Friday, November 2, 2012

Hi-res textures vs. not-so-high-res free textures

Free Photoshop textures are everywhere, so why bother buying any? And why on earth did I decide to start selling some?

Here's my story of a quest for good textures and how it led me to open up shop...

The Problem
We'll blame it on Instagram. Some of my latest commercial art projects called for that Instagram grunged up look (or rather, my version of it done in Photoshop). I had brushes, but I needed some film textures to help out. I looked up some of the lists of free Photoshop textures, many of them touting "hi-res" large files. Well, it turns out that what they call "hi-res" might have seemed so circa 1999. I mean, is 1500 px hi-res? I think not. That's great if you're doing web design work, but I need files that will work for print. If you only post photos on Facebook, then there's no need to ever buy textures, but what if you do portraits and a client wants a textured photo to blow up for their walls? 1500 px gets you a whopping 5 inches at 300 dpi. Yes, you could resize and pray for the best, but there are limits.

So, maybe my Google search skills are limited and I have missed the great treasure trove of truly hi-res textures (let's say, somewhere in the range of 5000 px). If so, feel free to add a link in a comment. But for my purposes (namely, to find film-related textures), I only found one good source: 11 grungy film textures at Lost & Taken. They're more in the 3000-range, but that's workable enough. But I needed more. Next stop: iStock. I found one that I quite liked (that's one, mind you, ONE, not an entire pack of textures) for a mere $42 (in the 4132 x 3960 px size). Tempting, but I'd rather buy four albums on iTunes.

The Good Sources
Finally, I found a great source: the French Kiss Collections. I bought the Glorious Grunge texture pack for $35. I have been very happy with them and I will definitely buy more from them in the future even though I am also making my own.

Honestly, I only found one other decent source: Flypaper textures. They have a Classic Grunge pack for $35, but it wasn't based on film like the French Kiss collection, so I didn't get it (not that I wouldn't in the future). Their Antique Edges pack ($40) is closer to what I would want, but ideally, I would love to just buy individual files rather than a whole pack. Both French Kiss and Flypaper also offer gorgeous painterly textures that set my mind racing with creative ideas.

The Take-Out Photo Toolbox
All of this go me thinking...Hey! I just bought a huge box full of old photos, negatives, and who knows what else at my favorite Paris flea market (it's Vanves, by the way) last summer and I haven't even had time to look through any of it! 

old paper with scratches and (fingerprints?)

Since it was Friday, I thought I may as well do something fun and start to sort through the goods. I didn't discover the next Vivian Maier or anything, but there are some pretty amazing photos and enough negatives to keep me busy for years. When I bought the lot, the vendor threw in a bunch of old photo paper and other things I didn't think I needed (such as a bottle of developing fluid that's about 80 years old). The paper is unusable, but turns out to be great for borders/textures/backgrounds.  Some of them have a crazy painterly look like this:

My current favorite is the creepy-cool grunge look of this ghostly family snapshot faded beyond recognition (hint: it really should be landscape orientation):

I decided that since I'm in the year of shameless commercialism (which you know if you follow my blog), I may as well start offering some of my own for sale. In fact, I decided that I would sell individual downloads (so you don't have to buy packs) for dirt cheap. What's "dirt cheap"? Well, for the smallest size (but honestly, why bother?) it's 50 cents. The massive 4800 px wide (and 6000-something tall) is $2 for personal use or $5 for commercial use (You can read the commercial license on the site, but in short, it's basically that you can't just resell them as is or in slightly altered versions. You need to actually make your own art of which my files are but a part. No credit to me needed).

So much more to come....
Gradually, the Take-Out Toolbox of goodies for photographers and designers will include other useful goods—many of them from things I've purchased in Paris flea markets over the years. If you buy any and create something with them, let me know and perhaps we can showcase it here. I'll do some projects of my own in future posts.