Process of Creating Vintage Style Frame Using Photoshop, Illustrator and Filter Forge

Process of Creating Vintage Style Frame Using Photoshop, Illustrator and Filter Forge

In this post I will guide you through the process of creating a vintage style frame. As you will see, frame has simple underlying structure and it is easy to create it. Things start to be even easier when combining multiple programs which are optimized for certain tasks. In this case, I am using three programs: Adobe Photoshop - king in the universe to work with pixels, Adobe Illustrator which is king for vector based shapes and Filter Forge which is the best and most useful single plugin for Photoshop (and Photoshop Elements). Along the way I am providing you with PSD template which you can study and explore how the deed is done.

Filter Forge - an advanced Photoshop plugin

How to create a vintage style frame

The very first task is to observe and study real World examples. You may have some vintage photos, but you do not have to. Just type vintage photos in our friend Google and you will find plenty of examples, sites and groups which are dedicated to vintage photos.

What can help you
What you will realize is that all vintage frames have, more or less, simple underlying structure and repeating patterns. Always look for underlying pattern, whatever you want to create, it will greatly help you and reduce the amount of time needed to accomplish the task.

Learn to break things down into smaller pieces
If you take a closer look at the final result (template that you can download) you will realize that I am using few simple or basic shapes, pattern and the rest are variations of the base color and shadows and highlights. That's how everything is created regardless of how complex it looks to you. Depend on what you want to accomplish, you will need more layers, more colors and variations, but the essence is always the same and you must learn to break things down into smaller pieces to make your life simpler and easier.

Once you learn to break things down you will see how great are layers and ability to stack them one on top of another while the final result looks like it is composite. Use every non-destructive option that is available to you with the ability to change things later and you will understand how great Photoshop is as a software.

The Process to create a vintage style frame

Let's take a look at the actual process of creating a vintage frame. As already mentioned, I have studied or seen many vintage photos before creating this frame. In fact, I have created an entire package with vintage frames, which are very similar to real World samples. This frame is created using my imagination or creativity and I do not think that you will find exact same or very similar sample.

Pattern created in Illustrator

One of the tasks to accomplish was to think about the pattern for gravure that will be used. I have created a pattern in Illustrator using: two simple shapes and Shape Builder Tool. Starting point was to create base shape.
base shape for gravure

The rest was to duplicate created shape twice, to scale it down and to use again Shape Builder Tool.
using shape builder tool to create base shape

Finally, I have created a pattern brush in Illustrator (you have Flip Along and Flip Across options in Pattern Brush Options dialog). Brush applied to rounded rectangle is expanded and imported into Photoshop as a path.
pattern brush applied to rounded rectangle

The Pen Tool is not mentioned, nor used at all. Combining shapes using Shape Builder Tool is easy as to drag or to press Alt/Opt to subtract as you are dragging. It is desired to master the Pen Tool but you do not have to use it at all. The main point is to break things down and to not miss to use tools and options available to you, especially if you are  Creative Cloud subscriber.

Let's take a look at layers in Photoshop

In Photoshop we will start with the base or background layer which is a shape with Pattern Overlay. I decided to use one of the default seamless tiling patterns which they call Noise.
pattern overlay applied in photoshop

Gravure layers
The next three layers in the layer's stack has to do with gravure. All of the three layers are vector based with the Fill Opacity set to 0 and Bevel and Emboss effect applied.
fill opacity set to zero in photoshop

Option Fill set to 0 means that the content of the layer is transparent and only layer effect is visible. The conclusion is that what we perceive as gravure or dent is actually accomplished only by darkening and lightening base color.

Another thing to point is that I am using Soften slider for Bevel effect and Feather slider for shape layer in the Properties panel for the final result. It is an old or vintage frame and it is expected that gravure is not so sharp right? You can use both options above mentioned and to judge visually while creating the effect.
feather applied to shape layer

Image layers
In the image layer's group we have one vector based shape to which is clipped Smart Object layer with the image and non-destructive layers above used to create an old photo effect.
image layers group


It is not too bad for now, but it seems that composition overall needs more work to look nicer and more vintage thing. At this point I want to introduce you Filter Forge plugin which is my good, old friend and I am recommending it to everyone. I could accomplish the same thing using adjustment layers, brush and filters in Photoshop, but this guy makes things soooo simple and easy.

Filter Forge side of thing
In this case I am using Old Photo filter which has lots of options plus Randomizer to modify the filter.
filter forge old photo filter


Finally, it appears that Filter Forge was a quick and easy solution for what I am trying to accomplish.
filter forge old photo in composition


This is one of many examples how to use Filter Forge. There are and many other effects that can be accomplished by utilizing blending modes and layer effects like Bevel and Emboss > Texture. It is easy to create patterns that you need for your project or to extract only shadows and highlights as needed. As you can see in this example, it's all about patterns, variations, shadows and highlights.

Products used in this tutorial:
Adobe Photoshop CC 2014
Adobe Illustrator CC 2014
Filter Forge

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