Photoshop vintage effect

July 31, 2008

Photoshop vintage effect

2008 at 01.38 pm posted by Veerle

Back in October I took this photo, in front of our house. A cool scene, bright colors and a double rainbow. After seeing this picture on my Flickr page, I received an e-mail from Marco who asked me about the post process of this image. Now here is my answer…

Choose your image carefully

First of all I need to mention that some pictures are better suitable than others. It’s a good thing to experiment a lot and find out if the result is to your liking. Btw, not all settings I suggest are written in stone. Sometimes you discover the best effect by accident. How it looks good for you also boils down to personal preference. Let’s take this picture as an example and create this same effect.

Add contrast and saturation

Add contrast

Place the image in a separate layer. In the Layers palette click the adjustment layers menu icon and select “Brightness/Contrast“. Check the preview option so you see the direct result. Set the Contrast to +20. Hit OK. Click the adjustment layers menu icon again and select “Hue/Saturation“. Set the Saturation to +20. Hit OK.

Adjust curves

Adjust curves - Red Channel

Add another adjustement layer. This time choose “Curves…“. Select the Red channel and make sure the edit points icon is selected. Change the curve line a bit as show in the image above.

Adjust curves - Green Channel

Select Green from the Channel dropdown menu and adjust the curve as shown in the image above.

Adjust curves - Blue Channel

Now select Blue from the Channel dropdown menu and adjust the curve as shown in the image above.

Add Vignette effect

Convert for Smart Filters

Select the layer with your photo and go to the Filter menu and select “Convert for Smart Filters“. Doing this means you can apply filters to the photo while leaving your original in tact. First you’ll get a message that says the layer will be converted into a smart object. Click OK. With this approach you’ll be able to adjust the filters you’ve applied at any time. These Smart Filters work a bit like Adjustments layers but then with filter effects.

applying Lens Correction as a Smart Filter

Now go to the Filter menu and select Distort > Lens Correction. In the Vignette option set the amount to -100 and the midpoint to +50. Hit the OK button. You’ll see the Smart Filter appear below the layer. Double clicking this will open the Lens Correction filter options again where you can adjust anything you want. Double clicking the slider icon on the right will give you the option to adjust the layer mode and the transparency of the effect on the layer. Set the value to 70%. Now that’s pretty neat stuff if you ask me 🙂

Add some Colorisation


Your photo should look pretty dramatic right now with a lot of contrast. Now we’ll tone it all down again, but of course with a special effect to make it look like an old photo. In the Layers palette click the adjustment layers menu icon again and select “Hue/Saturation“. Check the Colorize option in the bottom right corner as well as Preview. Drag the sliders until you get a bit of a sepia duo tone effect on your photo just as shown in the picture above. Change the opacity of this adjustement layer to 50%.

The final touch

5% pink layer

You could say OK we’re done, but there is one little accent that our photo needs to give that real vintage touch. These photos always have some pinkish glow as if colors are faded from the sun. Therefor click the adjustment layers menu icon in the Layers palette again and select “Solid Color“. Select a very bright hot pink magenta color and click OK. Change the opacity of the layer to 5%. That’s it. Now you should have a vintage photo.

Before and after

before and after example

Here is another example:

before and after example

Make sure you experiment with the settings of these adjustement layers and filters. Like I said before the outcome differs a lot on the chosen image and also on the settings. My apologies to Marco that it took some time to bring this online. Hope you enjoyed this tutorial and learned a few things again 🙂

Create a Polaroid Effect of your Photo

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Polaroid in Photoshop

Photos are often much more interesting when they are displayed like a Polaroid photo. Learn how you can turn your normal photo into something livelier, by adding a realistic Polaroid effect to it.

Creating the Base

  1. Create a new blank canvas, say about 800×600 resolution, filled it with white [#ffffff] background.
  2. Draw a rectangular in the middle, using Rounded Rectangular Tool with Radius: 2px. This will be the base for your Polaroid photo.
  3. Double click on layer name to launch Blending Options, and insert these following effects:

    Drop Shadow

    • Opacity: 38%
    • Spread: 0%
    • Size: 5px

    Inner Shadow

    • Opacity:25%
    • Distance: 0px
    • Choke: 0%
    • Size: 57px

    Color Overlay

    • Color: White [#ffffff]
  4. Here’s how your output will look like.
    Polaroid in Photoshop

Determining Image Size within Polaroid

Let’s determine how big our image will be within a Polaroid.

  1. Hold CTRL and left click on the Polaroid Base’s Layer Thumbnail to highlight the selection.
  2. With the selection highlighted, click Select -> Modify -> Contract.
  3. Insert 7px and click OK, you will noticed that the selection is shrink by 7px.
  4. Select Retangular Marquee Tool, Hold ALT and drag a smaller rectangular on the bottom to minus it off the selection.
    Polaroid in Photoshop
  5. Create a new layer, call it ” Photo Base” and fill the highlighted part with any color, say black, #000000 for instance. Hide the layer, we will use it as reference later.
    Polaroid in Photoshop

Adding Image into Polaroid

  1. Just make sure you have the selection of layer Photo Base still highlighted, if not, hold CTRL and click on the layer to re-highlight it.
  2. Create a new layer on top of Photo Base, call it Photo.
    Polaroid in Photoshop
  3. Look for your desired image, copy it and SHIFT + CTRL V to paste it. You will noticed the image will paste itself into the highlighted selection.
  4. Transform (CTRL T) or reposition until you are satisfied with the focus point.

Making Polaroid Image more Realistic

The photo looks a bit stiff to me at this stage. Lets tweak it so it looks that it looks more blending into the Polaroid.

  1. Double click on the “Golf” layer to call up the Blending Options and tweak the following styles:

    Inner Shadow

    • Opacity: 40%
    • Distance: 0px
    • Choke: 0%
    • Size: 46px

    Polaroid in Photoshop

  2. Hold CTRL, left click on Photo Base layer’s thumbnail to highlight the selection, create a new layer on most top, call it “Glossy
    Polaroid in Photoshop
  3. Select Polygonal Lasso Tool, Hold ALT and draw a rectangular like the image below to cut off half of the highlighted selection.
    Polaroid in Photoshop
  4. Fill the left over selected area with white [#ffffff] and adjust its Opacity to 18% or any figures as long it looks comfortable on the photo. Your output will look something similar to the image below.
    Polaroid in Photoshop

Adding Text to Polaroid

The photo is almost done, add some writings. Fonts close to handwriting will be nice. Here’s my final output.

Polaroid in Photoshop