Whether for business or pleasure, creating antiqued images in Photoshop is always a creative way to edit your photo. In this tutorial, we are going to add a few simple textures that will have people convinced you found a photo album in your great-grandmother’s attic.
1. We will be working with multiple textures so the first thing you need to do is obtain two separate photos that represent common aging signs: spots and cracks. Spots are rather simple to obtain since all that’s needed are some good bokeh photos of glare reflections from the sun or perhaps a string of lights taken out of focus. To find the cracks may take some time, however; peeling paint on cement, the rust patterns on a car bumper, or any surface that shows cracking and peeling would be ideal. The color of either photo is of no concern since we will be changing that later in post process. For this example, we will be using a photo of some reflective bokeh, an image of cracked paint, and the photo we wish to apply the effect to (Figure 1).
2. Open all three images in Photoshop and minimize the two textures so that only the base photo is active. We are now going to create a new Hue/Saturation adjustment layer by clicking on the Hue/Saturation icon in your adjustment palette (Figure 2). Alternatively, you can apply a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer by selecting it from the layers palette toolbar.
3. In the adjustment palette, click Colorize and adjust the Hue to obtain an overall sepia tone, and set the Saturation just high enough so that you can see a hint of sepia. Remember, you can always over-saturate and adjust the opacity for that layer if you wish to reduce it later on in your editing. For this example, the Hue is set to 39 and the Saturation to 23 (Figure 3). Rename this adjustment layer “sepia” for easy future reference.
Make certain that this layer always remains the top layer so that the sepia effect is applied to the textures as we import them onto your base layer.
4. Select your cracked texture photo and hit CTRL + A to select all, and then CTRL + C to copy the image. Now go to your base file where we were just working and press CTRL + V to paste the texture onto your image. Photoshop should automatically paste the image onto a new layer directly on top of your base layer. Again, make sure the adjustment layer we entitled “sepia” remains the top layer.
Add a layer mask to your new layer by clicking on the “add layer mask” icon located on your layers palette toolbar (Figure 4).
5. As you already know, you can’t see your base layer anymore. To rectify this, adjust the layer opacity of your texture to about 30%.
Now this is where we can get creative. Make sure your layer mask is selected, then click on your brush tool. With the foreground color set to black, begin to mask out parts of the cracked texture with a soft brush set to a 30% opacity level (Figure 5). Pay attention to the contours of your photo and where the cracked effect looks pleasing and where it does not. In this example, I made sure the cracked effect was little or nonexistent on the faces of the models, but left the effect rather apparent against the background wall. When finished, you can also increase or decrease the layer opacity to your liking.
6. Bring up your final texture (the one for aging spots) and repeat Step 4 to paste it onto your image. Make certain you paste it under the “sepia” layer so that the sepia tone effect is applied to the new layer.
7. Like we did in Step 5, lower the opacity to around 30% and mask out spots that you think you can do without with your brush. Adjust the layer opacity accordingly so that it is transparent only enough to cast a light spotting effect (Figure 6).
8. While this photo is starting to come together nicely, it still lacks some authentic antique coloring. To make the photo appear more hazy and with less contrast, we are going to add a new Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and increase the lightness. For this example, the Lightness was reset to +24 (Figure 7).
Depending on what your base photo is and what texture layers you decided to use, adjust the layer opacity for both texture layers one final time to fine-tune your own antique look.
Just because your photo wasn’t taken a hundred years ago doesn’t mean it can’t look that way. With these simple steps, you can recreate the aged, antique look successfully.
Christopher O’Donnell is a professional landscape/portrait photographer who lives on the coast of Maine. When not scouting for new locations or spending time with
his “sons” (his two yellow labs), he is a freelance writer who authors photography course work.