Recovering Faded Photos (photoshop)

First let us make it clear at the time of this I am not a photoshop expert. I learn by showing others, so this is my inaugural photoshop trick/lesson. This time we are going to be trying to recover an old faded photo (misnomer, it is actually compacted, but faded is what everyone catches innately). This is done in less than 10 minutes (probably less than 5). There are multiple ways to do this, this is the one I know at this time and is pretty simple. I will also touch it up a little at the end.

Setup: In order to setup, make sure your image is scanned with the highest pixel count you can get (this photo is 600px scanning resolution), and scan it as RGB.

    1. Select yourself a nice faded photo for your use. Here is my grandfather and his mother in 1952 
    2. You will need to edit out the entire border area, the extra white space will from the photo will cause problems, so just crop it out. 
    3. The first thing you will do is make an adjustment using the levels tool located usually on the right of your workspace. Click it open and you will see how will show a histogram.

      Histogram for level adjustment
    4. The histogram graph should stretch from 0 to 255, but in older photos the black gets pushed into the middle, leaving it almost zero before and after the histogram in the middle. This effects how your photo looks. This is why it is actually not a faded photo, but the information has been compressed and doesn’t fully stretch out. From here it is going to be simple, select Adjust Levels, then where it says RGB click on the drop down menu and you will want to do this for each of the three levels, the R, the G, and the B.

      Selecting each section of the RGB
    5. You will want to pull the arrows on the bottom to be at the start of the actual histogram and the end of the histogram. The result is you would drag the left arrow until you get to the start of the histogram on the left, and drag the bottom arrow on the right (under 255) towards the left until you get  them to be at the start of both ends of the histograms. Once you are done it should look like this:

      Where to move your arrows to.
    6. From there I utilized the spot healing tool to do some cleanup on the photo (there was a couple of fold marks. However that isn’t required and I will cover how to use that in another quick tip. I just wanted to show you how I got rid of some of the bends if you noticed them.
    7. This is the final image, it is less than 10 minutes work (that includes a quick healing tool use.

      The final 10 minute or less quick touch up.
    8. This is a comparison photo between the two for the difference. I was actually shocked at how easy it was. I also found having to order it in a written blog format made it easier for me to remember as well. So be prepared for future things.
      The difference less than 10 minutes makes

       

      So there it is, my first quick photoshop tutorial. I love suggestions, comments or tips.

One quick note!!!  This logic works on other things as well, such as Mac’s Photos apps too. So I would follow same logic, same tools if you can and that should work if you don’t have photoshop.

Taking it Easy, shadowrun group (artwork, sketch, 1991)

Wraith, Spook, and a bunch of characters I don’t remember, Pencil Sketch 1991 – Shadowrun

Shadowrun Group, pencil sketch 1991

At that time in 1991 this was actually one of my favorite pictures. In it is our shadowrun group. On the left is Wraith, my combat decker. Beside her is Spook, an asian cat burgler.. sort of (it’s hard to remember). The other two characters I think were Ben’s whose name I think was Mist… maybe. The other was Drew’s and I have no idea at all the name of the character.

The game was pretty cool, the group was a lot of fun but a lot of problematic things now that I am 28+ years older. Spook… that name would have had an objection from me now, but honestly we didn’t even consider other racist commentary possibilities.

As for other characters, Spook and Mace (Weylin’s characters) were really the only ones I liked in game, considered close and would protect. Ben and Drew’s characters were not liked by Wraith (or by me), they were just sort of filler/backdrop. 

The funny part is hearing other people’s stories, and its always intriguing to hear different points of view. I am sure Wraith was annoying to other characters/players just like they were to me. Just as humans we rarely look outside our own point of view to take it all in.

It was a good set of games, well at least until we started having bad things happen… then waking up from it like it was a dream. That pretty much killed the campaign for me.

Wraith, combat decker (artwork, sketch, 1991)

Wraith, Combat Decker (before they were a thing) Pencil Sketch 1991 – Shadowrun

Wraith was my first female pc. I had run as a GM several female NPCs and they had always been my favorite to fall back on. Once I ran Wraith as a player I never really went back for male characters. After that point I can only remember three male characters in thirty years. One was Grim, an ex-FBI sorcery adept in shadowrun, one was Shaan from my most recent Battletech game, and a very short lived character in a hubby game.

This was probably the first adult indication of who I was (not her personality), and that I preferred to be a female character in a game. I knew at this time what I felt I was, but in no way did I ever think I could jump the divide so I buried it.

I think the image is based on an in-game situation when we were imitating being a special forces team, or it could have been Bryon’s “Abyss” run, a shadowrun mission roughly based on the movie the Abyss. A lot of his games tended to fully imitate movies/tv shows for missions or characters this is not unusual, every GM does it, but I try to hide the details enough that at first glance you can’t tell.

Rage (artwork, sketch, 1991)

RAGE, Summoning Shaman, Shadowrun 2nd Edition

Rage, pencil sketch 1991

Rage was a 2nd edition Shadowrun character, a summoning adept that I had for a short time in a game hubby was running. It is horrible, and I admit it, but like I said I want to post the things I did in the past.

Her chest sucks (and the fact her chest is bare was originally going to be clothed but I wanted to practice breasts… obviously didn’t work).

The character itself was a bad guy, worshipped dark things and really wasn’t that fun past a couple of games (hence why it ended so quickly).

Berek Halfhand, (artwork, sketch, 1986)

Pencil Sketch 1986 – AD&D Character

Berek Halfhand, a half elven ranger from a First Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. I drew it when I was 15, so that would make this 1986. Sadly the art pad got pretty damaged and I couldn’t do much to save it (well I guess there is always photoshop).

I started drawing just like everyone else in elementary school or earlier. I was always in awe of a childhood friend in school who could draw so realistically (it would still be a childlike drawing as an adult, but as a kid it was steps ahead of the rest of us).

I didn’t start really drawing until I hit my teenage years though (13+). Gaming images always stoked that fire. I know I have drawn dozens of fantasy cityscapes, castle views and characters. I also know they were not very good in comparison to others but that didn’t bother me at the time.

One problem though was we were so poor that we could only afford a single artpad I had for years. I was always terrified to use up pages, which I still did slowly up until I was 20 or so. Sadly the pad didn’t survive some of our moves and I only have a few pictures, mostly half done sketches (which still will go up). Here is the oldest one to date.

What I want

I have never been afraid of dying, and I would actually say I have been (and sometimes even now) am more afraid of living. There is a whole slew of reasons for it (toxic masculinity, fucked up upbringing, and a ton of others that probably includes the trans thing). However, the one thing I always hated about the idea of dying was that all the stories in my head wouldn’t be able to get out and that so many stories I hadn’t even spoken to others about would die.

When I was young I would draw, write, and run roleplaying games. As I hit late teen/early twenties the writing and drawing slowed down to a crawl and then mostly disappeared. The roleplaying games I run are the only way I have consistently been able to express my creativity (plus it is a great socializing thing). So roleplaying games (including larping) were my only outlet for everything I wanted to tell the world.

Instead I focused the rest of my life on school, work, etc and I thought I wanted to make more money, get myself out of poverty and take care of my family. I did do a lot of that. We took care of my parents, got the hubby’s health back online and transitioned, but I found I am not happy. I miss the creative side. I can buy stuff, but it isn’t what interests me.

So I decided I am going to forego pursing my CPA. I already hate 9-5 work. I make enough now with my degree that even though I am going to be paying forever on my loans, I can get by. Instead I want to get back into art.

I want to start drawing/creating images again, so I have a few digital art programs I am learning. I have an art pad with paper and an ipad if I want to use a pen like item, and I have started to write again. I even now track my roleplaying games in in-depth websites supporting all the content so I can go back later and tell the stories on paper/in images that we told around the tables.

That means I am going to be posting my old artwork. I am aware a lot of it is not good. I am also aware though that I have to be able to let it be public. That shyness about it is one of the reasons I stopped twenty+ years ago. I need to be ok with people to see my creative stuff. I won’t get better if I can’t accept what I did before (both good and bad). This means you will get a lot of my old stuff and I will add the new as I create it. After all, that is the goal of what is in my head isn’t it?

What I want to do is unload as many of the stories in my head into the world before I shuffle off this mortal coil. 

DAZ3D Lesson 1 – Guided Tour I: Getting Started

I finished the first tutorial inside DAZ3D. It is the Guided Tours – Getting Started tutorial. Basically it was walking me through the steps, how to manipulate buttons and getting started.

My first DAZ3D Artwork (from tutorial).

The one thing I wasn’t prepared for was how long the render time for the most simple scene. If I get serious, I am going to have to upgrade my computer. It runs pretty well now, it is an iMac but its over 4 year old model so a bit sluggish.

I can see both the ease of setting up scenes, using assets and making it work, along with the difficulty needed if you want to make it pop. I am not satisfied with default backgrounds, at least not the ones I have. The lighting I can use some work on, but overall first “artwork” I have done that is visual in years.

This just makes me more interested in learning Blender as well. The creation of assets in blender and moving them over to DAZ3D or the other way around provides a lot of options.

This is good as a start.

Creating Art

I have always been interested in doing art. Anything from painting miniatures, drawing, making websites, writing stories and running tabletop roleplaying games. I have also always been incredibly self conscious (except maybe the website and GM thing) and reluctant to show anyone my art.

The last time I created visual artwork such as drawing, I was a teen to very early 20s. I would draw, mostly gaming characters or scenes, on very cheap art pads that cost way too much. I even won a trophy in high school for an anti-drug poster (it was 3 x 4 foot drawing of death, holding a staff sized needle and a list of cities on a gravestone). I even won a gift certificate for it to Black Angus (I gave that to my parents for their anniversary).

When I was 19, I got together with my hubby who is way more artistic then me. He has always encouraged me to draw, write stories, etc. I have on occasion bought an art tablet and tried to draw, but then quickly throw anything I did in the shredder. The website design and storytelling are the only things I kept up on. I always was hard on myself, especially when I saw the artwork Wolsey did. That being said, he was always supportive though and strove to get me to do more.

For the last few years I have really wanted to draw again. I tried an artpad, but that didn’t work out. Then I have played around with photoshop a bit with images that were able to be used by public. I played around with a few different things and I discovered I liked using 3d programs to create art. The fact you can create a character or scene in 3d, and then save it for future use really appealed to me.

I have considered doing a webcomic in the past, but the thought of drawing every single scene from scratch and making the characters look the same each time seemed daunting. It is why I played with photoshop for awhile, hoping maybe I could use that to cut the grind. I discovered though with the 3d programs that you can keep your assets, move them around, reskin them for different clothing, poses, etc and your initial time investment still remains. Making it easier to create scenes regularly involving the same characters. I think I like that idea.

So I have been scouting out the vast numbers of art programs. I was really surprised by it. Ranging from simple little things to huge programs that can match anything Pixar does. What really caught me off guard was the prices and what you get for them. It isn’t a straight, the more you pay the more you get. Some programs cost thousands of dollars while others are free, and can do the same things.

After a lot of looking I am focusing on three different programs. The base program for of them come free, but have various learning curves. All three use the same vein of theory though, so skills learned with one will help with the others.

DAZ3D, a free 3d art program that you can buy (or create with other tools) assets, move them around, reskin them, make them look nice and then render them into images. At first I wasn’t so sure about it because a lot of the art I have seen isn’t the level I want to get, so I didn’t think I would get what I wanted out of it. However, after looking at what people have done, I am wrong, it is a very powerful system.

3D Art by BlackTalonArts in Jun 4, 2017
SK-Style Stop War 3D Art by SK-Style on May 29, 2016

Yes those are both created in DAZ3D

Poser is similar to DAZ with a few more bells and whistles. This costs a good bit more money if you want the pro version (but you can do more with it). I figure if I like DAZ and the little investment I put into there, I might consider adding Poser to my portfolio. There was a 40% sale right now which is why i was considering it immediately, but there is Black Friday type sales coming up in a few months. If I continue with DAZ then maybe I will hit a sale and get it.

Blender, a full blown 3d  system that can render movies on PIXAR’s level. It is a completely free, open source software and I am blown away by what I have seen (some of the stuff I wouldn’t notice not being real).

Evening Drink by StealthWorks () Blender3D • Realism • posted on Feb 11, 2012

That being said, of course it is going to have the hardest learning curve of all of them. The advantage is its free, the community is very warm and welcoming and there are a LOT of tutorials for beginners. This is my ultimate end game thing I want to use. Like Maya or other programs on this level though, its not something you get as proficient as I want in a short time period.

I figure DAZ/Poser will work well for a helping me in the beginning. It is also easier to push something out that can then be imported into Blender to do more advanced things with. So for now I think I will play with DAZ and Blender, get some tutorials going and learn this. I figure I still have a good 30+ years before I die, maybe I can get good at it.

So you will be seeing probably some horrible artwork. I normally would hide things, but I found its easier for me to post things to my website then actually show people in real space. This will force me to get better, or forever live with the starting crap I do :). So expect to see me talking about tutorials, showing my art, and maybe getting better at it.

Lesson 1: Pre-Dawn Photography #1

I haven’t really gotten to play with my new camera much. I have taken a bunch of random photos, but not really discovered what I am doing with it yet. I do plan on adding a photography portfolio here, but until then I figure I will just do regular posts.

Lesson 1: Low light photography not as easy as you would think.

I woke up on May 21st just at sunrise. I hadn’t ever really attempted pre-dawn photography before other than quick snaps with my phone. I kept two pics to remind me what I need to learn. Which is a lot btw.

I didn’t realize that the camera keeps the shutter open longer to gather in light if there isn’t a lot of light around it. It is rather straightforward when you think about it, but I hadn’t considered it at all. The second part of my lesson is how heavy and awkward that camera is when you are waiting for it to take in enough light. Here you can see where my hands shook.

Didn’t realize I needed a tripod.

It had dawned on me that I may actually need the tripod. While I appreciate the squiggly lines, I of course wanted to take a clean picture. Sadly, my tripod was put away, so I placed my camera on the porch balcony. It resulted in a better picture, but still not what I wanted.

Not what I wanted, but better than expected.

So it turns out that I will need to brace the camera. I will take that more seriously now and keep the tripod where I can set it up. The shot isn’t as clear as I want, but I couldn’t point it directly at anything since it was sitting on the balcony. I know it is similar if I try and take a photo of the moon or stars, with the light. I guess I will be utilizing my tripod now :).

Also I think that is Mars to the left and down low on the horizon.