Travel Through Time: How to Age a Picture in Photoshop

Make any photograph look like a relic of the past.

Make retro-cool results using filters in Photoshop.

This demo should be appropriate to a beginner or intermediate-level user.

Let’s take a look at how to make any photograph look like a relic of the past using digital tools available to us in Adobe Photoshop.

This demo uses functions found in all recent versions of Photoshop, and should be appropriate to a beginner or intermediate-level user.

Let’s start with this photo, Shutterstock image 75811891, by Konrad Bak.

The first step is to find, or create, a texture that has a lot of wrinkles, scratches or heavy texture.

Searching Shutterstock for a textured background should net you a wide variety of choices.

For the first part of this tutorial, we will use Shutterstock image 61282714, by contributor cla78.

Insert the texture into the photograph on its own Layer.

Change the Blend Mode of the texture layer. Try a few different Blend Modes.

Overlay works well most of the time, but you may want to try Screen Blend Mode or another mode depending on the colors of your original image and the texture image.

This step already creates a very strong aged look, but removing the color will send our photo further back in time.

Insert a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer.

Be sure to check the Colorize box, then use the settings of Hue: 25, Saturation: 25 to create a Sepia tone.

At this point, press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E or Cmd+Opt+Shift+E to blend the visible layers into a new layer.

To add some film grain to the photograph, go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise.

Set the Distribution to Gaussian and check Monochromatic. Set the amount of grain you think looks best.

For some additional aging, use the Burn or Dodge tools to darken or lighten specific areas of the image as desired,

such as adding some darkening to the torn edges to make them looked slightly burned. Here’s your result!

Now, suppose you are using a wrinkled texture image that isn’t torn to the edge like the one we used above.

You can use a technique to add a tattered edge for a sense of realism.

To start, using the steps above to make your photo look similar to this:

Create a new layer below the finished aged photo layer.

Fill this layer with a colored background, such as a brown gradient, so once the tattered edge is created, it will stand out.

Select the photo layer once again and create a white border around it.

To create a white border, make a rectangular selection, leaving a thick band around the outside of the selection and the edge of the photo.

Press Ctrl+Shift+I to inverse the selection, so the area between the edge of the photo and the rectangle is selected.

Fill this area with white.

Now make another rectangular selection approximately halfway in between the edge of the entire image and the edge of the photo.

Again, press Ctrl+Shift+I to inverse the selection. This time press Q to turn on Quick Mask mode.

The center part of the image, the part that isn’t part of the selection, should become masked with red.

Activating Quick Mask mode allows you to edit your selection in the same way you would edit pixels, such as with a brush or filters.

At this point, go to Filter > Brush Strokes > Spatter.

Set the Spray Radius fairly small and keep the Smoothness in the mid range.

Click OK, and you will notice that the red Quick Mask selection will now have a tattered looking edge.

Press Q to deactivate Quick Mask mode.

Press Delete on the keyboard, and the tattered selection around the outside of the image will be removed,

leaving behind a nice tattered edge to the photo.

Try it with a few different photos and a few different settings and colors, and see what kind of retro-cool results you can create!


  • All Credits to: by Daryl Lang | published on September 29, 2011 @ ShutterStock
  • Image Shown : By Shutterstock Contributor Karl Rosencrants