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Photoshop Elements Tutorial: Hipstamatic Digital Photos

Photoshop Elements Tutorial: Hipstamatic Digital Photos - Use Photoshop Elements to make your images look like they were taken on old plastic camera.

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Digital Cameras

Hipstamatic is an iphone app that makes the images you take with the iphone camera have the look and feel of the old plastic cameras from the past. If you're not an iphone owner and want to replicate the look with your digital images, here's a quick tutorial on how to do it in Photoshop Elements.



You need a square-shaped image for this tutorial so find an image that will look OK as a square and use the crop tool to cut it down to the right size.

Duplicate your layer

Once you've cropped your image duplicate it so you have the original layer to return to later if needs be.

Adjust levelsLevels

To create the high contrast, over saturated look hipstamatic images have we are going to adjust the levels of the image. To do this, click on the black & white circle at the bottom of the layers palette and select Levels. Start with Red, then work through blue and green, pulling the black and white sliders around until you create the feel the hipstamatic images have.


To give the colours more of a boost select Brightness/Contrast and pull the slider to the right to increase the contrast of the image.

Press Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E with the top layer selected to create a layer from the brightness/contrast, levels and duplicate layer. This means we can work on a layer that features all of the elements we've just created and still have the originals to return to.

Levels Adjust contrast


To give the image the slightly out of focus look these images have we are going to add a layer of blur to it. Duplicate the layer and go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Don't overdo the blur as you still need to be able to see what the image is of. Around 3-4 pixels should work fine. This will have blurred the whole shot but we only want to blur small parts of the image so take the erase tool, selecting a large brush size and remove the blur from the centre of the shot.

Gaussian Blur


The edges of the image need to be darker than the centre and creating a vignette is the easiest way to produce this effect. To do this:
  • Select the Elliptical Marquee Tool and draw an oval shape over your image.
  • Go to Select>Inverse to create a frame shape.
  • Next, go to Select>Feather to blur the edges of the transition.
  • Finally, select a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and drag the lightness slider slightly to left to create a dark vignette. As you only want the vignette to be subtle dragging the slider to around -14 should do the trick.


The image is looking a little better but it still looks a little clean. To give it the 'film' feel we need to add some noise. To do this, create a new layer, fill it with black and go to Filter>Noise>Add Noise. Make sure Monochromatic is ticked and increase the slider to around 50% then hit OK. Change the layer mode to Overlay and reduce the opacity to around 30%.

Add Noise

Burn the edges

If you find the vignette to be too perfect or want to darken the edges further use the Burn tool to further enhance these areas of the image. You use this tool as you do the Paintbrush tool, adjusting the size of the brush, it's strength and opacity as you go.

Don't be too heavy handed with this tool as the effect can look a little too strong. Try reducing the opacity of the brush and slowly paint over the same area if you want to intensify the effect.


We need to frame the image with a cream border and a small, thin black line that will sit on the inside of the frame. To create a frame go to Image>Resize>Canvas size and change cm to pixels. Input a value and hit OK. Remember you want this line to be thin so if you find it's too big/small just undo the changes and input a different value.

Next, create a new layer and drag it under all the other layers. Select the Paintbucket tool, select black, and with the new layer selected click on the image. Your photo will now have a coloured line framing the edge of it.

Repeat this process this time inputting a larger value and using a cream colour to create the outer frame.

Frame size

The frame looks a little neat so we are going to use the Paintbrush on the inner frame to make it less uniformed.

Make sure the black layer is selected and choose the Paintbrush tool. Then, from the toolbar that sits under the bar with all the menu options in, click on the box that has a brush stroke in it (see image). Click on the Brushes tab and select Dry Medium Brushes. Click on number 29 and return to your image. Start with a brush size of around 30pixels and increase from there if you find it to be too small.

Brush selection

Remove some of the edge with the brush toolWorking from inside the picture so the edge of the brush creeps into the cream part of the frame, brush along the frame so the background shows through, creating a ragged effect. Take your time while you do this, changing the brush size as and when you need to.

Final image:

'Vintage' style photo

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