It’s almost a rite of passage to at one point have aged paper in one of your short films. Can you even say you’ve made a short film without having the need for a mysterious parchment or an ancient map? I think not (citation needed). In the video below you can learn the quick, cheap & easy method to creating aged paper that looks great on camera. You can skip the video and follow the written text version underneath. However, on this occasion I would recommend to follow the video.
There seems to be a common notion that old paper is always burnt. Perhaps this comes from our days in high-school history class, where we burned paper in order to make it seem old. Yet, if you actually study paper from the ages before us, very little of it is actually burned (unless the paper was in an incident involvining fire). Still, I see this notion being carried across into DIY short films.
To create authentic aged paper, you will need the following.
- Wedding parchment paper.
- Instant coffee.
- Kitchen roll (paper towels).
- A teaspoon.
- Paper distresser.
- A glass of water.
Wedding parchment paper is more of an oatmeal white than your typical white A4 sheet of paper. This is great as it gives us a great foundation to making our paper look old.
First, take two large teaspoons of instant coffee and place it in the centre of the kitchen roll.
Scrunch up the kitchen roll nice and tight, and completely submerge It into the glass of water until the coffee is soaked.
With the coffee now slightly forming into a liquid, start to brush the coffee onto the parchment paper.
It’s important to completely drench the paper in the coffee and to also make sure it is evenly spread. Although, if you are making a bundle of aged paper then having some coffee build up in one area might look good for variation.
After both sides are completely soaked in coffee, use the hair dryer to make the paper crispy dry.
Now we’re going to use the paper distresser to distress the edges of the paper.
The distresser has razors in the ridges that tear and roughen paper. This is great as it really gives an authentic look for aging a document. Without the hairdryer the paper won’t dry as hard, and you will find it difficult to roughen the edges.
Once that is complete you need to slightly fold the edges of the paper to make it appear warped.
In the reference shot below from Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring, you can see that the parchments and scrolls are quite warped, possibly from age or because of how the paper was made back then. Either way, turned up edges adds great value to the look of the paper.
There we have it, the paper truly looks like an aged document. Depending on which era the paper has come from, you can roughen the edges even more.
With some colour grading, you can further enhance the colours of the parchment and make it look like a relic from another time
You can find more tutorials like this on the YouTube channel UglyMcGregor