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Creating a "Weathered Paper" Look

Author: rortiz

Tools Needed

  • Photoshop CS or equivilent

Introduction

With the invention of the computer, “Digital Art” soon became an interesting new medium to explore. But as artists create more and more digital art to pixel perfect, realistic perfection, the end results can sometimes be so perfect as to appear unrealistic.

This tutorial will teach you how to create weathered paper for use in projects from an old Pirate's Map to a page torn from an old book.

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Step 1 - GETTING STARTED (SHORTCUT LEARNED: CNTRL-N)

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Launch Photoshop.

Press “CNTRL-N” to launch the new document setup window and create a blank document. For this tutorial I will be using a new document sized at (width/height)500×650 pixels, at 72Dpi, and color mode RGB. However, you may create a new document of any size, resolution and shape you desire to suit your needs.

Once you have created your new blank document (see image), you may move on to STEP 2.

Step 2 - THE POLYGONAL LASSO TOOL (SHORTCUTS LEARNED: L, CNTRL-Z)

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Press the “L” key, and you will notice the Lasso Tool is highlighted on your tool bar. If the Polygonal Lasso Tool is not already selected (see fig.1) click on the small triangle in the lower right corner of the icon, and in the new pop up menu, select it.

Take a moment to familiarize yourself with this tool if you have not used it before. Let's practice by creating a square shape with four clicks of the mouse. Click on the document workspace to create the first corner. You will notice the lasso has anchored to this point. Now move the mouse to the next corner of your square and click again. This point will also anchor and now you will have a line between the two points. Continue clicking out the square shape and when you approach the original point where you started again, to close out the shape, place your cursor over the first point - you will notice that a small “o” will appear next to your cursor icon. This indicates you are able to make a closed shape now. When you click your new shape will be created and the lines will move (like marching ants). Press “CNTRL-Z” to undo and clear your document again.

Once you are done practicing and feel comfortable with this tool, you may move on to STEP 3.

Step 3 - DRAWING OUT OUR PAPER SHAPE (SHORTCUTS LEARNED: CNTRL-Z)

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Using the Polygonal Lasso Tool, start drawing out your paper shape. You can draw the shape anyway you like, but remember that for this tutorial we are creating a weathered look, so as such, let's keep that in mind when drawing out the shape. In Fig. 2, I've drawn out a quick shape and have made sure to click where appropriate to shape out the missing and torn portions of the paper. Make sure that you “seal” your shape by clicking around to the original point and making this a closed shape.

If you make a mistake, it's OK. Just undo (CNTRL-Z) or press the Esc. key and start over. Once you are satisfied with your shape, you may move on to STEP 4.

Step 4 - GIVING YOUR PAPER SOME COLOR (SHORTCUTS LEARNED: ALT-DELETE)

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Double click on the “Foreground” color swatch near the bottom of your tool bar and it will launch the color picker window (see fig. 3). Choose a color that is most appropriate and hit OK. (For my paper color I chose a darkish tan color to give it a parchment paper feel. If you wish to use the exact same color just input my RGB settings into your color pickers RGB input area. See image for RGB settings)

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Once you have selected the color you will use, press the “ALT-DELETE” keys and you will see that the color will be dropped into the shape you have drawn!

When you are ready let's move on to STEP 5.

Step 5 - THE WEATHERED LOOK (SHORTCUTS LEARNED: CNTRL-D, O)

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Ok we're almost done!

Now go into the Filter menu, select NOISE, then ADD NOISE. The Add Noise box will open up with a preview of your image in a small window. Set the amount slider to “2” percent. The distribution to Gaussian and check the Monochromatic box. Hit OK when you are done to OK this effect.

Press “CNTRL-D” to deselect your paper now, and make the polygonal lasso disappear.

Press the “O” key to highlight the Burn Tool icon on your tool bar. Again, if you need to, click on the small triangle at the lower right hand corner of the icon to open up the pop up menu and select it. The Burn tool icon looks like a small hand pinching something. (see fig. 4)

Once you have selected the Burn tool, we can now begin to give our paper a more “less than perfect” appearance that when combined with the noise filter we have already applied will help give it a more aged look.

With the Burn tool selected, click and drag along the edges of your document where paper would normally look “weathered”. Now this is a matter of taste so there's no right way or wrong way. Feel free to make your image as weathered as you see fit. If you would like, find an old paper and use it for reference. You can also play with the brush size/shape for the Burn tool and make it as big or small an effect as you like.

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For my example (see fig. 5), I've chosen to concentrate a little extra around the cuts and crease edges where it might seem my paper was more damaged or handled. I've also burned a bit of the center area. Feel free to give more attention to certain areas to give it a darker effect and less over others to give a lighter effect. Doing that will make it possible to fade from lighter areas to darker weathered areas on your paper.

Now to finish off the look with a “Drop Shadow” effect!

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Go into the layer dropdown, and select Layer Style, Drop Shadow (see fig. 6) The layer style box will open with the Drop Shadow menu selected.

Put opacity at “85” percent.

Angle at 120.

Distance at “5” px.

Size at “5” px.

You can leave the other settings in their default state. Hit OK and your paper will now have a drop shadow behind it!

Remember these are just my settings for this tutorial, feel free to experiment with the look you want.

Congratulations! You've created a weathered piece of paper! Feel free now to experiment with adding text, images, colored backgrounds, scaling, skewing, and any other effect you can imagine to go with it!

Step 6 - THE WEATHERED LOOK (SAMPLE)

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Fig. 7 shows a sample of the final result.

Sample with text.

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