How to Create a Soft Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop, Plus a Free Photoshop Action

How to Create a Soft Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop, Plus a Free Photoshop Action

Vintage photo effects are extremely popular, and in this tutorial we’ll walk through the process of creating a soft vintage effect in Photoshop. At the end of the article you can also download this effect as a Photoshop action that you can use with your own photos if you prefer not to go through the steps manually.

In this tutorial we’ll use non-destructive adjustment layers, so you can always make changes later if you save it in PSD format, and the original photo layer will not be impacted or harmed.

Here is a look at the “before” version of the sample photo that I’ll be working with.

How to Create a Soft Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop, Plus a Free Photoshop Action

And here is a quick preview of the “after” photo.

How to Create a Soft Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop, Plus a Free Photoshop Action

Ok, so let’s get started. First, create a folder in the layers palette by clicking on the new folder icon.

How to Create a Soft Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop, Plus a Free Photoshop Action

This creates the new folder. I’m going to label it as “vintage effect”.

How to Create a Soft Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop, Plus a Free Photoshop Action

Next, add a new curves adjustment layer. To do this, click on the icon to create a new adjustment layer.

How to Create a Soft Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop, Plus a Free Photoshop Action

Then click on “curves” and it will create the curves adjustment layer.

How to Create a Soft Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop, Plus a Free Photoshop Action

Now you want to apply curves that resemble the ones shown below. You’ll adjust red, green, and blue, and then also the RGB curve.

How to Create a Soft Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop, Plus a Free Photoshop Action

How to Create a Soft Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop, Plus a Free Photoshop Action

How to Create a Soft Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop, Plus a Free Photoshop Action

With the RGB curve (shown in white) you want to add a slight lift to the curve, which will slightly lighten the midtones of the photo.

How to Create a Soft Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop, Plus a Free Photoshop Action

The changes to the red, green, and blue curves with adjust the colors and give it a subtle vintage feel. Here is a look at the photo after the curves adjustment.

How to Create a Soft Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop, Plus a Free Photoshop Action

Next, we’ll add a brightness and contrast adjustment layer. Click on the icon to add the adjustment layer and then select “Brightness/Contrast”.

How to Create a Soft Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop, Plus a Free Photoshop Action

With this adjustment layer, set the contrast to -10.

How to Create a Soft Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop, Plus a Free Photoshop Action

For the next step, add vibrance adjustment layer.

How to Create a Soft Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop, Plus a Free Photoshop Action

Set the vibrance to -10 and saturation to -12.

How to Create a Soft Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop, Plus a Free Photoshop Action

These changes to contrast, vibrance, and saturation will tone down the colors and give it more of a vintage/aged feel. Here is a look at the work in progress.

How to Create a Soft Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop, Plus a Free Photoshop Action

For the final step, add a solid color adjustment layer. Fill it with the color #f8ebd2, which is a light creamy color. Then set the layer’s blend mode to “soft light” and the opacity to 55%. You may want to adjust the opacity percentage based on the photo that you are working with.

And that’s it! Here is our finished product.

How to Create a Soft Vintage Photo Effect in Photoshop, Plus a Free Photoshop Action

It’s a soft, subtle vintage effect that will work well with many photos. I’ve also created a Photoshop action that uses these steps, and you can download the action for free.

If you want to learn more about photo editing in Photoshop please see our free tutorial series, Photo Editing 101.