hand-holding Polaroid picture

How to Make a Vintage Polaroid Picture in Photoshop

Do you love the look of vintage Polaroid pictures? This article will show you how to create a similar effect in Photoshop. We will walk you through the steps involved in creating this effect and provide some tips to help you achieve the best results.

So whether you are a beginner or an experienced Photoshop user, you should be able to follow these instructions and create your own vintage Polaroid picture.

Features of a Vintage Polaroid Picture

There are a few key features that define a vintage Polaroid picture. These include:

1. Color

One of the things that makes a vintage Polaroid picture so distinctive is the way the colors are rendered. The colors in a vintage Polaroid tend to be muted and slightly desaturated, you can achieve this in Photoshop by reducing the saturation of your image and adding a bit of blur.

2. Text

Vintage Polaroid pictures usually have the text that is usually written below the image. The text usually describes the picture and at times one can add a date on the picture's description.

3. Border

A vintage Polaroid has a white border that surrounds the image. You can create this border in Photoshop by adding a new layer and filling it with white and you can use the eraser tool to remove the excess white from around the edges of your image.

4. Size

Vintage Polaroids are small, usually no larger than four inches by six inches. This is because the cameras used to take them were also small.

hand-holding vintage Polaroid picture

Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash

5. Texture

Vintage Polaroids have a very distinct texture. This is because they were printed on glossy paper.

6. Effect

This is the result of the light leaks and imperfections that were common in Polaroid pictures. These imperfections give Polaroids their unique charm.

Step-By-Step Tutorial to Get the Above Features

Now that we have looked at the key features of a vintage Polaroid picture let's see how we can create a similar effect in Photoshop. Let's look at the steps involved in creating this effect.

Step 1

The first step is to have a picture of an actual polaroid and your photo. You can get a polaroid picture on stock websites like DeviantArt.

Once you have your picture and your polaroid, open Photoshop and move one photo onto the other by simply using the move tool.

photoshop tutorial step for a vintage Polaroid picture

Image Resource: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6y32yWi-Mk

Click and drag one image to another while holding the shift key. This puts them in the same document and creates two layers: the actual picture and the other background, which is your polaroid.

You can make it invisible in your actual picture and work on your polaroid first.

Step 2

Next, select your background, basically the space where your picture will be. Select the center square of your Polaroid. We will use our magic wand tool in this case, but you can choose any selection method that works best for you.

photoshop tutorial step for a vintage Polaroid picture

Image Resource: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6y32yWi-Mk

If you're not selecting enough, you can increase your tolerance. Your dark area will extend to the edge of the selection when you increase your tolerance. Now you can use it as a layer mask for your actual picture.

Step 3

Next is to make your actual picture visible and since we have a selection, make a layer mask by clicking the layer mask button, and your subjects will only show up in the middle of the polaroid.

If you link the layer mask and the layer, your image will move around, thus making it not stay within the frame of the pollard.

When you click on the chain-link, it will unlink them, making you move the layer mask and layer independently. If you move your layer, the mask will not move.

Step 4

Since the two are now one picture, you can add an adjustment layer to give it a polaroid look. Using a hue or saturation layer may give your image an old and styled effect.

photoshop tutorial step for a vintage Polaroid picture

Image Resource: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6y32yWi-Mk

Select a color, such as sepia, and ensure the colorize button is turned on. The adjustment layer will also affect the actual picture and the background which is the polaroid, and it's something you want to avoid.

So, right-click and create a clipping mask, and the adjustment layer will now only affect the actual picture. Clip your picture to the polaroid layer, and feel free to lower the opacity if the effect looks too strong.

Step 5

Create another layer and get a super large soft edge brush tool. Brush some whites at the top left corner, making it look a bit flair and make it part of the effect.

Step 6

photoshop tutorial step for a vintage Polaroid picture

Image Resource: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6y32yWi-Mk

Further the believability of the edges or borders by making it fuzzy and more realistic. Click on the layer mask then filter, select blur, and put a gaussian blur around the edges to blend the two. You can add a bit of the gaussian blur to make it look like it has set in there like a shadow.

Step 7

photoshop tutorial step for a vintage Polaroid picture

Image Resource: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6y32yWi-Mk

To make it an original polaroid picture, you  need to add some text under the polaroid. Create a new layer, grab your brush tool and write a text under your polaroid picture describing the picture, and if you like you can add a date.

If you want to make it look like the texture of the background has been applied to the text, double click on the layer and a layer style, and below you will see blend if.

You can blend if the underlying layers are either darker or lighter images together. This makes the whole picture look like a picture taken with a polaroid camera.


With some creativity and simple Photoshop skills, you can easily create vintage Polaroid pictures that will add a unique touch to any project. Whether you're working on a scrapbook layout, creating a collage, or want to add some fun flair to your photos, this technique is easy to achieve and always looks impressive.

So go ahead and give it a try; you might be surprised at how easy it is to create something unique with just a few clicks of your mouse.

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