Tuesday, August 31, 2010

DIY to Decorate Your Dwelling: Photo Editing

Welcome to another edition of DIY to Decorate Your Dwelling, which is a series on This Fresh Fossil that's all about how you can easily create your own art for cheap. This tutorial focuses on the post-processing step of editing a photograph (click here to read our previous tutorial on taking great photos even if you don't have an awesome camera) - and editing happens to be my favorite, since a lot of magic can happen here! - but this step is really only optional. If you've taken a good photograph there's not necessarily any need to do any post-processing editing, but usually even a little bit can transform even a good photograph into a great photograph, and also gives you endless options of ways to transform/display it to suite your mood or decor! For this reason, I always heart a little digital love for my photographs.

In this tutorial I will show you all the steps during the editing process that I took to transform this okay-and-decently-composed photo (taken with my little cheapo-depot Canon Digital Elf point-and-shoot camera) into a pretty awesome photo (which you can download already spiffied-up for free right here). These steps are mainly pretty basic, but ones that I take during nearly every photo I edit. I do all my post-processing editing in Adobe Photoshop CS4 (but they should be similar to any other Photoshop version), but by all means you can edit a photo in a number of other programs out there. Photoshop is just what I'm familiar with and use regularly.

Okay, let's get editing!

How To Make Your Photo Awesome
(Click Photos To View Larger)

Like the title? Haha, okay, so here we go.

Grab a favorite photo. In this tutorial I will be using this still-life closeup of a flower. If you'd like to follow along with all the steps in the tutorial, just click here to download this photo.

Open your photo of choice in Photoshop.

First we'll make a layer copy of our image, in case we make a mistake during editing. Press CTL+A and then CTL+C, then go to your layers panel and create a new layer. Press CTL+V to paste the image into the new layer. We'll be working on the new photo layer we just created during this tutorial.

Sometimes when you're shooting, dust will be on the lens of your camera and will appear in the photo later. See all the dust specks and lines on the left side petals of the photo? We need to remove those.

Select the Clone Stamp Tool. This will replace one section of an image with an area that you've sampled. Hover your mouse over a normal area close to the dust specks, and press the ALT key. Your mouse will turn into a target. While still holding down the ALT key, click on a normal part of the image (close to the dust speck) to take a sample. Once you've taken a sample of the image, place your cursor over the dust speck and click. Tada! The dust disappears under the sample area you've replaced it with. You can adjust the Clone Stamp brush size, hardness and opacity. For photos I usually set the hardness to 0% and keep the opacity around 80-100%.

As you can see above, all the dust specks are gone.

Now we'll move on. Select Layer 1 (your new layer) and click on the little circle thing on the bottom of the Layers Panel. This will create a new fill or adjustment layer. Select Levels on the drop-down menu.

The Levels diagram will pop up with something like a mountain in-between the tabs on the bottom. This represents the black, white and gray of your photo - similar to the Brightness/Contrast. Usually you want the black tab to be at the end of the "mountain", the middle gray to be somewhere near the peak, and the white on the right side to be near the beginning of the mountain/peak. But you can play around with it until you get a good exposure and contrast you like.

Now create another new adjustment layer by clicking the circle on the bottom of the Layers Panel again, and selecting Hue/Saturation.

This will bring up a panel that represents all the colors in the photo, which can be easily changed. Select "Red" from the drop down menu at the top.

Now adjust the Hue slider until the red in the photo turns yellow (another option is to check the "Colorize" box at the bottom).

I then went through the rest of the colors in the photo and desaturated them, making them black and white.

Our photo is a bit grainy and has tons of noise in it. So select Layer 1 and go to Filter>Noise>Reduce Noise from the toolbar at the top.

In the following screen that pops up, adjust the strength and other elements until you have a good image with less noise but good detail.

Now create another Adjustment Layer within the Layers Panel, and this time select Curves from the dropdown menu. This will give your photo a bit more punch.

Adjust the points on the graph slightly to create more interest and give your photo more life. Play around with it until you like what you have.

Look good? Now you should have a great photo with tons of interest and pop, and it's probably a far cry from where it started out, isn't it? By all means you can stop here if you're happy with your photo, but if you want a special effect on it you can do this extra step.

Select Layer 1 in the Layers Panel, and go to Filter>Filter Gallery in the toolbar at the top of your screen.

This will bring up a preview of your photo with all sorts of fun filters that can be applied for tons of different effects and looks. I selected the Watercolor filter and played around with the sliders until I was happy with the result.

Tada! You're done!

Now that wasn't so hard, was it? You have just created yourself a one-of-a-kind piece of art, and on the cheap, too! Although all of these steps don't have to be followed to edit a photo at all - these are just what I used (some being basics I always use) to create a photo that really pops and stands on it's own. Next in this series of tutorials we'll print, frame and hang it so we can always enjoy our on-the-cheap decor!

What do you guys think? Are you fans of Photoshop? Do you use other image-editing software? Did you enjoy the tutorial? Have any other tips to add? Do tell!

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  1. I REALLY want to be able to do this. I do. But this is so over my head...

    I'll IM the link to Sam. He's the smart one. And then I'll go smash out a wall.

  2. I want to be a fan of Photoshop. I don't have it yet...it seems kind of over my head too but I'm thinking of taking a class.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. For those who can't afford Photoshop but want to do really basic photo editing, I recommend paint.NET. Quick to download and install, and it does the basics of Photoshop. It won't be AS great, but you can still do some cool effects, like changing your image to black and white, hue modification, and even watercolor or ink effects. I'm no expert on it, but they also have a blog that you can read to learn more.

    P.S. Don't take what's on my blog as examples; I hardly ever spend a lot of time doing photo edits, even though I should!

  4. Oops, forgot to add... paint.NET is FREE!

  5. Thanks for the comments, guys! And thanks for sharing the link, Sarah. :)



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