Adapting photo for christmas cards

Posted on 2013-12-10
Last Modified: 2013-12-13
For our company Christmas card this year, I've decided to do something totally complicated and insane, a fireplace mantel.  We get the kids at our company Christmas brunch to draw pictures and then incorporate them into a card that we email out to our contacts.  I designed 6 different borders for kids to draw inside of but now I'm struggling with the fireplace.  One of the ladies at work took a photo of her fireplace but the quality is a bit grainy (she's taken a few pics so I don't want to ask her to do it again) but I also wanted the fireplace to feel as if it was created in Photoshop to match the cards.  I thought maybe I could add filters and adapt the picture to give it more of a PS feel but I've had no luck in that area.  I might have to recreate the fireplace but I haven't done anything like that before so I'm a bit concerned about making one from scratch (even if I use the fireplace photo as a base for the outline).  If anyone has any ideas of how I can make the image more polished or to create an outline from a photo that I could then paint in and add dimensions with highlights and shadows I'd appreciate it!  Here is an example of the borders I've created for the kids to draw in. And the fireplace with cards on it (you can see how the cards stick out like sore thumbs)

bordersfireplace mantel
Question by:HSI_guelph
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Expert Comment

ID: 39709626
Would this work?

Author Comment

ID: 39709802
That is definitely clearer but it would still feel awkward like taking a cartoon character and pasting it on a real-life image.  Plus I wanted to use her fireplace picture because then I wouldn't have to worry about copyright infringement.  That was why we couldn't use a lot of the art the kids did at the last brunch, because they used stickers and we were concerned about copyright infringement.
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Expert Comment

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
ID: 39709843
Put a filter over the cards to add a little noise or grain to them or just soften them up.  Part of the issue is they are not hanging naturally.  It may be easier to take out the rope and make the cards look like they are pinned to the mantle instead.  Also think about proportion.  I think the cards may be too big?  Small changes like the last 2 ideas could make a big difference in looking believable. If you keep the cards hanging from the string, make sure your physics are good.  The red card on the left looks good but the blue on the right, not so much, based on the way it is hanging.

Expert Comment

ID: 39709862
Well, you could use the 'Remove Noise' filter, or the 'Dust and Scratches' filter.  Also, play around with brightness and contrast.

The noise filters work bu slightly blurring the image.  You should always use 'Unsharp Mask' after using those.

As for making it look like a drawing, there are several artistic filters in the filter gallery that might fit your needs.
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LVL 52

Assisted Solution

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
Scott Fell,  EE MVE earned 200 total points
ID: 39709929
With little effort, I just copied a square of the mantel, created a bad tiled background, cut out a portion of the background to match the cards and added a new layer. The end result is the cards are now covered by the same color/texture as the mantle.  Now on that layer, just reduce the transparency to what looks good, I think I did 35%.  Now they look more like they belong with the background fireplace image.  

Expert Comment

ID: 39709963
To Create Outline:
From PhotoShop use the Poster Edges filter to create an outline of the fireplace.

To Give Dimension:
Use the 'Select Tool' to select the the background. Once selected, 'Inverse' the image so only the fireplace is selected. Open a new layer and save the fireplace. With the fireplace layer open use 'Layers Styles' and select the 'Drop Shadow'. Try the different shadow styles to fit what you're looking to achieve. You can even do this for the cards and string so to give a cast shadow. The cards and string would be in Layers.
LVL 26

Accepted Solution

David Brugge earned 300 total points
ID: 39713253
You said that you wanted the finished product to look like it was created in Photoshop. Try this.
I have created a line drawing of your photograph. I have created a series of shapes (drawing shapes, not vector shapes). Fill the shapes with either solid colors, gradient blends, or solid colors to which you add shading.

There are quite a few artistic options that you have to work with.

I have put the shapes on separate layers so that no two shapes touch each other. This makes them a bit easier to work with.

One photoshop hint. You can either include the black lines in the final product, of not. It's up to you. But if you want to include them, make copies of each layer and paint on the background version of that layer. That way, the lines remain crisp because they are on their own layer.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 39717061
@padas - That gave me an idea.  I've added a layer with a lighter version of the colour on that picture and turned down the opacity and fill to give lighten up the colour and remove some of the noise on the walls and I'm really happy with the look.  

@D_Brugge - That's awesome!  I tried to add lines to the fireplace but lines were messed up.  This way I can do the same to the fireplace as I did to the walls without losing the details on the shape.

Thank you all!!

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