Retro Photo Effect

In this Photoshop tutorial, we’ll learn how to create a retro photo effect by altering the colors of the photo. We will make use of the Match Color tool to change the photo’s colors. Here’s the effect we will be creating:

Retro Photo Effect

To create a retro photo effect, you’ll need:

  • Any recent version of Photoshop (I used CS3 Extended)

Step 1

Open your image in Photoshop.

Retro Photo Effect Original

Step 2

Create a new layer by clicking on the New Layer option in the layers palette. Before continuing, make sure you have selected the new layer.

Retro Photo Effect New Layer

Step 3

Now, grab the Rectangular Marquee tool and drag a rectangle from the top left to the bottom middle. This will make a selection in one half of the photo.

Retro Photo Effect Selection

Step 4

Choose the red color in the swatches palette and press Alt+Backspace to fill our selection with red.

Retro Photo Effect Red Color

Retro Photo Effect Fill Red

Step 5

Go to Select > Inverse to inverse the selection onto the other half of the photo. Now, select the color green and press Alt+Backspace to fill the selection with green.

Retro Photo Effect Green Color

Retro Photo Effect Fill Green


Step 6

Hide the Layer 1 by clicking on the eye icon and then select the background layer.

Retro Photo Effect Hide Layer

Step 7

Go to Image > Adjustments > Match Color to open up the Match Color tool, which we will use to change the color of the photo based on Layer 1. In the source, select the document name of your picture. Then, choose Layer 1 for the Layer option.

Retro Photo Effect Match Color

Adjust the Image Options according to the effect you are going for. For the Fade option, increase it until the posterized effect vanishes. Drag the Color Intensity to the left if you want a washed-out, neutral effect or drag it to the right if you want to increase the vibrancy. You don’t need to adjust the Luminance as it will only lighten or darken your picture.

Retro Photo Effect Image Options

And we’re done with creating the retro photo effect!

Retro Photo Effect