Photoshop Lessons – How To Make A Purple Heart Vietnam War Veteran Commemorative Poster

So I met a nice gentlemen when I was out scouting yesterday.  Didn’t quite catch his name, but we got to talking.  It was mostly him talking.  He was going on about war, purple hearts, Charlie this, and Charlie that.  I don’t know.  He keeps rambling, so I told him, “Hey buddy, while you’re flapping your gums a million miles a minute, lean up against the parking meter for me, would ya?  I’m gonna take a nice photo of you for my Photoshop tutorial if that’s cool with you.”

The gentlemen told me that he seen the fork-tongued Devil in his living room back when he lived in Kansas, then he says “Yeah, that’s cool.  What’s this for anyway?”  I had him relax his shoulders a little bit.  Told him to give me a big smile.  Snapped the shot, and says, “Well, you like to talk about purple hearts so much, so I’m sure I’ll think of something.”

Purple Heart 1

Since Memorial Day is coming up, I thought for today’s Photoshop lesson it would be a good opportunity to teach you how to turn a purple heart Vietnam War veteran into commemorative poster.  I’d like to dedicate this one to all of those that risk their lives in war and get shot in the leg like my good war friend here – and I wish I caught his name but he was talking so damn much – so we’ll just call him Bruce for the sake of this demonstration.

Let’s go to war, shall we?  We most certainly shall Photoshoppers.

Step 1:  Watch Tons of War Movies 

Part of being a good Photoshopper is knowing how to get in the zone.  Sometimes it’s music, sometimes it’s a fifth of whiskey, and sometimes it’s a combination of both.  This particular lesson, we will be getting ourselves into the war zone so to speak.

Since I don’t have money to go rent movies or pay for cable, I went over to my Mom’s house to see what I could dig up.  She had a bunch of romantic comedies and at least a dozen Billy Blanks Tae Bo instructional videos for some ungodly reason.  Billy Blanks would do in a pinch, but then I dug around some more and found a copy of the movie Forrest Gump.  Perfect.  If you don’t have a copy of Forrest Gump, feel free to watch some other classic war movies, like Hot Shots! Part Deux starring another Charlie –  Charlie Sheen.

Step 2:  Photo Correcting; Bringing Bruce’s Eyes To The Forefront

Original Photo

Above is the original, untouched photo of Bruce, our ponytailed war veteran, who was kind enough to volunteer not only his services for America, but also for this Photoshop tutorial.

As you can see, the pipe smoking bulldog Marine Corps ballcap has left a dark shadow, and it’s difficult to make out Bruce’s nice eyes.  I will teach you how to do a photo retouch so that we can make those eyes sparkle like sliver bullets.  Here is the before image of the isolated layer that I will be starting with.

Isolated Layer Of Bruce

So I was just thinking of this.  Do you guys remember in the movie where Forrest Gump is sitting on the bench talking to some guy, and he says something like, “Oh, yes sir. The bullet bit me right in the buttocks. They said it was a million dollar wound, but the Army must keep that money, cause I still haven’t seen a nickel of that million dollars.”  I was just thinking of that line, and man I wish someone would shoot me in the ass and give me a million dollars.  It would get me out of doing these Photoshop tutorials, but I’m broke as a joke, so let’s keep on keepin’ on.

Go to the Layer tab.  Select New Layer Adjustment from the drop down menu.  There’s a bunch of options from the drop down menu that I have no idea what they’re for, so don’t even bother asking.   I played around with the Levels, Exposure, and the Brightness/Contrast.  Go ahead and play around with the levels of those layers until Bruce’s eyes begin to brighten up a little.

Step 3:  Let’s Get Dodgey

The Dodge Tool can be found on the left hand side of your tools menu.  The icon looks like a lollipop. I have no idea why why it looks like a lollipop, so don’t bother asking me that one either.  There’s no time for questions.  Actually, there probably is time, because Forrest Gump is the longest movie in the history of movies.  I took a two hour nap, and he was still sitting on the same bench talking some poor lady’s ears off.

Select the Dodge Tool, set the exposure level to about a 4 or a 6, and start painting around Bruce’s eyes to lighten them up.  Don’t go too nuts painting around with the lollipop.  It should be a very subtle change, but you’ll notice a big difference when I add the final background in the last step.  Here’s a side by side comparison of the two photos just so you have an idea for now.

Dodgy Bruce

Step 4:  The War Is Over

Screw this.  I don’t have the patience anymore.  I don’t think I ever had it in the first place,  so I’m skipping steps 5 through 112.

It’s hard to do these things sober, but when I was eating hotdogs for lunch with Bruce yesterday, he says that the Devil told him during that night back in Kansas that he needs to get his life together, and stop shoving powder up his nose.  Then as the Devil was talking to him, Bruce snorted a few more lines of coke off the coffee table.  He dusted off the remaining powder, looked up, and he seen that it wasn’t the fork-tongued Devil afterall.  It was Jesus H. Christ sitting beside him on his sofa couch having a nice living room chit chat with Bruce.  That was the last time he did cocaine, so if Bruce can pull it together, so can I.

I decided I’m only gonna drink on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from here on out.  Something profound happened to me when I used the Dodge Tool to bring Bruce’s eyes to the forefront.  It was like the legally blind, right eye of the purple hearted Bruce peered out from underneath the bulldog ballcap, and spoke directly to me.  The eye whispered, “You foolish dimwit.  I’m concerned that maybe you’re drinking too much.  I’ve been there before, man.  Not with booze, but with narcotics and mountainous piles of blow.  Time to end the war and wrap this sonofabitch up, soldier.  It’s time you end the war with yourself as well.”

Welp, sounds good to me.  So here’s your commemorative poster of the purple heart Vietnam war veteran.  I added a background with fighter choppers and dramatic clouds cause I thought it looked pretty cool.  I kept Bruce’s parking meter so he could have something to lean on since his leg was all shot up, and gave him a badass purple heart tattoo.  I played around with the brightness and contrast layers some more, watched about 6 more hours of Forrest Gump, and here you go.

Purple Heart Commemorative Poster

Congratulations on making your purple heart Vietnam War commemorative poster.  Join me next time as I teach you how to Photoshop Jesus H. Christ sitting on the bench next to Forrest Gump and telling him to shut his piehole with all the lying, life if like a box of chocolates, overly exaggerated, drawn out stories.  Honest to God, that movie is at least 4 hours long.  Billy Blanks needs to give Forrest Gump a few Tae Bo’s to the back of the head or something, and tell him to speed it up a little.

Well anyway, a special thanks to all those that have volunteered their services and to those that gave up their lives to make this world a better place.  You are gone but not forgotten.  See you dimwits the next time.

32 thoughts on “Photoshop Lessons – How To Make A Purple Heart Vietnam War Veteran Commemorative Poster

  1. For the record, I hated the movie Forrest Gump. It took me years before I could dredge up the motivation to watch it, already intuiting that it was going to be a sleeper. I wasn’t wrong. Liked your post, though.

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  2. I don’t know how you movie wizards are going to write in a Plains Dwelling – Forked Tongued Devil into All the Right Moves but I promise to wait in the midnight line so I can be first to see it. (Would this be the Cruise part? If so, would he just reprise the role?) And, I’ll continue the standing ovation until I see you in the end credits!

  3. Here’s to Bruce. Hope you didn’t tell him his eyes were dodgy. Also, don’t forget Thursday officially begins on Wednesday, and if you don’t do any work on Monday, Tuesday’s actually Monday.

  4. Love the purple heart and the glittery eye! Wish you would have added a bit of sparkle to the fingernails, though. You sure do meet the characters, Dimmy! Da Burgh is always a happening place!

    • PS I’ll amen the thanks you’ve given to all who have served in the military so that we might have our freedom. You gave this man dignity and honor and the purple heart that he so much deserves. And, his sparkly eyes — they tell a story, and you knew just how to bring that out. You might call yourself a Dimwit, but you’re the most brilliant (and kind) Dimwit I know!

  5. You are seriously talented. I began reading this post with a bit of not really knowing if I would be pissed-off, or, WHAT. (I was a military brat.)
    You caught me, hook, line and sinker. This truly says what so many people NEED to hear. Our Vietnam Vets were heroes, unfortunately it took DECADES for many to realize this.
    Keep writing. I’ll be reading.
    Oh, and “Thank-you.” I hope this gentleman can one day read this post. Maybe you should go back to the area of the meter and show it to him?

    • Oh man. i’m so drunk and tired, but I have to reply to this first before I get to the others tomorrow. Honestly, I used to think that I’m not a big “war guy.” I never saw the point. But what did it for me was an episode i watched called “Why We Fight” from the Band of Brothers TV series. It’s where they discover a concentration camp. All these poor, starved Jewish people that look like skeletons. And for the first time in my life, I understood why sometimes you have to fight.

      I don’t like guns and violence, but shit, sometimes it’s necessary. And to see what these poor folks went through during Vietnam, the images they saw, and the memories they could never erase. Well, I believe now that there is a time to fight. I would kick some fucking ass if I had to, pardon my French. War is always ugly, but sometimes it’s necessary. And when I met this dude, I had mad respect for him. What he went through mentally and physically. So that’s why I wanted to pay some sort of tribute for Memorial Day. Cheers to you.

      • This is a remarkable commentary. I hope you submit it, editorially, to local and national resources. You have a way of ‘slamming’ a reality right smack dab between the eyes of those that have been blinded by their own ignorance’s. Words are power. Go into the street’s and shout. Best wishes, luck, and continued success.

      • Can I share your post about this gentleman? I am usually blogging about food, but for the month of May I have been working a writing challenge offered by, Jenni, ( The assignment for tomorrow is for us to choose something/someone we read about on line.
        I promise I’ll do you proud, and if I fail, I promise you can write all the chit you want about me, true or false.
        P.S. I am not some big, important big-wig (except in my head). I wish I was. This post is one of the best summations I’ve read in a long, long time. If I had fairy dust and a magical wand I would make it a required assignment.

  6. You’ve inspired me to get a tattoo. And sparkly eyes. Although my vote for longest AND worst movie ever was, is and shall remain Giant. If I was a vet I might have had a gun and I might have shot the tv so it’s just as well they didn’t let me sign up at that air show in 1985 fresh outta the beer garden.

    • If its been over 7 years it must come off and you have the write to dispute any entry you feel is irecrnoct. Before you start disputing, its best to get an understanding about the system first and do’t move too fast or you can hurt yourself.

  7. Great post…great lesson… though, seriously, I’m looking forward to the Jesus/Forrest Gump shot… I really hated that movie, and the box of chocolates thing… I just wanted to shove the whole box down his throat.

  8. Your my hero doing that for Bruce, I wish someone did that to me after I retired from the Spanish Army with two deployments, but fuck it.(by the way I do follow some tutorial lessons, you need to start making people pay for knowledge). Keep on keeping on drinking. I´m a 30 year old with an ulcer as big as tennis ball and can´t say my liver is 100% good, so I´m fucked cause I can´t donate my organs and be the good samaritan I am. I did a little photoshop to my dogs..can´t say you can change much on those ugly beasts, they´re still ugly even with a purlple ribbon on their head. Stay Frosty.

  9. Hey dimwit, I know you said you didn’t care why the dodge tool is shaped like a lolli, but I read through the lines and know its truly killing you.
    I too am worried about your health and don’t want you to die of curiosity; so, Im’a tell ya.
    Taking photo 101 at the university,back in day when film was still used, we used a real live flesh and blood dodge tool. (Okay there wasn’t really flesh or blood.) It was amazingly shaped like a lolli. Round disk at the end of a stick, before computers we had to walk uphill in the snow both ways to the photo room and work in rooms of red, much like you find in the 50 shades books.
    Not for nothing, there was also a big card board with a hole in it that you used to over expose sections. It’s the only way you could correct lighting issues on poorly executed photos. You see there was this light up above and a sheet of photo paper below. You had to expose the paper to the light shinning through the negative. The dodge tool, appropriately named blocked some of that light getting though, lightening a section. I don’t have time to go into the rest of it at present.
    Now you know, please don’t die dimwit. I can send you some moonshine that will perk you right up. We kansans are like you know.

  10. Pingback: Photoshop Lessons – How To Make A Purple Heart Vietnam War Veteran Commemorative Poster | CoffeeGrounded's Blog

  11. Pingback: Discovering a dimwit | CoffeeGrounded's Blog

  12. Nice one arch-dimwit! I wonder if you learnt photoshop just to come up with the opportunity to write such fun posts, and attract photographers to read. Still, I have to tell you that even though I am no war veteran, it strikes me as very odd to see a purply heart veteran with choppers over his head holding a parking meter. Maybe he served in the traffic police at Pnom Penh, and he got his for serving the most traffic tickets, but I still think that a 50 browning machine gun would look more fitting.

  13. I’ve been seeing your posts on other blogs but finally have cruised over and read a bit of your blog. I’m enjoying it greatly! And the Photoshop tips are totally awesome. As a professional photographer, I know I will easily double my income with your tips by increasing the speed in which I complete my projects. You are the best!

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