The hand-tinted postcards from the early days of photography are beautiful to behold. I am going to show you how to create this effect with a modern photograph in Photoshop.
This intermediate tutorial assumes that you already have the following skills:
- selecting and adjusting brushes
- picking a foreground color
- painting in the image window
- using the Eraser tool to erase pixels
- changing blend modes on the Layers panel
- using the Quick Selection tool to select pixels
- viewing and interacting with panels (palettes)
Yesterday I found a gorgeous vintage postcard from Germany in a local antique mall. Let’s study some of the details that make this image haunting and beautiful, so that we can recreate the look in Photoshop with another, modern photo. Take a look at the real vintage postcard below.
The subject of the photo is a lovely lady gazing into a pond. Although she is “out in nature”, her pose is carefully crafted. She has a hint of a smile.
The overall color is a sepia tone. Individual areas were tinted by hand to create the blue, green and pink colors. The intensity of these colors depends on how much paint was on the artist’s brush, or how many times he or she painted over an area.
The foreground and background are blurred, while the figure and the rock she rests upon are in focus. The edges have a slightly “burnt” look. Upon close inspection, the image has a slight film grain to it. Finally, the card has picked up a couple of slight creases.
The first part of my tutorial will focus on creating a Sepia Tone effect. The second part will show you how to “hand-tint” the photo. The third part will show you how to give it an authentic, vintage look.
I’ll be working with the following files, but of course this technique can work with other images. The first is a photo I located at iStock. You can download it for this tutorial. If you want to use if for other purposes, please purchase it here. I looked through hundreds of images, before finding one that had similar elements to the original postcard: a lovely lady gazing into a pond, a light-colored, soft dress, greenery, and flowers. Click on the image below to view and download the larger image:
We will also use a creased, dirty cardboard texture to age the photo. I found this image at pokedstudio.com. I desaturated it, reduced its size, and flipped it around to fit our postcard. I also dodged the creases to make them stand out more. Click on the image below to view and download the larger image:
Part One: Sepia Toning
First, we will strip out the original colors and create a sepia tone effect..
- Open the photo of the lady looking into a pond. Click on the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, and select Black and White.
- In the Adjustments panel, select Lighter from the Black and White dropdown menu. You can leave the other default settings, or fiddle with them to get a black and white version you like.
Now we’ll create a sepia tone effect.
- Click on the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, and select Hue/Saturation.
- In the Adjustments panel, enter the following settings:
- Hue: 26
- Saturation: 37
- Lightness: -15
- Click the “Colorize” checkbox.