius, I have gone for a much higher number, and although the final image does not look particularly Draganized, it has certainly got a unique finish to it. As I have been saying throughout this, the numbers are meaningless unless they look good. So experiment away!
Here is my final image of “Chris Munching Plastic Fish” or its subname “Bad Sandwich”.
Now I am aware that this image is not a particularly good example of the Dragan Effect, so here is some more I did whilst watching Art Attack!
Thanks for viewing. Enjoy!