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With all due respect to the Who, we will get fooled again. That’s what humans do. At one time or another, we suspend disbelief about virtually everything. And why not? As social creatures, we’re wired to trust others.

But what about when we know, with absolute certainty, that someone’s trying to put one over on us and rather than resisting, we embrace it? What does it say about the power of denial, not to mention our thirst for entertainment, when we actively seek out and celebrate artfully executed trickery?

A new show at the Met, Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop, shines a thoughtful light on the work of men and women who, throughout the history of the medium, have playfully (and, occasionally, with more sinister motives) doctored their own and others’ images. Not content with merely presenting the works themselves, though, Faking It also holds up something of a funhouse mirror to the viewer’s preconceptions of what photography really is—and what it means.

After all, if photographers, printers and others involved in the craft have for centuries been altering the “reality” of what the camera captures—as, of course, they always have, and always will—then where is the hard, bright line between, say, a masterwork of photojournalism tweaked and perfected in the dark room and a photo adroitly doctored to make a political point? Professional photo editors might be able to say, with absolute sincerity, “That hard, bright line exists here.” But for the casual observer, the lay viewer, that distinction might feel like little more than an academic splitting of hairs; what matters is that a picture elicits a response—and with few exceptions, the images in Faking It do just that.

More than a few pictures in the show are memorable for the very reason that they are so obviously, to our contemporary eyes, manufactured. A French artist’s photo made to look like that of a man juggling his own head (slide 8 in the gallery above) might have stunned people in the 1880s; today, not so much—even if we can appreciate the deliberate effort and even the intent that went into creating it. An image of two Soviet premiers seated together, meanwhile, is so clearly an (altered) attempt to consecrate the mass-murdering Stalin as the rightful successor of Lenin that the picture would be comical if we didn’t have such a dreadful understanding of how brutal Stalin’s decades-long reign really was.

Other photos strike a chord for the simple reason that they are, by any measure, beautiful. The dream-like “Orpheus Scene” (1907) by the early fine-art photographer F. Holland Day is so wonderfully moody that, at first glance, it might be the handiwork of the great French Symbolist painter Odilon Redon.

In the end, perhaps the pleasure we take in these pictures derives not from our sophisticated, skeptical, eminently modern sensibility in the age of Instagram, Pixelmator and the rest, but instead can be traced to a simpler, far more elemental source: our capacity, and our longing, for wonder.

Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City from Oct. 11, 2012 through Jan. 27, 2013.

Ben Cosgrove is the editor of LIFE.com.

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Henry first flew last summer.

Exhausted and bored on an assignment, photographer Rachel Hulin, Henry’s mother, thought it would be fun to make her baby fly. So Henry flew.

“The photo was sort of magical in an unexpected way and I wanted to make more,” Hulin said. She posted the photograph on Facebook and soon there was a flurry of comments. “Some people like the cute ones, some people like the spooky ones,” she said. “It’s an interesting litmus test.”

Hovering above a bed in a hotel, through a barn and into a shower, the flying baby photographs transcend cute and slip into the surreal. “I felt like the pictures could show the world that babies inhabit that is all their own,” Hulin said.

While she wouldn’t divulge the exact details of how Henry flies, Hulin did admit that it was more subtraction than addition. “I wanted the flights to feel genuine,” she said. “These are places we are really in everyday, it’s not a cut-and-paste job on random interiors and landscapes.”

Speaking to some of the unusual body positions of her flying offspring, Hulin said, “I never throw him, and I never move him into a place in the frame that he wasn’t in to begin with. I like Henry to fly the way he feels like it, I never pose him in a specific way. Sometimes he’s graceful and sometimes he’s a little hunchback. I think telling you more would ruin it.”

She plans on continuing the series with hopes of showcasing the images in a book or exhibition some day. “I do feel compelled to keep making them,” Hulin says. “It’s funny, I already feel nostalgic seeing how little he was in his first flights.”

Rachel Hulin is a photographer based in Providence, Rhode Island. You can see more of her work here.

Patrick Witty is the international picture editor at TIME. Follow him on twitter @patrickwitty.

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Some people create images to make a statement. Others, like Matt Wisniewski, do it because it looks pretty. “It’s mostly just aesthetic,” explains the 21-year-old computer science student of his spectral photo collages. “Whatever looks nice, really.”

Art for art’s sake is no new conceit. But Wisniewski has created a particularly successful iteration by overlaying portraits with organic patterns—from flowers to jagged peaks to a Rorschach blot. He came to the combination through experimentation. “It just sort of clicked,” he says. “Natural elements tend to be a little simpler and fit together a bit more obviously with the portraits than urban elements.”

The process begins with images from Tumblr and other online portfolios. A few experimental overlays later, Wisniewski lights on something that catches his eye. “I decide that I want to go further on it and then clean that up.”

For his image of a bearded man in a diaphanous red coat, Wisniewski found an overlay photo that “fit well and had a similar shape to his body.” Although many of his portraits eschew color, the red hue of the overlay image appealed to him. “I just thought it looked interesting.”

Matt Wisniewski

Untitled from "Cold Embrace," 2011

Whether he works on the face or body is also guided by aesthetic fancy. “Usually if I do something with their body it’s because it’s simple enough that I can just work over it,” he says. “Sometimes I see that covering up their face looks a little nicer than not.”

Wisniewski, who studies at New York’s Rochester Institute of Technology, prefers Photoshop to a paintbrush. Yet despite his technical knowledge—he works as a web-developer in his spare time—he’s self-effacing about his tools. “[Photoshop] is a lot more forgiving,” than traditional media, he says. “I can easily fix mistakes or experiment with an idea and complete erase those changes if I feel they don’t fit.”

That isn’t to say he hasn’t tried drawing, painting and photography. Growing up in Philadelphia, Wisniewski applied his tinkering instincts to whatever was at hand. “I’ve created things for as long as I can remember, really. The collage is just sort of something that happened as a result of that.”

On the cusp of graduating and moving to Brooklyn, Wisniewski hopes to maintain his autotelic creed. “I honestly don’t think of anything I do as a hobby or not,” he says, emphasizing that he wants to keep up his web design alongside making collages. “I’m obviously going to continue doing this as long as I enjoy it. Hopefully that will be a long time.”

Matt Wisniewski is a student at New York’s Rochester Institute of Technology. More of his work can be seen here.

Sonia van Gilder Cooke is a reporter in TIME’s London Bureau. Follow her on Twitter at @svangildercooke.

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by Daved Brosche

Having a good collection of Photoshop brushes is essential for any designer. There is certainly no shortage of Photoshop brushes on the Web these days. The problem with Photoshop brushes isn’t in finding brushes, but in finding quality brushes. Below you’ll find a collection of quality brushes that every designer should find handy.

These 50 Photoshop brush sets are ones I find myself using over and over in a variety of projects. This collection is the result of years’ worth of downloads, trials and experiments. I hope this list helps you find some new Photoshop brushes that improve your collection.

Paint Splatters

Paint splatters are an essential set of Photoshop brushes to have. Lord knows there are plenty of them out there, but they are not all created equal. I have a good number of splatter brushes in my arsenal, but these are the ones I find myself calling upon the most for a variety of effects.

Splashes of Paint

Sample

Splatters

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Splatter

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Photoshop Brushes Set 1

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Photoshop Brushes Set 2

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Photoshop Brushes Set 3

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Lucidity Brushes

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Gradiant Splats

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Go Media Brushes

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Massive Splatter Pack

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Brush Strokes

These types of Photoshop brushes are great to have on hand because they can achieve a variety of effects. They can do anything from helping you finish off an edge to grunging of a photo, and endless amount of other tasks. Brush stroke brushes are a commodity in Photoshop. These are some of my favorites.

Simple Smudges

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20 Painted Brushes

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Watercolor Brushes I

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Watercolor Brushes II

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Messy Spraypaint

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Grungy Watercolor Brushes

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Hi-Res Water Color Brushes 2

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Hi-Res Watercolor Brushes

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Fingertips

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Blood

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Textures

While actual texture photos come in handy for adding textures to your work, sometimes a Photoshop brush comes in more handy. For those times, you may want to look into some of the texture brushes I have picked out below. They are great for adding a touch of texture to your latest grunge design.

Concrete Series Vol 3

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Fabric Textures Hi-Res

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Texture Brushes Set 2

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Paint Peel Pack

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Wood Photoshop Brushes

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52 Texture Brushes

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Grunge Brushes

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Hi-Res Dirt Brush Set

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Grunge Brushes Moved

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50 Texture Brushes

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Borders and Edges

While not as multi-purpose as the stroke brushes, these edges and border are nonetheless valuable. I probably have more border and edge brushes in my collection than any other type of Photoshop brush. A good border or edge brush pack can make all the difference in your design. Many of these brushes come in super-large sizes to give you quality results.

Chalk Edges

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Paper Edges

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Torn Edges

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Torn Edges 2

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Sachet Edges

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Torn Paper Brushes

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Dirty Grunge Brush Set 1

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Grunge Corners Brush Pack

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Grunge Grit Borders

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More Borders

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Hand-Drawn Elements

Ok, so these are only really essential if you are trying to create that hand-drawn effect in your design. That said, these are some essential Photoshop brushes that will help you create a design with a hand-drawn look. Most, if not all, of these Photoshop brushes were made from real drawings. You can’t get much more “hand-drawn” than that.

Hand-Drawn Ornaments

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Handwriting Brushes

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Flower Brushes Drawn

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Hand-Drawn Floral Pattern

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Handmade Doodles

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Big Swirly Ornaments

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Old Markers

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Sketchy Circles

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Crayon Stars

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Handmade Doodles

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Smashing Magazine’s Photoshop Brushes

Splatter and Watercolour Brushes For Photoshop

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67 Health and Beauty Brushes

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Grunge Photoshop Brushes Set

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(al)

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By Jacob Gube

Grunge is a popular trend that gives designs a more organic and realistic look. It also provides a stark contrast to the simplistic, polished and rigid Web 2.0 trend, opting instead for a less uniform and more elaborate form of design.

We’ve discussed grunge style in modern Web design before, as well as tips and tricks to achieve the grunge look. Now, it’s time to put theory into practice by finding ways to infuse grunge themes into your artwork using Photoshop. In this collection, we present to you 40 excellent, high-quality grunge Photoshop tutorials. So fire up Photoshop and get ready to get your hands… dirty!

Beautiful Grunge Photoshop Tutorials

Antique Ace of Spades
This tutorial shows you how to create an old, stained playing card by using Blending modes.

Antique Ace of Spades

Creating an Old-Collage-Effect Poster
Create a textured, old-school collage poster by following this excellent Photoshop tutorial.

Creating an Old-Collage Effect Poster

Quick Grungy Poster
Learn how to create a grungy poster by using smart filters and a few image adjustments.

Quick Grungy Poster

Creating a Stunning Old-World Look in Photoshop
In this Photoshop tutorial, you’ll learn how to create an old-world look using stock vectors imported into Photoshop.

Creating a Stunning Old-World Look in Photoshop

Design a Unique Grungy Website Layout Tutorial
This tutorial will teach you how to design a cool grungy website layout. As well as walking you through the various Photoshop techniques it outlines general design principles and provides pointers for your own grunge designs.

Photoshop Tutorial

Dark Grunge Photo Effect
In this Photoshop tutorial, you’ll see how to “grunge up” a photo using a variety of filters and photo adjustments.

Dark Grunge Photo Effect

Creating Grunge Brushes
In this step-by-step tutorial, you’ll learn how to create your own custom Photoshop brush that you can use to add grunge accents to your images.

Creating Grunge Brushes

Crazy Movie Poster
Recreate the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie poster using your own images in this tutorial.

Crazy Movie Poster

Creating “Smokey Dancer”
This tutorial involves isolating the subject using the Lasso tool, some image adjustments and texturing effects.

Creating 'Smokey Dancer'

Design a Grungy Floating Island
This tutorial by PSDFAN creates a grungy floating island by using a few Blending modes.

Design a Grungy Floating Island

Distressed Effects in Photoshop
Explore different techniques in Photoshop that give your artwork some wear and tear.

Distressed Effects in Photoshop

Grunge Vector Layout
Combine grunge with another popular design trend (vector illustration) to create this stunning layout.

Grunge Vector Layout

Photoshop Expertise
This tutorial shares a method for giving your artwork some texture and depth.

Photoshop Expertise

Filter-Free Art in Photoshop
Create a beautiful, grungy photo montage using only the Layer palette in Photoshop.

Filter-Free Art in Photoshop

Photo Transfer Edge Effect
Apply a distressed border onto existing images by following this brilliant Photoshop tutorial.

Photo Transfer Edge Effect

Creating an Urban-Style Piece of Artwork
Create this organic and edgy artwork by using some stock photos and some crafty filters.

Creating an Urban-Style Piece of Artwork

Artistic One-Eyed TV Man in a Grunge Vector Design
In this Photoshop tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a grunge-style wallpaper using stock textures and a couple of custom shapes to add some accents to the artwork.

Artistic One Eye TV Man in a Grunge Vector Design

Urban City Scene on Grunge Background
Create an urban city scene set on a grungy, distressed background.

Urban City Scene on Grunge Background

Design an Old-Style Safari Map
This tutorial uses some basic Photoshop techniques to create a textured, old-style safari map.

Design an Old-Style Safari Map

Dramatic Gritty Effect
Add some grit to an image by following this excellent grunge Photoshop tutorial.

Dramatic Gritty Effect

Create an Impressive Mock-up of a Grunge Box
Learn how to build a realistic worn-and-torn crate using the Vantage Point Photoshop filter as well as a few other Photoshop techniques.

Create an Impressive Mock-up of a Grunge Box

Creating Old Paper with Custom Brushes
Learn how to create a custom brush using folded paper to give your artwork distressed accents.

Creating Old Paper with Custom Brushes

Add Stock Textures to Images
Learn how to add a bit of grunge to your artwork by using stock textures.

Add Stock Textures to Images

Burnt Parchment in Photoshop
Give your borders a scorched, uneven look by following this Photoshop tutorial.

Burnt Parchment in Photoshop

Easy Photo Grunge Effect
Give photos a simple grunge effect by adjusting Layer styles and using some filters.

Easy Photo Grunge Effect

Grunge Portrait
This Photoshop tutorial uses some basic Photoshop techniques to create a grungy portrait.

Grunge Portrait

Daguerre Effect
Learn how to achieve the Daguerreotype look using this Photoshop tutorial.

Daguerre Effect

Designing a Typographic Concept Poster
In this Photoshop tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a grungy, aged poster design.

Designing a Typographic Concept Poster

Pencil It In
This tutorial shows you how to create a hand-drawn look that uses scanned images.

Pencil It In

Grunge-style layer tutorial
This tutorial uses Layer styles to achieve a gritty grunge look.

Grunge style layer tutorial

Grunge and Textured Art Tutorial
Use this Photoshop tutorial to add a grunge effect to your photographs.

Grunge & Textured Art Tutorial

Create an Awesome Illustration Using Custom Brushes
In this tutorial, you’ll find out how to use custom brushes to create a textured black and white illustration.

Create an Awesome Illustration Using Custom Brushes

Hero Header Part II
Learn how to create a grunge element using Photoshop filters and a stock image.

Hero Header Part II

Create a Fantastic Decaying Metal Sign
Using a variety of filters (five of them to be exact), you can create a rusting metal sign.

Create a Fantastic Decaying Metal Sign

Create a Cool Music Logo on a Grunge Background
Add a bit of grunge to your brand by using a variety of Photoshop techniques and using a free high-resolution brush set.

Create a Cool Music Logo on a Grunge Background

Design a Cartoon Grunge Website Layout
Mix cartoons with the grunge design trend to create a unique website layout.

Design a Cartoon Grunge Website Layout

The Dark Knight Grunge Wallpaper
This step-by-step Photoshop tutorial walks you through the creation of a Dark Knight-inspired wallpaper.

The Dark Knight Grunge Wallpaper

Building Textures from Scanned Art
This tutorial uses stock photos and a watercolor-washed scanned image to achieve an abstract, paint-splattered design.

Building Textures from Scanned Art

Making a Grungy Business Card
Make your business card stand out by giving it some texture with the help of this Photoshop tutorial.

Making a Grungy Business Card

Ultimate Grunge Design Tutorial
This tutorial walks you through the creation of a grunge website layout that has rough edges and a distressed background texture.

Ultimate Grunge Design Tutorial

How to Create a Grunge Web Design in Photoshop
Witness the steps involved in creating a beautiful grunge-themed website design in this brilliant Photoshop tutorial by PSDTUTS.

How to Create a Grunge Web Design in Photoshop

Want to find more Photoshop tutorials?

This is the fourth part of the “Beautiful Photoshop Tutorials” series by Jacob Gube. If you enjoyed this article, you may also want to consider:

  1. Part 1: 30 Beautiful Photoshop Text Effect Tutorials (on Six Revisions)
  2. Part 2: 30 Beautiful Photoshop Illustration Tutorials (on Six Revisions)
  3. Part 3: 35 Beautiful Vintage and Retro Photoshop Tutorials

About the Author

Jacob Gube is a Web developer/designer and author of Six Revisions, a blog on Web development and design. If you want to connect with the author, you can follow him on Twitter. (al)

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