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.

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