Creating A Polaroid In Photoshop

By Bert Marissen
April 1, 2010 from Photo Editing,Photo Editing

Taken a great old school picture, but don’t know what to do with it? In this tutorial we’re going to learn how to transform it into an old fashioned polaroid in photoshop. In a few simple steps you can create a polaroid with your own picture!

PhotoGuides Members can also download the PSD file for this tutorial. It’s a very handy file to have and will really help you follow the tutorial, or alternatively, you could simply drag your own photo into the PSD file where the polaroid effect is already applied! You can download it at the bottom of this tute.

Step 1

Create a new file with these dimensions:

500 width
600 height

Step 2

Go to file>place and place your picture. I find that the best pictures for polaroids are the ones with warm colors.

Step 3

First we are going to photoshop the picture to get that old school polaroid feeling.
Duplicate the picture layer (always keep the untouched original). This will be our working layer for the picture.

Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation > Saturation -40

Image > Adjustments > Photofilter > Warming filter (85) > Density: 50%

In the bottom of your layer palette you see seven buttons (the bin, mask, etc.).
Go to the adjusment layer button, click on it and create a gradient map. Now we have our own gradient layer. Why? Well if you create a gradient on the layer you can’t play with the blending/opacity options because its already on your picture. (you can do this with al the steps: saturation and photofilter)

So once you’ve got your gradient screen on, search for the orange/purple gradient (its a standard gradient) and press ok. Go to your blending options and change it to ‘screen’ with an opacity of 80%.

The picture is now done. We have a nice old feeling picture. Create a new group and name it ’Photo’. Put all your photo files in it. This is important because if you get many layers you can get confused. Also, to help with your organisation, it’s best to always name your layers!

Step 4

Now we are going to work on our polaroid.

Layer > New > Layer ( or press cmd/ctrl + shift + n) and call it ‘Polaroid’

Fill the layer with this color: fff7e7.

Take out your rectangular marquee tool and create a nice square on the polaroid layer and press delete. It’s beginning to look like a polaroid, just a few more adjusments.

Select your photo group and move it until you have a the best piece of the picture in the square.

Select your polaroid layer again, go to blending options and click on drop shadow. Put in these numbers:

Now we still have that hard line next to the drop shadow. So create another square with your rectangular marquee tool, just a bit bigger then the square we have now (like 2 mm bigger on all sides) and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian blur> 0.6, and press ok. Now we’ve gotten rid of the hard line.

Step 5

The polaroid still doesn’t have the old feeling. We are going to accomplish this with an old paper texture which you can download from here.

Place the old paper texture and set the blending mode to multiply with an opacity of 10% (why so low? because we only need a little texture, not alot).


Step 6

Now we are going to vignette the edges of the picture. Again this is for the old school feeling. Create a new layer (Cmd/cntrl + Shift + N) and take out your brush tool with an opacity of 25 %. Drag the layer beneath the polaroid layer and brush a little bit around the inside edges of the polaroid (make sure you choose the correct layer!).



Step 7

Well our polaroid is almost finished! We only need some text on the bottom (optional)

Search for a nice font (hand written fonts are nice for polaroids).

Type your text (my text is Old School Polaroid > Brush Script MT) and put the opacity on 80% so it blends in.


If you followed these steps, you know should have a nice old school looking polaroid. In a few simple steps you created a good looking result. I hope you learned from it, and if you have some questions you can always ask them and I will gladly help you.

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  • Traci

    Nicely done, thank you.

  • Augusto

    Good tutorial. However I think that we can dispense the shadow (Step 4). Personally I don’t like it…

  • andjoel

    hi guys,
    could someone help me?
    im stuck a bit at step 4.
    after creating it how do fill the layer with color: fff7e7?

  • Bert Marissen

    well its actually very easy. On the left you see a paintbucket (or a gradient tool, then you need to click on it and choose paintbucket)

    Take it, just click anywhere in your document (make sure you get the good layer) and it fills it with the color.

    I hope that will get you further with tutorial!

  • andjoel

    ive done it like that
    thanks for your help

  • eve_aida

    i like this tutorial. thanks!

  • sts

    I think you are good writer, keep us posting

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  • gry planszowe sklep

    Thanks for writing this post. Now everything is clear for me.

  • busy do Niemiec ze Slupska

    Thanks for sharing, please keep us posting about this info. I’d like to read it more.

  • smart girl

    you’re great Designer Thank you

  • http://Website(optional) Keri

    Thank you! Very detailed and helpful =)

  • Rebecca

    This was a very simple and easy to follow tutorial! Thank you so much!

  • cristianrubio

    Very good! Thank you very much!!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you it is very helpful !

  • Liana Katrina

    I cant open the PDS file. It says: Could not complete your request because it is not a valid Photoshop document.

  • Jenny E

    I have a PhD in neuroscience and cannot understand this, I must be totally retarded. What the fxxk is Blending options?

  • Zoe B

    Tutorial is probably great if you are already good at photoshop, but if you only know the basics, it totally sucks – impossible to understand beyond step 3!!

  • AJ

    Create a new group and name it ’Photo’. WTF does that mean? What is a “group”. I agree with the below commenters – totally impossible if you are not a photoshop ace.

  • jen armand

    OMG, the further I go along this tutorial the more pissed off I get at the shitty instructions. I really hate when ppl assume that you know everything and don’t explain the steps properly.. grrrrr why bother writing tutorials that just piss ppl off, totally agree with the people below…

  • jen armand

    anyone understand step 6? Nothing happens when I take out the brush tool and try to brush around the edges…

  • Jenny E

    FUUUCK goinng crazy trying to follow this – MISSION IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!!!

  • jen armand

    sorry but this is super hard to follow….

  • jen armand

    Im-fucking-possible to understand this tutorial – crap – makes you feel so stupid.

  • Panbit

    Awesome tut. Easy to understand, except maybe the part about duplicating the photo? Coz when I placed my photo, it became a smart object and I think many people would be confused at that part.

  • Clipping Solutions

    Wow. awesome work….. :)