We may being living in the digital age, but the aesthetics of retro camera and video gear have definitely been making a comeback as of late. From trendy toy cameras to Polaroids to analog fine art photography, the resurgence of techniques and tools from yesteryear keep popping up left and right. If you want to experiment with some vintage elements in your own photography but don’t have the right equipment, fear not! Here’s how to use Photoshop to give your pictures some uber cool throwback VCR glitch effects.
After opening your image in Photoshop, the first step is to add your fake timestamp in the bottom corner. For this tutorial, the font VCR OSD Mono Regular was used. You can choose whatever time of day and date you wish, but picking a year in the past will lend a little vintage touch.
Before doing anything else, go to Layer > Duplicate Layer. This assures all the work you do will be on this layer copy and not your original image in case you make any errors or want to refer to the original at any time during your manipulations.
Next, on this layer duplication, it’s time to add some noise. To do this, go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise.
Make sure your distribution is “Uniform” and that you have “Monochromatic” selected, otherwise feel free to play with the amount slider to add whatever percentage of noise looks good to you. Now it’s time to add distortion.
To do this, find your “Single Row Marquee Tool.” Select an area near the top of your image by clicking. A dotted line will appear which is actually a selection of a single row of pixels. Hit “enter” to confirm this selection.
Now go to Edit > Free Transform. Holding down your shift key, drag your selection upwards to stretch the pixels. Hit “enter” to confirm the change. Once you’ve done this, don’t deselect the area just yet!
To add a wave to this part of your image, go to Filter > Distort > Shear.
A straight line will appear in the Shear box, but adding curve to it will give your area selection the same distortion.
Once you’re satisfied, hit “OK” and then go ahead and Select > Deselect the area.
Once you’ve done this, repeat this whole process on the bottom part of the image or anywhere else you think it would look good. Protip: pressing Command+F will duplicate the Shear effect, so hit this combo of keys as many times as you want until the distortion matches your preference.
To tone down the colors of your image, select the top text layer of your PSD, then go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation.
Taking down the saturation of your image and fiddling with the hue can help your image look more genuinely vintage. Adjust both the sliders as you see fit.
Now, you’ll need to make a new layer by going to Layer > New > Layer. Then, go to Image > Apply Image so your image is also on this new layer. In your layers menu on the right, select the tab “Channel” and click so only the red layer is visible.
To get color separation distortion, you’re going to make another Shear by going to Filter > Distort > Shear. You don’t need to create very much of a curve at all to get noticeable color separation, but to each his own!
Once you make all the RGB layers visible again, you will see the change in your image. To add some additional line distortions, go back to your Single Row Marquee Tool to click on whatever areas in your image you would want them to appear. Make sure you are on “Add to Selection” mode (circled in red).
Now go to Filter > Stylize > Wind.
In this window, select “Blast” as your method and choose whichever direction you wish, then hit OK. Again, you can hit Command+F to increase this effect as much as you want.
As a finishing touch, it’s time to add a Shear to the whole image so that your text gets warped as well. Click on your top layer then go to Filter > Distort > Shear and fix your curve to your own liking.
And finally, you’re done! One of the coolest things about this effect is that the hand done nature means your end result will look different every time.