Antiquing Digital Images in Photoshop - Part 1

Antiquing Digital Images in Photoshop – Part 1


This is the first part of 2 tutorials on making images have an antique feel with Photoshop. It’s been submitted by Elise Hennen from 28 Studios. Read more about Elise below.

I’m sure you’ve seen tutorials on fixing up old, damaged photos. Well, what about how to make them that way? I’ll be showing you how to antique a photo. Throughout my tutorial, I will put the keyboard shortcuts in parentheses after a command. Those shortcuts will be for Windows machines. For Mac shortcuts, alt=option and ctrl=command (apple key). So… on to the tutorial. First off, here’s the before (left) and after (right):


Once you’ve got your picture open in Photoshop, choose the crop tool (c). Old-timey pictures were often cropped to squares, so that’s our first step. Hold shift while you click and drag the crop tool to keep it square. Crop your picture a little bigger than you want it to be—we’ll need a little space around the edges for later.


Hold down alt and double-click the layer in the layers palette. Then duplicate the layer by dragging it to the new layer icon (or, with the layer selected, ctrl+j). Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. You want to blur the picture enough that some of the detail goes away, but so that you can still see what it is. I used a setting of 1.2.


Give the layer a mask by clicking the button at the bottom of the layers palette that looks like a circle in a rectangle. Pick the gradient tool (g) and set it to radial. Making sure that the mask is selected, start at the point of the picture you want in focus and drag away from it. The further you drag, the more will be in focus. If it does the opposite, swap your foreground and background colors by hitting x and then try again.

It should look like this so far:


Next up, we add some grain. Duplicate the bottom layer and move this layer above the blurry layer. Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise. Add enough so that you can still make out the picture. I used 11.88 percent.

In the layers palette, change the blending mode from Normal to Soft Light. You can use a different blending mode if you want a different look.


Next up, we’re going to give it a sepia look. Click the button at the bottom of the layers palette that looks like a circle half-white and half-black. Select Hue/Saturation. When the dialog box comes up, check the Colorize check box in the bottom-right. Change the hue to a yellow-reddish color and pull down the saturation. Lighten it a little, as many older pictures don’t reach true black. When your image looks good to you, hit Okay.


Lastly, it needs a vignette. Create a new layer. Make a selection with the marquee tool that’s a bit smaller than your image. Go into the quick mask mode (q). Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and raise the level until it’s very blurry. Exit the quick mask mode (q). There should be a roundish selection around the center of your image. Go to Select > Inverse (ctrl+shift+i), and fill with black. To do that, make sure your background color is black, then hit ctrl+delete. If your foreground color is black, you can hit alt+delete. De-select (ctrl+d). Change the opacity of the layer until it looks good to you. I like a very subtle vignette, so I went with an opacity of 42%. You change this in the upper-right corner of the layers palette.


Part 2 of this tutorial is here. Once you’ve read it and have given it a go head over to the forums to our Antiquing thread to show us your results.

Elise Hennen lives in Ohio, but is originally from Florida where she attended her first Photoshop World conference (which she highly recommends). She writes about herself saying – ‘I do a little bit of everything in Photoshop, from photo manipulation and illustration to web design and just fooling around. My husband and I own a web development company, 28 Studios, though we haven’t updated the site in a while. The cobbler’s children have no shoes… Oh yeah, and I take lots of pictures, too. I’ll be on the forum boards if you have any questions or comments about the tutorial. Enjoy!’

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • Prasad phutane March 7, 2012 12:24 am

    making of antiquing the digital images with photoshop which is posted here as tutorial is good.

  • Saravanan December 23, 2011 05:50 pm

    Very informative.. can you suggest the shortcut keys to set the image to lesser presets?

  • Kattster July 9, 2011 10:03 am

    I used this to make a border around a romantic photograph and to make a border around a grave scene (meaning I didn't use the sepia part, turned out nicely) - nicely done photoshop tut for the beginner, explains things nice and clear. (:

  • gambling feel March 10, 2010 08:01 pm

    making of antiquing the digital images with photoshop which is posted here as tutorial is good. The steps which is given is very useful. Thanks for this nice post.

  • Stevie B January 10, 2009 05:20 am

    Thanks Elsie!!

    I'm a complete Photoshop beginner, and found this absolutely simple as pie... your explanation is to the point and very clear. Sorry Ally!

  • Ally December 29, 2008 02:09 pm

    For beginners absolutely useless. Sorry.

  • Janice September 19, 2008 01:43 pm

    You started out saying "I’m sure you’ve seen tutorials on fixing up old, damaged photos."

    Well, uh, er.... no, I'm sorry to say I haven't. If there is one on this website please point me to it? I have some photos I would like to fix up and have taken a stab at it, but could use some assistance.

    Thanks for your post, they are all so helpful to me!
    Janice in Venice Fl

  • kidgrave January 16, 2007 08:28 pm


  • kidgrave January 16, 2007 08:28 pm


  • ron henry January 11, 2007 02:52 pm

    Great examples- thanks for all your work on site

  • crazyBobcat January 9, 2007 07:16 am

    Fantastic! Thanks for your time and expertise.

  • Mike DelGadio January 6, 2007 01:17 am

    Very clever. I like this much better than a straight sepia tone. Really does add to the `vintage` effect. Great tutorial.

  • Dave (different dave) January 6, 2007 12:48 am

    I have a model railway, all steam engines. The time-period I reproduce is late 1930 early 1940s. I've been taking all my railway shots simply in black and white - I am very much looking forward to using this tip!

  • raymond o'callaghan January 5, 2007 09:11 pm

    Ifound your tip's very interesting indeed.

    thank you very much.raymond

  • Dave January 4, 2007 07:37 am

    not often do we want to go backwards in quality but great tutorial and can be used in so many ways! well done!

  • cad January 4, 2007 02:22 am

    Adobe has an action that does a very similar thing. It’s called a Holga Stimulator.

    Thanks for posting this!!