Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tutorial: Birds With Words

1. Start with your image. To enhance the picture, I sometimes use the "Auto Levels" and "Auto Contrast" features in the "Image/Adjustments" menu. If I don't like how the picture looks with these adjustments, I'll adjust the "Brightness/Contrast" and "Saturation" manually. I'm basically looking for crisp colors and sharp details, nothing washed out.

2. I start adding textures. I start with the textures I want on the sky first. It's a game of trial and error. Generally, I use "Soft Light" or "Overlay" on the sky textures, but it really depends on what appeals to the eye. I also prefer to use distressed/painterly textures. The ones by Distressed Jewell are really good, but feel free to use your favorites.

In this case, I used two textures that had cloudlike appearances and backgrounds. The first layer was set to "Multiply" so the texture would really stand out. Then I flattened the layer and did "Image/Adjustments/Auto Levels" to make the image lighter. I then added the second layer and set it to "Overlay". I used the eraser to remove the texture from the trees where I thought it was too strong and detracted from their natural texture. In this case, I'm happy with just two layers (though I sometimes use 3-4), so I'll move on....

3. Next, I add a texture that includes paper and words. LesBrumes (flickr) has some of my favorites, but again, feel free to use someone else's or, even better, make your own. I apply the texture set on "Multiply," flatten the image, and adjust the levels again. I want it lighter but not too light because of the final layer I intend to add.

4. Now it's time to add some birds. I do so using bird brushes set to black and 100% opacity. I try to choose birds that fit the theme or that fit the scene, depending. My favorites include perched birds and come from resources like Distressed Jewell, Shadowhouse Creations, or midnightstouch (Deviant Art). Or you can always make your own!

5. The next step is to add text. I prefer to use text that looks like it came from an old typewriter, but again, it's creator's choice. I try to allow the text to follow a natural line created  by the image. In newer versions of PhotoShop, you can set a path for the text to follow. I'm working on the dinosaur that is Photoshop 7.0, however, so I have to use the "Warp Text" tool to get it in the shape I want. It's tedious and time consuming, but it will work.

6. Finally, I add one final texture. Because my picture is generally somewhat dark at this point, I usually pick a texture that is A) light and B) textured (ha ha). By that I mean I like a texture that is interesting and somewhat heavier than ones previously used. Cracks or heavy scratches usually appeal to me. I set the opacity to "Soft Light" and flatten the image. Then, I manually adjust the "Brightness/Contrast" and "Saturation" to what appeals to me. The heavier the saturation, the more dreamlike/fantasy the final picture will be. I generally choose to be more moderate:

And voila! The final image! As with all tutorials, play! The only person who has to be happy with the final image is you!!

1 comment:

  1. YAY!!!! So excited to try it!! I can only hope it turns out half as well as yours. The warping of text totally confuses me though. I've tried it before and I can never get it to work...I must try to figure out if I can do the path thingy you mentioned. Now I have to go through my files and find a start image! So excited! Thanks so much for doing this! xo