When I last worked on Trudie Ann, I created a B&W version that I liked (see “Restoring Trudie Ann Part 4”). Next I wanted to see if I’d like the old photo better if I tinted it the way many old photos were developed. Using the digital darkroom instead of the traditional wet darkroom, we can easily and quickly experiment with many different looks. Photoshop has always made it easy to tint photos, so while I love using 3rd party plug-ins for many effects, tinting is one where I often simply use what’s built in to Photoshop.
Tinting with the Photo filter: Using one of the Warming presets will create a warm brown tint. However, when tinting the entire image, the lights and highlights also become colored, often muddying the contrast for the entire image. I created a basic luminosity mask by Cmd/Ctrl-clicking on the composite channel’s thumbnail (the RGB channel), inverted the selection (Cmd/Ctrl-Shift-I) to select the darker half of the image, and added it as a mask to the Photo Adjustment layer. This blocked the color from affecting the lights, keeping the tonal range bright and crisp, while still warming up the darker grays with a brown tint.
Tinting with the Camera Raw filter: The Camera Raw filter allows us to use most of the features of Camera Raw on any image layer inside Photoshop CC itself. I converted the image layer to a Smart Object to make Camera Raw a Smart (re-editable) Filter, then opened Camera Raw and turned to the Split Tone tab. Here I used a pale yellow for the highlights and a cool violet for the shadows, both at low saturation to only slightly tint the photo. If either the highlights or the shadows extended over too large an area of the image, I could have adjusted the balance to make a more pleasing split tone. In this instance, I don’t think it was necessary.
Tinting with a Solid Color Adjustment: I have a few old photos that my grandfather printed when he was very young and learning to use a traditional darkroom, among which were some cyanotypes. To recreate the look, I selected the Solid Color Adjustment layer while holding down the Option/Alt key in order to bring up the New layer dialog. I checked on Use Previous Layer as a Clipping Mask, and set the Mode to Color. Next in the Color picker, I selected a blue for the darker half of the image. Again, I loaded the Luminosity Mask from the composite channel and inverted it, then added the mask to the layer, effectively protecting the lights from being colored. In my grandfather’s print, the lights were colored, but appeared greener than the darks. This may have been the result of age, rather than the original process, but I liked the look and added another Solid Color layer to tint the lights with a turquoise. I copied the mask to that layer (hold the Option/Alt key down and drag), then inverted it (Cmd/Ctrl-I).
Photoshop has other basic ways to tint, including using the very old, but still useful, Duotone mode, and I’ll show the results from using some more techniques in another installment of Restoring Trudie Ann.
The other day when I saw a sale, I thought it might be time to buy a couple new templates for scrap pages. It’s not that I don’t already have lots of templates—some bought, some made by me. It’s just that I don’t have all the ideas in the world for designing pages sitting somewhere in my head. Some of those ideas, in fact, have never been anywhere near my head, let alone in it.
And while there are times I love a blank canvas, something to stare at until I get so fidgety I do something, anything, nevertheless there are plenty of times when I’d rather not have to think so hard. With thousands of pictures I might want to do something with, I’m supposed to design each and every page all by myself? I did that before I discovered templates, and it began to feel like a chore.
I have a couple of problems when buying templates, though. The first is the format. I decided in the very beginning not to use the traditional 12”x12” format for scrap. I chose the standard 10”x8” (basically US letter size), because it not only works with most home printers and store-bought frames, but also makes better use of the widescreen format of monitors and TVs. Purchased templates for scrap are, of course, a square format, so I have to redistribute and resize all the elements for my landscape paper size. On the positive side, I get very familiar with each template. This format is also one of the reasons I never buy any of those lovely quick pages. They can’t be rearranged, and very few can be nicely transformed.
The other problem I found with templates is that they’re all in color. Sometimes the color is soft and almost monochromatic; more often templates are bright and cheerful, or even, as is the case with Jumpstart Designs, so completely developed you could use the templates as their own quick pages. But the lovely colors, despite enticing me to buy, get in the way when I start replacing template shapes with my elements. After figuring out that I was having trouble looking at colors that didn’t fit with my palette, I began converting them all to Grayscale.
Whatever size your page is, you might also like using templates better if they’re in neutral grays. Of course, by definition you can’t create a full color page if the Mode is Grayscale. And if you add a B&W Adjustment layer to the top of the stack of layers, everything you add below it will be gray. Further, if you’re using Photoshop and have Smart Objects in your template, Grayscale won’t work without rasterizing them. Fortunately, it’s very easy to get all this resolved.
After choosing Image> Mode> Grayscale, the first dialog will ask you if you want to Merge layers (PSE says Flatten); you don’t. If you have Smart Object layers, the second dialog in PS will tell you that changing modes can affect the appearance of Smart Objects and do you want to rasterize? Yes, you do. (PSE doesn’t support Smart Objects , but rasterizes them on open.) When you next convert your Grayscale back to RGB, you again do not merge (flatten) your layers and all should be fine. Save the template with a new name—I append a G for Gray to the name—and you’ll be preserving the color if you want to be inspired by it.
With your template now in neutral grays, when you start adding your own colored elements to your design, that hot pink or bright orange from the original template won’t look out of place with your chosen palette, and you won’t be distracted by strong unwanted colors.
Back when I took up digital scrapbooking, I not only had no clue what I was getting into or how this thing worked, I also didn’t have anything to make a scrap page with. I thought “no problem. . . I can photograph things around the house, extract them, and have my own personal elements. And isn’t that what scrapping is all about? “ I foolishly thought there would be time not only to restore the family photos, design the pages, and write the family history for each page, but also to make everything that I used on each page.
About a day into my new scrapbooking project, I could be found searching the web for suitable scrapbook kits. It was obvious I’d need some help from others if I was going to get enough of this project done to leave something for the next generation to look at. I used a few items that belonged to the people in the story, but more and more I got caught up in new styles and new designs, forgetting about making the belongings that were part of our story characters in it.
It nagged at me, though. I was torn between wanting to get it all “done,” wanting to use the wonderful things I’d bought, and wanting to create with the things I grew up with. Recently I thought why not let some of those things become the inspiration for the artwork? I’d already dipped a toe or two into art journaling. It wouldn’t be that different to create a setting for an object instead of for words. And that’s how “Marmalade Jar” came into being.
The marmalade jar belonged to my grandmother. I can remember it set out on the dining table at breakfast, where she’d have a piece of toast with a soft-boiled egg. Gram hated cooking, but inexplicably seemed to enjoy making homemade jam and candies. It was a limited repertoire, but she was very good at heating up a can of Franco-American Macaroni, making jello with bananas and miniature marshmallows, and cooking peppermint or clove-flavored fondant, orange marmalade, and apricot jam. Hers was best marmalade ever made. Our treasures are just too important to leave out of our story. They were there for so much of it.
When I reached the end of ”Restoring Trudie Ann Part 3,” my photo was clean and minimally presentable. That’s the part of restoring I feel is objective. Getting rid of any blemishes you don’t want, and adjusting tonal range to something that seems reasonable in an old photo, is mostly technical. Taking the image to where I want it to be, including cropping it, adjusting contrast to affect mood, colorizing, even adding my own distressing or a frame to the image, is all subjective. It’s the creative part of restoring an image. You can’t see the original as it was way back when to know what it looked like, so you have a lot of latitude—at least if you’re not trying to be as historically accurate as possible.
I first decided to crop the photo from an oval to a rectangle. I knew that would mean cloning some of the image into the empty space at the bottom of the photo, but between the Clone Stamp, Content Aware Move, and Healing Brush tools, I figured I’d do okay if I was willing to be slow and careful about it.
One of the things I love about restoring images is it often forces me to get very close and figure out just what it is I’m looking at. The dark rocks I thought were next to and behind Trudie Ann turned out upon close examination to be her shoes! What was no doubt the height of fashion in her day looked like old Granny shoes to me, which is all part of realizing your moment in this universe isn’t exactly the be all and end all, or the last word in fashion.
Once I completed cloning into the empty areas at the bottom and cropped the image non-destructively (uncheck Delete Cropped Pixels in the Options bar), so I could return to the original oval if I wished, I created a flattened duplicate for later experimenting with color toning. Knowing that color toning affects the mood of an image, and its contrast has to enhance that mood, I wanted to have a starting version of the B&W that was still relatively flat. I could adjust contrast after I’d set the mood. I then created a stamped visible layer (Cmd/Ctrl-Option/Alt-Shift E), and converted it to a Smart Object.
There are so many ways to affect the values of an image in Photoshop that I often find it difficult to choose which technique to use. Lately I’ve been playing with Tony Kuyper’s Luminosity Mask actions, and decided to see if they’d be easy enough to make the fixes I wanted. I felt the backdrop of trees was a bit lame and the brightest areas of it could use a boost. I also thought some of the darks in the image needed to go even darker.
When you Cmd/Ctrl-click on the composite channel in the Channels panel, you automatically load a Luminosity mask; anything you now do will affect every value from middle gray to white, while middle gray to black is protected from being altered. Invert to protect the lights and affect the darks. Luminosity masks are naturally feathered, helping prevent you from making adjustments that have abrupt changes from one value or color to another. Although obvious edits can be a stylistic choice, it does reveal you’ve “Photoshopped” it. TK’s actions create luminosity masks that restrict the values selected in many more ways than the simple all lights versus all darks Luminosity mask you make when you load it from the composite channel.
I chose two luminosity masks that matched the areas where I wanted to change their values, and decided to use Curves for that. The action automatically adds the layer adjustment I choose with the mask in place. Pushing the lights lighter in just a limited area, and the darks a bit darker, again not over half the image, but in a more limited area, I was able to add quite a lot of contrast and depth to the image, and I didn’t have to create those masks. I also wanted to bring back some modeling to the lightest lights in the image, so used yet another luminosity mask. By adding an adjustment layer to a group, even if its the only one in the group, I could “mask the mask” for even more control.
Keeping with my effort to stay in Photoshop for all the restoration, I chose to use Unsharp Mask with the Hiroloam method I learned from Dan Margulis. Hiraloam stands for high radius, low amount, which is the opposite of the normal technique for using Unsharp Mask. Adding it as a Smart Filter, I ended up using Amount 37, Radius 117, and Threshold 8, but your image and your taste in sharpening will determine the values you use. The end effect is very similar to using the popular High Pass method of sharpening, affecting the edges without sharpening noise and grain, but I find I have more control for fine tuning the results.
The last step I took with the B&W version of Trudie Ann was to add a vignette. I wanted more control than I was going to have using the vignette feature in either Lens Correction or Camera Raw, since they both produce ovals, not rectangles, so I went with the old-fashioned method of adding a vignette. On an empty layer, I drew a heavily-feathered marquee just inside the edges, inverted my selection (Cmd/Ctrl-Shift-I), and filled it with black. I now could change the blend mode to Multiply, reduce the opacity, and transform the edges to fit the vignette better. I didn’t like a strong vignette on this image, so I dragged the edges of the rectangle beyond the edges of the photo to leave only a hint of a vignette inside.
I like the B&W version, though I’m still going to see what color-toning will do for it. While I’ve fixed most of problems caused by photos gradually fading into obscurity, it doesn’t attempt to look new, sharper than consumer lenses were at that time, or any less grainy, so I don’t think any significant historical value has been lost. In fact, non-destructive editing means I’ve even preserved the original in all its faded and scratched glory. My layers are still intact and I used Smart Filters and adjustment layers where I could, so if I change my mind and want to alter the values even more, I can do that. But for now, the B&W version of Trudie Ann is finished—if any restoration can ever be called “finished.”
Adobe recently released its first version of Adobe Comp, a mobile app that lets you “doodle” layouts as easily as, well, doodling. I’m sure they had in mind professional designers who are creating brochures, advertisements, etc., but I can’t see any reason those of us who create photos albums, art journals, and scrap pages won’t find it just as useful. After all, we’re doing exactly the same thing—placing pictures and text on our pages to tell a story. And Adobe Comp is free! You only need an iPad2 or better, and a Creative Cloud subscription. It can be either the Photography Plan for Lightroom and Photoshop, or the full CC.
(Once they nail down the basic features for the iPad version, I’ve no doubt they’ll be bringing it to other devices, just as they have begun to with Lightroom Mobile.)
So how do we, the digital scrappers, grunge art compositors, art journalists, or family album creators, make use of Adobe Comp? First, remember this app is intended to make it easy to jot down an idea for a page anywhere you happen to be—waiting for the kids’ karate class to end, sitting in a doctor’s office, having coffee at Starbucks, or curled up on your couch relaxing. You don’t always want to haul around the laptop, but the iPad can go almost anywhere, and it’s a lot easier to use than a dirty napkin or the back of a receipt, along with the pen that’s drying up. The layout doesn’t have to be complete—it can be an idea for a cluster or photo layout, or simply denote areas for imagery and other areas for journaling. How finished is up to you.
Adobe Comp comes with basic geometric shapes, text, a bit of styling for headings or borders, etc., even color, but you have to bring in any complex imagery such as photos, flowers, or flourishes. You can do this by using the Creative Cloud Library feature that Photoshop and many other apps include (Window> Libraries). If you haven’t tried creating a library for yourself, you’re in for a treat. They’re super simple to use, only requiring enough space in your Creative Cloud account to store them.
I used some custom shapes that Photoshop ships with. After drawing one in a blank document and with the layer still targeted, I clicked on the Add Image button in the Library panel. I could also add the swatch color for the shape at the same time. The shape in the library is named after the layer name, but you can rename it by double-clicking on the name in the library. Adobe automatically synced my library to the Creative Cloud.
However, you don’t have to use a library. You can also import any images that are on your iPad or in your one of your Creative Cloud Files. Of course, using photos instead of basic shapes will take up a lot of space in your CC account, and/or on your iPad. But a photo can be the inspiration for the artwork, so if it makes it easier to envision the finished piece, you shouldn’t hesitate to use one.
Once you’re done, you can send the file to Photoshop (or InDesign or Illustrator) and, if your computer is running, Adobe will launch the designated app and open the file in it. If your computer isn’t running, your file will stay in the Cloud until you next start it up. The transfer keeps all your layers intact. I should add that if you have two computers on one CC account, both computers will get a copy of your Comp document. Yeah, that could be better, but you don’t have to save it on both computers if you don’t want to.
If you don’t have an internet connection, you can still use Comp, including using any library you’ve already synced with it. Sending the file to your computer will have to wait, and you won’t be able to access any files in your Creative Cloud account while you’re working, which makes having a library synced with Comp even more valuable. But basically, you’re good to go even without the Internet.
I haven’t gone into detail on all of the features. Between touch gestures and included elements for your layout, this app goes beyond doodling on envelopes and napkins, yet remains as direct and easy. Whether or not you’re making a living as a designer, Adobe Comp can also help you design pages for your art journal, your 365 day project, or your family album. It takes only a very little time to learn, it’s portable, and did I mention it’s also free for CC subscribers?