Aging a Photograph with Photoshop CS

This tutorial will show you how to age a photograph with Photoshop. We'll take this photo:


And age it to look like this photo:

Final basic

Or even this...

Final Advanced

Step 1

Open the image you want to age

First we'll adjust the overall color of the image. Select Image > Adjustments > Hue Saturation from the menu.

Hue Sat

Check the "colorize" option in the lower right corner. Then adjust your setting similar to these:


Step 2

Create a new layer in the layers palette above your "Background" layer. Reset your colors by hitting "d" on the keyboard and fill this new layer with black by hitting option-delete on the Mac or alt-backspace on the PC.

Noise 01

Now choose Filter > Noise > Add noise from the menu

Noise 02

Add approximately 25% of noise, gaussian and monochromatic, like so:

Noise Settings

Now, choose Select > Color Range from the menu

Color Range

Click on your image in an area that is black and set the "Fuzziness" to around 150. Like So:

Select Color Range

Click Okay then hit the delete key. And deselect the area (Command/Control-d).

You should have an image similar to this:

After Color Range

Step 3

Choose Filter > Distort > Ripple from the menu

Distort Grain

Use settings similar to there:


Now hit Command/Control-f to repeat the filter a second time.

Choose Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask from the menu. Use settings similar to these:


You should have something similar to this now:


Change the noise layer's blending mode to Screen and lower the opacity to around 75%.

Step 4

Duplicate the noise layer by hitting Command-j on the Mac or Control-j on the PC. Then choose Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur from the menu.


Change this new layer's blend mode to Multiply and lower the opacity to around 40%.

Using the elliptical marquee tool


Make an oval selection in the center of your image.


Choose Select > Inverse from the menu to select everything outside your oval rather than the oval itself.


Create a new layer above all your other layers then choose Select > Feather from the menu. Enter a value of 15. You will not notice any change to the selection or image, however the edges of the selection have been softened with the feather command.

Click your foreground color in the toolbar to select a color. Set the color to 204R 188G 162B or Hex #CCBCA2 and click okay. Hold down the Option/Alt key and hit Delete/Backspace to fill the selection on your new layer.

You should have an image that looks similar to this at this point:

Example two

Create another new layer above all your other layers. Then click the background color in the toolbar to select it's color. Set the color to R169 G139 and B91 or Hex # A98B5B and click okay. Hold down the option/Alt key and at the same time choose Filter > Render > Clouds from the menu. Now deselect your selection by holding down Command/Control and hitting d on the keyboard. Change the layers blend mode to Darken and lower it's opacity to around 60%

Your file should look similar to this:


Highlight the top layer in the layers palette and hold down Command/Control and hit e on the keyboard to merge the top two layers into one layer. Lower this merged layer's opacity to around 40% and change it's blend mode to multiply. your image should be close to this:

Vinette 2

Step 5

Create a new layer above all other layers in the layers palette. Then choose Edit > Select all from the menu. Then, from the menu choose Select > Modify > Border.


Insert a value of 5 in the dialog that pops up and click okay. Hold down Option/Alt and hit Delete/Backspace to fill this border with the foreground color (which should still be set to a light brown from before.

Now choose Select > Modify > Border again and this time insert a value of 15 in the dialog and click okay. Hold down Command/Control and hit Delete/Backspace to fill this new border with the background color (which should still be a dark brown from earlier).

Now from the menu choose Edit > Fade Fill

Border two

Change the blend mode to Overlay and lower the opacity to around 50%

Border Settings

That should be it. Here's the final image:

Basic Final

Save your image and impress your friends. I've added some advanced options below to really push the aged look.

Extra options

Here are a few extra steps to really improve the appearance of age.

First flatten your image by choosing Flatten Image from the layer palette flyout menu. Then double click the background layer and click okay in the dialog to dismiss it and unlock the background layer.

Create a new layer BELOW the unlocked background layer. Fill this new layer with your background color (the dark brown).


Now... find a texture. A rough scratchy texture or make your own. It needs to be a simple black and white image that appears distressed. If you search the web I'm sure you'll find many options. This is the image I chose to use:


Open the texture in Photoshop. Using the move tool click and drag the texture to your aged image.

Move Texture

This should create a new layer with the texture on it. Make certain this new layer is above the all the other layers. You may need to resize and position the texture to fill your entire image. I've moved the texture around and got it placed in what looks like it will be a good spot for this image.


Hold down the Command-Option keys on the Mac or the Control-Alt keys on the PC and hit the number 1 on the keyboard to load this layer's luminosity as a selection. (This selects the brighter parts of the layer.) You should see the marching ants.


Turn off Visibility for the texture layer by clicking the eye icon next to it in the layers palette. Then highlight the image layer Like so:

Highlight Layer

Now click the Layer Mask Icon at the bottom of the layer's palette to add a layer mask to the image layer.


Unlink the mask with the layer by clicking the little chain icon between them.

Unlink mask

Highlight the mask by clicking directly on it in the layers palette. Then from the menu choose Filter > Render > Clouds while holding down the Option/Alt key.


Now from the menu, choose Edit > Fade Clouds. Use settings similar to these:

Fade Clouds

Your final image will look something like this:

Overall Final

Of course your distressing may appear different based upon the texture image you chose to use. Play with it a little and you can really make something look old and worn. You can easily repeat the steps on this page over and over to distress the image multiple times.

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