A digital camera allows us to take pictures that we wouldn't normally give a second glance, but when opened in Photoshop can be transformed into something completely different. This image was taken in Stow-on-the-Wold in the Cotswolds using the Coolpix 990.
Most images require some kind of tweaking. We start by calling up the levels paletteimage>adjust>levels or shortcut ctrl+L on our keyboards. In this case the auto command is found to be sufficient so we apply it to our image. Hold our cursor over the above image to see the difference.
To hold our attention within the image we could do with a person to occupy the archway, so a figure that we have used in a previous image can be called up. Our figure can be dragged into our main image using the move tool and Photoshop will copy the figure to a new layer. The figure needs to be scaled down to fit our picture space so the transform commandiscalledup,edit>free transform or try using the short cut ctrl+T. This will put an eight handled frame around the image. Holding down the shift key drag the top corner handle inwards to reduce the size while maintaining the correct proportions. Moving the cursor into the frame changes it to a black arrow which will allow us to move the figure into position. Double click or press the enter key to remove the frame.
Tip When ever we make a selection from another image such as a person, flower or even a seagull keep it as a layer (PSD file) and store it in a separate folder, as it can then be used in other images.
We can rename our new layer by right mouse clicking on the layer and selecting layer properties. We can then type in the name of our new layer, in this case 'figure'
TipHolding down the Alt key while clicking the icon will enable us to rename our layer as we are adding it.
To allow us to add a border we need to increase the canvas size of our image. Select white as the background colour in our tool box, and from the menu bar chooseimage>canvas size increasing both the width and height by one inch. Tick the centre box to ensure our white border is placed evenly around our image.
At this stage we could flatten our image, or if we choose to continue working in layers, create a new empty layer above our figure layer by clicking on the new layer icon. Under the layers palette select merge visible from the menu and hold down our alt key. This will copy all our visible layers into one new layer. This is a great way to keep working in layers while leaving the option to change things if we are not happy with the end result.
In the layers palette we copy our new Layer 1 by dragging it over the new layer icon and rename it Effect.
Fromourfiltermenuwechoosefilter>blur>smart blur and from the drop down menus on the smart blur palette select High for the quality and edges only from the mode menu. Set the values to around 5 for the radius and 26 for the threshold. The effect of the setting can be seen in the preview window of the palette as we apply these values, so it is always worth experimenting with these settings.
When the smart blur is applied it appears as white lines on a black background, so we needtoinversethis:select>inverse or shortcut ctrl+alt+I. This will now give us a black outline on a white background.
To reveal the layer below our effects layer we create a layer mask by clicking on the layer mask icon on the bottom of the layers palette. This sets the colour in tool box to black as foreground and white as background colours - black will remove the layer while the white will restore the layer. Click on the arrows in the top corner. A shortcut for this is to press the X key to change from black to white and back again.
Calling up our air brush from the tool box, shortcut J, we select a soft edge brush and from the options palette set the blend mode to dissolve and the pressure to around 30%. We can now begin removing the effects layer.
Try keeping the brush strokes flowing in the same direction. If you are using a Wacom pen, you can try applying different amounts of pressure to bring out further details from parts of our image. If using your mouse changing the pressure setting in the options palette and this will achieve the same effect.
TIP If at any time we are unhappy about the effect we can revert back to our original effects layer by pressing the X key to change the foreground colour to white and painting over the area.
Rectangular marquee tool
To create a canvas-looking border to our image, click on the new layer icon on the layers palette to create a new empty layer. From our tool box select the rectangular marquee tool, shortcut M. We then drag it over our image placing it roughly the same distance into our image as our border width. Select white as our foreground colour and from the select menu choose inverse - this will produce a double row of 'marching ants' around our image. The area between these ants is the area which has been selected. Call up the paint bucket tool from our tool box, shortcut G, and click between the double row of ants to fill the area with white.
With the eyedropper tool select two colours from our image - one for the foreground and the darker for the background. Under the Filter menu we choose filter>brush strokes>spatter and from the Spatter palette set the Spray Radius to 25 and the Smoothness to 3. The marching antscannowbedeselected:Select>Deselect or by pressing ctrl+D.
Our vignette layer can now be merged with our effects layer. With our vignette layer live, click on the arrow in the top right-hand corner of our layer palette and from the menu select merge down or press ctrl+E.
Combine all our visible layers on to one new layer as before, enabling us toaddacanvastexturetoourimage:filter>texture>texturizer canvas. This really adds to the overall effect of our image.
We can make any final adjustments to our image using the create new fill or layer adjustment icon on the layers palette. We choose brightness at -7 and contrast at +9. Hue saturation is also applied with the Saturation set to +11.
Finished layers palette
Why not try scanning in a paint brush or pencil to add the finishing touches to our image. This can be dragged and dropped as we did with the figure image, but to make it look even more realistic we can add a drop shadow. On the layer palette click on the add new layer style and select drop shadow we set the distance to around 30px, spread to 9 and the size to 46px.