Looking for a quick way to transform your photos into handsome, convincing vintage art? Lots of programs offer vintage photograph filters, but these are often rough, and give unexciting, unconvincing results. With a few moments in practically any version of Photoshop, you can make realistic-looking vintage photos from nearly any picture you might have on your hard drive. Here’s how to do it.
I came across this pic of the King of Bhutan and thought it had some nice possibilities. You will, of course, be using whatever photo you want. I recommend one with high resolution, and good contrast between lights and darks. You can, of course, use any photo, but some will give you stronger results that others.
Press to do a quick desaturate and turn the image to grayscale.
Then, press to bring up the Hue/Saturation palette and set it to “Colorize” with these Hue/Saturation/Lightness values.
Go to FIlters > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the “Radius” to 1.0, or more if you want.
Our image is looking nicely sepia toned already, with softened edges from the Gaussian blur.
Press to create a new layer.
Fill your new layer with black by going to Edit > Fill and tell the Fill window to “Use” Black. From there, you’ll want to open Filters > Render > Clouds to fill that layer with the texture below.
The layer of clouds should look about like this. If you used Filters > Render > Difference Clouds, it won’t look very different.
Set your Layer Effect to “Screen” in your Layers Palette. And bump the “Opacity” down to 50%.
Make of copy of the layer by right clicking and pressing “Duplicate.”
While on your new duplicated layer, Go to Filters > Noise > Add Noise and use settings similar to this. It’s important to use the “Monochromatic” setting.
This layer of noise will add a reticulation effect to your photo. It’s a little harsh, so let’s look into softening it.
Use Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur again. The same settings as last time will be fine.
At this point, you should have a pretty good look going on in your image. I decide I want some harsher values, so I want to play with my levels a bit.
Click the at the bottom of your layers palette to bring up “Adjustment Layers.” Choose “Levels.”
Set your levels as shown. The black arrow moves to the right, making your darks darker. Your white arrow moves left, increasing the whites in your image. You can also just copy my values if you don’t want to play with the tool (those values are 31, 1.00, 239).
Press to make a complete copy of your image and put it on top of all your layers.
On this new layer, go to Filters > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask and use values similar to these. This will harshen a lot of your darks and lights even further.
Set this layer effect to “Darken.” From there, adjust your “Opacity” to 25%. This will add some harsh, dark values to your image.
Duplicate your layer by right clicking and picking duplicate.
Set this duplicated layer’s effect to “Lighten” with the same opacity.
Our image looks pretty good, but the color is off when you compare it to a real vintage photograph.
Go to your Layers Palette and press the to bring up your adjustment layers again. Create a “Hue/Saturation” layer effect on top. Use values similar to these.
You may need to change around some of the values in the filters to suit your own photo. But the basic steps can remain the same and will give you a similar look.
Eric Z Goodnight is an Illustrator and Graphics Geek who hopes to make Photoshop more accessible to How-To Geek readers. When he’s not headbanging to heavy metal or geeking out over manga, he’s often off screen printing T-Shirts.
- Published 09/28/10