June 05, 2012
Categories: Tutorial Tuesday
Tutorial Tuesday: Vintage Polaroid Effect
Welcome to Tutorial Tuesday! Sarah of Naptime Momtog and I will be bringing you a new challenge every week, to stretch your shooting and editing skills. This week, I might have waited until the very last minute (eh, 3 hours ago) to think about writing a tutorial. In fact, I had no idea where to start so I did a search for photoshop editing tutorials and came up with “how to give your photos a vintage Polaroid effect.” I will tell you that this type of editing isn’t newbie work, but I think you guys will be able to handle it. I’ll also tell you that you should probably open THIS TUTORIAL in a new tab since their instructions will be way better than mine…for real.

First and foremost, we’ve got to start with a fun and fully edited image. Here are Sarah’s boys again. If I’m not mistaken, she recently had this shot blown up on canvas. So sweet!
IMG_6518 RS

Step 1: Open up your chosen image in Photoshop. Make small Levels adjustments to increase the contrast slightly. Add a Curves adjustment layer and change the drop down menu to select the Red channel. Begin manipulating the curves line into a slight inverted S-bend to begin adjusting the colors. Change the drop down to the Green channel and make similar adjustments to the tones controlled by this channel. Adjust the Blue channel so the colors are clipped at the bottom and top areas of the graph. The result should be a retro looking mix of yellow and red. Again, be sure you click on the tutorial I linked to at the top of this page – you’ll not only see instructions but images that reflect each step…and the tools you’re using.

Brothers Step 1

Step 2: Select the Gradient Tool and set up an orange to yellow radial gradient. Drag this gradient across the canvas and set this layer to Soft Light at 50% (I actually have this layer set to 30%).

Brothers Step 2

Step 3: Paint in a couple of red brush marks around the edge of the photo and change the blending mode to Screen at 40% to create some subtle light leaks.

Brothers Step 3

Step 4: Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer at the top of the layer stack and finely tune the saturation level to tone down the impact of the colors.

Brothers Step 4

Step 5: Fill a new layer with white, then go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise with the settings of 35%, Uniform, Monochromatic. Set this layer to Soft Light at 50%.
Brothers Step 5

Step 6: Paint a white highlight near the center of the image using a large soft brush. Set this layer to Soft Light at around 90%.
Brothers Step 6

Step 7: The next few steps get complicated. I didn’t feel like downloading new brushes so I tinkered around with a Polaroid png file made by the Coffeeshop Blog…and now I can’t seem to find the link, but you can find them all over the web. The tutorial also suggests adding a little text – which I did. Finally, you can add some signs of distress by throwing some random markings around the page (I don’t know if I liked this or not, but I gave it a try). Here’s the final look:

Brothers Final

What do you think? For me, it’s definitely not something I would do regularly, but I guess it’s kind of neat.Here’s a before and after – on the left you see my color edit…on the right, my attempt at a vintage Polaroid (minus the square shape).

Brothers Before and After
Ready to join in the fun? Here’s how to do it:
1. Read THIS TUTORIAL – no seriously…read it!
2. Choose your favorite creation (or more!) to share with us.
3. Don’t forget to grab the button for your post!
4. Link up between now and next Monday.

Tutorial Tuesday