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Blending A Vintage Bird Illustration Into A Design

Blending A Vintage Bird Illustration Into A Design

When restoring vintage illustrations, I will often take out the background paper so that I can blend it into another design.

The design below is a work-in-porgress. Notice how the leaves and shaded background gently blend into the background, while the birds pop slightly.

Design using a vintage bird illustration from French Kiss Collections digital graphics.

I love giving new life to vintage illustrations found on postcards or Victorian trade cards. These vintage originals are often in pretty bad shape.

Vintage illustration from a Victorian trade card before restoration by French Kiss Collections digital graphics.

You may have noticed, that many of the digital illustrations in the shop have white backgrounds. 

Vintage bird illustration from a Victorian trade card restored by French Kiss Collections digital graphics.

Why A White Background

There are 3 reasons why I will often restore a vintage illustration to white.

  1. The paper part of very old papers like postcards and trade cards is often in pretty bad shape. It would just be too much work to try to smooth out the paper.
  2. Even if I want a more antiqued feel, I'd rather just add a new background with a multiply blend mode.
  3. When adding these images into my designs, I used a blended layer stack method, which requires a completely white background to blend invisibly.

Retouched vintage bird illustration with new background.

My Blended Layer Stack Method

I like to use these illustrations in blended stacked layers. This method won't work on dark or brightly colored backgrounds, but it works well in gently colored and textured backgrounds. This method works much better than using a cut-out of the illustration. Cut-outs are great for some applications, but to get a natural blended effect that looks like you painted directly on your background, a blended method is superior.

Here's the blended stacked layer method in a nutshell:

  • Drag the illustration onto your background file.
  • Duplicate the illustration layer.
  • Link these two layers so that you can't accidentally move one and get them out of alignment.
  • Add a layer mask to that layer and fill it with black.
  • On the bird layer underneath, set the blend mode to multiply.
  • On the top bird layer, use a soft brush in white and gently reveal parts of it, avoiding any white background areas.
Note: this layer panel has been simplified to illustrate the method. I haven't shown the other layers for the script and other decorative elements or the adjustment layers.

Using vintage illustrations with the blended stacked layers in Photoshop

These illustrations are from the Vintage Birds No. 5 collection.

    1 Response

    María paz

    María paz

    April 12, 2023

    Me encanta la tecnica de vintage,me fascinan los pajaritos para trabajar con ellos…..

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