Carrie here, hoping that you’ve gotten your taxes filed and that you’re enjoying this fine spring day. It’s 85 degrees in Miami, but about 60 degrees colder and snowing in Denver. The snow outside my window has driven me indoors, where I’ve been fiddling with Photoshop trying to figure out how to make my own photo filters, a la Instagram or even those old Polaroid cameras. This brings us to today’s tutorial – how to make a modern digital photo look like it was taken with an old school camera using color fill layers in Photoshop.
I started with this photo of my son. It’s a nice photo on it’s own, with a good range of colors, lots of neutral or white space, and a definite point that draws the eye – his red hat. But I want to turn this photo into something a little more trendy…..something vintage.
Step 1: open your image in Photoshop, and make a duplicate. Double click on the duplicate photo in the Layers palette to open the Blending Options menu. Change the Blend Mode to Soft Light.
Next we’ll start adding color filter layers to this image. So, for step 2, go to Layers (in the menu bar at the top of the screen), then select New Fill Layer, and then Solid Color. Give it a name (I called mine Dark Blue). In the Fill Layer drop down menu, scroll down and choose Exclusion. Click Enter (or Okay), and the color picker window should pop up. Choose a dark blue shade. In this example I’ve used #070142. Click Okay to apply the layer.
We also want to make those middle shades pop, so open the Layers menu again. Choose New Adjustment Layer, and then Levels. Name your layer, and click on Okay. The Adjustments tab should open in the palette on the right side of your screen. Right near the top of this tab it says Layers, and there’s a drop down menu. Click on the drop down menu and select Midtones Darker to bring up the mid-tones in your image.
Third we’ll add another color fill layer, this time light orange. Go to Layers>New Fill Layer>Solid Color. Give it a name (I called mine Orange), set the Mode to Soft Light, and the opacity to 75%. Click on Okay, and when the color picker pops up pick a light orange shade (I used #de9b82) and click Okay. Don’t get distressed that the colors seem a little overwhelming at this point. We’ll tone it down before we finish.
Step 4 is another color fill layer, but in pale pink. Go to Layers>New Fill Layer>Solid Color. Give it a name (I called mine Pink), set the Mode to Soft Light and the opacity to to 50%. Click on Okay, and when the color picker opens, pick a pale pink shade (I used #fed1eb), and click Okay to apply the filter. At this point your photo should be starting to look like those taken in the mid to late 1970s – a little too much red, but we’ll take that down a notch in the next step.
In the next step (#5) we’ll add another dark blue layer to tone down those bright reds. Go to Layers>New Fill Layer>Solid Color, give this new layer a name (I called mine Dark Blue 2), and set the Mode to Exclusion. Leave the opacity at 100%. Click on Okay, and when the color picker opens, set the color to a nice dark blue (this time I used #070044), and click on Okay to apply the filter.
At this point your photo should have 5 layers on top of the original duplicate. it should be a little heavy on the reds, and the blues should look a little yellowish.
The very last step (#6) in the process is to duplicate your original image again, then move this second duplicate to the top of your Layers palette. Double click on the layer to open the Blending Modes menu, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light. This is your final image – a vintage (circa 1977) photo.
Now what would be a better way to show of your image than with a photo frame that would have been available at the time your vintage photo was supposedly taken? Wendy has generously made a sweet Polaroid-style frame for you! Click here to download, and make sure to show us your own DIY vintage photos!