Graphic Design and Illustration.

Archive for ‘September, 2013’

Retro-Hip Photoshop Action Roundup

The past few years, so called lo-fi photography has been all the rage. I’m not sure if it was Hipsters rediscovering cheap film cameras like Lomos, or the Instagram app, that has created the movement where everything has to look like it came from a cheap plastic camera rather than some of the most sophisticated computer electronics built by man. And speaking of cheap, has anyone seen the prices of some of these Lomo cameras? Pretty pricey considering this particular camera technology was originally developed by the Soviets. I guess the capitalists get the final laugh on this one. Though a careful search online can reveal lo-fi cameras that have a price that better reflects their origins.

Regardless, of who (or what) started the trend, the appeal is obvious. In an age where digital photography rules, it’s easy to take great photos. Though to be fair, digital cameras can take a flawed photo, but they tend to blow up images in obvious ways that are easy to detect and eliminate long before prints are made or are shared online to friends and loved ones. Recapturing the warmth and atmosphere of analog photography would seem be the goal of young people growing up with the cold, predictable nature of digital photography. But for people like me who grew up with cheap disposable cameras, it’s just crappy photos. 🙂

Of course you don’t actually need to buy a film camera to have all the benefits of faded colours and strange focus. There are apps for that. As mentioned before, there’s Instagram, along with a bunch of competitors. For the professional photographer or graphic designer, there are plenty of Photoshop Actions that can easily achieve these effects. Many of them are free.

I’ll show you a few of my favourites.

For a sample image, I was trying to find an image that wasn’t too professional looking and wouldn’t embarrass me too much. So I decided to make our other cat, Jessie, famous. Click on any of the images to see a larger sample.

Instagram Actions

This was the first set of lo-fi camera Photoshop Actions that I ever came across. Its aim was to replicate the original set of Instagram filters for use in Photoshop.

I can’t say I’m a fan of these actions. At least not by themselves. But with the power of Photoshop, the results of different actions can be combined in different ways. In my experience, this vastly improves on these Actions, and can help you as the designer come up with a more personalized and unique image.

You can download the action here.

Old Photo Action

I originally had pretty high hopes for this one. I was a little disappointed with the effect on my test image. It was just too monochromatic. Fading back the effect improved the look of the image. I also thought that perhaps my test image was too green to start with. Choosing another image with a combination of warm and cool colours gave better results.

You can download the action here.

PP Light Leak Free Action

A simple but clever effect. This free sample belongs to a large kit that has different colours and gradients that bleed off into different directions.

You can download the action here.

Holgarizer Action

This is perhaps one of the more comprehensive of all the Photoshop Actions covered in this post. This action really goes out of its way to beat up your image. It even tries to simulate the barrel distortion you’d get with cheap plastic lenses. I find the effect to be a bit heavy handed. Because of the barrel distortion, it does make it difficult to combine this Action with other effects. Good thing the Action comes with instructions on how to tone down some of the effect.

You can download the action here.

Rusty Vintage Action

I think this one turned out to be my favourite of the bunch. It’s still pretty monochromatic, but I do like the overall colour cast and it doesn’t hammer down too much on the details of the photo.

You can download the action here.

Retro Light Leak Action

This was another good, retro-style image. Blows out quite a bit of detail though. A lighter image with lots of highlights would suffer quite a bit under this action I think.

You can download the action here.

Sir Aiden, Protector of the Giraffe People


Just a quick post while waiting for my phone to update to IO7.

A very imaginary drawing inspired by my son. Of course the details are largely guesswork as he’s only 6 months old. But if he keeps eating the way he is now, I’m certain he’ll get to this size soon enough. As for the rest, the giraffe cowl is inspired from his favourite blanket. Toss in a bit of sleep deprived imagination and he we go! Drawn in Adobe Ideas as a test. The drop shadow and a couple of very minor tweaks in Illustrator.

BTW, this one has become a personal favourite of my wife. I’m going to see what my options are to get a print made of this one. I’ll probably tweak the illustration a bit more before that though. Adobe Ideas is a pretty nifty program, but there’s just a few things bugging this sometimes anal graphic designer.

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RIP Charlie


Not the post I had in mind for this week.

This past Sunday, my wife’s cat, Charlie past away. He was pretty old – over eighteen years old, and not in very good health. He was having kidney troubles and was diabetic. We had a few close calls over the past few years. Infections that really seemed to sap all his energy. But he always bounced back. But these past few months he really slowed down, and it seems his kidneys finally gave out on him. Probably Friday or early Saturday. He looked and sounded pretty grim Sunday afternoon.

I took him to the emergency vet that was open on Sunday, and they gave us the bad news. It was just about the hardest thing I ever did.

Anyways, a quickie tribute to him. Chowing down on some kibble. Pencil on yellow note pad. Colour quickly done in Photoshop.

Rest easy Chuckles.


Image of the Month – September 2013


A New Twitter Avatar

The avatar I was using for Twitter was something I put together quite some time ago. So long ago, I used a little program called Freehand to make it. Which is dating myself quite a bit. So it was time for a new one.

Twit Tweet

This one started out as a sketch I quickly scrawled out on a notepad. I then took a quick snapshot using my iPhone, and brought the image into Adobe Ideas to develop a nice quick vector image. Every Adobe Ideas drawing allows for one image to be used as a background. In this case, I was only using it as a guide for the rest of my linework. I would delete the image afterwards.

My quickie snapshot. Would have been better without the flash, but good enough for a guide.

My quickie snapshot. Would have been better without the flash, but good enough for a guide. The massive checkmark was just a little reminder to me that this was the sketch I wanted to flesh out later.

This one turned out rather well. It has taken some getting used to using speed to adjust the line thickness rather than pressure. I wound up using the undo feature quite a bit. So regardless of the somewhat loose looking colour use and sketchiness of the line work, this is actually quite a controlled piece.

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