You, too, can ruin,
damage, and age
that look too
good to be true.
7. FLATTEN AND MERGE
When your image looks the way you want it, save
a copy of the original with all the separate layers
intact. Then use Layers ⇒ Flatten Image to merge
all the layers and the original photo into a single
image. Save this as a separate copy. You can now
make other changes to the flattened file.
In my sleepwalker image, I applied 4 layers of
textures to the original image, then flattened them
and dropped that image onto a stock photo of
distressed paper that I found on iStockphoto. The
black-and-white sleepwalker layer is applied to the
torn paper as Hard Light at an 84% Fill.
I then went around the edges of the sleepwalker
layer and erased some of the edges to match the
torn and missing edges of the stock photo. I also
erased some middle portions of the image to match
the tears and cracks.
8. CONSIDER ADDING
A LITTLE COLOR
This will help to create a different mood. Adding
a sepia tone will make the image feel as if it’s old,
perhaps from the 19th century. Adding a hint of
cyan will give the image a bright, silvery look. I gave
my sleepwalker a sepia look, then went back to the
torn paper layer, desaturated the color in the torn
areas, and whitened them to create extra contrast
within the dark image.
I have one last suggestion, and it might be the most
important idea that I’ve mentioned. Be open to
mistakes. Some of my favorites of my own images
came about because I accidentally set a layer to Hard
Light instead of Overlay or vice versa. Remember
musician Brian Eno’s terrific advice: “Consider your
mistake as a hidden intention.”
TIP: Create a textures library by taking
photos of rust, broken sidewalks and windows,
etc., as you go about your day. You can also buy
stock textures from sites like istockphoto.com.
Richard Kadrey is a novelist and an exhibited photographer.