Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Easy Fake Night Vision How-To

If you're looking to create a night-visionesque image for promotional purposes, or just to make your latest paintball snapshots sexier, I've come up with a short tutorial on how to do just that in Photoshop. I'm not a professional photoshopper (or a talented amateur) and I'm sure many aficionados will find my solution inelegant and not perfect, but its quick, dirty, and looks good.

You'll need a picture that isn't too bright or dark, with a fairly well balanced histogram, so the night vision effect isn't washed out or too dark. Here I'll be starting with a photo of a white-tailed doe taken in the Ottawa Greenbelt.

Step 1: Enhance > Adjust Color > Remove Color (there are other ways to indirectly remove the colour from the image, but this is the easiest and won't cause you any headaches later).

Step 2: Enhance > Adjust Color > Color Variations: Select midtones under the area of image to adjust, use about 75% (three-quarters of a slider) intensity and "Increase Green"

Step 3: Stay in Colour variations, with all the same settings, and select "Darken"

Step 4: Filter > Noise > Add Noise: Use about 15-20% (more if you want to replicate a more low-res night vision device or less/none if you want a pristine image) and select a Gaussian distribution.

Using the Gradient Tool, use a radial (important) reversed Color Burn with a roughly 35% opacity, and drag a line from the center of the image to one of the corners.

And there you go, super simple fake night vision. I'd love to see any images someone makes using this method! If you do so, you certainly don't have to, but it would be nice if you linked to this article.

Here's another example of something I quickly edited using the above method (some promotional material from A-TACS):

(As you can see, the colour balance isn't ideal for the editing process above, and maybe you could play with the brightness/contrast sliders a bit for a pic like this before editing)

Stay tuned for more night vision stuff from Mike and myself, including a comparison of night vision devices.

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