Create in Photoshop a graphic photo effect in the style of the 90s


What will you create

The nineties were filled with incredible, vibrant colors and abstract shapes. And you, inspired by the atmosphere of those times, can create a cool photo effect using your own hand-made figures and much more in Adobe Photoshop.

Learn how to create an initial background before adding shapes, model and final colors.

Let’s start!

Inspiration from the Clip

One of the best places to look for inspiration is your favorite music videos. This lesson was inspired by the atmosphere of the nineties from the Paramore Hard Times clip.

Instead of simply copying the original, we take note of the various design elements seen here. They will help us come to our own design!

So, I’m going to concentrate on simple shapes and bright colors to achieve this effect.

1. How to Create a Background in the Style of the 90s

Step 1

Create a new document sized 1000 by 648 pixels. Fill the background with a dark purple (# 211f26) color with the tool Paint bucket tool (Fill) (G).

Step 2

Right-click on the background layer in the layers panel and select Blending options (Overlay options). Select item Pattern overlay (Overlay pattern) and in it – the standard pattern Right diagonal line (Diagonal line tilted to the right), and also change the effect settings as follows:

That’s what comes out. So far the background seems too dark, but we will lighten it later.

Step 3

Add a new layer above the background layer. With a soft round brush (B) with a hardness of 0%, draw a large blue (# 2e6be1) highlight in the upper left corner of the image.

2. How to Add Abstract Shapes

Step 1

Before we add a model, let’s concentrate on creating abstract shapes. To do this, we will need to access all the shapes in the tool. Custom shape (Arbitrary shape) (u).

Choose a tool Custom shape (Arbitrary figure) (U), and then open the drop-down menu, in it click on the item All (Everything). As soon as the program asks if you want to replace the existing shapes, click Append (Add).

Now you have all the pieces you need for the lesson!

Step 2

Choose a tool Ellipse (Ellipse) (U), and create a large blue (# 0467ea) circle, slightly shifting it from the center.

Step 3

If we add a few more shapes over the circle, it will really stand out! Start by creating your own shape with the tool. Line (Line) (L).

Create a zigzag shape with the following settings:

  • Weight (Thickness): 4 pixels
  • Color (Color): # 002ad7

  1. Start by creating one line and then click Control-j, to duplicate it.
  2. Rotate the copy with the tool Transform (Free Transform) (Control-t) so that it is perpendicular to the first.
  3. Continue the process of connecting the lines. Do this until you get a shape, as in the image above.

When done, select all the shapes, and right-click to merge them.

Step 4

Click Control-j, to create some more copies of your new zigzag shape. Place zigzags across the surface of the circle. Then select all the shapes, right-click on them, and create a clipping mask.

Please note that I have only a few layers with shapes, but a lot of zigzags. Create groups of them before combining them.

Now create a thin black line (2 pixels thick). Duplicate it twice (Control-j) so that in the end there were three black lines on the circle. Also create from them clipping masks to the layer with the ellipse.

Step 5

Add more abstract shapes! Use the tool Custom shape (Production shape) (U) and select the function Trangle Frame (Triangle frame) to add some bright triangles to the circle.

I used the following colors:

  • Green: # 39b54a
  • Yellow: # fff568
  • Pink: # f06eaa

Next, add a few tiny white circles with the tool. Ellipse (Ellipse) (U).

Choose a tool Custom shape (Arbitrary figure) (U) again, this time in order to add several round frames.

And then complete the whole thing by adding a few crosses from very thin lines. To make them, just draw a white line with a thickness of 1 pixel, and then duplicate it Control-j, before you rotate and merge the shapes. Add as many crosses as you like.

3. How to Add More Figures and Colors

Step 1

To balance the figures in the circle with the rest of the composition, we will add some more to the background. But first, let’s adjust the colors.

Click Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Brightness Contrast (Layers> New Adjustment Layer> Brightness / Contrast) and adjust it as follows:

  • Brightness (Brightness): 21
  • Contrast (Contrast): 25

Step 2

Add some large, dark purple (# 292631) triangles. With the tool FreeTransform (Free Transform) (Control-ta) rotate the triangles.

Create a new layer above the shapes. Then using the tool Brush ( Brush) (B) with a hardness of 0% paint a large green (# 2edfb0) highlight on top of the blue light in the upper left corner. Change Opacity (opacity) light by 42%.

Experiment more often. Add more shapes to create even better composition!

  1. Add three large dark triangles. Let them overlap other triangles.
  2. The first two are black and blue (# 07101c).
  3. Then create the third blue (# 242954) triangle and add Gradient overlay (Gradient overlay) with the following settings:

Add a few more triangles, including green ones (# 00a651).

That’s what happens when you’re done.

Step 3

To make the image more atmospheric, let’s quickly add a vignette effect. To do this, create a new layer above all others.

Choose a tool Gradient (Gradient) (G) and apply a radial gradient from black to transparent to the layer. Check that the feature is enabled. Reverse (Inversion), and you get the desired effect.

Next, add two adjustment layers. To start, create an adjustment layer. Color lookup (Search color). Change the 3DLUT file to 2Strip.look.

Then add a new adjustment layer. Color balance (Color balance). Adjust settings to Midtones (Mid Tones) and Highlights (Light) as follows:

To enhance the effect, add a new adjustment layer. Brightness and Contrast (Brightness / Contrast).

  • Brightness (Brightness): 27
  • Contrast (Contrast): 54

Finally, let’s add a model!

4. How to Add Model

Step 1

Against the background of our effect, you should position the model, so take your photo or photo from the drain from the source materials.

The image is taken from Envato Elements.

It is very important to choose a photo with the same atmosphere of the nineties for the integrity of the effect. Learn fashionable styles to make it that way. For example, this denim jacket never goes out of fashion and is well suited for a hipster from the nineties.

Copy and paste the entire image onto the background and place it in the right place. Then add a layer mask and paint with a brush in black on the areas you want to hide. Play with the stiffness of the brush to soften the photo in the lower right corner, while leaving clear boundaries near the face.

Step 2

Right-click on the layer with the model and go to the blending options. Select Drop shadow (Shadow) with the following settings:

Step 3

Now create a new layer with blend mode. Hard light (Hard light). Create a clipping mask on the model layer. Using a black brush, draw a soft black shadow on the model. Try to increase the intensity of the photo with the shadow. Lower the layer opacity to 34%.

Create a new adjustment layer. Color lookup (Search for color), as a clipping mask to the layer with the model. We need to adjust the color of the photo so that it looks harmoniously on the background we created.

Change the 3D LUT file to FoggyNight.3DL, and then change the blending mode of the layer to Luminosity (Brightness).

As before, create a new adjustment layer-clipping mask, this time Brightness / Contrast (Brightness / Contrast).

  • Brightness (Brightness): -1
  • Contrast (Contrast): 12

5. How to Add Latest Strokes

And now, when almost all the elements are already in place, all we need is to make a couple of last adjustments to improve the composition.

Step 1

Create a new layer with overlay mode. Difference (Difference). Use the brush to draw a soft blue (# 202e4d) shadow on the right side of the image. “Mix” the model with the background.

Step 2

Let’s deal with glasses!

Create a new layer using the tool. Pen (Feather) (P) Fill the glasses with black.

In this case, black will serve as a base for other colors. Create several new layers and make them with clipping masks to the layer with black glasses.

On each layer with a tool Pen (Feather) (P) Create one bright glass piece each until you are satisfied with the result.

For example, I chose these colors:

  • Pink: # fe4b86
  • Purple: # c813af
  • Blue: # 5b6090

To make the glass more realistic, add shadows! Create another layer and make it a clipping mask to the base for the colored shapes and change the blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication). Using a brush with a stiffness of 0%, draw a soft shadow around the edges of the glasses. Get rid of all the hard lines for a cool, natural effect.

Step 3

Use the tool to create a broken line effect. Pen (Feather) (P). Use it to highlight the area around the model. (do not try to make the line neat and even – the crazier it is, the better).

Then right-click and select Stroke path (Outline the contour) (check that the tool size is Pencil (Pencil) was set to 2 pixels). In the outline popup window, select the tool Pencil (Pencil), and make sure that in the box Simulate pressure (simulate pressure) is NOT ticked.

In this step, you can choose white or any other color to your taste.

Duplicate the line several times, and on each new layer adjust the shape and size of the line with the tool Free transform (Control-T). Arrange them from the largest contour to the smallest.

Then right-click on each layer with a line and go to the blending options.

Select effect Color overlay (Overlay color) to change the colors of the lines.

I used the following colors:

  • Pink: # ffa5c5
  • Yellow: # fff7b4
  • Purple: # 242645

Above, you see one of the effects of Color Overlay. For each effect, select approximately the same basic settings.

Translator’s Note: on the screenshot, opacity 79%

Below you can find the result.

And here are all the layers with lines created for this effect.

Step 4

Create a new layer above all others with blending mode. Overlay (Overlap). Using a soft round brush, go white on the model’s chest, brightening it. Lower Opacity (opacity) layer up to 65%.

Next, create two adjustment layers to adjust the colors.

The first – Color balance (Color Balance) with the following settings for Midtones (Medium) and Highlights (Sveta).

And second, create an adjustment layer. Color lookup (Search for color) and change the 3D LUT file to 2Strip.look. Lower the opacity to 45% to achieve this amazing blue effect.

That’s all! The final result can be found below.

And you can try this effect with other photos – a cool result is guaranteed!

Above, you see an identical effect: here the colors are slightly changed and another photo of the model is selected.


Immortalize the classic style of the nineties with this cool photo effect!

In this tutorial, we learned how just a few shapes can make a regular stock photo special. Do not forget to unlock the sets to get access to cool vector shapes and much more, experiment with adjustment layers, changing the color scheme as you want!

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Feel free to leave your questions and results in the comments.

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