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.

GGW – Into the Woods

Fairy Tale Trails The forest at dusk is really a storybook kind of place. You almost feel like Little Red Ridinghood skipping through the asters on the way to Grandma’s house.  The orange light of the ‘magic hour’ sun comes in low over the fields and brightens and lightens the way. This is exactly how the scene appeared. I was going to crop the image, but decided to keep the one above original size. I filled the frame with light and darkness, where the focus is on the trees and asters that lead you into the forest depths. The pretty, delicate asters really draw you in. The sunset lighting bouncing off the tree trunks is another factor pulling at the viewer, making your mind wander, with your body to follow. The image selected for GGW is seen below, keep going deeper into the darkness. A back lit aster catches the glowing afternoon rays of the sun. A look from within on a sunny day, looking out into the light shining on the meadow. Morning has a much different feel to the space. Now you feel like a little woodland sprite hiding in the protective underbrush of the drifts of asters, frolicking with the bees and butterflies. It really is a magical place. Here are a few more views from the field that is at the forest edge. The first two, where the forest is dense and the next two, where the forest ends to join the meadows. The tips of the grasses are still catching rays. But in morning light…. Just below the grasses, the show of asters is what you see. The tawney grasses are there, just not as easily noticed. The asters in the woods give way to the fields of blue. Since we are ‘filling the frame’, I guess it is only fitting to show an isolated close-up of one and a small group of asters that grace the meadows. They are the temptress that make the meadows and forest floor so special at this time of year. It is also the time of year it rains, rains, rains. The post is called Into the Woods, so we should get back in there. But let’s move over to the next forest. This area is storybook as well, but closer to Sleeping Beauty’s abode. It is darker and the trees a little gnarled. A few clearings and streams of light allow the forest floor to bloom and the bluebird to fly. The trees in the forest are the show when you visit in the morning hours. The canopies are starting to rival any garden filled with flowers. The maples, poplars, oaks and sumac are the stars. Even the fallen are worth a look. There are trails to follow, but what fun is that? It is so much more mysterious and pretty to follow your instinct and explore. We go deeper into the dark. You just might find a lone aster hiding in the shadows, but perfectly positioned to get the sun it needs. With all the pretty images of the woods with morning light shining through, I decided to fill the woods and the frame with this deep rich sunset at 6:30 PM. The asters fade in the evening light and assume the golden tones of the forest right before total darkness overtakes the scene. Come with me, I have a tale to spin…I hope it draws you in. Linking the image above to Gardening Gone Wild, Picture This Contest, judged by Saxon Holt. It is always a pleasure to see the beautiful work submitted by bloggers from around the world. And, it is a great and welcomed help when the judges provide feedback on submissions.

Everyday is a Rainbow

Almost Pollyanna if you did not realize we are at Niagara Falls, where everyday the sun shines, there is a chance of a rainbow somewhere around the Falls. But not all the time does one come in so close you feel like you can be a part of it.

 I watched as the ducks flew right through it as if there was something magical.

I was surprised the ducks would fly over the brink of the Horseshoe Falls as the wind currents are often fierce.

Here is a closeup of the Falls that no one willing wants to see from the water. Enlarge the image to see how big this is in comparison to the ducks flying around inside the Horseshoe. Most pictures can not show the massiveness unless there is a scaling element. Here is our duck right before he enters the rainbow.

A view father back shows that the duck has company. These are the same two ducks that were in the image I said to enlarge. They emerged from the spray OK.

This image and the one below shows the close up view for the tourists. They were thrilled to be taking pictures of this rainbow. Not all are so vivid or close.