photo look vintage

How to make a photo look vintage

Blurry matte effects seem to be really popular in photos at the moment. These effects look especially cool when combined with warm vintage tones and adding a nostalgic feel to your images. Taking this lesson step by step, process and transform your photos in Photoshop to create a warm blurry vintage-matte effect using safe editing techniques.

The photo effect we will create will give your photos a warm hue filled with blurry contrast, the idea for this effect was inspired by early analog films. The effect is reproduced by creating adjustment layers and blending modes in Photoshop.

Open your original image in Photoshop. In this tutorial, I used a photo of my motorcycle. Initially, the photo has realistic colors and contrast, but the vintage matte effect will perfectly complement the classic style of the motorcycle. Let’s start by adding the Levels adjustment layer, which you can add via the bottom toolbar.

Slide the black slider of the Output Levels setting to the right to reduce contrast and blur the shadows in the image. Play around with the light and dark shades settings in the histogram window to slightly restore darkening to the dark shades and lightening to the light shades.

Next, we’ll add another adjustment layer. This time, select Black and White. Leave the default settings, only reduce the opacity of this adjustment layer to about 40%, so that you can see the original colors that will complement the blurry picture.

Add warm tones to the image with the Color Balance adjustment layer. Start with Tone: Shadows, enhancing the red tones to, about, +20, and also adding yellow tones to, about, -30. Remember to check the Preserve Luminosity box to get the best results.

Go to the next Tone: Midtones and Highlights and boost the yellow tones to -30 on these channels to add warmth to the image with gold tones.

There’s no screenshot of the Highlights channel, so after you’ve adjusted the Midtones channel, go to the Highlights channel and apply a -30 value to the yellow tint, or play around with the value by matching it to your photo.  

Change the blend mode for the Color Balance adjustment layer to Lighten to let the yellow hues interact with the original hues, and add warmth to the entire image.

We can add golden hues with the gradient adjustment layer, gradient colors from mid-tone brown to light brown. The gradient colors I used # and # Set the angle 45° to fill the image diagonally with gradient.

Change the blending mode for the Gradient adjustment layer to Vivid Light to add bright highlights to the image through the brown tones.

Reduce the opacity of the Gradient adjustment layer with the Vivid Light mode to soften the tones and retain the delicate color tones.

photo look vintage

Note: The author has reduced the layer opacity to 25%.

The vintage effect would not be complete without small scratches and grains, which gives the image a vintage and decrepit look. Download the Dust and Scratches texture set and then open one of these textures.  Change the blending mode for the texture layer to Screen to hide the black background of the texture, and then reduce the opacity of the texture layer to 30%, preserving the fine scratches.

The final vintage-matte effect gives the image a much more traditional look with blurry, golden yellow and brown tones. Each step of this effect is reproduced with adjustment layers, so for each individual image you can choose individual settings to get the best result for your image.

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