Creating an Old West Photograph

In this tutorial I will walk you through the techniques I've used to make this photograph appear to be an old west photograph. Before we start, let's identify exactly what makes a photograph appear to be from that time period. First of all, it should have an orange tint, while being monotone in color. Of course, old photographs often get damaged over time, so we will probably want to add some damage to our photograph as well. Finally, to give it the look that it is indeed a photograph, we'll probably want to throw it on a background.

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Now that we know our goals, let's start the process of reaching them.

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The first thing I like to do when making photographs look older, is to reduce the color by using Image > Adjustments > Posterize, and then setting the level to around 16.

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Next up, let's turn this into a black and white photograph. Now I want to give this thing an old, almost over exposed look, so instead of using Image > Adjustments > Desaturate, I am going to use Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation instead, and decrease the saturation there to -100. I'm also going to raise the lightness by +16.

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There are several ways, at least 6 or 7 that I can think of off hand, to create an orange tint to our image. I'm going to use two of them. The first technique is to make a new layer, and then use the Rectangle Tool to create an orange box over the entire photograph.

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Next we'll change the Blend Mode of that new layer to Color, and set the opacity of the layer to around 35%.

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Now that we have the basics of photo manipulation done, let's throw this thing on an appropriate background to add the convincing detail, that will really sell this picture as an old west photo. I've chosen a wood background, since it's sympathetic to our cause. Next, we'll want to add a border to our image. Simply use the Rectangle Tool to create the border and put it under the photo's later. I'm going to merge those layers together and rasterize them. Then I'll use the Edit > Free Transform tool to rotate and resize the image slightly.

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To make the image more convincing, we'll use the Edit > Transform > Warp tool to make the image look a bit bent and wavy. Be careful not to over do this though, as too much warp can look horrible.

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Now to create the damage on our photograph, we'll simply use the lasso tool, or the eraser (or both, it's your choice really) to delete small parts of the border of our image. I happened to use the lasso tool to create mine.

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Now I mentioned that there's several ways to add that orange tint we're looking for, so let's use that second method I had talked about. Goto Image > Adjustments > Photo Filter and select Warming Filter (81) with the density set to 73% and Preserve Luminosity checked.

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The last thing we'll do is run Filter > Artistic > Film Grain with the Grain set to 2, the Highlight Area set to 18, and the Intensity set to 1.

Here's our final result:

Creating an Old West Photograph

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