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Make It a Polaroid

Friday, September 22nd, 2006 by | Filed Under: Digital Photography

Make It a Polaroid

Now, this tutorial is especially for the people who love those Polaroid cameras that were a rage once upon a time. Nowadays, we all use digital cameras, but wouldn’t it be nice to give a little Polaroid effect to our images? Well, I hope you all do like that kind of thing, because you are about to go through a tutorial where you will learn how to add a Polaroid effect to your images.

Essentially, we are simply going to stylize a regular image and make it look like it’s a Polaroid image. For this tutorial, I am going to use the image shown below.

First of all, make a large rectangular selection on the new blank document that you created on Photoshop. Make sure you cover 90 percent of the area. Now, make a new layer and fill it with the color d8d8d8.

To give a little definition to the base of this Polaroid image, you are going to add a layer style to this layer. To do this, go to Layer, Layer Style or click on the little “F” icon you see at the bottom of the layers palette and select Bevel and Emboss.

We are going to add three different styles to this layer, Bevel and Emboss, Satin and Stroke. Below are the settings that I used for my image.

Bevel and Emboss:



Is your image looking a grayish or rather dirty white? If so, then you are on the right track. In the next step, we are going to draw out the actual image area. After which, we will fit in our original photo by using a clipping mask. So, let’s start by creating a new layer. Make a selection on the new layer and fill it with black. This is the area that we will eventually fill in with our image. If you have seen Polaroid images, you will know how this should look. If not, take a look at the screenshot below.

To define this layer a little, use the Stroke layer style on it. As we discussed earlier, to do this, click on the little “F” button at the bottom of the layers palette and select Stroke. Use the black color and make the size to 1 and the opacity to between 55 and 60 percent. Now, paste the original image on a new layer. This is the original image to which we intend to give the Polaroid effect to. Chances are, it won’t fit the black space like a glove, but don’t worry. Center the image over the black area as best you can.

Now, this is the most important step. This is where we are going to create a clipping mask. Hold down the Alt key and click between the top two layers that are between the actual photograph layer and the black area layer. Once you click between them, the picture should automatically fit in the black area. Is it starting to look like a Polaroid image?

To make it look even cooler, you can rotate it a little bit and add some drop shadow. Press Ctrl + T or go to Edit, Free Transform and rotate the image until it begins to look like you want it. It’s a good idea to merge down or chain together all the layers so all of them rotate together. If the layers are all separate, you will have to go through the trouble of rotating all the layers separately

To add a drop show, I have used the following settings:

The image is as good as finished now. There’s much more that you can do to this image to make it look cool. You can add text in a handwriting font or you can use a combination of these Polaroid images for a collage. This cool looking image can be used on your blog or homepage or even as your avatar or signature on social networking Web sites.

This is what I ended up with:

Certainly looks better than the original image, doesn’t it?! As you can see here, I added a bit of information about the image in a handwriting font.

Well, as I say at the end of all Photoshop tutorials, go ahead and experiment. You don’t necessarily need to use the settings that I have recommended. It will be better if you play around with the sliders and the settings. Who knows, you just might discover a cool effect of your own!

~ Yogesh Bakshi

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