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Reinvent a vintage look by imitating antique labels

Added on Monday 9th of January 2012 08:43 am EST

by Amy Gebhardt


Adobe Photoshop CS2/CS3/CS4/CS5

Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows


Designers are constantly designing new designs—out-of-date images can pile up fast and potentially become forgotten. One way to reuse your designs of the past is to make them look even older. In doing so, you can breathe new life into old photos and ads to create an always-captivating old-fashioned look.


To mimic antique labels using Photoshop, we’ll:

•     Walk you through the steps used to create a wood grain background for our label.

•     Place the label onto the wood using the Fibers filter and blend the two images together.

•     Blend the edges of the label into the wood and enrich the colors of the image.


The appeal of antique labels lives on in the hearts of many modern-day artists. There’s just something about the aged imagery that casts a feeling of warmth and mystique. Using Photoshop, you can create the illusion of an old label using new imagery, as shown in Figure A. You can even make the wood panels from scratch for a finished effect—that works great when advertising for restaurants, vintage apparel shops, or antiques stores. Here’s how to turn a modern advertisement into a classic beauty.





Create a wood backdrop

Creating a panel background for an image is relatively simple. We’ll do this by applying the Fibers filter to a new layer in order to make a wood grain pattern. Then, we’ll add gaps between the panels. Finally, we’ll use the Satin layer style to help clean up the gaps between each piece of wood to give the wood paneling a realistic appearance.


To create the backdrop for the wood panels:

1.       Create a new 5" x 5" RGB image in Photoshop that’s at least 200 ppi.

2.      Select a dark brown for your Foreground color and make the Background color swatch a lighter version of the brown you previously selected.

3.      Click on the Create A New Layer icon at the base of the Layers panel to create a new layer on which to work.

4.      Fill this layer with your Foreground color by selecting Edit > Fill, selecting Foreground Color in the Use pop-up menu, and clicking OK.

5.      Choose Filter > Render > Fibers to display the Fibers dialog box, shown in Figure B.

6.      Set the Variance to 9 and the Strength to 18.

7.      Click the Randomize button until you’re satisfied with the look of your grain.

8.      Click OK to apply the filter.

9.      Choose Edit > Transform > Rotate 90 CW to rotate the grain so it runs horizontally across the page.





To make the wood panels:

1.       Click the Create A New Layer icon to make a new layer to work on in the Layers panel.

2.      Select the Pencil tool from the Tools panel. We’ll use the Pencil tool to create the lines between each panel.

3.      Choose the Hard Round 5 Pixels brush from the Brush pop-up menu.

4.      Hold the [shift] key and draw a dark brown line from the left side of your canvas to right, creating your first panel.

5.      Repeat this as many times as necessary, until you’ve produced the number of wood panel gaps you want.


To give the panels depth:

1.       Click on the Add a Layer Style icon at the base of the Layers panel.

2.      Select Bevel And Emboss to display the Layer Style dialog box shown in Figure C.

3.      Select Outer Bevel from the Style pop-up menu and Smooth from the Technique pop-up menu.

4.      Set the Depth to 241, the Direction to Down, the Size to 5, and Soften to 9.