This past weekend, I saw a movie about a far-from-Utopian world. Earth had suffered from a blast, metal and concrete lay everywhere, and people were trying to survive in a harsh environment and a cruel world. Certainly, not a place I’d like to be. However, I was mesmerized by the cinematographic style — something I’ve been taken by before.
While I wouldn’t relish being in a post-apocalyptic situation, there is something about the stylized vision of one that I find compelling. Maybe it’s the grunge, the harsh edges, the desaturated colors, or the decaying industrial scenes that capture my eye. To be honest, I’m not really sure. Somehow, the style seems both raw and real, even though it’s clearly artificial. Kind of interesting, I think.
Anyway, this morning, I set about to create my own Dystopian reality and thought I’d share.
- Start with a photograph with an industrial setting — anything with lots of concrete is great! Then, open it in Photoshop Elements.
- Next, create a copy by pressing Ctrl-J (Mac: Command-J).
- Then, select Enhance>Unsharp Mask and set the Amount and Radius to 200 and the Threshold to 0.
- Click on the foreground color to set the color. Then, within the Color Picker, set the # value (the hex value) to 7c766e and press OK.
- Now, select Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Hue/Saturation… and press OK. Then, select the Colorize option in the Hue/Saturation panel and adjust the opacity of the Hue/Saturation layer to 50%.
- Next, select Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Gradient Map… and press OK. From the Gradient Map drop-down, be sure to select the Black, White option.
- Now, set the opacity of this layer to 50% and set the blending mode to Overlay.
- Next, it’s time for a vignette (you know I love vignettes!). To create this one, let’s start with a copy of the layers merged to their own layer by pressing Ctrl-Alt-Shift-E (Mac: Command-Option-Shift-E). Then:
- Select the Burn Tool (O) and from the brush presets (upper left corner on the tool menu), select the Soft Round 300 Pixel brush and adjust the size up or down to suit your image and preferences.
- Brush along the outside edges of the image to burn in a vignette — do this repeatedly and as much as you like to achieve the desired look.
- Finally, set the blending mode to Luminosity to give the image a grungy, Dystopian feel.