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Denise Barrett Olson
part of the
Digital Storytelling Series
Create Atmosphere ......................................................4
Making Lemonade ........................................................6
Personal Touch ..............................................................9
During World War II, my aunts lived in the upstairs
apartment of the house you see on the right and I have
some great stories - and few photos - from their time
here. I want to include something visual to give those
stories a sense of place, but a current photo just wasn’t
Then I discovered DistressedFX, an iPad app that
creates atmosphere using textures. The result was
The transformation process began in iPhoto where I
cropped the image, adjusted the color, then used the
healing brush to remove some distracting modern
conveniences like the street light and power lines.
Next I moved to the DistressedFX app and
experimented with textures and overlays until I got the
desired effect. Each effect could be fine-tuned by
tapping the adjustments icon found in the bottom right
corner of the photo window.
DistressedFX [iOS - $0.99] Choose from a number of textures and
overlays, then fine tune the effect to create beautiful, artistic
No iPad? No problem! Distressed Textures offers both brushes
and textures for use in Photoshop projects.
Although the healing brush in iPhoto is quite adequate, you may
prefer to use a more sophisticated photo-editor to remove
unwanted elements in your photograph. Mac and iPad users will
find Pixelmator [Mac - $29.99, iPad - $9.99] a very affordable
Windows users will find PhotoPlus from Serif [about $70.00 at
Amazon] and Corel’s PaintShop Pro [about $45.00 at Amazon] are
interesting alternatives to Photoshop.
Sometimes the best photos aren’t always the best
quality. What happens then? If you can’t edit the photo
enough to improve its quality to acceptable levels,
consider turning that photo into photo art. There are a
growing number of applications which will process your
photo into a broad range of artistic styles. This example
turns a dull exposure into an impressive sketch.
These techniques are especially useful when you’re
stuck with a low resolution photograph that you need to
Poor lighting and
camera left a lot to
be desired in this
overlays to turn a
into a delightful
memory. This example was
created by first using Pixelmator to punch up the lighting
and colors, then moving to the DistressedFX app on my
iPad to give it character.
This is our granddaughter, Cecilia, enjoying some ice
cream. We get to enjoy this delightful moment because
her mother is never far away from her camera phone and
regularly captures little events like this. For a mother of
four, a camera phone that can capture and email a photo
in two quick steps is the photo-sharing tool of choice. As
grandparents, finding these precious pictures in our
inbox brightens our day. For the family historian . . . not
Fortunately, there are apps like Corel’s Paint It! which
transform these small, low-resolution images into
treasured works of art.
PaintMee [Mac - $7.99] and PaintMee HD [iOS - $1.99]
make it easy to turn a photo into a painting.
Experiment with the various settings to get the effect
DistressedFX [iOS - $0.99] Choose from a number of
textures and overlays, then fine tune the effect to
create beautiful, artistic images.
No iPad? No problem! Distressed Textures offers both
brushes and textures for use in Photoshop projects.
Corel Paint It! [Win/Mac - $39.95] not only transforms
your photo into photo art, but lets you add your own
personal touches too.
Mine your personal archives to create your own unique storytelling design
The lace used to create the border you see below was
found in my mother’s sewing box. The scrap in the box
above is the envelope to a letter my grandmother sent
her soon-to-be husband. Not only are these precious
pieces of my family’s history, they make unique and
personal design elements for my storytelling projects.
As you digitize your personal archives, take a few extra
minutes in the scanning and editing process to prepare
these items so they can also be used in your family
stories. Here are some scanning and editing tips to help
make it happen.
Placing a contrasting sheet of dark card stock behind the
item you are scanning makes it easier to separate the image
from the scanned background - especially when you want to
maintain the creased and ragged edges. Black card stock is
best because any shadows around the resulting image will
disappear in to the black background. Here, even with a dark
blue background, the shadows are visible.
Contrasting background has been selected and deleted, leaving just the envelope.
Open the scanned image in your favorite photo editor
and use the magic wand selection tool to select the dark
background. Delete the background and crop the image to
leave just a small border of the now transparent background.
Save the results using the PNG image format. It is a nondestructive format that supports transparency. Also, if this
item was originally scanned at “archival” resolution, you may
want to resize it to a more manageable working resolution .
More Scanning Tips . . .
There are times when a medium gray or blue card
stock can be quite useful. When scanning newsprint,
you’ll often find some of the text from the reverse
side of the page shows through. A sheet of midtone gray placed behind the item often prevents
Explore the advanced features of your scanner’s
software to get a feel for the different options and
If your photo-editing software supports scanning
from within the app, experiment with its scanning
features and compare them with the software that came
with your scanner.
This technique takes advantage of the “magic
wand” - a selection tool found in most photo
editing applications. Mac users will find
Pixelmator [$29.99] and Acorn [$29.99] are very
affordable photo-editing options.
Windows users will find PhotoPlus from Serif
[about $70.00 at Amazon] and Corel’s
PaintShop Pro [about $45.00 at Amazon] are
interesting alternatives to Photoshop.
Denise Barrett O
St. Augustine, Flo
Twitter - @moultri
Email - denise@m
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