Gimp Plug-in Review: Vintage Photos

September 30, 2009

A flickr friend of mine (AndYaDontStop – inspiring!) saw the following one of my photos on flickr:

Photowalk 38 - John's Favorite

And he, having been obsessed with a Vintage Film action he found recently, tried it on my photo and showed it to me. Because he said “action”, I’m assuming he uses photoshop, but inspired by the image he showed me, I decided to hunt around for a vintage film plug-in for Gimp.

You may or may not have noticed that the FX-Foundry plug-in that I’ve already discussed (part one and part two) has a Vintage Film Effect. In addition I found this vintage look plugin, too. Today I’m going to compare both of them.

If you need to know how to install a gimp plug-in check out this entry.

After you install the vintage Look plug-in, it will be located at Script-Fu –> Vintage Look. When you first go to run it, you’ll see these options:

Vintage Look Options

The three sliders are for three layers the Plugin will create, and the sliders set the opacity. As always, my feelings on these sliders is to use leave them be because it’s much easier to change the Opacity of layers after the fact when you can actually see the effect it makes. The check-box is pretty self explanatory – if you want to sharpen your photo (using the Unsharp Mask) before running the script, check the box. Personally, I like setting my own settings in the Unsharp Mask dialog box, and I don’t know which ones this uses, so I’d probably avoid checking this box in the future. But, if you usually use the default settings for Unsharp Mask but want a sharper photo, I’d suggest you check it.

So, here’s the photo with the default settings (original photo above, edited below):

Photowalk 38 - John's Favorite

Vintage Look - Default Settings

I like it, but it looks a bit washed out. I noticed that the magenta and cyan layers were both set to Screen mode. Screen mode lightens up an image (one day I’m going to do a post on all the layer modes. But for now, just trust me, Screen lightens), so I think that might be what’s causing it be washed out. Since I know Multiply darkens, I switched Magenta to Multiply, and then since I got rather pink, I lowered the opacity to only 10, instead of the original 20, and I ended up with this:

Vintage Look - Final Settings

oooh, now that I really like. Here’s my final Layers dialog if you care:

Vintage Look Layers

Now let’s check out the FX Foundry script. You can find it under FX-Foundry –> Photo –> Effects –> Vintage Film Effect. You pretty much get no options when it comes to this script:

FX Foundry Options (or lack there-of)

Work on copy will open the image with the script in a new window (which I find annoying) and Flatten Image is just plan silly – don’t you want to play with your layers after the script runs? If you flatten the image, you won’t have any layers to play with. So I never check this box.

Running the script without checking either of the boxes, I get this (original image on top, with the script below):

Photowalk 38 - John's Favorite

FX-Foundry with Default Settings

Once again, I find this to be too washed out (maybe my monitor is just too bright?). Let’s take a look at the Layers this script creates and see if we can adjust any of them to get a better final photo:

FX-Foundry Layers

I noticed that the sepia is set to Normal mode at 50% Opacity. I don’t mind that it’s set to Normal, but since I really liked the colors/tone in the base layer, I thought 50% was too much sepia, so I dropped it down to 15%. Leaving me with this final image:

FX-Foundry Final Image

Once again, I really like this. Let’s compare the two final images – Vintage Look on top, and the FX Foundry one below:

Vintage Look - Final Settings FX-Foundry Final Image

Pretty similar in the end, I guess… if you made me choose a favorite, I’d go with the FX-Foundry one.

Just for fun, I picked another image to play with. Here’s the original (not SOOC, I’d already edited it once):

Ready to play

Here’s the Vintage Look with the default settings (in this image, I liked the defaults):

Vintage Look

Here’s the FX-Foundry script with the sepia layer set to 20%:

FX-Foundry Vintage Photo

This time, I think the scripts each give a different look, but that I like them both.

Overall Impression

I don’t think either script was better than the other one, and I’m sure there are some images that I’ll like the FX script better, and some I’ll prefer the Vintage Look script. I thought it was easier to play around with the Vintage Look script, though – the three colored layers made for easy adjustments. That being said, there’s definitely something very appealing about that base layer in the FX-Foundry script.

I think a really important lesson here is not to judge a script right out of the box. With the default settings, I really wasn’t drawn to either script. Never be afraid to play with your layers!

(on a complete side-note: I recently discovered that when you click on the images in my entries they no longer open in a pop-up window, but take you to the full-size image on a separate page. I HATE that, and I don’t know what happened to break this. I’ve tried a few things, but until I figure it out, I apologize for the new-page image stuff)

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  • Mo

    So happy I found this.  I've been using GIMP for about 8 months now, but hadn't figured out the actions/scripts yet. I'm very excited about this. 

  • Great write up! I am almost embarrassed to admit that I barely know how to use GIMP, so you motivated me to learn a bit more, and I've been playing around with scripts for more time today than I am willing to say.

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