I was messing around in Photoshop the other day and I ended up with a really cool take on an ordinary image. I thought I’d share the process I followed with you today. It was so simple and fast that I figured anyone could do it. All I used was adjustment layers, a filter and a blend mode. And what I got was something that I didn’t expect at all.
I played with a few different images and I’ve come to determine that what I did to this one is best applied to mechanical types of photos. Ones where a strong contrast and extreme variances won’t affect things negatively. Make no mistake, the photo output isn’t supposed to accentuate the ordinary; it’s actually supposed to lean towards the artistic side. So keep that in mind.
In today’s post, I’d like to walk through the process I followed while editing the demo photo in Adobe Photoshop. I’ll apply three different adjustment layers with different settings for each. Then, I’ll apply a blur filter and use a blend mode to temper things so that filter isn’t completely overwhelming. I think you’ll enjoy this one.
The Demo Photo
I’ll be using a photo of an old typewriter today. This really is the mechanical look I was speaking of earlier.
Applying the Adjustment Layers
To get the look I’m after, I’d like to first make the image black and white and then increase the contrast and lighten the shadows. For each of these tasks, there’s a preset already installed. That’s what makes these types of edits so easy; I don’t really have to think about anything.
Since the image is already opened in Photoshop, I’ll first right-click on the background image layer and choose the Convert to Smart Object menu item that appears. That will convert the regular layer to a Smart Object, which I’ll need later on.
After that, I’ll head up to the Adjustments panel and click on the Black & White icon to apply the first adjustment layer.
Once the layer is applied to the Layers panel, I’ll head up to the Presets drop-down in the Properties panel that appeared and I’ll choose the High Contrast Blue Filter option. Of course, you’ll need to choose whichever option looks best for your particular photo. In this case, this one looked good with mine.
The photo I’m working on is already taking shape nicely.
Next up, I’ll go back into the Adjustments panel, but this time, I’ll click on the Curves icon. Once the next adjustment layer appears in the Layers panel, I’ll go back into the Presets drop-down and select the Strong Contrast option. Doing this will elevate the artistic aspects of this edit.
And after that, I’ll head back into the Adjustments panel and I’ll click the Levels icon. Once the new adjustment layer appears in the Layers panel and the Properties panel for this adjustment opens, up, I’ll go back into the Presets drop-down one last time and this time, I’ll choose Lighten Shadows.
Let’s take a look at the photo now. There should be some more punch.
Yes, that’s looking very good.
Applying the Blur Filter & Blending Mode
For this last part of the edit, I’m going to apply a Radial Blur. This blur application is the reason I originally converted the image layer to a Smart Object. Whenever applying any type of a filter in Photoshop, it’s always a good idea to apply that filter to a Smart Object. That way, you can go back and edit the filter if need be. There are also other options that become available, as you’ll see below. Namely blend modes.
Okay, to apply the blur, I’ll fist make sure the image layer is selected in the Layers panel. Then, I’ll go up to the top menu and select Filter > Blur > Radial Blur.
Once I do that, I’ll change some settings in the Radial Blur dialog box. I’ll change the Amount, choose Zoom from the Blur Method options and I’ll choose Good from the Quality options.
When I’m finished in there, I’ll click the OK button and this is what I’ll see:
Pretty crazy, right?
Let’s temper that effect down a bit. All I want is the least hint of a burst to overlay the image, so what I’ll need to do is apply an adjustment layer. First, let’s take a look at the Layers panel, just to see what’s going on over there.
As you can see, I now have the three adjustment layers and a Smart Filter. Also, if you’ll notice, I circled a small icon in the filter layer. This icon, if double-clicked, will open up a panel that controls the blending modes that are linked to the filter itself. This is the one I want to adjust, so, I’ll double-click on that small icon now.
After I double-click, the Blending Options dialog box will appear. Inside that box is a drop-down that holds all the blend modes. Since I messed around with this image earlier in the day, I already know that both Overlay and Soft Light work well. In this case, I’ll go with the Overlay option. Once I choose that in the drop-down, I’ll click the OK button to apply the blend mode to the filter.
And that will give me the final image.
That last filter and blend mode did a lot for the photo. It’s like it placed a layer of coolness over the entire thing.
I hope I clearly explained how you can use adjustment layers, filters and blending modes in Adobe Photoshop to bring out the artistic side of an image. If you have any questions regarding this post, please leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!