Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Digital Vintage Postcard

Technique:  Digital Art

digital brushes
vintage clip art

I found myself wanting a vintage postcard with birds on it, so I googled just that and found some fabulous results.  I came across these and was almost going to buy them before I stopped and realized just how easy they are to do in a graphics programme, so I thought I would share.

We are going to reproduce the image in the bottom left hand corner.  You can find the image of the birds free at the Graphics Fairy by clicking here.

The rest is done in Gimp, which if you don't have you can download for free here.  If you own a fancier programme then I am sure I am preaching to the choir, but for those who are unfamiliar, I hope this step by step will help you.  Now I warn you, there are many out there with more graphics mojo than myself, and I am sure there are other ways to do what I am about to show you, but this works for me, so I hope it works for you.

Now that you have your image, you have a couple of different options for turning it into a postcard.

First, we will use brushes, which are just like virtual digital stamps.  These aren't like the digi's you can buy, these graphics brushes work just like a rubber stamp in that they 'stamp' an image on top of any digital piece of paper that you are using.  Unlike rubber stamps, they are totally customizable, you can resize them and recolour them to your exact specifications.

Here are some free digital postcard brushes for you to download:


Here is a grungy corner brush for you to download should you wish to digitally distress your postcard once you are done.  I, prefer to use inks on the actual paper myself, but if you are creating something that is purely digital the brushes are excellent.

Download, and if necessary unzip, so that you have the .abr files.  Then open your gimp directory > share > gimp > 2.0 > brushes, and pop the .abr files in there.

Launch Gimp and open the birds image.

Brushes Tutorial 1

Choose the paintbrush tool from the tools menu.  If you don't have a brushes dialogue box, pressing Ctrl+Shift+B will bring up a box that shows you every brush that you have installed.  Brushes are listed alphabetically, so you will find the Vintage Postcards brushes towards the end.  Find the one you like and adjust the size and opacity, I have used a scale of 0.74 and an opacity of around 75%.  As you hover the brush over the image of the birds you will see a floating outline, this is the size of the image when stamped.  Line it up and click the mouse.  Voila!  A virtual rubber stamp!

All that is left to do is crop the image.  Click on the icon that looks like a scalpel and hold the mouse down on the image and drag it, you will see a box square.  Let go of the mouse, and you can drag each of the borders of the square to get precise cropping.  When you are happy, simply click the knife in the middle of the image to crop.


Postcard 5

You can obtain different looks by adjusting the colour palettes that you use.  For my examples I used black, but you could use browns for a sepia look, or any other colour you like.  Also, as mentioned above, you could use the grunge corner brushes to further age the image if you like.

Here's another version using a different brush:

Postcard 7

and yet another:

Postcard 8

The other method I can show you is how to use image layering to make a digital postcard. 

Download this image to your computer:

Open the image in Gimp.  Copy and paste the postcard and then on the image of the birds choose edit > paste as > new layer.  Hit Ctrl+L to bring up the layer toolbox in Gimp.

Postcard Tutorial 1

You can see that one layer is named background (this is the birds) and the other layer is named clipboard (this is the postcard). The first step is to adjust the transparency of the postcard overlay, so that we can see the birds.  Click on the layer that says clipboard and adjust the opacity slider on the layers dialogue box until you are happy with the effect.

Postcard Tutorial 2

You can also see that one layer is bigger than the other.  Always work with the larger image and scale that down to match the smaller, in this case we want to scale the background down to match the size of the postcard.  Click on the background layer, then go to the layers tool and choose scale layer.

Postcard Tutorial 3

For this image combination a scaling of 70% worked well, so put that into the box where appropriate (where it says pixels open the drop down menu and change it to percentage) and hit scale.

Postcard Tutorial 4

The two layers are now the same size, now to align them.  Choose the tool next to the compass, it looks like a cross, and then highlight the clipboard layer and drag it over and align it on top of the bird background.

Postcard Tutorial 6

When you have it aligned how you want it go to the Image menu and choose flatten image.  This merges all the layers together.

Postcard Tutorial 7

Crop the image to the desired size and if you like you can use the grunge corner brush of your choice and colour to age the corners of the postcard.

Postcard 1

Here are some more postcard backs you can download to play with:


Here are some more examples, feel free to download and use any that you like.  You can see how the colour of the postcard image that you use to layer will affect the final colour and luminosity of the background image that you use, so there are hundreds of different effects you could achieve with a few basic images.

Postcard 2

Postcard 3

Postcard 4

1 comment:

  1. great idea morgan, those birds are looking beautiful.
    just like they others ones.

    greetings karin