How to age a photo in Photoshop

Digital photography is an amazing technology. They are superior to the film in many aspects. But with all their digital perfection, they often do not have the properties of an old film. The film, being a physical medium, is susceptible to the destructive action of time, it deteriorates, breaks and fades. This property often produces a very attractive effect, which is not characteristic of ordinary digital photographs.

However, we could … with a little help from Photoshop and some textures. In this lesson, with a few textures and filters, we’ll give the digital snapshot a compelling effect of an aged photo.

Final image:

Note: The author used paid materials. In the archive at the link you will find an alternative version of the materials to use.

1. Digital resources

To give a digital image an aged look, it is important to use high-quality textures. For this lesson, we used a paid set of textures with scratches and damage on the old film, which can be downloaded from the link at the beginning of the lesson.

You can use any photo as the main image, but the effect will be more convincing if the subject of the photo is also old enough to get an old photo from it, for example, a photo of the Brooklyn Bridge.

2. Simple effects

Step 1

First, open a photo with a bridge in Photoshop. Then using Crop tool (Frame), crop the photo by highlighting the bridge itself. This is to remove the modern vehicles in the picture.

Step 2

Unzip the film texture package and open two files in Photoshop Pack_2_Film_07.jpg and Pack_2_Film_10.jpg.

Step 3

In the image Pack_2_Film_07.jpg go to the menu Select > All (Select> All) (Ctrl + A), and then in the menu Edit> Copy (Edit> Copy) (Ctrl + C). Now switch back to the photo with the bridge and go to the menu Edit> Paste(Edit> Paste) (Ctrl + V) to paste the texture as a new layer above the photo.

Change the blending mode for this layer to Multiply(Multiplication) and through the menu Edit> Free Transform (Edit> Free Transform) (Ctrl + T) reduce the size of the texture to place it above the photo. Use the Enter key to apply the transformation.

Step 4

Use the same method to place the second texture. When converting a new texture layer, try to align the holes along the edges of the film. If the resulting effect is too sharp, reduce the layer opacity.

Step 5

Scratching the second texture is too distracting from the center of the image. Add a layer mask Layer> Layer Mask> Reveal All (Layer> Mask Layer> Show All). Then using soft Brush tool (Brush) (B) black color paint over the mask surface, hiding scratches in the center of the frame.

Step 6

The original photo looks too sharp for an old film. Go to the background layer with the bridge and convert it into a smart object via the menu Layer > SmartObjects > ConverttoSmartObject (Layer> Smart Object> Convert to Smart Object). Then go to menu Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur (Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur) and specify Radius (Radius) 2 px.

Step 7

Using the tool Polygonal Lasso Tool (Rectangular Lasso) (L), create a rectangular outline around the background photo. Then click on the icon at the bottom of the layers palette. Add layer mask (Add layer mask) to use the selection as a layer mask.

Step 8

Take the soft black again. Brush tool (Brush) (B), soften the edges of the mask and carefully paint over several areas of the sky so that the photo appears faded.

At the moment, the image looks quite aged, and this is only due to the use of a pair of good textures.

3. Go ahead

At this stage, the image looks quite aged, and you can stop there. But in fact, old photographs, as a rule, have faded and illuminated areas as a by-product of technology at that time. If you want to add these effects, follow the steps below.

Step 1

Add adjustment layer Photo filter (Photo Filter) above the background layer of the photo. Set the filter Sepia (Sepia) and specify Density (Density) 54%. This will give the photograph an old shade.

Step 2

As fading, old photos become brighter. To simulate this effect, add an adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) and move the left point of the curve up half the space grid cell. Then add the center point of the curve and move it up a little.

Step 3

Now let’s create a grain effect. Add a new layer Layer> New> Layer (Layer> New> Layer) (Shift + Ctrl + N), and name it “Grit”. Set the foreground color to black and the background color to light yellow (# ece88c), then go to the menu Filter> Render> Clouds (Filter> Rendering> Clouds).

Step 4

Go to menu Filter> Noise> Add Noise (Filter> Noise> Add Noise) and set the effect to 50%. Then go to menu Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur (Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur) and specify Radius (Radius) 6.4 px. Finish the grain effect by setting the layer blending mode. Overlay (Overlap) and Opacity (Opacity) 60%.

Step 5

The flare was a well-known flaw in old photographs, and it can easily be recreated using a color gradient. Create a new layer for light through the menu Layer> New> Layer (Layer> New> Layer) (Shift + Ctrl + N). Take GradientTool (Gradient) (G) and open the gradient editor. Then set the gradient colors as shown below.

Set a linear gradient, stretch it from the upper left corner to the right and slightly down.

At the end of the work on the effect set the blending mode. SoftLight (Soft light)

Step 6

Add a mask to the light layer and take a black and white GradientTool (Gradient) (G). Apply a linear gradient to the mask, stretching it from the top edge of the image down to about half of it. This will hide the color defect effect at the bottom of the image.

Step 7

To leave the effects of aging only the photo area, and not the edges of the film, remove them all on the main photo. Hold down the Shift key and select all layers on the layers palette, starting with the adjustment layer. Photo Filter (Photo filter) and ending with a layer of light. Then go to menu Layer> Create Clipping Mask (Layer> Create Clipping Mask) (Alt + Ctrl + G) to remove them all from the layer with the bridge.

Great job!

Congratulations! See how easy it is to age a digital photo using several high-quality textures and filters.

Final result:

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