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Antique your images with a turn-of-the-century look

Added on Wednesday 2nd of May 2012 03:59 am EST

by Jim Whitcomb
Adobe Photoshop CS2/CS3/CS4/CS5
Operating Systems:
Macintosh, Microsoft Windows

Modern photos are great but at times you may want to give your images a turn-of-the-century look. For fun, you might want to dress up in an late 19th-century costume, strike a pose, shoot some shots, use our technique to antique your results, and see if you can fool your friends into believing you found a photo of a long-lost relative!

To achieve the antique look, we’ll:

  1. Use the Duotone command to change the color of the image.
  2. Soften the edges with the Brush tool.
  3. Use the Brush tool again and distress the image with a few scratches and dust spots.

Photography has definitely changed over the years. First there was the Daguerreotype, then the silver halides films and prints, then reversal films, and now digital images. Along the way, not only have the methods and materials changed, but the look has as well. While you probably don’t want to go back to photography of the early 1900s, you might want to re-create the soft, warm feeling of prints from that era. By using Photoshop’s Duotone command and a few antiquing tricks, you can easily give your digital images that turn-of-the-century look, as shown in Figure A.


The good ol’ days
The good ol’ days weren’t really all that good with regard to photography. The films were slow, the cameras were large, and the processing was cumbersome. But the results were worth the effort, so we’ll cover how to simulate the end product.

Selecting an image
The first thing to do is select an appropriate image. While you don’t have to find a subject from the early 1900s, it does help. For our example, let’s use a home built circa 1905. To follow along using our example, download the house.jpg file from the URL given at the beginning of the article. Launch Photoshop and open the image, which is shown in Figure B.


Converting the image to duotone
Next, we want to convert our image to a duotone image and apply a sepia color. Sepia is a warm reddish-brown color, and although early photos weren’t actually sepia-toned when produced, they often turn sepia with age, contributing to the antique look. Select Image > Mode > Grayscale since, before we can use the Duotone command, we first must convert our image to grayscale. When the caution dialog box opens and asks Discard color information?, click Yes. Next, select Image > Mode > Duotone, and the Duotone Options dialog box opens. Select Duotone from the Type pop-up menu, as shown in Figure C. By default, Black is one of the two ink colors we’ll use to create our duotone, so let’s move on to selecting our second color.



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