Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Turning a Photo into a Poster Print

I often like to turn my fine-art photos into posters - sort of like "dressing them up" to present them in a different, more elegant way. It also makes them more marketable. Here is the workflow for creating a poster: Enjoy!

Poster Prints Workflow
Method One:
1. Open the photo in Photoshop.
2. Duplicate the background
a. Right click on the background layer in the Layers Panel and select “duplicate.”
3. Click on the background layer in the Layers panel so it is blue (selected):

4. From the drop-down Image menu, click on Canvas Size. Be sure to check the “Relative” box and expand the canvas by the number of inches appropriate to your image. The example will put two inches of white border all the way around the photo. The default setting for how the canvas is expanded is in the center. That setting expands the canvas in all directions. Click OK.

5. Your image should look like the one below. Now do it again, this time adding extra space at the bottom of the image only. Note how the arrows box is darker gray at the top center. That setting will not allow any space to be added to the top. Only enter a number in the “Height” field, and the width will remain the same:

Method Two:
1. Open the photo in Photoshop.
2. Go to File/New and open a new page that is the size of your final poster, i.e., 16x20 inches. Be sure the resolution is the same as your photo (should be 300 pixels per inch (ppi) for printing. You can check this or change it in Image/Image Size/Document size. (If you are dealing with a vertical image, make the document 20x16).
3. Using the Move Tool (the top tool in the Toolbar), hold the Shift key down and drag the photo onto the new page. Let go when you see a plus sign on the cursor. The image will automatically be centered.
4. Again, while holding the Shift key, click on the photo and slide it upward until the sides and top are almost the same, leaving more room at the bottom for visual space. Adjust this to your taste.
5. In both methods, you now have a background layer and a layer just above it that contains the visible photo.

6. Painting a Line around your photo:
Now click on the background copy (or photo) layer in the Layers Panel, so it is active.

7. Go to Edit/Stroke and select the color and width of the line you want to paint around your photo. You may choose to paint the line on the inside of the edge, the middle of it, or the outside. The outside setting will round the corner slightly:

8. Your photo should now have a line painted around it.

9. Now select the text tool (T) and type your title and other information. I prefer Trajan Pro as my font. Size is dependent on the image and title.

10. While still in the Text tool, adjust the spacing of the letters by:
a. Selecting all the word and holding down the Alt (Option on a Mac) key and hitting the right arrow key on the keyboard to expand, the left arrow key to contract.
b. Click the cursor in between two letters and use the same technique as in a., above to adjust the space between them.
Tip: When you are finished typing with the Text tool, just click on another tool (or hit Cmd-Enter on a Mac/Cntl-Return on a PC) to exit.

11. Centering:
Center the words on the canvas by clicking on the background layer in the Layers Panel, and clicking on the text layers while holding down the Cntl/Cmd key so they are all selected. Then click on the Move Tool (M) at the top of the toolbar, and use the alignment tool in the Option bar to center. The second one from the right will center elements vertically:

12. Adding Layer Styles: To activate the Layer Styles dialog box, click on the Fx icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel. If you see a menu, just select Blending Options:

13. The following Dialog box will open. If you check one of the boxes, Drop Shadow, for example, a Drop Shadow will appear around the edge of the layer you are on, but you won’t see controls for Drop Shadow until you click on the words “Drop Shadow” in the dialog box. Then you can adjust the shadow to your liking. For text, I usually only use Bevel and Emboss & Contour:

The following shows Bevel & Emboss only applied to the top line of text:

The final version (I added a drop shadow to the background copy layer):

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Photo Workflow

Here's a new twist for me on my blog, some tips on processing photos. I will try and post one a week or so for a while, and see how that goes. If you know anyone that might be interested, please pass the blog URL along! Here we go!

Photoshop Techniques
Photo Workflow

After opening a photo, these are the steps I usually take when editing a photo:

1. Crop:
Using the Cropping Tool on the Toolbox, I click and drag a bounding box around the image to improve composition. There are guides that help suggest placement using the rule of thirds, and you may rotate the crop by moving your cursor outside the bounding box. The tool darkens everything it will crop away.

Before you begin the crop, you may enter the size dimension and/or resolution in the option bar of the tool at the top of the screen. Any box you draw will then have the dimensions and resolution you enter. If you do not enter a dimension, the tool will use the photo as a reference, and keep the resolution the same.

Double-click inside the box or hit the Enter/Return key to apply the crop. Hit ESC to exit and start over.

2. Exposure:
The next step is to deal with the overall exposure of the image. Is it too light, too dark? I like using the Layer Adjustments for these. My favorite tool is Levels, the one that looks like a histogram. By moving the black, gray and white triangles, I can change the overall appearance of the photo drastically. Usually I move the black triangle to the left edge of the graph in the histogram, the white triangle to the right edge, and the gray triangle is adjusted to my taste. See examples below (Levels adjustment is in black):

Here is the Before image in color:

Here is the After Image in color. Red circles indicate changes in the Levels adjustment:

Here is a BW image Before the adjustment:

Here is the BW image After adjustment:

3. Dodge and Burn Layer
Next I look at individual areas in the photo I may want to lighten or darken, and create a D & B layer to this adjustment on. I go to the Layer Menu at the top of the screen, and pick New/Layer. With the dialog box open, I then select Mode/Overlay, and check the box that says Overlay-Neutral color (50% Gray):

Once the new layer is created (it should appear gray in the Layers Panel), you can then paint on it to lighten or darken areas in the photo. Choose a paint brush that fits the size of the area you want to work on, make it 0% hardness in the options bar, and make the opacity setting in the neighborhood of 10-20%. To lighten, make your foreground color white; to darken, make it black. If it is too powerful, lower the opacity; if you don't see a change, raise it. White areas usually aren't changed much by this procedure.

That's it. I apply other adjustment layers as needed, like hue/saturation, brightness/contrast, etc., but the basic workflow is above. Don't forget to save your work as you go, every 15 minutes or so.