Do you want to add ‘Speech Bubbles’ to your photographs or images?

Here is a new Smart Photo Editor Tutorial Video that introduces my new speech bubble effects. The effect series is called ‘Speech bubble shapes’ 001-166.

There is a corresponding PDF document which shows each speech bubble shape and its individual name below. Feel free to download as reference.

Speech Bubble Shapes 001-166

Speech Bubble Shapes PDF Document



Hope you enjoy the video and find the effects useful.

Kind regards, Andrew

John Speight’s Beautiful Papercut Art – Be Inspired

Having returned from holiday with my wife in Northumberland, England, I thought it would be nice to share a wonderful and inspirational experience with you. Although our primary aim was to visit two National Trust properties, namely, ‘Wallington House & Gardens’ and ‘Cragside House & Gardens’, our hotel was also close to Kirkharle Courtyard, where we met John Speight.

Kirkharle Courtyard

Those who know my contributions to Smart Photo Editor’s Effects Gallery may remember that I created two series of ‘Silhouette Overlays’. Here are examples of these two series:

Example 1

Effect Name: Ab silhouette figures 001-058

Example 2

Effect Name:Tree silhouettes series one 001-012

So it was an absolute delight when we stumbled upon John’s Workshop & Gallery at Kirkharle Courtyard. Here is an example of the intricacies of John’s stunning ‘hand-cut’ Silhouette Artworks which he creates individually from black paper using only a scalpel. Almost all of his work has been cut in one piece. To complete, John mounts each silhouette onto hand-tinted watercolor paper and signs the mount.


Image used by permission

Although the image shown is beautiful in its own right, no photograph could do John’s work justice. It certainly is a cliche, but we were BLOWN AWAY when we viewed the real thing.

Our first visit was very short as it was near closing time so we promised that we would go back, which we did the next morning. My wife bought me a framed paper-cut as an anniversary present which we both adore – here it is.


Image used by permission

John followed in the footsteps of John Forrester (his uncle) and Arthur Forrester (his grandfather) who were both papercut artists before him. However, this ‘third generation’ self-taught MASTER PAPERCUT ARTIST has taken his art to a new level.

I invite you to discover John’s work for yourself at the following link where you can learn much more about the artist, his history and his EXCEPTIONAL papercut art.

John Speight’s Website

John was very gracious when we met him and he gave of his time freely to show how he made his silhouettes and explain his processes. He offers a wide range of subject matter to meet different tastes and most people could afford to buy one of his artworks as they start from around £10 upward to around £1000.

John has printed cards available too for around £2.50 – they are lovely, but they only give a hint of the BEAUTY seen in a proper hand-cut original.

This blog is about Smart Photo Editor (SPE), but it should be recognised that inspiration comes from all kinds of sources. I still intend developing  silhouette effects for the Effects Gallery and these will further extend  the scope of SPE in the creative processes, but one thing is certain, we will never match the extreme beauty of John’s hand-cut silhouette artworks. I’m sure there are many out there who use laser-cutting processes to create art, but John’s work is the REAL thing and I’m so pleased to have met him and have an artwork prominently positioned at home to remind me of my visit and to be inspired by his incredible skill and artistry.

Best wishes to John in all his endeavours.

Kind regards,


Smart Photo Editor Website

Eye Candy

This is just a bit of FUN – thought I would show you an animated gif of abstract art I created using only Smart Photo Editor and only my own (andrewb2012) effect contributions.

The guitar is my handmade Farida Parlour and I photographed it in my garden laid on white paper earlier today – it was relatively shadowless which suited my purpose.

I don’t intend to tell you how each was created, I would rather encourage you to experiment yourself. I suggest that the images in the animation work because the subject is quite simple and minimalistic and lends itself to the processes I used. This is where my heart lies – towards the abstract with a hint of realism.

The main reasons for this article is to show the wide scope of processing that can be done in Smart Photo Editor.

Abstract Art Animation

I posted the same Gif Image in the Smart Photo Editor Forum and a dear friend of mine DBenterprises suggested that theimages might look good on a poster – well here is a sample of what could be done.

page 1

page 2

page 3

page 4

Anyway, have FUN!

Kind regards,


Classic Selective Color on Black & White

This simple tutorial video is aimed at users who want to create ‘Classic Selective Color’ images on Black & White. Although, a little prior knowledge is assumed, most users, including beginners, should be able to use the  ideas in their own creations.

The transformation is shown step-by-step and the original image lends itself to this type of processing, as it works well with block colors.

Not a lot more to say about this other than encourage you to try the technique for yourself.

Once you have viewed the video you will sense that you can use any effect on the background – not just black and white effects. Give this a try too.

Kind regards,


Prototype Effect for Effect Designers to Develop – Tutorial Video

This video tutorial is aimed at experienced Smart Photo Editor users who have previously created basic effects.

The tutorial clearly shows you how to build the prototype effect shown in the video using a step-by-step approach.

Underpinning the design is the combined use of ‘Solid Color’ and ‘Place and Merge’ nodes to create adjustable color overlays that are ultimately blended with the original image.

Users are INVITED to try making the effect for themselves and DEVELOPING it by making improved or altered versions.

As always, I hope the information proves useful to you and gives you an insight into how more complex effects are created and the thinking that lies behind them. Regards – Andrew.

If Erasing Does Not Work, Try Patching (New Concept Video)

The idea for this tutorial video stems from one of  Fotoart’s recent posts to the SPE forum. I saw that there was a distraction in his image and suggested its removal. But, I realised that the particular nature of the image would be problematic for normal erase procedures. A new concept came to mind which I have called ‘Patching’ and this video shows what I mean and how to do it.

I wish to thank Jon (aka Fotoart) for giving me permission to use his interesting image for tutorial purposes.

Jon’s website link:

This video is offered as an extension concept to erasing which should be the first port of call in attempting to remove unwanted objects.

Hope you find my approach interesting and useful.

Kind regards,



Creative Montage & Composite – Tutorial Video

Hi again,

In this tutorial video we selected the ‘Montage’ feature within Smart Photo Editor in order to start with a blank or textured layer on which to create our photo-artwork. Immediately after this, the author decided to crop the image for aesthetic reasons. The ‘Composite’ feature was then opened and three additional layers were superimposed on the first layer. These additional layers (overlays of a female model in this example) were each in turn altered – backgrounds removed, resized and repositioned to create a single image (once completed) comprising three poses of the same model. This then became the image to which effects were applied and was the basis of the final composition.

The process is outlined and annotated up to the first overlay was applied and then the process is shown twice more without annotation giving you the opportunity to simply view.

After the three overlays were complete, the final stages whereby a combination of two effects were applied are once again annotated.

There are many possibilities for the creative use of these techniques and I think they could be used to create Surrealist Images – I say that because a user did ask in the forum if there were any effects that met that purpose.

Hope you enjoy and find this video useful – have FUN!



Creating Photo-Art: My Thought Process

Here is an example of the thinking that lies behind my photo-art.

Boat Transformation Before & After

The original image in this example is a boat and tackle. I simply love boats of all descriptions and I could easily publish 1000’s of original photo images of boats. However, I try to take notice of many things when I photograph boats. The surrounds and textures that abound in the boat’s environment – for example, old nets, creels, fish boxes, water, sand, people, harbours, buildings. Likewise, I try to remember the day when I took the photograph, my mood, the weather, precious memories…and so on. I often do photo-shoots completely on my own as the way I photograph things is relatively selfish and personal – frankly, my wife would be bored to tears with my obsession for textures. I often limit myself to strict criterion, such as, a single focal length, 16 x 9 format, manual only, only 20 shots – daft things like that to make me think about what I’m shooting. Oh, and by the way – I never carry a camera with me when I am out and about normally – I only do  photo-shoots!

It is from this jumble of experiences that I select ideas to inform how I create my photo-art. Since I choose to make art from photographs, I don’t want the result to look like a photograph.

In order to move away from that look I choose painterly or sketchy effects and ‘all manner’ of textures, in combination to produce an end result.

In this example I started with an unprocessed and rather ‘dull’ image of a boat & tackle. The first step was to convert the image to a more graphic one. The foreground float in the image lent itself to selective masking to be used ‘as is’ or as an ‘inversion’. Next a ‘Rusty’ looking texture was superimposed on graphic one – informed by similar textures that I had photographed at the time. As there were some stray elements showing towards the edges, I applied a ‘Vignette Mask’ effect to clean up the image. An effect that created a strong border and a feeling of age was then applied. I could easily have stopped there, but I was influenced to add yet another effect from a fleeting memory that passed through my head – it was of another rusty texture that appealed to me, but this time it was ‘pitted’.

So, although it is easy to create photo-art in Smart Photo Editor through random selection of effects or pure experimentation (both of which I do too), it requires more artistic thinking to deliberately bring different elements together to produce a result similar to what was in your mind’s eye prior to starting the process of transformation. I’ve told you what was in my mind when I created the photo-art based on the boat & tackle image. The actual process is shown below.

The Process Outlined:

Boat Transformation Process

Love to hear your thoughts.



Congratulations to Anthropics, PortraitPro 12 team on Professional Photographer’s Hot One award for industry innovation, Winner 2014

Transforming an ‘ordinary’ photograph

Smart Photo Editor is great for creating photo-artworks.

Below is shown a ‘before & after’ example of such a transformation.

Statues Before - After

So how was this achieved?

Here is a visual ‘step-by-step’ guide showing the  transformation stages. Note the mask – this was created using a soft edge brush – no attempt was made to be precise as it was not necessary in this instance.

Transformation Process

Let me restate the process of transformation:

  1. Load original image
  2. Crop original image
  3. Apply ‘Vibrance’ effect by Tony
  4. Apply ‘Extreme Sharpness’ by David
  5. Apply ‘Photo-art at a click 049′ by andrewb2012
  6. Create mask at this stage – basically we erased some of the ‘Photo-art at a click 049′ effect to reveal previous stage
  7. Apply ‘Vignette masks 012′ by andrewb2012
  8. Use the ‘Image Treatment’ feature to:
  • Lift ‘Darks’
  • Lift ‘Shadows’
  • Increase ‘Clarity’
  • Reduce ‘Saturation’ a little

This process is typical of how I use Smart Photo Editor.

Hope you find this useful.