Create a natural effect easily
A lot of times I need a simple vintage background image to display on posters or logo mockups. I need these images to be high resolution and I need them to complement the piece as a whole. That may sound easy, but its actually a pretty tall order. Old photos are easy enough to find but they are typically low resolution or too blurry to use. Below Ill share my process for converting these types of images into a high resolution illustrated oodcut style image that fits the bill perfectly.
Open the image in Photoshop and convert it to Grayscale by clicking Image | Mode | Grayscale. It’s okay to choose “Flatten Image”.
Now change the images resolution by clicking Image | Image Size and entering 1200 for resolution. This will take a minute or so to complete based on your computer speed. If you have an older computer consider using 600 or 300 for the resolution, but your outcome will be slightly different.
Now duplicate the photo layer by clicking Cmd+J (or Ctrl+J on a PC). Select this duplicated layer and change it’s blend mode to “Color Dodge”. You won’t see much change other than the image getting a little brighter.
Now invert the layer by pressing Cmd+I (or Ctrl+I on a PC). The image will turn almost completely white. Now choose Filter | Blur | Gaussian Blur and enter a setting that gives the image a slightly illustrated look. Basically you just wan the edges to become visible.
Now create a Levels adjustment layer and bump the blacks up to sharpen the image.
Now select all layers and flatten the image by pressing Cmd+E (or Ctrl+E on a PC). Select the entire canvas Cmd+A (or Ctrl+A on a PC) and copy it to the clipboard Cmd+C (or Ctrl+C on a PC).
To convert the image to a bitmap halftone, click Image | Mode | Bitmap and select “Halftone Screen” for Method. Then enter settings for the Halftone similar to what I’ve used below.
You’re halftone screen should now look similar to mine. Convert it back to Grayscale, by clicking Image | Mode | Grayscale.
Double click the background layer to rename it and unlock it.
Now paste Cmd+V (or Ctrl+V on a PC) the image we copied earlier back in. Drag the new layer containing the image below the halftone screen layer. Now set the halftone screen layer’s blend mode to “Multiply”.
You should have a nice, rough looking woodcut illustration!
Now you can flatten the layers one more time, and add a new Color Fill adjustment layer. Make sure the color is the bottom most layer, and change the illustration layer’s blend mode to “Multiply” once again to let the color show through. I chose a dark blue for my background color (#394c5e).
The only thing left to do is add the logo graphic to complete the piece!
I hope you learned some new techniques and this process proves useful to you in future projects. Experiment with it and have fun working with old vintage photos!