Tutorial: Achieve vintage-look collage techniques with Photoshop

Handy tricks to give your images a vintage look.

Here, illustrator Ciara Phelan shows you how to hone your cut-out skills to prepare images for collaging. You’ll also learn some handy tricks to give your images a vintage look.

You will learn how to adjust the contrast and colour levels as well as shifting the channels to create a litho printed effect – a very useful technique to learn as it can be applied to imagery you have sourced yourself, making it appear to be from a 1950s journal.

1_Final_Collagexx_vintage

This gives you flexibility with the images you can use, saving you hours of trawling through old magazines and encyclopedias. This tutorial focuses on transforming the photograph of the stag in the above example, but these techniques have been used on all elements in this artwork.

2_Final_Collagexx_vintage

Step 1

Open the image of the stag in Photoshop. As the stag will be used in a collage you need to isolate it from its surroundings – select the Pen tool, and on the toolbar along the top select Paths. Zoom into the image and use the Pen tool to draw a path around the stag.

3_Final_Collagexx_vintage

Step 2

Once you have created a cutout path select Window > Paths. In the dropdown menu of the path dialog box, click Make Selection. In the box that appears, change the feather radius to 0 and tick New Selection; click OK to create a marquee selection around the image.

4_Final_Collagexx_vintage

Step 3

Now that just the stag is selected, copy and paste it into a new A4 CMYK document, with the resolution set to 300dpi. (Edit > Copy, then File > New, then Edit > Paste, or Cmd/Ctrl + C, Cmd/Ctrl + N, Cmd/Ctrl + V).

5_Final_Collagexx_vintage

Step 4

Vintage imagery tends to have a higher contrast than digital. To create this effect click Image > Adjustments > Curves. Change the curve line from straight to a slight S. This brings out the white and makes the shadows darker. To add more contrast you can also adjust the levels to bring out the black and whites. Select Image > Adjustments > Levels. Slide the arrows inwards to add more contrast.

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Ciara Phelan

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