If you’re into photo editing apps, you may have seen some cool photo filters to overlay light textures onto your photos. There are three particularly awesome apps I recommend: PicLab, AfterLight and PicFx. My personal favorite is PicLab, because when you’re done layering light textures, you can add text over your image in a snap.
So while any of these are great apps with plenty of options to choose from, I find even at my level of adeptness I am hard pressed to truly capture the custom beauty that can only be obtained while processing my images in Photoshop instead. Photoshop offers way more refinement and way more character for enhancing your favorite moments.
If you are intimidated by Photoshop, this tutorial is going to help you break the ice a little bit. I’m going to cover some very simple techniques that can be easily customized to suit your composition.
Light leaks are a fun way to add an artsy vintage look to your photos. I tend to like this effect on outdoor images but you could use this for pretty much anything: pets, portraits, vacation photos, etc. The idea is to create an overall ethereal feel to your images. Think poetry and timelessness (vintage, right?).
My original image is featured below:
It’s just a simple photo I took early one morning of a purple cabbage. It’s nice to begin with, but this technique will take it to a new level.
STEP 1: EDIT HUE & SATURATION
First we want to take those colors down a notch so we can compensate for the color pop we will be layering on later. In your layers palette, click on the icon that looks like a circle divided in half to add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, and set the saturation level to about -17.
STEP 2: ADJUST THE LEVELS
Next we want to create a Levels Adjustment layer to bring out a bit more contrast and depth. Click on the adjustment layer icon and select Levels. In the Levels palette, set the black arrow to 17 and the grey arrow to 0.69.
STEP 3: ADJUST CURVES
After we’ve set our Levels, it’s time to really create some magic! Click on the adjustment layer icon and select Curves. Your Curves adjustment layer is going to really give it that vintage feel, so feel free to customize the settings outside of my recommendations to make this work the best for your particular image. Below I have displayed the entire Curves palette and also a break down by color/channel.
This is one of my favorite go-to tricks that I use on many of my photos…and I totally don’t mind sharing it with you: Select the Red channel from the RGB pulldown and with two points make a slight “S” shape on the graph. Select the Green channel and with two points make a slight “S” shape on the graph. Now, with the Blue channel, it’s the same idea but inverted–make an inverted slight “S” shape on the graph.
STEP 4: THE GRADIENT TOOL
Here’s where the fun “Light” effect comes into play. Create a new blank layer in the layer palette. Select the gradient tool, double click the gradient swatch and change the swatch to the one that appears as color-to-transparency. Edit the swatch for each end of the gradient to this value: dd1b1e.
With the Gradient Tool selected, you’re going to click the cursor at an angle slightly off a corner of the artboard and drag it to any given point in the middle of the image. Let go and the gradient will show up. Start with one corner and then add another gradient to this layer from the opposite corner. This is the part where you may need to try a couple times to get the angles of the gradient where you want them. If it doesn’t look right to you, scrap the layer, make a new one and keep trying. Set the layer blend mode to Linear Dodge. Feel free to adjust the opacity as low as 75% if the effect is too bold for you.
Here we have the completed image. Hopefully this technique will help open your mind to the endless possibilities Photoshop can offer! As I have stated with my previous post, How to Instagram With Photoshop –experiment and have fun!
BEFORE AND AFTER