World War 2 Veterans Signing Portraits

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: February 18, 2019

Category: Tutorial

As part of my World War 2 Project I want each of the people I photograph to sign their portraits, but seeing as they’re all over the Country I never know when I’ll get to see them again once I’ve edited and printed their portraits; however, I’ve come up with a workaround…

The Solution

On the day that I’m taking the photograph I ask that they sign a piece of A4 paper as if it was the photograph; below you can see Normandy Veteran Reg Charles doing exactly that. The only difference here is that I asked Reg to sign the paper when I visited with his portrait so that I could add it onto my own copy…if that makes sense.

Glyn Dewis

Once home I then scan the autograph using my Canon and then open the file in Photoshop and use it to create a brush that I can then use to add the signature onto the edited portrait.

With the scanned autograph open in Photoshop, use the Crop Tool (C) to trim off the excess paper and then rotate the crop if necessary to straighten it by positioning cursor outside of the image, clicking down and dragging.

Glyn Dewis

Go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate. I do this as a matter of course but it’s also a necessary step if the autograph hasn’t been written in black.

Glyn Dewis Photoshop

To make sure that the background is completely white go to Image > Adjustments > Invert. Doing this swaps black to white and white to black. If you see any white areas other than the autograph simply use a black foreground colour and a brush to paint over these areas. Once finished go to Image > Adjustments > Invert to return the signature to normal view.

Glyn Dewis Photoshop

Now all we need to do is to go to Edit > Define Brush Preset. In the dialog box that appears give the brush a name and click OK. You have now created a brush from this autograph.

Glyn Dewis Photoshop

To add the autograph onto a picture, add a new blank layer then with a white foreground colour choose the signature brush from within the brush menu and simply press down on the picture where you want the autograph added. Putting the autograph on a new layer means you can then use the Move Tool (V) to re-position it and also use Free Transform to make it bigger / smaller.

Glyn Dewis Photoshop

For my own personal records and for authenticity, I take a picture of the person writing on the paper and also keep the original autograph.

Hope that’s useful.
Catch you next time,

ps> In my latest book, The Photoshop Tool Box, I have a chapter dedicated to Brushes because there’s sooooo much you can do with them…

The Photoshop Toolbox

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