How to Create a Vintage Photograph Using Photoshop

Below is the final result of creating a vintage photograph, and I’ll show you how to do it.

Here I have a photo that I took at a civil war reenactment last year. The photo looks nice in color, but I think taking the color out or making it sepia will make this photo more realistic:

The first thing I’ll do is make a duplicate layer by hitting CTRL+J on my keyboard. I’ll name this layer “Remove Color”. To name a layer, just double click on the word “Layer 1″. Then you can type in the name of your layer:

The next thing I’ll do is go to Image/Adjustments/Black & White:

Here, the Black and White dialog box comes up. I’ll move all the sliders to the left just a little to slightly darken the photo. Then I’ll click on the Tint check box. The settings I have for this photo are Reds – 12, Yellows – 23, Greens – 23, Cyans – 12, Blues – 10 and Magentas – 53. The Hue for the Tint is 42 and the Saturation is 20. Then I’ll click OK. Here’s what it looks like so far:

Now I’ll pick a greenish color from my swatches palette. When I click on the color I want, I’ll see it in the foreground of the color picker in the tool box:

Now I’ll make a copy of the “Remove Color” layer, and I’ll name it “Color Tint With Green”. Here are the layers so far:

Next I’ll pick the paint brush from the tools palette, and I’ll set the Mode to”Color” and the Opacity to 100%:

Now I’ll paint over the whole image with the paint brush. Then I’ll bring the Opacity of the layer down to 20%:

Here I’ll click on the “Remove Color” layer to select it, and hit CTRL+J on my keyboard to make a copy. I’ll name this layer “Noise”:

Now I’ll go to Filter/Noise/Add Noise:

When the Add Noise dialog box comes up, I’ll set the amount to 30%. I’ll keep the Distribution to “Uniform”, and I’ll check the Monochromatic check box. Then I’ll click OK:

I’ll set the Opacity of the “Noise” layer to 45%:

Now I’ll take the eraser tool and erase away some of the grain from the boys’ faces. I’ll set the eraser tool to 14% opacity:

Here’s the photo at this point:

The last thing I’m going to do is to give this photo a little vignette. I’ll go back to the “Color Tint With Green” layer, and I’ll use the burn tool to burn around the outer edge of the image. I’ll take my time and work at it slowly with a large feathered brush. Using the burn tool, I’ll keep the Range set to “Midtones”, and the Exposure set to around 20%. Here’s the finished photo:

14 thoughts on “How to Create a Vintage Photograph Using Photoshop”

  1. Mm, nice and simple, but a few things caught my eye…

    -You could just paintbucket it instead of painting over the entire thing with a brush. Unless you’re going for an uneven look, and then it would be nice to use a brush. I suppose unevenness is a good thing in vintage, but if you want to make it uniform, paintbucket is fewer clicks. 😀

    -I really like using the burn tool to vignette, since it gives it more… unevenness, which is really great with vintage. I usually just select all, shrink, invert and feather, then fill with black and reduce opacity. This way is more time consuming, but it looks better in the end if you do it right. 🙂

  2. Hi, Minty3,

    Thanks for your comments. Vintage was definitely my goal. Even when a picture was new back in the day, it was photography at its most basic. Nothing was uniform or even. That’s the look I was creating here.


  3. This is fabulous work. And finally someone teaches someone not so savvy with computers. Can’t wait to try it.

  4. I used this as a class exercise for my Digital Photography students and it went over very well.

    Thanks for the time and energy.


  5. That was one of the best tutorials I’ve seen. Love the step-by-step instruction. You’d be surprised at how many folks don’t know how to do this well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Sorry, but images are protected on this site.