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Creating Artistic Photographs

This chapter covers how to age a photo, change color to black and white, make a photo look like an oil painting or a watercolor, and more tips. (From the book, Paint Shop Pro 8, by Jennifer Fulton, Sams, 2004, ISBN: 0672323893.)

Author Info:
By: Sams Publishing
Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 17
September 21, 2004
  1. · Creating Artistic Photographs
  2. · Change a Color Photograph to Black and White
  3. · Colorize a Photograph
  4. · Make a Photograph Look Like an Oil Painting
  5. · Turn a Photograph into a Watercolor
  6. · Make a Photograph Look Like It Was Drawn
  7. · Make a Photograph Look Like Ansel Adams Shot It

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Creating Artistic Photographs
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The first step to turning a photograph into a work of true art is to capture the perfect composition. This isn't a task that Paint Shop Pro can help you with; only you have the ability and skill to manipulate the light, steer the subject, anticipate the perfect moment, and produce a scene that attracts the adoration of people's eyes. But after you've done that, you can manipulate your composition so that it appears—at least partly—to have been rendered by hand instead of by pixel. In these tasks, you'll learn how to make a photograph look old, hand-painted, or rendered in pastels, oils, pencils, or watercolors.

Age a Photograph

Before You Begin

  • Select a Rectangular, Circular, or Other Standard-Shaped Area
  • Improve a Dull, Flat Photo
  • Create an Adjustment Layer

See Also

  • Change a Color Photograph to Black and White
  • Colorize a Photograph

Although ancient photographs are generally identifiable by their rich sepia tones and over-extended contrasts, these effects were not caused by aging. In fact, ironically, well-preserved daguerreotypes of the late 1800s are probably more true to their original appearance than an equally well-preserved Kodak Brownie-box snapshot of the 1930s. If you have a modern photo that you'd like to cast in a 19th century motif, Paint Shop Pro gives you the tools you need not only to simulate the daguerreotype tones of that period, but also to give your photo just the right amount of distress.

In this task, you'll create an old-time oval frame (on a separate layer), and apply a sepia-like finish with dark brown edges to the image, which is typical of old photos of that time. Two additional characteristics typify 19th century photography: blemishing—as a result of imperfectly ground lenses—and over-dramatized contrasts caused by overexposure. For best results, choose a portrait-like photo (a school or portrait studio image works best). Adjust its brightness and contrast in the usual manner before you begin this task—I'll show you how to strengthen the contrast in the steps. For an authentic look, you might want to replace the background of the image with a dark brown sunburst gradient before you start the task.

Note - PSP has a special Sepia Toning filter, which you'll find on the Effects, Artistic Effects menu. Try it out if you want, but in this task you'll learn to do a much better job in just a few more steps.

  1. Create an Oval Frame

    Promote the background layer (so that you can manipulate it) by selecting Layers, Promote Background Layer. Then create the frame layer (Layers, New Raster Layer). Move the frame layer to the bottom of the stack in the Layer palette. So that you can see what you're doing on the frame layer, click the Visibility Toggle button on the Raster 1 layer (the former Background) to off.

    Choose the Selection tool from the Tools toolbar, choose Ellipse selection type, and set Feather to 0. On the frame layer, drag to select a large oval area in the center. (If the selection is not perfectly centered, choose Selections, Edit Selection and use the Move tool to adjust it.) Use the Flood Fill tool to fill the selection with a reddish-brown color {RGB: 79, 54, 11}. The reddish-brown area will help to age the edges of the image later on. Save this selection (Selections, Load/Save Selection, Save Selection to Alpha Channel). Invert the selection (Selections, Invert) and flood the corners with pure black.

    Note - You can mat your image in shiny gold like the old daguerreotypes by filling the corners of your frame with gold instead of black {RGB: 255, 222, 121}. Feather the selection by 8 and add the Effects, Artistic Effects, Hot Wax Coating filter three times to the selection to make gold.

  2. Create a Vignette Mask

    On the Layer palette, choose the Raster 1 layer (the original image), and click the Visibility Toggle button on so that you can see its contents. Modify the selection (which is still inverted) by choosing Selections, Modify, Inside/Outside Feather. Select Outside and set the Feather amount to a fairly high number, such as 35. Click OK. This action selects the corners and a bit of the oval center.

    With the Raster 1 layer selected, create a Show All mask by selecting Layers, New Mask Layer, Show All. With the Flood Fill tool, fill the selection with black. This masks the photo so that only the center portion of the oval interior shows through, feathered along the edges with the reddish-brown color used in step 1.

    Note - When you add Random noise to an image, the colors of the noise pixels are chosen at random. But the colors of Uniform and Gaussian noise pixels are determined based on the colors of surrounding pixels. As a result, these two noise options can smooth out an otherwise erratic or jagged histogram.

  3. Distress the Photo Layer

    On the Layer palette, choose Raster 1 and deselect everything (Selections, Select None). Select Adjust, Add/Remove Noise, Add Noise. Select the Gaussian option, and set the Noise value to 10%. Click OK.

    To overdo the contrast for an old-time look, select Layers, New Adjustment Layer, Levels. Select the RGB channel, and drag the gamma marker (the center diamond) to the left. For this example, I set gamma to 1.51. Next, narrow the input levels for the white and black points by dragging the markers inwards. Come close to the first hash marks on either side, but don't go over. Click OK. Finally, select Adjust, Sharpness, Sharpen More.

  4. Colorize the Photo Layer

    To control the sepia coloring, create an adjustment layer: With Raster 1 still selected, choose Layers, New Adjustment Layer, Hue/Saturation/Lightness. Enable the Colorize check box. Set Hue to 43 and Saturation to 19. (These values create the most convincing sepia color, in my opinion, but feel free to make adjustments for your image.) Click OK.

    Tip - You can double-click the Hue/Saturation/Lightness layer to redisplay the dialog box and make further adjustments. You can also adjust the Opacity setting of the adjustment layer to lessen the sepia-tone effect.

  5. View the Result

    Perhaps the smiles in this first image detract from its antiquated appearance—it seems that people hardly ever smiled in photographs back then! But the combination of the Gaussian noise and Sharpen More filters resulted in some quaint specks and slight, though bearable, defects that lend to the aged look.

    I had so much fun creating the first example that I did another so that you could compare the look of a gold mat and daguerreotype frame. Look for these two images in the Color Gallery in this book.


Figure 16.1

This chapter is from Paint Shop Pro 8, by Jennifer Fulton, (Sams, 2004, ISBN: 0672323893). Check it out at your favorite bookstore today.

Buy this book now.

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