Texturize a Photo Tutorial

Well, I did promise a tutorial on GWGT. I did this quickly to show you how to use textures on photographs to give an aged or artistic look to an image. One that you create from scratch. See the finished ‘antique’ postcard below.

Five Minute Tutorial

First we start with two images, one, the base photo, and the other the texturizing image. Our goal is to create an old-time postcard that you can fool your friends into believing you made a great find, at least those friends that know little about photography and even less about antique postcards. It is all for fun. I am showing my desktop so you can click to see the settings I make in Photoshop. Just click to enlarge the images.

Of course what better to recreate an old image than one of Niagara Falls. I will be purposely making this tutorial a little more difficult so you can see a process. Starting with picking an original image that is not in landscape mode and a texture that is. You will see why in a moment.

The texture is a lake bottom with swimming fish. Again, not a typical texture to use, but the color is something we are after for an old world look. What we do is have both images open in Photoshop, then we just drag the texture into the document of Niagara Falls. It will position itself in a layer above the image of the Falls. Simple so far.

Now see that they don’t fit each other? No problem. We just grab the transform handles of the texture and enlarge the image. This allows us to move the image to a better textural pattern. See I enlarged and moved it over to the left. Also notice how the image picked up age with the yellow/orange color. We change the Layer Blending mode to Overlay and it blends with the Falls image below. It still retains the texture too, most noticeably in the sky.

This is how to add textures to photos, but it doesn’t look like much yet, but wait. We duplicate the original layer and change the Layer Blending mode of the Duplicate to Multiply. Now we are getting somewhere.

Getting better with greater contrast and saturation, just like those old saturated printed postcards.  But, this also made some parts of the image very dark. We can fix that with a layer mask. Click to add a layer mask and with the Brush tool, paint black on the mask itself. This will reveal some of the layer below which makes the lower left of the image much brighter.

A few steps below in the Layers panel, you see the layer mask applied. The image below has the area in question revealed. This step becomes unnecessary when we crop it to postcard size though. But masking is another thing you can see the effect, so I did it anyway.

But are we done? Nope. This step will add some real interest. Draw a selection very roughly around the image on the Duplicate layer.

When you have your marching ant selection, we are going to do a step you might not know. Select>Refine Edge. It opens the window below. We push the radius slider all the way up as shown and add a little contrast. How’s this look?

Click OK and what you get is the refined selection. Where did our white go? We invert the selection with Select>Inverse.

Now for the fun part. Hit Option/Delete (Alt/Backspace) to fill the active selection with black. We can’t leave it this way so…

We lower the opacity of the layer to give an aged look and darkened edges. I added a layer mask to this layer to mask some of the ‘frame’ at the top of the image but this is not necessary.  But, we don’t have a postcard yet. So we reduce the size of the frame layer to postcard size. This eliminates the bright blue sky too.

Using this as the overall size, crop the entire image.

In this image below, I first sharpened the image to increase the definition of the roughness. I created a New Layer and filled it with black. I then added Noise to the black layer. Filter>Noise>Add Noise. I changed the Layer Blending Mode to Overlay on the Noise layer and reduced the opacity of this layer. It gives an old film camera graininess to the image. I can further age it with torn edges and paper folds, but I think this makes a nice old postcard. Enlarge to see the graininess, but I kinda prefer it without.

Add some text and you have your Greetings From Niagara Falls. The postcard even has that metallic sheen seen on the ‘period’ cards they sell in the gift shops around the Falls.

Just for fun, I left a big fish swimming across the Falls. I wanted to see if anybody noticed.  Because it is distracting from the image, I would have eliminated this if this really was going to be a postcard. Content Aware anyone? I did on it on the GWGT post Monthly Weather Calendar – March 2012.

Easy Photoshop Tip I Promised

If you liked the quick post I did on Garden Walk Garden Talk for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, here is how I did it. The only thing different is I did all the letters in one file, on different layers. Here we just look at one.

First we create a new blank file in Photoshop. My file is 10 inches by 10 inches at 300 ppi. I always start with the resolution higher than I prepare the resulting jpg. It is just a habit, but it is easier to work with. Our next step is to pick a large, bold font. I used Gil Sans Ultra Bold at 800 pt. None of the other character settings matter since you are typing only one capital letter in the text box. The color of the letter is white, so I added a stroke just to see the letter on the white background. The stroke can stay or be turned off after, your choice. I chose D for Donna….

The next step is selecting an image you want to see placed inside the letter. And I like lilies…..

Do whatever you need to the image to make it sharper and cleaner. I did much more than I had to, but wanted to show you in the history panel what I can do to clean up an image.  The next step will amaze you how simple it is.

Drag your photo into the Photoshop file with the letter. It will be automatically placed above your layer containing the letter D, and this is exactly where we want it. Enlarge the photo to completely cover the letter.

The next thing you do, is go to the layers palette drop down menu, and go to Create Clipping Mask or use the keyboard shortcut option (alt),command (control) G. The image is now clipped inside the layer below.

Since the layers are ‘separate’, you can still move the clipped layer and position it how you think works with your letter.  I chose the selection tool and moved it to the left. Now I prepare it for the web.

Remember, the resolution was 300 ppi. I reduce that to 96 and keep the same 10 inch size. You can reduce this if you are conserving on storage space in your blog .  Next I go to File>Save for Web & Devices, or the shortcut of Shift,Option (alt),Command (control) S. It brings up the options below. Choose a size and click Save.

We can stop here or add the plant name.If you choose to continue, I would add the word Asiatic Lily with the text tool on a curve to name the plant pictured. Do this before saving as a jpg like above. To add the name, I draw a simple curved path with the pen tool.

I select the text tool and click on the beginning of the path to set where the text will follow. I pick a font, here, Lucinda Calligraphy Italic, 30 pt. and type out Asiatic Lily.

Then save as a jpg and you are ready to post.

So darn easy and fast. If you have a word or date in a layer, it works the same way; drag, drop, clip. Just drag the handle bars of the image to size to cover the whole word.

Note in the image above I have the background color f1f1f1 of GWGT. I do this to float my images. If I ever decide to change from f1f1f1 as a background color on the blog, I would have a gray background on all these images. That is why if you look at past posts, images have white (ffffff) color against the gray background. I changed the CSS of my blog.

Anyway, you can do the same thing with shapes and text inside too. Let’s all do the Happy Dance. If it is raining in your locale, I bet you are doing just that.

The creative options are endless once you know this simple technique.

Lomo Transformation

This is a tutorial on how to make a photo look like it was taken with a Lomo LC-A camera or processed in E6 chemicals used for slide processing. Why you might want to do this is purely for artistic preference, but you can get some interesting effects.

First we start out with an image of our choosing. Here is a fly. I am not going to go through the steps precisely because there is a good and easy to follow tutorial on how to do this from Digital Photography School.

But you can pictorially follow my transformation of the fly and see what changes I made to the settings.

I used the Elliptical Marquee Tool rather than freehanding the selection with the Lasso tool.

I put the little guy in the spotlight with the vignette. I add a levels adjustment layer and move the middle slider to the right to achieve the above pictured vignette. Notice how much more the hydrangea leaf pops.

I flatten the image, then add a Curves adjustment layer. This brings the image additional contrast. I did not exaggerate the contrast though.

I then add a new layer and filled it with black. I lowered the opacity of the black layer to 20% and changed the blending mode to Hue.

Next is sharpening. Or over sharpening is what really occurs. This is where is gets a little different from what you are used to in sharpening, and it is a very useful procedure. The step involves going to Image>Mode>Lab Color, where you must be on a flattened layer. Your image becomes a Black and White by selecting the Channels Palette and deselecting all but the Lightness Channel.

Then you go to Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask and choose the desired settings.

The tutorial sharpens much more with a radius of 50%. You can also think about modifying the steps to end up with a pretty cool Black and White image.

Return to Modes by going to Image>Mode>RGB Color to get your color image back. Now you have a mock Lomo photo and a much more noticeable fly.

Here is a before and after subject that works much better. But anything with a shine seems to work well, even some flowers. See it done on a Monarda on Garden Walk Garden Talk on the post entitled The Monarda Speaks. As I promised there, I would explain the process here. Go to Digital Photography School for the easy to follow tutorial and the examples on their site. The ordinary orange car is just an image I shot in the Niagara Falls Parks parking lot.


After is much more interesting.