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Photoshop tutorial: Give your images a vintage look

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Category: Adobe Photoshop

How to Create a Vintage Photo Look in Photoshop - Give your modern photos a vintage twist in a few easy steps.

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Image at the start of the tutorial to give your modern images a vintage look
This is how the image started out.

Step 1: Adjust the colours

We are going to alter the colours to give it a more vintage feel. To do this you need to create an adjustment layer that will let us change the curves. To do this click on the black & white circle at the bottom of the layers panel and select curves. Adjust the red then blue and green curves individually. How much you adjust each of the colours depends on what your main colours are in your original image and the overall look you're trying to create. The best way to decide what works and what doesn't is to simply play around with the curves, forming S shapes until you're happy with the look.

Adjust the curves Adjust the curves

Adjust the curves

Step 2: Colour more punch

If you feel your image needs an added burst of colour create a new layer (layer>new layer) and fill (Edit>Fill) it with your chosen colour. Then reduce the opacity of the layer to around 20% and change the mode to Soft Light.

Fill Layers

Step 3: Blur your image

Next we want to add a slight blur to the image but first we need to merge some of the layers we have created by selecting all of the layers apart from the original image in the layers panel and going to Layers>Merge Layers. Duplicate this newly merged layer (Layer>Duplicate Layer) and go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. You don't want to blur the image so it vanishes completely so a radius of around 8 pixels will do.

Add blur

The blur doesn't really work on the whole image so we are now going to take away a little of the blur, leaving it mainly on the edges of the image. To do this select the Erase Tool and simply brush over the areas you want to bring back in focus. Then merge this layer with the one you previously merged together.

Step 4: Burn your image

Next we want to burn the sides of the image slightly to create the impression that light burnt some parts of the film. To do this create a new layer and select your paint tool. Pick a red colour and adjust your brush to a medium sized, soft brush. Try lowering the opacity of the brush too so the strokes you apply aren't so harsh. Then dab around the edges of the image. Don't go overboard with it though. Change the blend mode to Liner Dodge to give the red a punch of white and lower the opacity slightly to around 90% to reduce the redness of the burn.

Add burn to your image

Step 5: Add noise

Create another new layer and fill it with black. Then go to Filter>Noise to add some grain to the image. Around 50% should be fine for the amount then click OK. So you can see the image change the blend mode to screen and reduce the opacity to around 40-50% to take some of the grain away.
Add noise

Step 6: Create a frame

We're now going to give our 'retro' photo a frame. Double click on the image layer and find the menu which says stroke. Change the colour to white, Position to inside and the size to around 49px then click OK.
Create a frame

To finish off try adding a vignette to draw the focus to the centre of the image then your photo's complete.

The image before and after the tutorial


To ensure the colour you capture is the colour you keep, use Datacolor - the Colour Management Experts.

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