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.

Add a Classy Matte

For those of you that like tutorials, I thought you might like one to display your images in their best light, that or present them to clients that might buy them.  This is not a true matting experience, (I could show you that too), but one you can do for online display.  You could print it, but it certainly would not have the three-dimensional appearance of a true matte.

For those of you not able to do this project, I have some pretty animal portraits for you. So let’s get started on our Digital Matte.

Our first step in making the finished art, is to open a Photoshop document 14″ wide by 11″ high at 300 dpi ( or make this 8″ wide and  96 dpi for online use). The background color is the default white, name your project, MatteProject, and click OK.

Next we Place an image as a Smart Object by going to File>Place, then select an image you find on your hard drive. This brings the image in as a smart object. This means the original is not changed in any way, keeping your pixels as the image was created. Or do it the simple way and copy and paste, your preference.

Make a new blank layer below your image layer, this is where your matte will be created. In the Layers Panel, go to the bottom of the panel and select the folded paper looking icon and while holding the Command or Control key, click this radio button and you will get a new blank layer below your image layer, just where you want it.

In this step, on the blank layer, you go to the Rectangular Marquee tool and draw a rectangle roughly around the image like you see here. Don’t worry if it is off-center like shown, we will fix that later by using Photoshop’s Alignment tools.

Next you fill the area you just created with white. It can be any color, but we will try to make this look museum quality for fun.

I went to the little white and black circle icon in the Layers Panel to make an adjustment layer. You choose Solid Color to get the color picker. See the red arrow pointing to the drop down? But you can go to Edit>Fill and get the same color picker. But as an adjustment layer, you can easily change the color of the matte any time since it creates a layer mask. Notice, since I made the matte white, you do not see any thing happening in the document, but you see the mask in the layers panel.

We will add an Inner Shadow to the white mat (Layer 1), our original blank layer, so you will see this layer appear in your document. Go to the bottom of the Layers Panel again, then to  Add Layer Style drop down (fx) and select Inner Shadow. Make the selections as shown in the next illustration. You can change them, but try these first.

You can see we have a believable matte starting to happen.

But if we want to make it look fancy, we make adjustments to the document as shown above, and then add some fancy text. This would be a great way to show your photos to your client’s and friends on your iPad, no?

You can optionally add some text and make adjustments to make it really classy. Here, I picked a color for the text, a golden hue like in the image of the bear above, selected the font Trajan, centered the text, added a layer style of Bevel and Emboss, and adjusted the tracking between the letters.

To adjust tracking, you highlight the string of text (triple click the line of text), then use the key board shortcut, Option Command Right Arrow (Alt Control Right Arrow on a PC). This makes space between the letters. If you add too much, no worry, just use Option Command Left Arrow (Alt Control Left Arrow on a PC), and they grow closer together. Just a tip you likely did not know, but a great one to know.

Lastly, like I mentioned above, we need to align all the layers to center them. Select all the layers by selecting the top one first, then Shift clicking the bottom layer. With them all selected, select the Move tool from the Tools panel. With that tool selected, you get the handy alignment tools as shown in the illustration. It is at the top of the Photoshop document. Select the Align Centers tool and all the layers are perfectly centered.

And our Giraffe portrait is complete. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I did jump over the text portion rather quickly.

The giraffe below was taken in really low light and if you want to see how to photograph in these kind of conditions, see the post Night Lights in the Garden on Garden Walk Garden Talk.

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.