Following our recent article on how we create our Dolls House Miniature Packaging we have had tremendous feedback from our readers. It would seem that the level of detail we went into was what many dolls house miniaturists liked which led to a huge amount of requests for further indepth blog articles around our dolls house packaging, posters and general digital design.
So, todays blog article will be a very detailed look into how we go about designing custom dolls house miniature pub signs for individual customers.
Above you can see the original photo of the Cherry Gardens Pub Sign sent to us by a customer and on its right our custom created dolls house miniature version of it. If you click here you can see a closeup version of the original, or here for a dolls house miniature version.
Virtually every image we get sent has the same initial problems to overcome. The pub sign has been photographed from below and at an angle, the image has reflections, the sign is faded and very often the pub sign is covered in dirt and grime. Now in this state this would not make a very good dolls house miniature pub or tavern sign
We have taken the image of the Cherry Gardens Pub Sign and highlighted various areas where the issues are.
1)The Image is not straight on. It will need to be straightened and its perspective corrected.
2)The reflection of the light is clearly visible and is effecting the image
3)There are lots of dirt spots and general fading caused by years of grime building up.
4)Daylight is reflecting from the image causing lots of the image detail to be obscured.
5)This is not an issue, but it is an area we intend to show how we recreate the font and style of text the sign name is in.
Section 1 sees us dealing with getting the main image from the photo of the pub sign, straightening it then removing all the borders and text. We select the entire image and use a transform and distort tool to drag the image until it looks face as on the second image above. The third image shows the result after we have finished transforming the image and then cropped just the image from the sign.
This then leaves us a squared image, facing straight on with all of the unwanted sign removed. The resulting image is not correctly proportioned as it should be more elongated. So, thats our next job. Corrects its proportions and increase its colour depth and brightness.
We take the last image from section one and use the transform scale to to turn the square image into the correctly proportioned rectangular shape show in the first image above. Next we use the colour balance tool to increase the blues and greens in image 2 above – it was very washed out mainly due to the angle of the original photo and the reflections of the natural light.
Great, thats done. Now we need to increase the depth of color and in turn the level of visible detail. Picture 3 above now shows the image after we have use the brightness and contrast options to improve the overall look. However, as a result of our enhancing it has now made the reflections stand out, the most obvious being the reflection to the right of the mans head. Let’s address that now.
Our goal is to not totally remove the shadow totally. (unless you have hours of spare time!) What we are trying to do is replace the detail lost under the reflections and to minimise the visual impact of the shadow the best we can in the time we have. Its also worth noting that having the odd blemish or imperfection can make the finished item that bit better – many of our dolls house miniature apothecary labels have imperfections designed into them to age them and do many of our dolls house miniature posters.
In the first picture above, you see the shadow and the reflection have made the tree virtually invisible. We darken the very top part of the visible tree trunk then use the clone tool to redraw the trunk all the way down the image as shown in picture 2. With the tree back in place we move on to cloning a few spare leaves over the bulk of the remaining shadow to the right of the mans shoulder in picture 3.
We then fade the edges of the shadow to blend with the background. In picture 4 we darken the leaves above the mans head and again use the clone tool to add a few extra leaves in.
Finally in picture 5 we use the clone tool to draw leaves and background over the dark shadow strip leaving us with a reasonable image with a minimised shadow and increased detail.
The pub sign has been subjected to many years of weather and pollution from car exhausts – this has resulted in the sign having a dullness and alot of unsightly dirt spots as seen in the first of the 4 images above. We use the heal tool to gently remove the spots on the left hand side of image 2. We also lighten the image as we repair it returning the image to its almost new look. In image 3 we have removed the spots and brighten all the image except the arm which we do in image 4.
We are starting to get an nice looking, bright image now! It is about this point when you start to see all of your hard work coming together and you get a real sense of satisfaction. It is also tempting to start to rush so you can see the finished article. DON’T. Take your time and it will be worth the wait.
When we get to the point of wanting to rush either because its been a long job or a frustrating one like many of our dolls house miniature packaging projects we put it down and move on to another project. I digress, back to the project in hand!
We need to repair the bottom right hand side of the image where the reflection has washed on the image.
As you can see in image 1 above, the tree has vanished! Time to use our friend the clone tool. We redraw the tree back in as shown in image 2 using the clone tool and a good part of the tree. We then brighten the image and sharpen the detail to give us a more polished look as seen in image 3.
Thats it! Most of the image work has now been completed. Once we have repeated the processes mentioned above on all the required areas the main sign is complete. We add it to a preprepared background image with a border to match the original photo which leaves us with our final task. The sign name.
When we design our dolls house miniature pub signs the fonts, the sign name and name colour are down to the designer and although it would be easy to get carried away we found through experience keeping it simple ALWAYS makes the best end result. For this particular job we need to replicate the one on the sign.
Being able to look at a font and recognise it takes a long time. The best thing you can do is to go through your fonts one by one until you get as close a match as possible visually and in many cases this is good enough.
We start the sign by typing the required text – in this case “Cherry Gardens” and we always start off in our regular basic font – Arial. (Picture 1 above) We then change it to the font we feel matches the sign the best – Myriad Pro – as shown in picture 2.
In Picture 3 we use the bevel and emboss tool to give it its chiseled metallic look. We then apply the Satin font effect to take the sharp lines off the letters resulting in the more rounded yet still embossed metallic look in picture 5. A quick change of colour and voila, a pretty close match to the original.
Wow, that was a big tutorial. I hope you enjoyed this whirlwind tour of our custom dolls house miniature pub sign design service. See you soon!