This tutorial will show you how to apply a simple vintage photo effect using Photoshop. We’re going to use image adjustments, adjustment layers and layer styles to apply the vintage effect on a regular photo so that we can keep our work easily editable.

Preview

Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop: Preview

Tutorial Resources

Step 1: Open the Photo

The photo being used in this tutorial is NYC by vonSchnauzer — download it and then open it up in Photoshop. Feel free to use your own photo.

Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop: Step 1

Step 2: Curves Image Adjustment

First thing we’re going to do is go to Image > Adjustment > Curves. We’re going to lighten up the photo by clicking on the rightmost eyedropper icon, which we’ll use to set the white point of the image. Click on the brightest white we can find in the photo, which is on the t-shirt of the subject.

Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop: Step 2

Step 3: Add a Gradient Map

Now go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map. Click the gradient editor and choose the Blue, Yellow, Blue gradient preset. Check the Reverse option.

Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop: Step 3

Step 4: Reduce the Opacity of the Gradient Map Layer

In the Layers Panel, drop the Opacity of the Gradient Map layer down to 30%.

Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop: Step 4

Step 5: Add a Curves Adjustment Layer

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves. Make sure this layer is under the Gradient Map layer that we created in Step 3. We’re going to give our image a little more brightness and contrast by adjusting the curves.

Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop: Step 5

Step 6: Add an Inner Shadow Layer Style

By default, in Photoshop, the photo you use will be opened as the Background layer and this layer will be uneditable (denoted by a padlock icon). In the Layers Panel, double-click on the Background layer and click OK to unlock it. Next, go to Layer > Layer Style > Inner Shadow and apply the settings shown below.

Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop: Step 6

Step 7: Add a Gradient Overlay Layer Style

This is the final step. Go to Layer > Layer Style > Gradient Overlay. Change the Style to Radial and use the Black, White gradient preset as shown below.

Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop: Step 7

Optional: Changing the Gradient Map

You can tweak the outcome by double-clicking on the Gradient Map and making adjustments to it. Below, you can see different versions of the final outcome.

Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop: Optional

Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop: Optional 2

Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop: Optional 3

Tutorial Summary

In this quick and simple Photoshop tutorial, I showed you a way to apply a vintage-inspired photo effect to a regular photo. We performed a Curves image adjustment, added a couple of adjustment layers and we also used layer styles. Below is the final result. If you followed along, feel free to link to your own results in the comments below!

Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop: Final Result

Download Source Files

Author:

Tyler Denis is a part-time freelance designer from Ashland, New Hampshire. He is also the creator/writer of the design blog Denis Designs/blog, a website dedicated to bringing quality tutorials and inspiration. You can follow him on Twitter or at his personal site, Denis Designs.