Tag Archives: photo software

How to Create a Gritty Poster in Photoshop

In the following tutorial we are going to walk you through the steps in creating a real gritty looking poster that looks great for hard hitting sports like football and wrestling.

Here is what the final result will look like.

Final Photo

To start out with get your photo and crop it to the size you want to make your poster. In our example we have cropped our wrestling photo to a 16×20.

Original Photo

If the original photo doesn’t already have some grain already in it you will want to apply a decent amount. Normally you would want to get rid of most of the noise out of your photos but we want to make our poster look real gritty. You can add grain by selecting Filter/Texture/Grain. This will give you the dialogue box where you can play with the settings to get the amount you like. Our original photo already has plenty in it so we don’t need to add anymore.

The next step is to add some contrast to our photo. Add a levels adjustment layer on top of your photo layer.

Levels Window

All we are doing here is adjusting the light and dark areas to accentuate them. Depending on the photo you are using you may need to bring the levels in further or not as far.

Now add a Hue & Saturation adjustment layer. The only thing we are going to do on this adjustment is bring the saturation down a bit to tone down any vibrant colors your photo may have.

HS 1

Now we are going to create another Hue & Saturation adjustment layer. This time make sure the Colorize button is checked and bring the hue value down so it has an orage tint to it. Bring the saturation down as well to make the orange look more brown. Now click OK.

HS 2

We need to bring the opacity of this last Hue & Saturation layer down from 100% to something around 50%

HS Layer Opacity

Go ahead and add a new text layer with some text that you would like to use on your poster.

Adding Text

Add a new layer style to your text layer and give it a bit of bevel.

Bevel and Emboss

Now let’s add a little more dimension to the text by adding a gradient over the top. To do this set your foreground color to white and background color to black. Now select the gradient tool and set it to use the foreground to background colors and change the type to the radial gradient. Create a new blank layer above your text layer and drag your cursor from near the center of your text to about a quarter of the way to the center of your image and let go. Don’t be alarmed if you just see the gradient. You need to clip the layer you created the gradient on to your text layer so that the only part of the gradient that shows is where the text layer is. To do this hold down the alt key and place your cursor in between the gradient layer and text layer. The cursor should change it’s icon to a small arrow and two circles on overlapping the other. When you see this icon left click and it will clip your gradient layer to the text layer.

Clipping Layer

Let’s create a modified lens vignette. Grab your brush tool and select black as the color. Make sure your brush is a really big soft brush. For my image I’m using a brush with a 1800 pixel diameter and 0% hardness. All you want to do is paint out the edges of the image to darken them up so that the focus is on your main athlete. Sometimes I will create multiple layers so I can adjust the opacity of one over the other layers. There is no secret just do what you like.

Darkened Border

Now comes the finishing touches. You need to go and get some grunge brushes for Photoshop. There is a great website where you can download a bunch of free grunge brushes at photoshopbrushes.com.

Once you have downloaded and imported them into Photoshop set your foreground color to white and try a few of them out. Depending on the size of your image you may need to increase the size of the brush to achieve the look you want. For our poster I would make the size around 900 pixels. You don’t need to do too much with the grunge brushes, usually it only takes four or five clicks using various brushes to get enough. Just like when you were creating the dark border around the edge you may want to place one grunge brush stroke on one layer and another on a different layer. You can then rotate individual brush strokes to give it some variety. If you really wanted to get fancy you could even create layer masks and mask out portions of each layer.

Once you have finished painting with the grunge brushes you are done and left with a great looking poster!

Final Photo2

Customizing your Photoshop workspace

Over the years Adobe has added more and more ways to customize the Photoshop workspace to fit your needs. You may be asking why would you want to change the default. One answer would be that everyone works differently and use different tools. Very few photographers will ever need or use all of the tools available in Photoshop. By customizing the workspace you can get rid of all the clutter and get access to the tools you use everyday. Let’s take a look at a few ways to get the right workspace for you.

default workspace

One of the first things you should do is either shrink or remove the pallets you don’t use. If you never use the navigator pallet why should you have it on your screen taking up space?

The next thing you can do to get rid of the extra stuff is to go into edit/menus and hide the menu items you don’t use. This can make finding the items you want much easier and quicker.

You can even change the font size that Photoshop uses. Just go to edit/preferences/general and change the options for UI Font Size.


Do you want to get a larger preview of your font choices? In the preferences menu switch to the Type item to the left and set the Font Preview Size to a larger size.

One last tip that is not so obvious to change is the background color that is displayed when you zoom out of a photo. By default it is a light gray color but if you select the paint bucket tool, change your foreground color to the color you would like to use. Now while holding the Shift key down left click somewhere on the light gray color and it will change to the color you selected. Below is an example of the color changed from the light gray to a darker gray.

darker background color

As you can see there are a number of ways to change the look and feel of the Photoshop workspace. I would encourage all Photoshop users to explore these options and make the changes that will make your photo editing quicker and easier.

Quick Tips To Enhance Your Photos

There are a couple quick things you can do to make your photos stand out just a little bit more than normal. Below are a few quick tips you can use in the editing room to give them just a little extra impact.

Most image editing programs have the following tools at your disposal and are easy to adjust. You also shouldn’t have too much trouble finding the different tools. One thing to remember is that one program will most likely make a different kind of adjustment even if you give it the same value. For example in Photoshop you may move the saturation slider up to +25 and it looks great. If you do the same in Picassa most likely won’t have the same effect so use your own judgment when making adjustments.

Add Saturation

Adding just a little more saturation to your photos can give them a more vibrant look to them. Be careful not to overdue it as you don’t want the players looking like they are oompa loompa’s.

hue saturation window

Add Contrast

Just as with adding a little saturation adding a small amount of contrast can give a little more impact to your photos. Once again don’t overdue it. You usually only need to add a small amount to make a big difference.

contrast window


We covered sharpening in-depth in a previous article but I wanted to mention it again here. Remember to do this step after you have cropped your photo to the size you are going to either print or display on screen to make the most of it.

These are just a few tips to try out that can really make your photos stand apart from just a normal photo so go and give it a shot.

Sharpen Your Photos

Sharpening your photos can make a huge difference and in many cases it can be done very quickly and easily. While there are dedicated plugins and programs to do the job, most of the time you probably will not need something as advanced.

Depending on the application you use to edit your photos you may have a number of options available to you when sharpening your photos. If you are using a basic program you may have just one slider that determines the amount of sharpening.

Below is an example of a photo before any sharpening has been applied after the photo was taken. Note that cameras will actually apply a bit of sharpening to your photos when shooting JPEG files.


Now we have a screenshot of the Photoshop sharpening options.

Sharpen Settings

And finally the photo after the sharpening has been applied.

After Sharpening

There are a few things to remember when applying your sharpening to your photos. You will want to crop your photo to the final size you will output for. If you are going to print a 5×7 print, crop your photo to a 5×7 before applying any sharpening to it. Another thing you want to avoid is over sharpening. This can give your photo artifacts you may not want. Try to give it just enough to make it pop but not so much that it’s obvious you have applied sharpening. These rules aren’t set in stone and you may want to over sharpen in some situations for an artistic purpose.

How to recover your lost photos

At one point or another many photographers will inadvertently loose some photos either by a hardware/software failure or user error. Either way it can be a horrible experience. Hopefully you are backing up on a regular basis so to not loose your entire photo collection. The one problem with photo backup is that you have to get the photos to your computer to back them up. What happens if you are out in the field and accidentally delete one of your memory cards? Depending on the size of the card you may have lost hundreds of photos. Luckily, more than likely you can still recover all of the lost photos.

There are many photo recovery tools out there today, many cost money and a few are free. I always prefer free even if the software is a little hard to understand at first glance. I’ve spent time and time again looking for a good and free solution for photo recovery and I finally found something. PhotoRec is a free open source project that is designed to recover your lost files from a hard drive or memory card. It is also available for many operating systems including Windows, Linux and Mac.

To test the software out I took a 512MB memory card and formatted it in the camera, deleting all of the photos. Also note that previous to formatting, the camera reported the card as being about half way full. Now that we have a freshly formatted card, lets see how PhotoRec does as far as recovering those photos.

Drive Select 

As you can see from the screenshot above this is not your typical looking Windows application. If you remember the days of DOS it will look much more like a DOS application than your traditional Windows program. You must use the keyboard to navigate around the application but luckily for us it is fairly straight forward.

The first window that comes up will ask you what drive you have your memory card in. You should be able to recognize the drive by the size PhotoRec reports back. You may also find the label of the drive helpful as well. In my situation I needed to select the third option which was reported as a 512 MB drive with the label of Generic Flash HS-CF.

Partition Select 

The next window asks for the partition table type. If you are using a Windows PC like I am, you should select the Intel option.

Partition Type

Next up is the partition you want it to search in. If you are using a memory card you most likely will only have two options here. The entire disk and the partition your camera makes. My camera is a Canon 10d and you can see in the screenshot that the camera has labeled the partition as EOS_DIGITAL. This is usually the name of the drive that shows up in Windows when you first put your memory card in the computer.

File System Select

Now you need to tell PhotoRec what type of filesystem it is. Again if you are using Windows it will be the “Other” option.

Search Options

Now it will ask if you want to search the entire card or just the free space of the card. If you still have photos that you can see on the card you can choose to only look in the free space. If you want to be sure it finds everything possible, you may want to tell it to search everything.

Recovery Location

The next thing you need to do is tell PhotoRec where you want to put the files it finds. Once you are in the directory you would like the files to be copied to you can press the “Y” button to indicate Yes this is where I want my recovered files to go.

Recovery Status

Now you can sit back and wait for the files to be copied. Once the program is finished copying the files over you can go to the folder you specified to take a look at them.

Recovered Files

Here you can see the deleted files it was able to retrieve. It was not only able to recover the files I had just deleted but also files that had been deleted many months ago. As long as you have not used up the space that that your old photos had used the program should be able to recover them. This is an important point to realize. If you accidentally format your memory card, do not shoot any new photos to it. The old files are still there but once you start taking new photos it will start using up the space the old photos reside on removing the capability of recovering them.