As a kid, I remember coffee-staining scrap paper to create ancient maps that marked out treasure in the backyard. Nowadays, I’ve discovered that the same process can be great for photography projects too. With help from Photoshop, experimenting with textural layers is a great way to introduce an aged look to your images. But sometimes it can be hard to get a hold of quality textures on the internet. That’s where a bit of DIY comes in. By making your own coffee-stained texture, you can create seemingly aged canvases, which can then be applied to your images.
What you’ll need:
- 1/4 cup of instant coffee granules
- 1 teaspoon
- a damp cloth, sponge or paper towel
- a few pieces of white paper (I use plain old sheets of A4 copy paper. While copy paper does pucker when water is introduced to it, I think it adds to the overall aged effect. Plus, it’s less expensive than good art paper!)
How to coffee-stain paper
- First, lay out your sheets of paper on a wipeable surface. I prefer to work on the kitchen bench.
- Sprinkle some instant coffee on your sheets of paper – about a teaspoon per sheet.
- With a damp cloth, sponge or paper towel, begin to press the instant coffee granules into the paper. As the coffee moistens, you can start to spread the granules around the paper with broader strokes. The more varied the strokes, the rougher the effect will be.
- You can add more coffee and a little water if you need it. The more coffee you add, the darker the coffee-stained paper will turn out. You can even leave some partially-dissolved coffee granules on the page.
- Once you coat the paper, place the sheets somewhere safe and leave them to dry for a few hours.
- Sometimes the drying process can lighten the stained effect somewhat. If this happens, add more coffee and water to darken the paper further.
Here’s my result:
How to apply coffee-stained textures in Photoshop
Once your coffee-stained paper is dry, scan or photograph the page/s and save the files somewhere handy on your computer.
Next, open an image in Photoshop. This will be the image we’ll apply the coffee-stained texture to. I went with the image below:
If you can’t see the Adjustments panel, select Window from the top toolbar and then click on Adjustments. The Black & White Adjustment Layer will non-destructively convert your image to black and white.
Toggle the Black & White Adjustment Layer settings until you are satisfied with your image.
Next, with the Black & White Adjustment Layer selected in the Layers panel, click File from the top toolbar. Then select Place… and locate and select the coffee-stained image file.
The coffee-stained texture layer will be imported over your original image.
If needed, adjust the dimensions of the coffee-stained image by dragging its corners to completely cover the entirety of the canvas.
With the coffee-stained texture selected in the Layers panel, click on the Blending Modes drop-down menu located within the layers panel. Set the Blending Mode to either Overlay or Soft Light. Overlay is a bit harsher in contrast than Soft Light, so test out both options before settling on one.
Next, select the coffee-stained texture layer and click on the Curves icon in the Adjustment Layers panel. Adjust the Curves settings until you are happy with the overall contrast of your image.
At this point, you can refine the Black & White Adjustment Layer further or even add additional coffee-stained layers to increase the intensity of the aged effect.
This is my finished result…
Here are two more images I’ve attempted to age a little with the same method…
What do you think? Up for a cuppa? If you’ve given the coffee-stained texture method a try, be sure to share your results in the comments!