Photos of realistic photos or: Realistic photos of photos
Depending on your style and the ‘feel’ you’re going for, you may want to make a digital photo you took appear as though it’s a photograph of a print. This is pretty easy to accomplish, and I’ll go through three different examples.
To start, we’ll take this stock photo of a blank polaroid I found at http://regularjane.deviantart.com/art/STOCK-Large-Polaroid-90800971
(according to the author it’s cool to use for non-commercial purposes, but depending on what you’re doing you may want to find a stock photo more appropriate)
First things first, we need to isolate the polaroid frame. This image is (mostly) squared up, but not quite, so we’ll use the polygonal lasso tool to delete the inside of the photo. Right click on the lasso tool in your toolbox and make sure it’s on polygonal, and simply click the four corners of the photo. Make sure your layer is unlocked (double click it in the layers panel and hit okay to unlock it) and hit delete, and that’ll simply eliminate the inner portion of the photo. The outer black portion can quickly be deleted with the magic wand tool. If everything’s good, you should be looking like this right now:
Cool. Now, duplicate the layer in the layers panel so you have two identical polaroid frames. Fill the center of the bottom layer with any old color you feel like, just so it isn’t transparent, and then copy your photo of choice to sit in between the two layers:
Now, the photo is positioned the way we want it, but it’s overflowing the boundaries of the polaroid! With a little bit of photoshop magic, we can clear that up automatically! Right click on the actual photo layer and select “create clipping mask.” A clipping mask like this will only allow the current layer to display in places where the layer directly beneath it exists. In this case, it can only exist directly on top of our bottom polaroid frame!
Boom! Unfortunately, this doesn’t really look like a polaroid yet. It looks like a digital photo inside of a polaroid frame. For a quick and dirty result, double click on the photo layer to bring up the layer styles window, and select the styles tab on the left. One of the built-in filters is called ‘sun-faded photo’ which is exactly what we want:
Alright. It’s finally starting to look like a polaroid. Still doesn’t look very realistic, though. First step, let’s give that sucker a little bit of a shine!
Create a new layer (ctrl+shift+n or cmd+shift+n) and place it above the photo but below the upper polaroid frame. With the new blank layer still selected, select the elliptical marquee tool from the toolbar on left and select a generous oval shape
Now select the gradient tool from the left and then make sure that your gradient is set to a white->transparent gradient:
Now, drag from the bottom up across the photo, and remember, less is more here. You should end up with something resembling this:
As we did earlier, convert the layer to a clipping mask to the photo layer, and tweak the opacity of the layer to around ~60%.
Now, there was a second reason we duplicated that frame layer in the beginning. Double click the bottom layer to bring up its layer style, and check ‘drop shadow’ on the left. Tweak the settings as you see fit
and you should now have a photo roughly resembling this:
Awesome. Only one more thing the make it seem realistic. Ctrl+click or Cmd+click all of the layer EXCEPT for the layer we drew the highlight on:
Right click and select ‘link layers.’ Now any transforms that you apply to any of those layers will apply to the others as well. Now press ctrl+t or cmd+t to do a free transform and give your photo a jaunty twist to complete the effect.
A note about this effect: Unfortunately, due to file restrictions, .JPG and .JPEG do not support transparency, so if we wanted to upload this sweet photo to the web in all of its glory, it needs to be saved as a .png, which will crank the file size up a bit. Keep filesize in mind while you’re working and determine if this effect is something you really want.
Anyway, our final product looks pretty awesome:
2. A regular old 3×5 print or whatever
For this guy, we’ll start with a blank canvas and drop a photo of our choice on top of it:
For simplicity’s sake, a lot of steps from the polaroid example above are going to be repeated, and I’ll just skip past them:
As before, I’ve applied a medium-transparency highlight to the photo, and instead of using the faded sun filter, I’ve gone for a high-contrast greyscale instead. Now, physical film prints always come back kind of bent, but just a bit. Let’s replicate that. First, duplicate your main photo layer, and then hide it because we won’t need it for a bit. Select your entire image (Ctrl+A or Cmd+A) and hit Ctrl+T/Cmd+T to enable free transform. Right click your actual image and select ‘warp.’ This will bring up a neat 3×3 grid:
Now, each of the 12 dots around the perimeter control curves the determine how your photo will get warped. For our purposes, we just need to grab the four corner dots and yank them up a wee bit so our photo bends into somewhat of a U shape, and also pinch in the sides just a bit:
Hit enter to accept your transformation and repeat for the highlight layer. Time to unhide that second photo layer you made earlier:
Line the bottom of the flat photo with the bottom of the U photo, and double click the flat photo’s layer to go into its properties:
There’s three important styles we need to apply here.
- In General options, change the ‘Fill Opacity’ to 0%
- In color overlay, set it to black with an opacity of 75%
- In drop shadow, play with whatever settings you want, but make sure the opacity is 75% (or whatever you chose for the color overlay)
Apply and you’ll get this:
Awesome. But that doesn’t look like a shadow. Well, Same as you did earlier, Ctrl+T to free transform, right click, warp, and pull the sides in and up into a U shape, but less exaggerated than last time. You should end up with a final product similar to the following:
edit: upon writing out this post, I come to realize that this blog is on a dark background and this drop-shadows are nigh-invisable. Que sera sera.