Monday, March 2, 2009

Tutorial: Giving Paper a quick "Grunge" look

I get asked a lot, "How do you get your papers to have 'that look'?" So I am going to give an easy tutorial on one of the ways I give my papers a "grungy feel." The program that I use is Adobe Photoshop CS2, and that is the only program I know how to use. I also use a PC so I don't know how different this tutorial will need to be changed for any Mac users. Hopefully, for those of you wanting to learn to create your own papers, you'll be able to bend and tweak my tutorial to work with whatever program you use if it is not Photoshop CS2.

1. Okay, so I start with a blank document and create it to be an 8 inch by 8 inch size with a Resolution of 300 and the Color Mode set to RGB. (By the way, whenever I create papers, this is ALWAYS the first step that I do).
2. Choose whatever color you want for your foreground, and then select the paint bucket tool.

3. When you click on your document area, it will fill up with that foreground color.

4. So now we want a quick way to make this background have a grungy look. An easy way to do this is to use a grungy texture to create an overlay. I like to look at a website called where they have stock photos that are free to use (you will want to look for ones where "standard restrictions apply", otherwise you will have to contact the original owner to ask permission). You will need to sign up for a free membership to use this site. For this tutorial, I am using an image that I found at this link:

5. I will take the image that I have saved into my computer and open it up in Photoshop. I like to be able to see both pieces I am working with at this point, so in the upper righthand corner next to that red box with the "x" in it, there should be a button with two small squares. Click on that so you can see both the grunge background as well as your original color background. You will want to click on the "Move Tool" for the next step.

6. Now we want to drag that grunge background over to our original document. If you can see both images (like pictured above), AND you have clicked on the "Move Tool", then all you need to do is click on the grunge background and drag it onto the red background. In your layers palette, your grunge background should be on top of the red background.

7. Next we will want to make sure that the grunge background is covering all of the red. We will need to move the edges of the grunge layer a bit. Currently, the grunge layer should have a dotted line border. When the border is like that, then it means if you move the grunge background around, it will stay in its original size. But if you click on the edge then that dotted line becomes a solid line. This helps you manipulate the heighth and width to whatever you want it to be. (Quick note: if you hold down the "shift" key, and drag at the corners, then the image will stay in it's original shape, but you will be able to make it bigger or smaller). When you get it to the size you like, hit "enter" on your keyboard so it will go back to having the dotted edge border.

8. You're almost done! Now the whole red background should be covered by the grunge background. You want to click on the grunge background the make sure it is selected. Under the layers palette you should see the word "normal" with a little arrow next to it. Click on that arrow.

9. Under the dropdown list, find the word "Overlay" and click on it.

10. Abbracadabra!

Have fun with this. Try all sorts of different textures and colors and backgrounds. If any of you use this tutorial, please feel free to email me what you do.

Let me know what else you want to learn so that way the next time I feel like it, I can do another tutorial.