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2016 was the year of the drone and high definition DSLR cameras. Yet something about antique, Polaroid pictures – with their pink and yellow hues and washed out tones has a huge appeal for photographers. Just look at Instagram, with its antique style filters and, until recently, mandatory square crop.

We love the look of an old school, Polaroid image, but we don’t always have the time or resources to produce an authentic picture on Polaroid film. And when it comes to digital photography, sometimes you want to add a simple, creative effect to an image, but don’t have hours to spend tweaking every aspect of your picture in Photoshop.

With this tutorial, you can can create a lovely Polaroid effect in under five minutes.

Start by opening your image in Photoshop.

Create a new adjustment layer by clicking on the half black half white circle in the bottom right corner. Select Solid Color at the top of the dropdown menu.

Select a deep pink color. For this demo we’re using #a7225a. Once you’ve selected a shade of pink you like, hit OK.

Change the blend mode to Lighten, and you’ll notice a big change in the shadows of the image. The photo should appear much more pink and orange. Turn down the opacity to between 20 and 30 percent, to tone down the effect.

Create another adjustment layer and select Levels. Decrease the highlights to about 245. This will create a less blown out and flatter effect to the image.

Then, create another adjustment layer for curves. Bump down the highlights just a little bit more and pull up the shadows. Play around with this setting until the photo achieves a nice, flat, antique look. This step will really give your image that Polaroid look we’re going for.

Then, create another adjustment layer and click Solid Color again. This time, select a deep yellow tone, and click OK. For this tutorial, we used color #d4c75d. Change the blend mode to Multiply and bump down the opacity to about 10 percent. This will fill in the highlights with a warmer yellow tone, rather than pink.

Finally, highlight all of your edits and click on the folder icon in the bottom right corner to put all of the effects into a group. The, click on the group layer and tweak the opacity to change the adjust the strength of this effect.

From here you can drag the group of edits to other documents to apply the effect to other pictures. Continue tweaking the opacity from picture to picture to find what works best for each individual image.


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