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Everything New is Old Again: A Photoshop Tutorial

I was thumbing through some of my mom’s photos the other day, reliving some of the days of old, and noticed that some of the photos my mom had taken had really faded and yellowed. Of course, back when she took them I think she would have been really upset to know that the color would eventually fade on her beloved photos, but it seems to me that more and more we, as scrappers and photographers, try to mimic that look on our now very current photos. Changing the look of our photos to reflect the kit that we are using has become more and more common place.  We often change our photo to black and white so that it stands out amongst a brightly colored kit or if the colors in our photo just don’t match the colors on our scrap page so it only seems right to alter our brand new photos to fit the more current trend of vintage/retro style kits. After all, a brightly colored photo just wouldn’t look right on those soft, subtle retro/vintage colors that many of us are using these days! So, once I got home the other day,  I started fooling around in Photoshop and came up with some really neat settings that I thought I would share with you so that you can give your pretty, new pictures the perfect retro look!

Begin by opening the photo you want to convert.  I took this photo in California when we were visiting there years ago and I just love this lighthouse!  I thought it would really look great in a more vintage/retro style.

Make sure that you make any levels corrections that you need to BEFORE you begin to convert your photo to the retro style. You want to make sure that it is as balanced as it can be so that the changes we make will look their best.

Once you have the photo open and all your adjustments are made, we need to create a Color Balance Adjustment layer. Select  the half black/ half  white circle at the bottom of your layers palette. This is the Adjustment Layer Icon.

When the pop up window appears, select Color Balance

Once you select Color Balance, a dialogue box will appear on your workstation. We will begin by turning the photo a bit red/yellow.

Select Shadows in the dialogue box and enter the following numbers into the appropriate boxes.

Next, select Midtones and enter the numbers I listed below into the appropriate boxes.

finally, select Highlights and enter the following numbers into the appropriate boxes.

Once you have entered the numbers, you will see the changes that they have made to your photo

The reds and yellows are more dominant and the blues are more faded looking, but now we need to desaturate the photo to give it a more aged appearance and to decrease the orange look.

Go back to your layer adjustment icon and this time select Hue/Saturation from the pop out menu.

A layer adjustment dialogue box will appear. Enter the following numbers into the appropriate boxes.

Your photo should look nice and faded now.

Now we need to add a gradient to the photo to help complete the retro look. I tried all of them and the one I finally settled on is the Orange/Blue gradient.  With your top layer selected, select the New layers Icon at the bottom of the Layers Palette.

Your new layer will appear above the color balance adjustment layer.

In your tools panel, on the left of your workstation,  select the gradient tool.  It can be found in the same box as your paint can or you can use the keyboard shortcut G in order to retrieve the Gradient Tool.

Once you have selected the Gradient tool, go to the top of your workstation and click on the arrow next to the gradient box to expand it. Select the Orange/Blue Gradient.

With the gradient selected and the New Layer highlighted in your layers panel, click in the center in the gray area right above your photo. Once you click, hold the shift key and drag your mouse down to the gray area right underneath the bottom of the photo and release. The gradient will fill your new layer.  By adding this layer, we are going to add some more contrast to your photo and give it one final “wash” to really fade the colors.

Next, Change the layer mode to Soft Light and reduce the opacity to between 20-25%.

Your photo will now have a beautiful retro look.

Select the bottom layer in your layers panel, right click and choose Flatten Image.

By flattening the image, it will help make the next few steps a little less cumbersome.

Once your image is flattened, we are going to add a vignette around the photo to darken the edges.

Highlight the bottom layer in your layers panel and click the New Layers Icon.

Your new layer will appear above your newly flattened image. Highlight the new layer by clicking on it in the layers panel.

Next, select the Marquee Rectangle tool from your tools panel at the left of your workstation.

At the top of your workstation, locate the Feather box and enter 100 px into the box.

With your new layer selected, start at the top left corner of your photo and click and drag across the entire image. Marching Ants will appear on your photo.

Once you have selected the area, you will need to inverse your selection by pushing CTRL+SHIFT+I.

The outline of your photo will now just show in all four corners. Select the Paint Can from the tools panel and make sure that black is selected as your foreground color.  Check that the new layer is selected and hover over one of the inverted corners. Click inside the marching ants to add the vignette.

You can call it quits here or you can add a photo mat around the photo for the final retro/vintage touch.

To create a border, make a new layer by clicking the New Layer Icon. Make sure that the new layer is on top.

Select the rectangular Marquee Tool and this time change the feather to 0 px.

Click and drag a rectangle around the entire photo.  Go to Edit>Stroke and change the stroke to 20px.

Click on the Color box and select an off white border. Make sure that the inside box is selected and click OK.  You now have a border surrounding your photo.

You can add a photo overlay to give it a crumpled look, add some texture or even some stains to age it a little! The possibilities are limitless!

Here are just a few looks you can get with your photos.

with texture and Photo bend overlay:

That’s it for this week! Hope you enjoyed the tutorial today! I will see you back here next Monday!

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  1. […] original post is : HERE new-pictures, perfect, photoshop, pictures-the-perfect, really-neat, retro-look, […]

  2. […] may look familiar to some of you as it was a very recent post on Mye De Leon’s blog.  We, here at MSA, really enjoyed the post that her CT member, Tamara, wrote and thought that our […]

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I'm Mye De Leon

I'm a mom with a desire to give the best for her family and turned a lettering hobby into a multi6-figure business. These days, I eat strategy for breakfast and turn other businesses into successful empires.

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I'm Mye


My business is to help your business generate more revenue so you can be who you want to be.

I'm Mye


My business is to help your business generate more revenue so you can be who you want to be.