Photoshop CS4 Tutorial: Create Vintage Style Photos

Not happy with the stained, drab, dried look of standard vintage photos? Stock photo filters getting boring? Good! Today I’m going to show you how to keep the good qualities of vintage-effects and throw in some beautiful clouds of color by utilizing the adjustment layers in CS4.

Don’t have CS4? These principles should translate into PS3 with some minor tweaking.

Final Image Preview


Download Original Image


Note: Be sure that “Use Legacy” is unchecked for each adjustment layer below.

Step 1:

Open up your adjustments panel and create a new Brightness/Contrast layer. Leave the brightness at 0 and set your contrast to 30.


Step 2:

Create a new Gradient Map layer and choose the “Violet, Orange” preset. Once applied, set it’s opacity to 15%.


Step 3:

Create a new Exposure layer and set Gamma to 0.80.


Step 4:

Create a new Brightness/Contrast layer and set Brightness to 17.


Step 5:

Create a new Solid Color layer and set it to Overlay. Set the color to #00f6ff and the opacity to 10%.


Step 6:

Create a new Solid Color layer. Set the color to #00d480 and the opacity to 8%.


Step 7:

Create a new Solid Color layer and set it to Multiply. Set the color to #009ced and the opacity to 5%.


Step 8:

Create a new Gradient Map layer and set it to Screen. Create a custom gradient using the color #308eb1 on the left (Location: 0%) and #f6ff00 on the right (Location: 100%) and set the layer’s opacity to 25%.


Step 9:

Create a new Brightness/Contrast layer. Set the Contrast to 52.


Layers Overview

Double check the order of your layers.



Finished! If you’re not happy with your results, feel free to play with the settings and colors. Mixing shades to get the perfect result can take time and practice. Get to it!


Download this tutorial as an action

Want to save some time? Download all these steps as an action and apply them to your image.

Visit author’s website:

Joey Figaro

<a href="">Joey Figaro</a> is a 23 year old Graphic Designer, Web Developer and Musician. An avid computer enthusiast since MathBlaster and a hermit since Zork, he is prone to obsessively backwards engineering code or mixing shades of color until he passes out at his keyboard. Currently accepting projects he deems brilliant while working on a 6-track EP and cubicle-dwelling at Ameronix as a hired web ninja.

  • 4sightgraphics

    Thats awsome! Thank you, I like the download action feature haven’t seen that around too many blogs. Very useful, I used to create old photo effects with Duotones for print..

    April 21, 2009 at 12:49 AM
  • Joey Figaro

    Thanks, 4sight! I was happy to have the opportunity to submit it. The tutorial doesn’t quite show how impressive the results can be… I didn’t want to give away all of my fine tunings. ;)

    April 22, 2009 at 1:55 PM
  • edd

    nice tutorial
    very helpfull and usefull

    June 28, 2009 at 3:41 AM
  • Joey Figaro

    Thanks, Edd. Glad you liked it.

    June 28, 2009 at 2:06 PM
  • Katy Gordon

    Nice tutorial. Absolutely love the tips! I’m just a beginner at digital photo retouching and have to look up a lot of staff, lean more and practice. Your style is like or editouch retouchers’. They always have some great ideas and techniques to try. I’ve never tried their photo editing services but their tutorials are quite helpful.

    January 31, 2017 at 9:40 AM
  • PicsRetouch

    It is helpful tips to create vintage style photo in Photoshop. Photo retoucher can get benefit with this step by step turorial. Your work for Brightness/Contrast layer and Solid Color layer are amazing.

    April 19, 2018 at 4:05 AM