Do you want to achieve that antique, film-like quality without emptying your wallet on expensive rolls of film or spending hours in a darkroom? Well, all you really need is Photoshop and a digital camera! With a few simple steps, you can create images that look like they just came fresh out of a tub of developer. This tutorial will teach you not only how to create that old school, grainy film effect in Photoshop, but how to also add a splash of color using just a few basic tools.
Bright colors can really make a photo pop, but sometimes too much color within a photo can be distracting. Turning a color photo black and white and then bringing some of the color back into a specific section of the image can not only help isolate and draw attention to a subject, but it can also add a creative and unique touch.
Start by opening the image you want to work with in Photoshop. This effect works great with colorful images of nature, like flowers, leaves and water. Photos lacking a strong colorful element won’t pop as well against the black and white, so look for something with bright tones.
Create a new layer by right clicking on the background layer in the bottom right corner and selecting Duplicate Layer. With your new layer selected, go to Image > Adjustments > Black and White. Keep all of the default settings the same and click OK.
Next, you’re going to want to adjust the contrast by going to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels. Creating a separate layer for the levels adjustment will allow you to tweak the contrast throughout the editing process.
Create a mask on the black and white layer by clicking on the rectangular box with a circle inside of it, located in the bottom right corner. You’ll see a white box pop up next to the small image in the black and white layer.
Now you’ll start to bring color back into the picture. Select one specific part of the photo you want to work with and zoom in until that one section fills the window. Click on the brush tool, located on the left side of the window, select a round brush and change the hardness to about 50 percent.
Select the mask by clicking on the white box next to the small image in your background copy layer. Check the two small squares in the bottom left corner and make sure the foreground is black and the background is white. Start bringing color into your photo by dragging the brush over the selected area.
Go slowly and zoom in even more to color in the edges as perfectly as possible. Sloppy edges will make the effect look unnatural and obviously edited.
Keep brushing until you have your desired sections completely colored in. Continue zooming in and out to check the quality of the edges from different points of view.
Hold down Option and click on the mask in the layers panel to check your selection. Zoom in and go over any white or gray areas, turning them black. Hold down Option and click the mask again to return to the image.
Once you have your desired section completely colored in, you’re going to add the antique film effect. Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise and increase the amount of noise to about 35 percent. The higher the percentage of noise, the more destroyed and antique-looking the photo will be, so play around with the slider and settings until you achieve a look that works for your image.
Go back into your levels adjustment and tweak the contrast again to match the new noise effect and color element. Old black and white film photos often have a lot of gray tones without too many blown out highlights or shadows, so keep the contrast down.
Continue tweaking the effects and filling in more color until you’ve created an image that looks like an old film photo that’s been brought back to life.