OnOne Software’s B&W tool doesn’t just create black and white pictures! You can use it to recreate a whole range of delicately-coloured vintage effects too, like this digital version of the gum bichromate process.
To be honest, digital versions of old chemical processes do take some liberties with the look and feel of the original technique, and this one is no exception. However, I hope the result is in the spirit of the gum bichromate process, even if it doesn’t have the same element of craft and skill.
This is also an opportunity to take a closer look at how Perfect B&W works, how to modify and add to its effects and how to carry out localised tonal adjustments to finish off your pictures.
I’ve chosen this picture of a decrepit old moped as my start shot because it already has subdued colours and a patina of age.
01 Default settings
This is the Perfect B&W interface. It’s just like the Perfect Effects interface, with effects presets displayed in an expandable list of categories on the left side, the image itself in the main window and the adjustment tools on the right. I’ve chosen the Default Settings preset here to show what a basic black and white conversion of this picture would look like.
02 Gum Bichromate effect
And this is what it looks like with the Gum Bichromate process applied – you’ll find this in the 19th Century Processes category. You’ll see it gives a soft, hand-tinted look and if you look again you’ll notice the image has a greenish tint in the centre, fading to a sepia tone at the edges.
It’s good, but I think there’s a bit of work to be done yet, and the key to this is in the tools panel on the right. It’s possible to ‘reverse engineer’ the preset effects by studying the control panels on the right to first see which are ‘on’ or ‘off’ – look for the little switches in the top right corner of each panel.
Then you can open the panels individually to see what adjustments have been made. For example, the Gum Bichromate effect uses (amongst other things) a Glow setting, with the Amount set to 50 and the Halo set to 10. This gives the objects in the image a softly diffused look.
03 Tin Type border
The Gum Bichromate preset does not use an image border. I think it needs one, and I have just the border in mind. It’s called Tin Type 001 – open the drop-down Category menu and choose Antique, then open the Border menu below.
Perfect B&W’s ‘borders’ are actually rather more than that. They do provide a variety of border styles for your images but many, like this one, also include overall texture effects. The only problem with this at the moment is that there’s too much ‘border’ around the edges.