Gimp Script Showcase: Photochrom

March 17, 2010
Just one example of this script in action

Just one example of this script in action

I used to review Gimp scripts on this site, and it feels like it’s been a while since I did that. I’m changing the title of these entries now to Gimp Script Showcase, because I’m really not reviewing the scripts, I’m just showing off all the possibilities of them! So, I thought I’d let you know about the latest one I downloaded, a Photochrom script.

If you need a reminder about how to install gimp scripts, check out this entry.

So. What is photochrom? Basically, it was a method used back in the late 1800s/early 1900s to transform black and white negatives to color lithographs – so really, the goal is to make your photo look like a very vintage photo.

Let’s see what it does, shall we?

First off, here’s the original image I’m working with:

f/4.0; 1/2000 sec; 105mm; ISO 200

f/4.0; 1/2000 sec; 105mm; ISO 200

The Default Settings

After you install the script, the photochrom filter is found under Filters –> Artistic –> Photochrom. Here’s all the default settings:

Default Options

I ran the script with all the defaults and it created a bunch of layers. See?

Lots of layers

It’s easy to see from the top two layers where the Screen & Grain Merge and Multiply colors are being used. Because they’re really easy to change after-the-fact (by using the bucket tool on those layers to turn them any color you want to), I don’t see any reason to ever change those in the script options. You can also see two layers called Contrast1 and Contrast2 and one called BW Merge. Based on the default options, I give you ONE GUESS as to what the opacity of those layers are (it’s 60, in case you don’t feel like scrolling up to see what it was set to). Because the opacity of layers is also really easy to change after-the-fact, I suggest you don’t ever mess with those settings either.

The next two sliders (Gradient Begin Offset and Gradient End Offset) control how much of the Gradient in three layer masks will be black and how much will be white. The higher the Begin number – the more white. The higher the End number – more black. Remember, anything in that layer mask that’s black will turn transparent and you’ll see the layer below, and anything that’s white, you’ll see the effect of that layer, so keeping the values as they are mean that the effect of those three layers are noticed more on the bottom of the photo than the top. With most of the photos that I tried this on, I actually liked that – I’m assuming it’s because they all had a sky at the top of the photo, and the brightness of the sky really didn’t need whatever those three layers were doing. Regardless, you can change that layer mask all you want after-the-fact, and I found that easier to do than to play guess-and-check with numbers, anyway, so I suggest you don’t ever stray from the defaults in those sliders, either.

See the Layer that’s called Dodge? The B/W Dodging checkbox, when checked, turns that layer from color into black and white. First of all, that’s really easy to do yourself after-the-fact. Second, I noticed that – at least with the photos I was testing with – it only made a very subtle difference. So I recommend not messing with that checkbox, either.

So, that leaves only one checkbox in the settings left to discuss (Retro). I’ll get back to those in a minute. First, let’s see the goose photo with the default settings:

With the default settings

With the default settings

Aside from all the obvious tone changes, do you also notice how everything seems a bit more blown out and less detail? Look at the ice on the lake in particular. Because there’s a layer called Dodge, I assumed it was coming from there so I made that layer invisible and I ended up with this:

No more dodge

No more dodge

Then I decided it was just a bit too orange for me, so remember that Grain Merge layer that had an opacity of 60%, I dropped it down to 35% and ended up with this:

Less Grain Merge

(subtle difference, I know, but it IS different, I promise)

So, for this photo, with the default settings, those are the changes I liked most – removing the Dodge layer and decreasing the opacity of the Grain Merge layer. Obviously, every photo is going to be different and I won’t make those changes every time – I suggest if you try this yourself, that you play around removing and adding back in each layer to really see what effect each layer has on the photo as a whole.

But for now, let’s run the script again with the Retro checkbox checked.

Retro

This is taking the original image and running the photochrom script on it where the only thing I changed on the pop-up screen was to select the “Retro” checkbox. I found the layers it created to be interesting:

Retro Layers

It created all the same layers as before, and then made the top three invisible and created three more instead. What this tells me is that I can always keep the Retro option checked and just toggle those three layers on and off in order to see the differences between Retro and Default. Good to know!

Let’s take a look at my Retro goose:

With the Retro checkbox checked

With the Retro checkbox checked

I still thought it was a bit to Dodge-y, but this time when I removed the Dodge layer all-together, I didn’t like it as much (I can’t really explain my reasoning on this one, these things just happen), so instead I just cut the opacity of that layer from 50% down to 25% and now I have this Retro Goose:

This goose is less dodgy.   Does that mean I can trust him more?

This goose is less dodgy. Does that mean I can trust him more?

For the record, if you try this yourself, I also enjoyed playing with the opacity of the Gradient Overlay layer, so I suggest you move that slider back and forth some to really see what that does.

More Examples

Here’s a few more of my photos I tried this script on, what I changed on them (if anything), and how they turned out:

Before

Before

After - with Retro; Gradient Overlay set to 60% opacity

After - with Retro; Gradient Overlay set to 60% opacity

Before

Before

After - No Retro; Edited the gradient in the Grain Merge layer mask to have more white and less black

After - No Retro; Edited the gradient in the Grain Merge layer mask to have more white and less black

Before

Before

After - Retro; Removed Gradient Overlay layer

After - Retro; Removed Gradient Overlay layer

If you try this yourself, leave a comment with a link to your photo so we can all see more examples!

(on a side note, I referred to the goose in the photos as a “him” and I know have some readers who actually know how to tell the difference in these things, so if said goose is actually a “her”, I apologize)

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  • Name

    Probably the most useful blog I've ever found. More, more, more!

  • It's like looking at my parents' old photo collection. Love it!

  • Munkejens

    Not related to GIMP, but more the retro-style: New in Aperture 3 is the present "Vintage". I too really got excited when I started to create som vintage/retro images. The default settings is almost never the best ones, so there I too have to fiddle a bit. But I really like style. Great to see that I'm not the only one.

  • http://farm5.static.flickr....
    Thanks a lot Jennifer for the tutorial

  • Yes thank you, I will put this into my arsenal of gimp plugins and I'm sure at some point I will play with it. You've given us a nice reference for the options.

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