Currently browsing Posts Tagged “photoshop”

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Gradient Maps and You

Posted by Mark in Mark's Sketchbook

To shed some light on how I colorize old photos, I made a quick video to explain how I handle skin tones. Unfortunately, it won’t be of much use to someone who’s never opened Photoshop, but it should be useful for any regular Photoshop users who need to be pointed in the right direction. For all I know there are better methods, but this is my current go-to.

As for the colors besides skin tones, it’s usually just a matter of guesswork and experimenting with blending modes.

Deluxe Detail

Posted by Mark in Mark's Sketchbook

Colorized pic of my Dad and Uncle washing the Ford in the `50s.

Army Detail

Posted by Mark in Mark's Sketchbook

For a change of pace, here’s some photo restoration, which in this case is mostly just digital painting and experimenting with texture overlays.

Here are a couple of side-by-side comparisons:

tata-split1 tata-split

Twenties Teens

Posted by Mark in Mark's Sketchbook

Hey, haven’t done one of these in a while. I was watching a video on using gradient maps in photoshop, and realized it was a technique I’d never tried for colorizing photos. Turns out it works pretty well, and you can easily toy with different color schemes.

The Most Important Election Of Our Lifetime

Posted by Mark in Mark's Sketchbook


Hey look, the comic strip contest has begun! Click here to browse through the entries and vote. I suggest you vote for the one with the bear jumping out of a box, because that’s just hilarious. (If you get bored browsing the other strips, search for “Kerkel”.)

Lotta Tata


Thought I’d switch gears today and work on a litte photo restoration. This is a portion of a yearbook photo from the 1970s, when Tata came out of retirement to become a high school teacher. It’s not that the photo is in bad shape, but it’s printed in a low-res halftone, so there’s not a whole lot of detail. I thought it’d be fun to try to recreate what the original photo may have looked like.

To guide me, and to salvage some of the tone, I started by blurring the original photo to the point where you can’t see the dots. Then I painted back in the details by referring to the original. Obviously I’ve got a ways to go before it’s passably photorealistic, but I’ll continue plugging away.


Looking Ahead

Posted by Mark in Mark's Sketchbook

Today my Aunt Susie sent me a great photo of Nana, age 24, around the time she moved to California from Mexico. Click the gallery below to see the before and after.

Great Great Great Great

Posted by Mark in Mark's Sketchbook


Here’s my Great Great Great Grandfather with my Great Great Great Great Grandfather. Holy sheez, this is an old picture! I’ll verify the exact date with my Aunt, but it must date from around the time of the Civil War (although these Mexicans probably weren’t worrying about that).


Obviously I have no idea what these dudes looked like, so I used some artistic license, and photos of my Dad and Uncle Bobby for reference.

More Fun With Restoration

Posted by Mark in Mark's Sketchbook


You’ll have to forgive my brief detour into photo restoration; it’s always been a fascination of mine. While coloring Grandpa’s photo the other day, I wondered if I could subtly add detail to photos, or even restore damaged photos, by painting.

This photo of Tata (my other grandfather) is from the 1920s–a detail of a group shot of his middle school graduation. It’s not damaged, but there’s not a lot of detail in the faces. So tonight I did some experimenting. First, I painted a minimal amount of detail, using a clearer photo as a reference. Then I blended it into the original photo by adding some grain and reducing the opacity of my strokes a bit.

What I like about it is that when viewed from a distance at actual size (as with a typical framed photo), it looks about the same as the original. But if you examine it closer, there’s a little more detail and expression.

Next, I’d like to try an actual damaged photo; you know, one of those where important bits are completely missing and need to be painted back in.


Police Squad! In Color

Posted by Mark in Mark's Sketchbook

You’re right, this isn’t a sketch or drawing, but Grandpa warrants an exception. Besides, when I do these colorizations, I end up using a lot of the same techniques as I do when I paint digitally.

I know the conventional wisdom is that colorization is unnecessary and usually cheesy, but one of the reasons I enjoy it is that it’s like opening a window into the past.  Sure, it’s not perfectly realistic, but it gives me a little impression of what Grandpa looked like about 58 years ago when he got up and went to work. It’s also fun to do the necessary research to get the colors right (no guarantees that I did).


“I ain’t dead yet!” screamed the old man

Posted by Mark in Mark's Sketchbook

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I’m kinda dumb sometimes. Tonight I was worried I wouldn’t think of anything to post, so I procrastinated by continuing to tweak my drawing settings in Photoshop. Then I realized, this can be a blog post. It’s totally on-topic!  Duh.

At some point soon I’ll reveal the height of my nerd tendencies by detailing my continually evolving Photoshop animation template and actions. Really, only a crazy person would try to do frame-by-frame animation in Photoshop, but with the setup I cooked up, it’s actually pretty efficient. Also, I am a crazy person.

Anyway, tonight I tried to come up with the perfect inking brush; when drawing on my Wacom, my rough sketches usually look pretty close to what I can do on paper, but when slowly and carefully inking, my lines tend to get wobbly and jagged. This new brush, as seen above, has given me the best results yet. And there’s nothing fancy about it. For those playing along at home:


I created a round, hard, 30 pixel brush. I set the spacing at 1%, smoothing on.  The only other box ticked was shape dynamics; I set the size control to “Pen Pressure” and the minimum diameter to 10%.

The other important bit was to set my Wacom’s pen pressure to “firm.”

So, the cool thing about this brush is that it’s basically a Sharpie™. A light touch will produce a relatively thin but solid black line, and the width can be varied subtly in a way that feels very easy to control. I don’t even come close to a 30 pixel line width unless I jam the pen down as hard as I can.

What I’m realizing is that friction caused a lot of my problems when inking; I was always using a small brush with the pressure set at medium, and I had to press down harder than I typically would with any “real” drawing instrument.

Aaand, you just fell asleep.

In other news

I think for my next animation, I’ll aspire to the lofty goal of 10 seconds. Let me know if there are any 10-second activities you’re just dying to see animated.