Retro Faded Look

Photoshop Tutorial

I did some research on retro effects. Many of my tests involved a stack of multiple Adjustment Layers. After an intesive trail-and-error experiment day I found an easier way to give a Photo a Retro feel. This effect is made with just one Adjustment Layer. I’ve included the near end of my search for an easier way with two Adjustment Layers.

One Layer: Curves.

The Curves Adjustment Layer is a great way to give a Photo a certain look.

An easy way to describe the retro feel is that the blacks are brighter and the whites darker. This gives the faded low contrast.

To do this with the curve is to bring the black upwards and the white downwards.

The Middle stays were it is: the Midtones remain.

The Two other handles are moved to bring a bit more contrast back. If we would move the handles toward a flat line, it would give the Photo a more flat look.

After these changes in the RGB-Curve, the Photo looks quite good.

But we’re going to change the Color-Curves too. These changes are up to you and the Photo you choose to change.

The Blue-Curve: To give the Blacks and Shadows a Blue feel we move these handles upward.

To give the Highlights a more warmer feel we move this handle downwards. This adds the opposite color from Blue, which is Yellow.

Again, the Photo looks quite good. So the next change is up to you.

The Red-Curve: this adds a Magenta tone.

You can even change the Green-Curve. As I did in the example under this article.

Two Layers: Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer.

So now we’re going to shift the colors. For example the reds toward orange, etc.

We do this with the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. But do this with caution so we protect skin tones.


With the Green-Curve changed slightly.

Quick Photo Effect: Cool Action

Photoshop Tutorial

Every Step is a different Adjustment Layer. You can create every step in an Action or you can keep the Adjustment Layers in a map and replace the photo everytime you want to apply the effect on a different photo.

Step 1: Levels:

Step 2: Color Balance:

For the Shadows:

For the Highlights:

Step 3: Color Fill:

Fill this Adjustment Layer with a Bright Blue (#2284dc) and set the Blend Mode to Soft Light and the opacity around 80%.

Quick Effect: Western Mood

Photoshop Tutorial

Today’s Quick Effect is Western Mood. Every step is a different Adjustment Layers.

Step 1: Gradient Map. With colors: #453910 (deep amber) -> #dbf9ff (very pale cyan).

Step 2: Levels:

Step 3: Curves:

Step 4: New Layer.

Fill the layer with a Light Gray (like #c2c2c2). Then apply the Add Noise filter with 20%, gaussian and monochromatic.

Then add a Gradient Overlay in the Layerstyle: Blend Mode is Color Burn, Opacity: around 30%, Gradient Black-White, Angle is 90°, Scale is 150% (max.).

Set the Blend Mode to Divide and opacity around 30%.

Creating Effects with Clipping Masks

Photoshop Tutorial

Today I’ll show you how to create different Effects with Clipping Masks. With a Clipping Mask, your photo remains intact. When you’re done you can save the Photoshop File with the first photo as a Smart Object. You can replace the Smart Object with another photo to apply the effect on different photos.

Step 1: Choose your texture.

This Effect is all about textures. You can choose a texture or you can create your own texture. The texture I’ll e using is one I created in Photoshop with an Inkbrush.

The texture has different areas of opacity: the middle-left side has more opacity because that is were we’ll place the subjec the photo.

Step 2: Place your Photo.

Now we’ll place our photo. For this tutorial I choose a photo of Inna Mikitas, an Ukrainian Model. Place the photo on top of the texture as a new layer. Go to the Layer menu and choose Create Clipping Mask.

You can stop here and use this kind of Photo is any product: in an album, a collage… The transparency of the background will make this blend on other Photos.

For example: when this photo was taken on your holiday, you can place another photo of that day as background above a solid white background. Change the opacity of the background to whatever works for your photo.

Further Building of Effect:

You can build further to create different Artistic Effects. I explain how I created the effect in the example at the beginning of this article.

A. Add a Light Effect. Set the Blend Mode of this Lightleak to Lighten. Add a Mask and paint away any unnecessary parts.

B. Add another Texture for creating a Clipping Mask. This time only cover the subject of the photo. Duplicate the original photo and place on top of the Texture. Create a Clipping Mask.

We’ll do this one more time.

Two Texture Layers.

C. Add an Old Paper Texture. Or another texture with color or grain, scratches… Set the Blend Mode to Lighten and the opacity around 60%.

I’ve created a Mask for this texture and painted with a brush (50% opacity) on the subject of the photo. I wanted the effect on the model less then in the background.

And we’re done for now. I’ll build other effects with Clipping Masks in later posts.

Simple Comic Book/Poster Effect

Photoshop Tutorial

This is an update of the First Simple Comic Book Effect (here). The update is that this effect gives the photo a more vintage poster look. We’ve worked with a comic book effect and with gradients in other tutorials, so I came with this after experimenting and trying some combinations. This effect creates soe interesting results.

Step 1: Effects on the Photo.

First thing to do is to make sure the Photo is a Smart Object. This is important for fine tuning the effect afterwards. After that go to:

  1. Filter -> Stylize -> Oil Paint. Set every setting to 10.
  2. Add a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer: settings will be different for every photo.
  3. Add a Posterize Adjustment Layer: the setting will depent on your photo, try to keep the values between 5-10. Set the Blend Mode to Soft Light and opacity around 60%.

I find that the Brightness/Contrast Layer, in many cases, needs some work after the Posterize effect. Or with some photo’s I used the Brightness/Contrast Layer above the Posterize Layer

Posterize lever: 8. Brightness: -6/Contrast: 17.
Brightness: -13/Contrast: 9. Posterize level: 5.

Step 2: Experiment with Colors.

The give it a Poster feel we can add a Gradient. Experiment with different colors and blending modes. Like I did:

Blend Model: Soft Light
Blend Mode: Normal
Blend Mode: Normal
Blend Mode: Screen.

Step 3: Combine Effetcs.

Sometimes the Simple Comic Book Effect doesn’t give a clean result. This is mostly when the photo has a lot af detail, like in the facial area. Any imperfection shows on the effect. You can render the filters, but I found the combination of these two effects interesting.

  1. Save your Comic/Poster Effect photo and open it as a new document.
  2. Apply the Simple Comic Book Effect
  3. Add a gradient.
With gradient
No gradient.

Text Effect: Fantasy Movie

Photoshop Tutorial

Step 1: The text.

Almost any font will work with this text effect. But for the sake of the effect name choose a fantasy style font. The font I used is Witchic Blackletter (you can buy it from a font store). And I used my own name as text. For the k in my surname, I typed it with a capital K, because the font doesn’t have a good small k (and not a very good capital R by the way. So if you want to buy a font, check every glyph.

Step 2: Text Effect.

Now it is time to build the effect. For this we’ll need two copies of the text. Each copy will have a different set of Layer Styles.

Copy 1 Layer Styles:

Bevel & Emboss style.

The first Tthing to do is the Bevel & Emboss. The contour is showed in the photo left.

Second style of the first copy: Innes Shadow:

Next is: Color Overlay:

Last one: Pattern Overlay:

The pattern I used is a black-white photo of a damaged wall structure. You can use different textures, like paper, of anything grainy.

The last thing to do with this first copy is a Gaussian blur of 0,5 px.

Copy 2 Layer Styles:

Again go to Bevel & Emboss:

The contour needs a bit work (see photo right).

And we’ll also add a Gaussian blur of 0,5 px on this copy.

This is the effect.

What I did extra is:


  1. A background with clouds.
  2. Add a layer filled with solid black. Then go to Filter -> Render -> Lens flare. Set the Blend Mode to Screen.
Nice, but not good enough.

Extra Clouds:

  1. Paint some clouds on a New Layer in front of the text. This will give a sense of depth.


  1. I also painted some flares in orange, yellow and white. Set the Blend Mode to Screen and the Opacity between 85 – 100%. I created 5 flares and placed them random on the text.

Adjustment Layers:

The Adjustment Layers I used on top of everything are:

  1. Color Balance
  2. Levels
  3. Again Color Balance
  4. Photo Filter

And done!

Fast advertising image

Photoshop Tutorial

Today I’ll show you how to change a photo into an easy advertising image. We’ll combine two photos and work with text.

Step 1: Changing the photo.

The photo in its origial form is good but not interesting enough for an add. So we’ll add some texture and make it feel more like summer. To do this we have to choose a photo of a wall structure. Now we can combine the two photos:

Original Photo
  • Lay the wall structure over the photo and set the blend mode to Overlay.
  • So now we added more texture to the wall and floor. But, the model has the structure to. To change this we add a mask to the structure photo. Now paint with black over the model to remove the structure.
  • We’ll paint over the floor with a reduced opacity (grey) to make the structure in the floor more subtle.

Step 2: Text.

Photo Filter

Now we’ll add the text. The text for this example is quite simple: Discounts up to -50% on clothing and accessories. Choose a font that resembles brush strokes (like Flood), so it will seems like the text in painted on the wall. The color is a strong red (#d02626). Now, set the blend mode to Multiply. This will make the color a bit darker and the structure of the wall shines through; making it even more resembling a wall painted text.

Step 3: Finishing touch.

Camera Raw Artisitic

Now we’ll add a filter the combine every element into one coherent picture. The do this there are multiple options:

  • Photo Filter: set this adjustment layer on Warm Filter (81) en set the value to 31%.
  • Camera Raw: first combine the elements in one layer. Then go Filter -> Camera Raw -> Profile. Choose a new profile from the Artistic menu. I choose Artistic 02.

Now you have an easy and quick to make advertising image.

Vintage photo effect in Photoshop

Photoshop Tutorial

Today I’ll show you how to create an easy vintage effect. Remember to use non-destructive adjustment layers so that your photo stayed in tact and you can add another photo to recreate the effect.

Step 1: Adding Adjustment layers on Photo.

  1. Black-White. The values for this photo are: Red: 34, Yellow: 57, Green: 77, Cyan: 206, Blue: -116, Magenta: 263.
  2. Hue/Saturation: set it on colorize and the values for Hue: 35, Saturation: 20 and Lightness: -11. Set the blend mode to Soft light.
  3. Curves: give the photo more contrast with the curve. Play with it until it looks good for you.

Step 2: Second layer as border.

Create a new layer (transparent) and take your brush. I used a brush set that makes it look like paintbrushes. The opacity of every stroke is different. Make sure you don’t paint away to mush of the subject, stay in the border . Set the blend mode of this layer to Overlay.

Step 3: Adding texture.

The texture I chose for this effect are film grain and dust. The textures are black with white dust and grain. I used two textures, the blend mode for the two textures are Screen and set the opacity for the first one around 65-70% and for the second around 80%.

And you’re done!

Other example: