Channel Editing and Aging Techniques

The Channel Mixer command is great for creating custom grayscale images. Instead of choosing Image > Mode > Grayscale and letting Photoshop set the image through a default grayscale setting the Channel Mixer has more flexibility. In this article we’ll also enhance the image then mask areas where we don’t want the gray tones. We’ll also add filters to augment the aged look.

Step One:

To get a preview of what your image may look like in grayscale first go to the channels palette. Click inside each channel and note the desired grayscale effect. When you’re done click on RGB to activate all the channels.

Step Two:

Next go to Image > Adjustment > Channel Mixer or choose the image adjustment icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. In Channel Mixer click the Monochrome check box at the left bottom of the command dialog box. Now drag the sliders to make up 100% of your chosen channel. In this case, I dragged the red channel to 100% and set the Green and Blue channels to 0%. A blend of 50% Red and 50% Blue can also be done. Ideally, the total percentage should be close to 100% for one or three channels.
Step Three:

After you’ve made your custom grayscale image you can mask areas you don’t want affected. In the Flag image I selected the outline of the flag with the Lasso tool and then used a 2-pixel feather around the flag edges for a little softening (Select > Feather).

To use the selection later you’ll need to save it. Choose Select>Save Selection. Then give it a name that you’ll remember. It’s important to note that even though the selection has been saved it’s not really saved unless the entire image file is saved too. At this point, it’s best to save the image. Choose File>Save As and note the name and location of your new image file.
Step Four:

I then chose a soft brush and set the foreground color to black. The Opacity is then set to 50% in the Options Bar. Now with the Layer Mask highlighted and active in the Layers palette, I dragged the brush inside the selected area to shade it just a bit and still retain a tarnished appearance. My idea is to give the image a little antique look so I didn’t want to reveal the flag too colorful.
Step Five:

To enhance the antique-like look I decided to tint the image with a Photoshop filter. Chose Image>Adjustment > Photo Filter or choose the image adjustment icon at the bottom of the Layers palette to access it there.

The Photo Filter command works a lot like the filters we use on cameras. The Warming and Cooling Filters are there or you can choose a color and adjust the density for different affects.
Step Six:

After I applied the Photo Filter, I decided to mask the flag from the filter effects. I chose Select > Load Selection and from the Channel popup menu. I located the flag selection I made and saved earlier.

With the Layer Mask active, I then set the foreground color to black and painted with a brush inside the selected area at 100% to block out the brown tint in the flag.
Step Seven:

Finally, I added some Noise (Filter>Noise) and then a little blur (Filter>Gaussian Blur). I then wanted to make the image look aged. I used a Texturizer filter (Filter>Texture) to give it some realism. To complete the image I burned the edges to darken the frame.
For future work, you’ll find that some of these techniques work quite well with people in interesting environments too. Give it a try.
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