Photoshop Guide: Getting that nostalgic old 1900s sepia photo effect
There was an era in the early 1900s when some photographs were not merely black and white. Others used the sepia tone in photography to get a brown-scale version of the image and not a gray scale. Today, this effect is widely used in themed flyer printing, business cards, greeting cards and even websites where this effect might be applicable.
1. First let us alter your photograph a bit. Most images from the past have more pronounced contrast values since it was contrast that defined a lot of the shapes and forms in the image. So our first step is to adjust the Brightness and contrast values of our image.
2. With the background selected go to Image -> Adjustments -> Brightness/Contrast.
3. Some images require more brightness and contrast than others. So you will need to play around depending on your image. For our image, we will use a relatively high contrast adjustment and a midrange brightness adjustment.
4. Now, duplicate this image by right clicking on the layer and then choosing “duplicate layer”. We are doing this so that we can go back to the original high contrast image if we ever make a mistake.
5. Next, let us add a little bit of film grain. With the new duplicate layer selected, go to Filter -> Artistic -> Film Grain...
6. Adjust the intensity depending on your image, but here are the recommended values.
- Grain: 9
- Highlight Area: 2
- Intensity: 10
7. Once done, you will see something like this:
8. Now, it might look too grainy for comfort, so for this layer, we will adjust the opacity a bit to around 30% to let some of the original image appear.
9. Now it looks better, with that subtle grain elements.
10. Before you go to the next step, duplicate the original high contrast image that we made. Just right click on it and select that duplicate again.
11. Afterwards, we’ll add a blur on the edges of our image. Use the rounded marquee selection tool for this.
12. Now set its feather to around 40px or more.
13. Now drag the circle around the main objects of your image.
14. Afterwards, click on Select -> Inverse.
15. Then click on Filters -> Blurs -> Gaussian Blur.
16. This will produce a blur around the edges of your main objects. Reduce this layer’s opacity by 50%. Place it on top of the layer with the film grain.
17. Now we have a nice grain on the image and some blur around the edges.
18. Next, create a new layer again by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+N. Fill this with a dark brown color (don’t worry we are not blotting out the image).
19. Now, use the eraser tool and erase the central part of the color layer while leaving the edges untouched.
20. Make sure to set the hardness of the eraser brush to 0% to get a feather eraser.
21. Once done, reduce the opacity of this layer to around 45%.
22. Great! Now we are ready to apply the sepia effect.
23. Simply go to Image ->New Adjustment Layer -> Photo Filter....
24. On the layer window that opens, click on OK.
25. Now, select Sepia as the color tone in the adjustments panel. Do not forget to adjust the slider all the way to 100% to get the full sepia effect.
26. Great! Now you have an image with a nostalgic sepia effect.
And there you go! Feel free to adjust the blur degree or the colours to your liking.
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