Cameras have come a long, long way over time. From cumbersome folding cameras to tiny point and shoots to current DSLRs like the Canon 5D and Nikon D810, there’s been a clear progression in technology and technique. Despite our leaps in innovation, some of the most interesting photos made are still the ones that comes from plastic “toy cameras” like the Diana F+ and Holga. Constructed from plastic, these cameras produce unique square images with vignettes, skewed hues and at-random light leaks that guarantee a surprise every time. However, if you don’t happen to own one of these artsy little cameras or you want to make your existing digital images look like they came from one, here’s how to do it in just a few minutes in Photoshop CC!
First, open your photo and crop it into a square to get that authentic toy camera shape.
To get a perfect square, choose a 1:1 ratio in the drop down menu directly to the right of the crop tool icon (below the X out button).
Once your image is squared away, duplicate the layer either by clicking the folder paper icon at the bottom of the layers menu (pointed out in red) or by going to layer > new > layer at the top of your screen menu.
After you’ve made a new layer, change the blend mode from “normal” to “multiply” to give the photo some more density.
Pull the opacity slider down to somewhere around 48-55% or whatever looks good to you.
Select both layers and then press control+click while on the layers. When the menu pops up, select “convert to smart object.”
Next, go to filter > blur gallery > iris blur. This is how you’ll add circular blur that mimics the effects of the inexpensive plastic lenses of toy cameras.
When this opens up, you can move the center dial to increase or decrease the amount of blur you want. You can also change the shape of the blurred area (circular is ideal to really replicate the toy camera look, but an oblong shape works too!). On the right you will also see sliders giving you the option of adding light and color bokeh to your image as well. Once you’re happy with the look of your image, hit the “ok” button on the top middle of the screen.
Next, add a color cast to your image by choosing “solid color” in the layers menu (the half filled circle icon on the bottom).
From the menu that pops up, choose a green, almost verging on aqua color.
From the blend mode menu, change this layer from “normal” to “color” and take the opacity down to somewhere between 10-15%. Some toy cameras give heavily tinted images, but in this case, we’re going to keep it on the lighter side.
Once your image its tint, go ahead and press control+click on the layer to convert it into a smart object yet again.
Now, we’ll add in a vignette like those seen with toy cameras. In the top menu, go to filter > camera raw filter.
In this screen, select the curves tab (circled in red) to adjust your contrast even more. A very subtle S-shaped line should do the trick.
Back in the main tab, take the vibrance of the image down while simultaneously boosting the saturation.
In the “fx” tab (circled in red), take the “post crop vignetting” amount number down to -100 to allow yourself to see the full scope of your vignette.
Taking the roundness down to around -91 will give you more squared edges to really look like a toy camera image. Play around with your “midpoint” and “feather” sliders until you get something that looks good to you then press “okay.”
Once you’re back to the main Photoshop screen, create a new layer. Next, select a large brush with hardness taken all the way down.
Select a bright red color, as this will be the color of your faux light leaks.
With your brush, paint over areas of your image to emulate the light leaks that occur with plastic cameras. How much or how little you want is based entirely on personal preference.
Once you’ve done this, change the blend mode to “soft light” to make it look more realistic.
And voilà! You’ve got your faux toy camera edit down. Get out there and give it a go for yourself.