How to Create Summery Vintage Portraits

I´m back from my ten days long trip in China. In one word it was absolutelly awesome. Wait .. it´s two words :D Anyway I´ll post more about it once I download all the photos (I have 1300 of them plus some videos).

I came back yesterday late night so it was no time to write my regular Monday article. But I hope that Thuesday is as good as Monday :)

Todays article is about post processing of one of my recent photos which you can see below. It was requested by many people on Facebook and Tumblr and I don´t want to keep you waiting. So let´s get started!

In this photo I wanted to use almost washed out but still warm color palette with slight vintage feel because of the old board standing in the background. To achieve that effect I used:
  • Levels four times,
  • Hue/Saturation three times,
  • Color Balance two times,
  • Curves once.

As I´ve already mentnioned in many of my previous articles about post processing it´s always better to do more gentle changes and combine effects of different adjustment tools to get more interesting and unique effect.

Resource Photo

Here you can download the resource photo to be able to follow steps of this tutorial exactly. If you like more freedom in editing feel free to use whatever photo you want. The point is not to be able to repeat this tutorial exactly but to understand how different adjustments work.

Post processing

Step 1 - Increasing contrast
Let´s start with increasing contrast of the photo. First add new adjustment layer Levels and set the Input Levels on 12; 1,00; 243. Then add new adjustment layer Hue/Saturation and set the value Saturation on -15.

And finally add Color Balance adjustment layer on the top of all layers and set it as shown on the following picture.

Step 2 - Warmer color palette
Let´s begin with first color changes. In this step you´ll desaturate the image even little bit more with Hue/Saturation and then add warmer, more summery colors with Levels.

To desaturate the picture simply add new adjustment layer Hue/Saturation on the top of all layers and set the value Hue/Saturation on -30.

It´s only couple of weeks since I´ve discovered that you can use Levels to not only adjust contrast but colors too! Since then it´s one of my favorite adjustment tool and I use it in most of editing. And this photo was no exception.

But enough talking :) Add new adjustment layer Levels on the top of all layers and follow the picture below to set it as I did.

Your photo should be similar to the one shown below.

Step 3 - Vignette
I decided to add vignette to this picture to create more plasticity and also to direct viewer´s eye more into the centre of the image.

Add new adjustment layer Levels (I told you it´s my favorite :) ) and set the Input Levels on 0; 0,21; 255. You want to adjust only corners of the image and not the rest. To do that grab the Gradient Tool (G) and pick black color.

Make sure that the layer mask is activated - simply click on the thumbnail of it. Then fill it with solid black color. Adjustment dissapears.

Grab the Brush Tool (B) and select some soft round brush. Lower its Opacity on about 25%, pick white color and paint around the edges to create gentle vignette. You can get the inspiration from the picture below.

Step 4 - Second color adjustment
According to me colors of the picture are too heavy and flat right now. I´m looking for more fairy effect. To achieve that you´ll make the image brigter, warmer and less saturated in this step.

Let´s start with brightening. Add new adjustment layer Curves on the top of all layers and adjust the curve similarly to the one on the picture below.

To make color even more warmer add new adjustment layer Color Balance and set it as on the following picture.

And finally lower the saturation by adding new adjustment layer Hue/Saturation on the top of all layer and setting value Saturation on -30.

After this step your image should look as the one below.

Step 5 - Final adjustment with Levels
To get the exact same result as on the preview you need to add two more adjustment layers.

Add new adjustment layer Levels and set the Output Levels on 25; 255 to make shadows of the picture lighter. Then add Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, choose Yellows and set the value Saturation on -30.

And voilá! You´re finished.

Finished photo

You can take a look how the finished photo looks.


Hope that the article was useful for you! If you have any questions feel free to ask in comments and I´ll do my best to answer them.

It would be amazing if you share this article so more people can learn from it. You would have my gratitude!

Have a lovely day,