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Use Apply Image to mimic a hand-tinted photo and other artistic looks

Added on Tuesday 22nd of April 2008 07:06 am EST
Adobe Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3
Operating Systems:
Microsoft Windows, Macintosh

The Apply Image command is one of Photoshop’s hidden gems, which often goes unused because of its perceived complexity. We’ll simplify the feature and show you how you can use it to create a variety of artistic affects.

To utilize the Apply Image command, we’ll:

  • Explain briefly what the Apply Image command is and how it works.
  • Show you how to prep our sample file and use Apply Image for a mimicked hand-tinted photo look.
  • Outline other filters and settings we used to achieve eloquently blended images with an artistic flair.

Many hand-tinted photos sport a painstakingly imperfect look. Not only that, but hand tinting photographs is a time-consuming process. We’ll show you how to utilize one of Photoshop’s underused features to achieve the same great hand-tinted look, like the one shown in Figure A, in much less time. So much less time, in fact, that you’ll be able to use all those extra minutes to experiment with other cool artistic effects!


Explore the Apply Image command
If you’ve ever opened the Apply Image dialog box only to be scared away by its perceived complexity, you’re not alone. However, the feature really isn’t as daunting as it may appear.
In its simplest terms, Apply Image is just another way to blend two or more images or image layers together. Apply Image is equipped with blending options, opacity settings and mask options, and you can target specific image channels for more advanced blending.
For our example, we’ll use a flower vase image and walk through the steps to create a tinted photo look.
vTo follow along with our example, download the file from the URL given at the beginning of this article and extract the file flowers.psd. Then, launch Photoshop and open the file shown in Figure B.

Dupe and desaturate
There are two very important things to know about using the Apply Image command. First, you must have two image files open (or one multiple-layer image file). Second, the results are permanent (of course you can undo) so you’ll want to apply them on a copied layer to preserve the original.

Important note: When using two different images for Apply Image, they should match in pixel dimensions.

We’ll begin by duplicating our file so we can work from two different images, and we’ll copy and alter the layers we want to work with.

To duplicate the file:
  1. Open the file flowers.psd.
  2. Choose Image > Duplicate to duplicate the file. The name flowers copy appears in the As text box in the Duplicate Image dialog box; leave it as is and click OK. Save the flowers copy image as a PSD file.

To make the flowers file grayscale:

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