Photoshop tutorial: Give photos a retro distressed look

A little grunge adds vintage character to photos, says Tigz Rice

Intro


With vintage-inspired imagery becoming ever more popular, artists are increasingly experimenting with distressing photos to match the effect of vintage printing techniques.

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In this tutorial, we’ll use channel mixing, blending modes and opacity techniques to create a distressed vintage print texture on an image, complete with printer grain.

Once you’ve understood the basics, you’ll be able to develop these techniques for use in more elaborate forms of photo-manipulation, including applying textures to montages and illustrations.

For this Masterclass, you’ll need a shot of a suitably retro model or subject, plus an aged texture, the likes of which can be obtained for free from sites such as fudgegraphics.com.

Time to complete

Less than 5 minutes

Tools

Photoshop CS3 or higher

Step 1

STEP 1

Open your chosen image in Photoshop (convert the file to RGB if necessary). In the Adjustments panel, click on the Channel Mixer icon. With the output channel set to red, shift the green slider to 100 and the red and blue sliders to 0.

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Step 2

STEP 2

Now change the output channel to blue and once again set the green slider to 100 and the red and blue sliders to 0. The image should now be monochromatic.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

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Step 3

STEP 3

In the Layers panel, highlight the Channel Mixer layer and set the opacity to 65% to bring back a slight wash of colour.

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Step 4

STEP 4

Open your texture in Photoshop. I’m using a photograph of a stained canvas to mimic the effect of old film grain or newsprint. Desaturate the layer (Image > Adjustments > Desaturate or Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + U).

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Step 5

STEP 5

In the Adjustment panel, click the Gradient Map icon. Duplicate the gradient map as many times as required to boost the texture’s contrast. (The texture I used needed five such layers).

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Step 6

STEP 6

Highlight all the adjustment layers and the texture layer and hit Cmd/Ctrl + E to merge them together. Drag the edited texture into your photo file and use the Transform tools to make sure the entire image is covered by the texture.

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Step 7

STEP 7

With the texture layer highlighted, we’ll now blend the effect into the original image Set the opacity of the texture layer to between 10% and 25% as desired. For this image, I used a value of 18% to impart an obvious grain to the image.

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Step 8

STEP 8

Experiment with the blending modes until you get a suitable result. ‘Screen’ worked best for my texture as it brought back the brightness in the skin.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

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About the artist: Tigz Rice

STEP 9

Based in London, Tigz Rice is a freelance photographer and retoucher specialising in burlesque and boudoir imagery. Besides running her own Tigz Rice Studios, she works as a burlesque festival photographer with clients in Italy, Paris and Barcelona.

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Contact

tigzrice.com