PI7 Sepia Poetic Portrait

This photo editing technique is an easy way to add old-fashioned charm to a special photo of a child, but it could be used with most any photo. This simple technique enhances a sepia-tinted photo with low saturation colors. You can use this method in PI6 too. Why not make your own poetic portrait of a special little person?

The example image shown above is a photo my son, Geoffrey, when he was a toddler. You can see the original photo here.

Open your photo in the work space. Hit Ctrl+D to make a copy of it, and work on the copy. Close out your original. The first thing to do is create the sepia duotone. Choose Effect, Special, Two Color. Select a dark brown and a warm, golden peachy color for the Two Color effect. Next to each color box, click the down arrow and select from the rainbow color picker. If you have difficulty selecting colors, you can download my preset here.

two color filter

Click OK to apply the filter. Now the image will look like this.

sepia two color filter applied to photo

Select the Paintbrush. In the Attributes toolbar, make sure that Panel is selected, so you can see the Brush Panel.  From the Options tab, select Colorize from the Apply Method dropdown list. This will apply paint color without obliterating darks and lights in the underlying base image.

colorize apply method

The idea here is to paint muted, semi-transparent color back onto the image selectively. For example, if the child is wearing a dress and a hat with flowers, you might want to paint some color onto the dress and the flowers on the hat only, leaving most of the photo as a sepia duotone. Edit your brush size and color as needed, and use transparent paint (e.g., 50-75% or more, depending on color). There is no formula for choosing colors or deciding what to paint, as each photo will have its own central focus. Use the original colors or select different ones, whichever suits your taste.

Use the Airbrush set with a brush size=35, Transparency=75% to airbrush a pinkish-red color onto little cheeks, elbows and knees. You can get the best results by using a fairly large brush size, so click Mode in the Attributes toolbar to enter Paint as Object mode when airbrushing on cheek color. When you're done, click Mode again and you'll have an image object. If the color extends into an area where it shouldn't be (ears, hair), use the Object Paint Eraser to tidy it up. Right click and Merge All. Here's what my painted image looks like now.

color painted on sepia image

Obviously these colors are too bright and don't look very old-fashioned. To tone it all down and get an antique look, choose Format, Hue & Saturation. Drag the Saturation slider down. I ended up using a value of -35. Negative Saturation values desaturate, or dim the richness or intensity of color, adding a gray cast. Depending on the colors and contrast of your image, your Saturation value may need to be different.

edit saturation value

Remember to click the Preview button so you can see the results of the Saturation value on the actual image. If it doesn't look right, click Continue to return to the Hue & Saturation box and edit further. When you're finally satisfied with the look of the photo, click OK.

Here's a little trick to "rosy up" the photo -- click the Quick Color Control's red plus (+) key 1X to jack up the pink in the image.

add a bit of red

You may be perfectly satisfied with the image the way it is now. However, it's fun to apply one of PI's many wonderful frames from the Frame Gallery to complete your creation. I used the second Magic Frame with the Border deselected to get a nice raggedy edge finish.

I hope you have fun with this technique. Here's some more poetic portraits. Click the thumbnails to view full size.

This tutorial uploaded 4/19/02

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