No longer is creativity with foil limited to tin hats
When I set out to duplicate old tin-type images, I was foiled (go ahead, groan) time and again. I eventually did replicate the look, but along the way my experimentation brought on this unexpected use for an everyday item. I love when that happens! Using gel-based transfers, an aluminium foil surface and alcohol inks, this technique introduces urban chic to the old masters.
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Tear off a small piece of foil to use as a palette. Add a drop or two of your first colour and dip your cotton swab into it. The cotton swab will act as a paintbrush; use it to apply the alcohol ink. Use clean swabs for each colour. If you have an aversion to colouring outside the lines, use blending solution on a clean cotton swab to remove colour from an area.
Depending on the colour, it may take a few dabs
Blending your colours is easy with the cotton swabs. Vary your pressure to remove colour in one area and blend it with the surrounding colours. Experiment with dropping the ink directly onto the piece for a totally different look. Repeat the process with the remaining colours until you can’t help but to pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
∞ Crumple the foil before you attach it to the surface for an entirely different look.
Experiment with creases and the natural texture foil lends to the project.
∞ Mount the image to wood, canvas or even a book cover, or integrate it into a larger work of art.
∞ Black-and-white photography really pops on a metallic surface. Skip the painting or use the metallic alcohol inks for a modern urban feel.
∞ As with any transfer, remember to mirror your image before printing it if it has text or if you want the photo to appear exactly as it is.
Susan’s recipe for faux foil transfers
Here is an easy digital recipe to give faux tintype colouring to your images, minus the pretty frames that traditionally encapsulate them.
Faux Tintype Recipe
1. Desaturate the colour of your photo:
Enhance>Adjust Colour>Remove Colour.
2. Alter the colour to give it a washed-out sepia tone (characteristic of some of the traditional tintypes):
Enhance>Adjust Colour> Colour Variations (Select Shadows, click twice on Decrease Blue and click once on Increase Red.)
3. Increase contrast:
Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Brightness/Contrast (I enhanced the Contrast to +20.)
4. Add a film grain:
Filter>Artistic>film grain with the following settings:
Highlight Area: 9