Duotones, shmuotones
April 7, 2006 7:32 AM   Subscribe

Looking for ideas for different vintage photograph treatments. i.e. not just duotones or hand colored. Or any other victorian inspiration you know of.

I'm working on a CD booklet for a band. The look they want is that of an old victorian calling card. So what do we do about the photos?

Obviously duotones and hand colored photos were all the rage back then, but is there any other way we could treat these photos that would make them look authentic, yet different from the crowd?

As an addendum, if anybody has any good references with this sort of artwork, I could use some more inspiration before I keep repeating the same sort of stuff over and over again.

Heck, while you're at it. Any good font recommendations as well? Right now we're using Edwardian Sans & Perpetua, but if there's some better choices out there...(quality is more important than price here)

Sorry so many questions, but this was kind of sprung on me last minute, the deadline is looming & I'd really like to make something great.
posted by Brainy to Media & Arts (12 answers total)
Response by poster: How frazzled am I? Edwardian Script, not Edwardian Sans. Jeez sorry.
posted by Brainy at 7:36 AM on April 7, 2006

Authentic as in "freshly minted in period" or "showing its age"?
I have a couple of old prints on metal (I'm not about to guess if the are Daguerreotypes or whatever) and I'm really drawn to the way they age. Blackening in areas. Chipping. An interesting patina.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:54 AM on April 7, 2006

Response by poster: Hmmm...well, a little of both. Anything specific about those prints you could clarify? Since I'll probably be making duotones anyway, might as well be authentic about it.
posted by Brainy at 7:57 AM on April 7, 2006

Having the band members pose in Victorian costume would help a lot, especially in a typical daguerrotype setting - heavy velvet drapes in back, potted palm off to the side, etc. People in Victorian photos also usually look quite stiff and unsmiling, maybe because they had to stay absolutely still for rather long exposures. Try for the same look of discomfort.

Is there enough time for the guys to grow muttonchop whiskers and handlebar mustaches?
posted by Quietgal at 9:02 AM on April 7, 2006

Break out some acrylic paint in a few shades of brown and black. Sponge it onto canvas or paper, scrub it around, make it kind of messy. Let it dry half way, go at it with a wet rag, scrub much of it off. Repeat until you've got a nice, uneven, dirty-looking texture. (It looks better if you build up lots of thin layers, rather than a couple of heavy ones.) Maybe hit it with a bit of sandpaper while you're at it. If you like, go heavier around the edges, leaving a relatively clear area in the middle, to create a vignette. Toss that on your scanner, layer it over your photograph using Darken or Soft Light, adjust transparency to taste. Dirt and wear are difficult to create inside the machine, but pretty easy (and fun! :) to build up in real life...

Other things to try: ragged edges on the photo will look more old-fashioned than sharp rectangles. Photo corners, or decorative dingbats, can also suggest age. Flaming Pear makes a photoshop plugin called the Melancholytron which may help (or it's fairly simple to reproduce the out-of-focus edges and desaturation it creates with a masked blur and some color adjustment layers.)
posted by ook at 9:12 AM on April 7, 2006

Best answer: I usually bookmark photo effects that I like and reference them later, so I have a few. Flowers and floral borders are very victorian. Do a weird picture with floral borders and a nice color effect and youve got something good.

I like duotones, but with hand drawing overlays on them. Its not about the actual photo or the color, but what you add to it.

Older photos that are on solid color backgrounds so its a little out of place.

Anything that isnt normally seen in a snapshot or that can be achieved with a quick photoshop filter. Desat the background and blow the levels out on the subject, sepia filters but keep some layer overlays of the original colors etc, lots of black and white with colors mixed. I love taking duotone/tritone/quadtone photos and doing gradient overlays and seeing what kind of weird effects I can get.

Heres a few examples.

Duotone - Overlaid Drawings

Overlaid Drawings - Solid Color Background

Tinted Photo - Graphic Frames

Everything on here is great

Some of these are amazing

Real Photos - Vector Background - lots of tinting

You can also get pretty cool effects with c41 - e6 processing, adds a lot of greens and yellows and purples and ages photogrpahs or the melancholytron filter by flaming pear.
posted by skrike at 9:26 AM on April 7, 2006

Response by poster: Is there enough time for the guys to grow muttonchop whiskers and handlebar mustaches?

Minus 4 years should be long enough.
posted by Brainy at 9:47 AM on April 7, 2006

Best answer: Skrike's links, in convenient clickable form:

Duotone: [1]
Overlaid: [1] [2] [3]
Tinted: [1]
Great: [1]
Amazing: [1]
Real: [1]
posted by ook at 10:02 AM on April 7, 2006


thanks I got lazy and forgot. :)
posted by skrike at 10:09 AM on April 7, 2006

Have a look here:

Alternative Processes - technical info
posted by popcassady at 10:22 AM on April 7, 2006

Best answer: Perpetua?! That dates from the 1930s! It's definitely a Gill -- one of the best-known Gills, too -- and I think it would be painfully obvious. Back away from the Perpetua.

Your instinct for a nice classy serif was right, though. How about some version of Baskerville? It was cut in the 1750s, but IIRC, it was still widely used in the Victorian period. Or how about Bell?

Edwardian Script might be okay, but Edwardian isn't really the same as Victorian. Are you interested in something that looks like actual handwriting (in which case, Whitechapel, maybe Broadwindsor)? If you want the engravey kind, ES Typography must have the answer.
posted by booksandlibretti at 11:37 AM on April 7, 2006

There might be some good stuff to use in this archive of Historic American Sheet Music.
posted by chimmyc at 3:40 PM on April 8, 2006

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