Antique Effects

When you look at this image, the last thing you're likely to think of is a hair dryer. I imagine that proves true with a thermal fax machine as well. However, as weird as it may sound, those two very things are essential ingredients in creating the antique sketch effect you see here. Alongside Photoshop, unlikely and technologically inferior tools can prove quite useful when you're trying to create an authentic antique effect.

When you think about very old works of art like the sketches of Leonardo DaVinci, it isn't just the beauty of the drawings and subject matter that captures your attention. Equally beautiful is the process of age itself. Paper turns color over the years. It becomes stained by moisture. It is affected by environmental factors, and edges become darkened from centuries of handling. There is a certain beauty in the randomness of these tactile signs of age, and it is randomness that is often overlooked in the all-too-perfect world of digital art.

I honestly can't tell you what made me to do it. But one day I just tried using a hair dryer on some blank thermal fax paper. The heat forced it to darken around the edges and bleed inward on the page. The first thing that came to my mind was the darkened edges of very old documents and drawings. I looked at it longer and began to ponder the usefulness of the black and white burn effect before me. I immediately began thinking of alpha channels and how they translate grayscale data into selection borders. And just like that the idea was born.

In this chapter, I'll reveal everything you need to know to get your thermal fax machine and hair dryer working for you as creative tools. You'll learn to use these tools to produce the random and tactile raw materials essential to the antique effects you see here. By the end of it, you'll master the art of using real world black and white art as the content of alpha channels. You'll make selections from those channels, and you'll make fantastic multi-layered Photoshop masterpieces from those selections.

Creative Photoshop

A good illustration is a direct result of the materials you begin with. That is why hours and hours were spent creating these initial sketches. Although the thermal fax/hair dryer effects will dictate the overall feel, these sketches provide the subject matter. They were based upon original sketches by Leonardo DaVinci, however, polygons and wire mesh have been included to convey the subtle fact that we're working digitally as well.

Chapter 9

Antique Effects

Chapter 9

2 I Tape one of your blank pages to a wall or another flat surface. Plug in your hair dryer and ensure that it is set to the hottest setting. Activate the hair dryer and move it close to the paper. Immediately you'll begin to see the paper darken when the hot air hits it. Use this technique to darken the blank sheets of thermal paper around the edges only. These will be used later to create a dark edge effect on the pages within the illustration.

1 I The first step is to print out all of the original sketches. Then, take the printed sketches to a thermal fax machine. One at a time, insert each sketch into the thermal fax machine and press the copy button. This will make an exact copy of your original sketch on thermal paper. In addition to copying your sketches, make a few copies of a blank piece of paper, simply to get a couple of blank thermal pages as well.

Project files

All of the files needed to follow along with this chapter and create the featured image are available on the accompanying CD. Files for this chapter can be found in the folder entitled: chapter_09. The initial sketch files can be found there. For those of you who don't have access to a thermal fax machine, hair dryer, or simply want to focus on the Photoshop work, all the scanned thermal pages are included in this folder.

3 I Now tape your thermal copies of the sketches to the wall or another flat surface. When using the hair dryer on these, concentrate on burning the centers of each page. Try moving the hair dryer back and forth quickly. It is fine if the image becomes obscured by the burn effect. You'll notice that the paper will ripple slightly and the high points of the ripples will be darkest.

Fax quality

Most fax machines, even old thermal ones, will have a number of quality settings to choose from. For what we're doing here, the best quality is not necessarily what is required. When you are copying your sketches to thermal paper, experiment with a variety of different settings. What you're after is something that, although it may omit lighter details from the sketches, copies the majority of the artwork so that it is dark and legible. The scans included on this CD were copied on an old fax machine using the medium-quality setting, which provided the clearest result.

4 I Open up the background.jpg file. This shot was carefully set up on an antique wooden trunk to lend a sense of authenticity to the final result. The pages you see here are already looking a bit aged. The corners are rounded slightly, and the pages are a bit darker around the edges. Notice how the empty pages are set up to overlap each other. Each page will provide the background for one of the sketches and have an antique effect applied to it.

Antique Effects

Antique Effects

5 I If you've done your own thermal effects using the hair dryer and copies of the illustrations, the next step is to scan each piece of paper. Envision the destination of each sketch within the background and actually rotate your pages on the scanner to approximate the angle before you scan them. You can rotate them in Photoshop later if necessary, so don't worry about being too accurate. Also, scan your blank pages with the thermal effects applied to them.

6 I Open up the man.jpg file. Choose Select>All and Edit>Copy from the menu. Return to the background.jpg file, your working file. In the channels palette, click on the create new channels button to create a new alpha channel. With the new alpha channel targeted in the channels palette, click in the column to the left of the CMYK composite channel to enable the visibility of all channels. Your alpha channel will be visible as a red overlay, similar to traditional rubylith.

Scanning and tonal adjustments

If you're scanning your own burned thermal fax pages, ensure that they are scanned and saved in grayscale mode. This isn't absolutely necessary, but it is helpful as the scans are destined for alpha channels. Also, it would be ideal if you could adjust your scanner driver preferences, so that an automatic tonal adjustment is performed ensuring that the white backgrounds within your files contain 0% black. If you don't have this option, simply perform a very quick tonal adjustment via the Brightness/contrast option in the Image>Adjustments menu

Creative Photoshop

7 I With your new channel targeted in the channels palette, choose Channel Options from the channels palette menu. In the channel options, you'll notice that the default setting is for color to indicate masked areas. Change this so that the color indicates selected areas instead. When you click OK, you'll immediately notice that the red overlay disappears from the image window as the background of your alpha channel becomes white instead of black.

Select, copy, and paste

As you add sketches and scanned thermal effects into each channel you'll be doing a lot of copying and pasting. Therefore it is beneficial to familiarize with some keyboard shortcuts:

8 I With your alpha channel targeted, choose Edit>Paste from the menu. You'll notice the coloured areas within the pasted sketch appear as a red overlay in the image window. Choose Edit> Free Transform from the menu. Hold down the shift key while you drag a corner point inward to reduce the size of the pasted art proportionately. Move the mouse pointer to the outside of the bounding box until it changes to indicate rotation. Click and drag to rotate the contents to the same angle as the large page. Click in the center of the box and drag it onto the main page to position it.

9 I When you're satisfied, press the enter key to apply the transformation. Although viewing the new channel against the rest of the image is handy for positioning, disable the visibility of the CMYK composite channel by clicking on the eye in the left column. This will allow you to view the channel by itself. Click the load channel as a selection button at the bottom of the channels palette. You'll notice that because you changed color to indicate selected areas, the black regions of the channel are selected rather than the white regions.

Sampling color

When you click on a color with the eyedropper tool. The foreground color is automatically replaced with the new color. However, if you hold down the alt(PC)/ option(Mac) key and click on a color within the image, the background color will be replaced instead of the foreground color.

10 I Return to the layers palette and click on the create a new layer button at the bottom of the layers palette. As soon as you create a new layer, the CMYK composite channel will become visible once again, and your alpha channel's visibility will be automatically disabled. This is a handy way to return to the regular workspace. With the current selection active, target your new layer. Select the eyedropper tool and click on a brown area of the background to sample it. The foreground color will automatically change to your newly sampled color.

Creative Photoshop

11 I Ensure that your new layer is targeted and choose Edit>Fill from the menu. In the fill dialog box, use your current foreground color, a blending mode of normal, and 100% opacity. Pay attention to these settings as you'll use them over and over again while filling selections throughout this chapter. Type control(PC)/Command(Mac)-d to deactivate the current selection and change the blending mode of the layer to multiply. Click the add layer mask button at the bottom of the layers palette to add a mask to the layer.

About filling

When you choose Edit>Fill from the menu, you have a number of choices as to how to go about filling. You can choose a color, a blending mode, and an opacity setting. However, throughout this chapter, we'll be using the default settings, which are the current foreground color, a normal blending mode, and an opacity setting of 100%. If you use the keyboard command alt(PC)/option(Mac)-delete, your current layer or active selection is automatically filled, using these settings.

12 I Target the layer mask in the layers palette and select the gradient tool. In the tool options bar, choose the radial method and the foreground to transparent gradient preset. When you target the mask, your foreground color automatically switches to black because you have changed what color indicates in the Channel Options earlier. This is perfect for masking. Click and drag with the gradient tool to draw small, black to transparent, radial gradients within the mask in areas that you wish to gently fade from view. For a more subtle masking effect, try using the gradient tool with a lower opacity setting.

Chapter 9

Antique Effects

Chapter 9

14 I Load your new channel as a selection. In the layers palette, create a new layer. Ensure that your selection is active and that the new layer is targeted. Use the eyedropper to sample a beige color from the image and then fill the active selection with the new foreground color on the new layer. Change the layer blending mode to color burn and reduce the opacity of the layer to 46%.

13 I Open up man-thermal.jpg file or a scan of your own version of this thermal-affected sketch. Select all and copy. Return to the working file and create a new alpha channel in the channels palette. Paste your copied image into the new channel and then enable the visibility of the composite channel within the channels palette. Choose Edit> Free Transform from the menu. Use the visible CMYK image as your guide to resize, rotate, and reposition the image you pasted into the channel. Do your best to get it to match up nicely with the sketch on the main page within the image.

Color opacity

In the channel options dialog box you'll notice that at the bottom, there is an area where you can change the opacity of the red overlay. When you are displaying the CMYK composite channel at the same time as your alpha channel, there may be instances where you find that the red is too faint to really see what you're doing. Increasing the opacity in the channel options will help with channel visibility. The downside, however, is that the more you increase the opacity, the less transparent the overlay becomes. Ideally you'll address this on an as-needed basis depending upon your existing channel preview circumstances.

15 I With the current selection still active, create a new hue/saturation adjustment layer from the menu at the bottom of the layers palette. Increase the saturation by 61 and reduce the lightness by 9. When you create an adjustment layer, your active selection is used to create a mask and then becomes deactivated. Right-click(PC)/control-click(Mac) on the adjustment layer's mask thumbnail and then choose the Add Layer Mask To Selection option from the pop-up menu that appears. This will reload your selection. With the new selection active, create a new layer and ensure that it is targeted in the layers palette.

Individual channel options

Earlier on, we changed what color indicates in your channels by accessing the channel options via the channels palette menu. When you do it this way, every subsequent channel you create uses the same options. However, you can edit the options for individual channels after the fact. To do this, simply double-click on any alpha channel in the channels palette. The channel options dialog box opens up, allowing you to alter the options for that specific channel only.

16 I Change the blending mode of the new layer to color burn and reduce the opacity to 30%. Use the eyedropper to sample a slightly darker brown color from within the image and then select the gradient tool. Ensure that the foreground to transparent gradient preset is selected and that the radial method is enabled in the tool options bar. Click and drag to create a few gradients within the selection on the current layer. This will add a darkening effect in these areas. Add as many as you think are needed and then type Control(PC)/Command(Mac)-d to deactivate the selection.

Chapter 9

Antique Effects

Chapter 9

17 I Drag the current layer onto the create new layer button in the layers palette to duplicate it. Change the blending mode to multiply to darken the effect further and then choose filter>Blur> Gaussian Blur from the menu. Ender a radius value sufficient enough to considerably soften the contents of the duplicated layer. Now that the overall page is looking good, it is time to begin darkening the edges. Open up the edge1.jpg file or a desktop scan of your own. Select all and copy.

Begin darkening the edges of the page

Now the blank thermal page scans, that were burned around the edges only, will be put to good use.

1 I Create a new channel in your working file and paste the copied image into it. Enable the visibility of the composite channel and position it over the appropriate area. This included scan was already rotated on the scanner, however, you may need to rotate your own.

2 I Load the channel as a selection and create a new layer. Target the layer and fill the active selection with a newly sampled, dark brown foreground color. Change the layer blending mode to color burn and reduce the opacity to 15%. Deselect.

3 I Duplicate this layer and change the blending mode to multiply to darken the effect. Add a layer mask and then use the gradient tool to add radial, black to transparent gradients into the mask to soften any areas on this layer that appear too dark.

18 I Open up the edge2.jpg file or use another of your own scans. Again, select all and copy. Return to your working file and paste it into a new alpha channel. Enable the visibility of the CMYK composite to aid you in positioning the contents of the channel on the page. The included file was rotated on the scanner, however, especially if you're using your own file, you may need to use free-transform to resize and rotate the channel contents. Load the channel as a selection and then create a new layer in the layers palette.

Channel color

Sometimes, when previewing an alpha channel against the CMYK composite channel, red simply isn't going to be as visible as another color would be. You can alter the color overlay of your channel by clicking on the color swatch in the channel options. This launches the picker, allowing you to change the display color of your channel to another color that will be more visible against the CMYK composite channel. Your display color can vary from channel to channel, they don't all have to be the same.

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19 I Use the eyedropper to sample a different dark brown color and fill the active selection with that color on the new layer. Deselect and reduce the opacity of the layer to 16%.

Duplicate the layer, change the blending mode to color burn and increase the opacity to 24%. Open up the edge4.jpg. Again, copy the image and paste it into a new channel within your working file. Position it using the CMYK composite channel as your guide. Load it as a selection and fill the selection with dark brown on a new layer. Change the blending mode to multiply and deselect.

Antique Effects

Antique Effects

20 I Create a new layer and select the gradient tool. Ensure that the gradient is still set to radial and that the foreground to transparent preset is selected in the tool options bar. Set the blending mode of the layer to darken and ensure that you have a dark brown foreground color specified. Click and drag on this layer, creating gradients in various sizes, using varying opacity settings, to darken the areas of the page on the underlying layers with smooth blends of color.

Cleaning up channels

When you are working with a file like this, it doesn't take long for the channels palette to fill up and for file size to swell. Go ahead and delete any alpha channels you wish from the palette after they've been used. You don't need to hang onto them as storage areas for your selections once you've filled a selection with color on a layer. You can load a selection from the layer at any point by Control(PC)/Command(Mac)-clicking on its thumbnail in the layers palette.

21 I Target your top layer, hold down the shift key and click on the initial sketch layer, which sits directly above the background layer in the layers palette. This will target both layers, and all layers in-between. Choose Layer>New>Group From Layers from the menu to add them to a group. Select the Pen tool, ensure that it is set to create paths, and that the add to path area option is enabled in the tool options bar. Carefully trace the outer edge of the page with the pen tool, drawing a closed path. Choose Layer>Vector Mask>Current Path from the menu to clip the group.

22 I Now repeat what you've done with different resource materials. Follow the same process that you used to create the antique man illustration, using different resource files and a different position on the canvas. Use the hand.jpg and hand-thermal.jpg files for your first two channels and subsequent layers. Then follow the process employed previously to build up layers with varying colors, masks, and blending modes to create the antique effect. To build up the edge effect on a series of layers, use the edge4.jpg file as your resource. When finished, add the layers to a group and clip it with a vector mask.

Examining the hand group

Although the contents of your group will likely differ, this is exactly how I achieved the effect.

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a I The channel-based hand-sketch selection is filled with brown on this layer. The blending mode is set to multiply and a mask is used to soften the areas that are too strong.

b I The channel-based thermal hand selection is filled with a lighter brown on this layer. The blending mode is set to color burn and the layer opacity is reduced to 77%.

c I Brown to transparent, radial gradients reside on this layer. The layer blending mode is set to multiply, thus darkening the underlying layers.

d I The channel-based edge selection is filled with brown on this layer. The layer blending mode is set to color burn and the opacity setting is 28%. The layer is duplicated and the blending mode of the duplicate layer is set to multiply. The opacity is increased to 51% and both layers are masked. Gradients are used within each mask to hide the areas which are too prominent.

e I All of these layers are added to a group and a path is drawn around the edge of the page. The path is used as the basis for a vector mask which clips the group and ensures that no artwork extends beyond the edge of the page.

Chapter 9

Antique Effects

Chapter 9

23 I Now it is time to repeat the entire procedure for a third time. This time, use the head.jpg file, the head-thermal.jpg file, the edge5.jpg file, and the edge6.jpg file to create the same effect on

the remaining page. Use the now familiar method of creating channel-based selections and building up the antique effect on a stack of layers. Experiment with different colored fills, various blending modes, layer masks and opacity settings. When you're finished, add all of these layers to a group as well. Then clip the group with a vector mask, so that the drawing and the age effect do not stray beyond the edge of the page.

Where to go from here

The methods used to create this effect lend themselves nicely to repetition and experimentation.

a I Use sections of some of your resource files to generate selections and a new stack of layers, adding an antique effect to the page that is partially visible at the lower left of the image. When finished, clip it with a vector mask.

b I Use this same method to add the antique effect to all of the little bits of pages that are sticking out beneath the main pages. This will ensure that all pages, wholly visible or partially visible, will have the same antique effect applied to them. Carefully clip the desired areas with a vector mask.

c I Because this file is built as a series of layer groups, you can edit any layer at any time. If you feel that an effect needs to be made stronger or weaker, alter the blending modes and opacity settings of the layers necessary to make it so. Have some fun experimenting here.

d I If you're not entirely satisfied with the accuracy of your vector masks, never be afraid to zoom in closely and edit the vector mask's individual points and line segments with the direct selection tool.

To create this image, the exact same thermal fax technique was used, but instead of copying sketches and then burning them with the hair dryer, only blank sheets of thermal paper were used. Thus providing the ability to focus only on the edges when creating multi-layered burn effects, leaving the actual sketch unaffected.

Another method for ageing paper is to stain it before you scan it. The two scanned pages at the left are simple unbleached paper samples purchased at a Japanese paper shop. The edges were torn off and then a pot of tea was brewed.

The wet tea bags were removed from the teapot and then rubbed along the edges of the paper, allowing it to bleed into the paper from the edges inward. Then a brush was used to paint the tea over the entire paper area. Once the pages had dried, they were scanned. As you can see here, the tea stain method produces a convincing antique paper background effect, without the aid of alpha channels or layer stacks.

These two images are excellent examples of the tea-stained papers in use. Although the effect is quite different than the thermal fax paper effect, the antique and aged feeling is certainly there.

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Chapter 10

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Chapter 10

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