How To: Make a Photo Look Vintage
Want your photos to have the charm of a bygone age? You can capture it with these tips!

Design Master

Quick Tip: Want your photos printed beautifully? Check out our reviews of the best photo printing services. Prices start at $0.09/photo!

Applying vintage effects to photos seems like the most popular technique among photo enthusiasts nowadays. The muted tones and faded look contribute to the charm of photos from long ago.

Did you know it actually takes very little to reproduce the vintage effect and turn a dull image into something special?

Here’s how you do it:

In this tutorial, I am going to use this bubble photo. Choosing the right photos to work with greatly influences the final result. Photos with noticeable modern elements won’t be as believably “vintage.”

Open the image. Start by duplicating your original photo layer. I’ll do most of the editing on separate layers, so this isn’t absolutely necessary.

However, I recommend having a copy of your original photo. That way if you make any mistakes you can’t undo, you can always start over.

How to Make a Photo Look Vintage 1

Create a Photo Filter adjustment layer (Create new fill or adjustment layer>Photo Filter). Check Filter and Sepia in the drop-down menu.

Set Density to something between 40 and 60 percent and check the Preserve Luminosity option.

How to Make a Photo Look Vintage 2

Add a Gradient adjustment layer (Create new fill or adjustment layer>Gradient). Choose Radial from the style menu.

For this photo, I set the gradient’s stop colors to #FFF6DB and #B0F2A. Change the layer’s blend to Soft Light and lower the opacity to 60.

How to Make a Photo Look Vintage 3

Now add a Curves adjustment layer (Create new fill or adjustment layer>Curves). Proceed to modify the curve for all the color channels. These are the coordinates of the points I used for each channel:

  • Red – 193, 211 / 66, 52
  • Green – 182, 163 / 89, 96; 54, 0
  • Blue – 211, 196 / 56, 80

How to Make a Photo Look Vintage 4

Now create one last adjustment layer for Exposure (Create new fill or adjustment layer>Exposure). Lower the exposure value to -0.20 and increase Offset and Gamma Correction to 0.340 and 1.20, respectively.

Move the Exposure layer under the Curves one.

How to Make a Photo Look Vintage 5

A texture will introduce some depth, dust and grain. It will also contribute to the aged look of the photo.

I downloaded a dusty film texture, which I then placed on top of the image. With the Free Transform tool, modify its orientation and size to fit the photo.

Change the blend mode of the layer to either Overlay or Soft Light, and then lower the opacity to around 45 to 50 percent. Overlay will maintain some contrast in the final image, while Soft Light will make the effect subtler.

How to Make a Photo Look Vintage 6

This is the photo before and after.

How to Make a Photo Look Vintage 7

There are dozens of ways to turn new photos into charming, old-fashioned images. After you feel comfortable with these steps, play around with the tools and find a combination of colors and textures you like and that will look good once printed.

Photo from Texture from 

About the Author
Kristi Maddox is a master of graphic design, on-site design and ordering, and is the go-to for template and design tool usage.
Kristi and the team order print jobs from every major printer to test quality, value, customer service, and more. See their reviews here:


  1. just use instagram ha

  2. lol I don’t have a smartphone, but I’ve always wondered how to do this and all the other sites i saw were too hard to follow. Good tutorial