How To

A number of people have asked how I do this, so here’s the process:

step-1

I usually start with an image, rather than a stamp. This one is “Girl in Straw Hat” (Miss Mary McCandlish), a photogravure by James Craig Annan from an original paper calotype, ca. 1843-47, by David Hill and Robert Adamson. I found it via Google Images while looking for something else, which is usually the way.

step-2

I thought this border would work well. I have about 150 collected via Google Images. Just put in “vintage postage stamps” and Bob’s your uncle. You can also specify country, color, etc., to refine your search.

google-tool-bar

Also, on the top line, over to the right, you’ll see “Tools.” Click on that and then, over to the left, click on “Size” and specify “Large.” You want lots of pixels so the eventual image is sharp and clear. Then, on to Photoshop.

step-3

First, I wanted to see what to do about the sizing of the two images. Obviously, the stamp had to be taller and thinner.

step-4

So I went to Image, pulled down to Image Size, un-clicked “Constrain Proportions,” and made it taller and thinner. (There’s usually trial & error until you get it where you want it.)

step-5

Next, I went to Image, Adjustments, Hue/Saturation to adjust the color of the stamp to complement the image. In this case, I softened the border so it wouldn’t overwhelm the image inside.

step-6

As you can see above, the image overlapped the border; I have two ways of dealing with that. In this case, I did a “Save As” of the original stamp and cropped out the upper left and upper right corners, as above, saving each corner so I could place it onto the image later.

step-7

Next, I lined up the center image inside the stamp and, under Layer, pulled down to Flatten Image. Now it was all one piece.

step-8

Going back to the saved corners, I pasted them onto the image; that way, I didn’t have to recreate the scroll work from the stamp’s border. I flattened the image again, so I had just one layer to work with.

step-9

To fill in the bits of image covered by the border, and the bits of border covered by the image, I used the Cloning Tool. It’s a lot like using a watercolor brush, and fun once you get used to it.

step-10

Above, the stamp when I was finished with the Cloning Tool.

step-11

Next, I cropped the final image and under Image, Adjustments I fine-tuned the Brightness/Contrast. I also went to Image, Image Size, and checked the Resolution; 100 pixels per inch works fine when printing. Then, on to Word.

step-12This part is always the same: Choosing a Blank Document, I go to INSERT, Pictures, and place the stamp image on the page. I grab the corner and adjust it to the size I want the final stamp to be. Then I copy that image (so the stamps will be the same size) and paste it into a row; then I copy and paste the row until the page is full. And I leave room for the cuts. If the image prints out too dark or too light, I have to go back to the original Photoshop image and adjust it. Some days I’m luckier than others.

step-13

After I’ve printed the sheet out, I cut the rows into strips and then employ the amazing, wonderful FISKARS Paper Edger (“Stamp” pattern) to mimic the perforations of an actual postage stamp. (There are more authentic ways to do this, but I’m playing, not counterfeiting.)

step-14

Finally, I use a glue stick to paste the stamp onto a postcard or envelope (next to a real official postage stamp) making sure to get all the corners glued and smoothed down lest the stamp run afoul of a postage sorting machine. And that’s how I do it.