Polaroid Tutorial

You’ll notice that we used several digital polaroids on our sidebar and header in the new blog design. Today, we’re going to show you how to make a faux Polaroid–we’re even giving you a freebie Polaroid Frame download!

The tutorial is in Photoshop, and is designed to be a step by step for people who don’t know the first thing about Photoshop. Photoshop can be overwhelming if you try to learn everything all at once. We found it easiest to learn one specific thing at a time through tutorials like this one!

Don’t have Photoshop? No big deal. The tutorial’s not for you, but the downloadable frame is a .png and will still work!

To start, Download the Free Digital Polaroid Frame and pick which digital photo you’d like to use. (To download the frame, left click on the image and click “save as…”)

*If you need a closer look at the screen shots, just click on them.

Polaroid Frame DIY

Open up your frame in Photoshop.

Polaroid Frame DIY

Place your photo in the document by selecting File >> Place

Polaroid Frame DIY

Select the photo you’d like to use and click “Place”.

Polaroid Frame DIY

Resize the photo by grabbing the corner of the photo, hold down, and drag until it the photo fits within the frame. Hold “Shift” while you do this so that the proportions of the photo are maintained– you don’t want it to stretch horizontally or vertically. Remember that the hole for the photo is square and you photo is probably rectangular, so resize the photo so that it’s shortest sides fit into the frame. The longer sides will overlap, as shown.

Polaroid Frame DIY

Double click on the photo. Select “Place”.

Polaroid Frame DIY

Now you’re photo is sized correctly, but is in front of the frame. It needs to be behind the frame.

Polaroid Frame DIY

Look over in your Layers section. Mine’s over there to the right of the screen. If yours isn’t showing, you need to go to Windows >> Layers in order for the Layers toolbar to be visible. You should have two layers. One will be for the frame on the bottom (Layer 0) and one will be for the image. Click on the image layer and drag it underneath the frame layer in the layer toolar. Your frame will now be in front of your photo. You may need to slightly adjust the position of the photo within the frame. To do this, you must have the photo layer selected. In Photoshop, you cannot move a layer unless you’ve selected it by clicking on the layer in the layer toolbar. You can either move the photo with your mouse pointer or move it with the arrow keys on your computer. Each click of the arrow key will move the photo one pixel.

Polaroid Frame DIY

Now we’ve got the Polaroid frame around the photo, but it won’t look very much like a Polaroid unless we change the coloring a little bit. We’re going to age the photo by changing the color tones using Curves. To do this, add a new layer by going to Layers >>New Adjustment Layers>>Curves.

Polaroid Frame DIY

Click “OK”, and you’ll have a new layer!

Polaroid Frame DIY

Notice that you now have a new layer in the layers toolbar! It should be situated between the photo layer and the frame layer. In photoshop, layers that are on the top are visible over the layers on the bottom of the layers list. Just like we wanted the frame in front of the photo, we want the Curves changes we make to be “in front” of the photo, but not “in front” of the frame. This way we’ll change the color of the photo and not the color of the frame.

Polaroid Frame DIY

Click on the Curves layer, and you’ll notice that you now have a little graph. You can do a lot with Curves (read about it here), but we’re going to keep it simple.

See the little drop down menu above the graph? It says RGB, but we need to adjust the curves of each channel separately. Begin by selecting red.

Polaroid Frame DIY

A red line will now show. You can select points on the line, move them around, and it will adjust the red tone in the photo. Choose a point on the line about halfway through the right half of the line and drag it up a bit. Choose a point on the line about halfway through the left half of the line and drag it down a bit.

Polaroid Frame DIY

Now select blue from the drop down menu. A blue line will now show. To adjust the blue tones in the photo, choose a point on the line about halfway through the right half of the line and drag it down a bit. Choose a point on the line about halfway through the left half of the line and drag it up a bit.

Polaroid Frame DIY

Lastly, select green from the drop down menu. A green line will now show. In the center of the line, choose a point and drag it up slightly. You’re done with curves! If you need to, go back through each color and make slight adjustments until you get the look that you’re going for.

Polaroid Frame DIY

If you’d like to save this photo as a .psd, you can save now. If you’d like to upload the photo to the Internet, you’ll want to save the photo as a .jpg. To do this, you need to go back down to one layer. Select Layer>>Flatten Image.

Polaroid Frame DIY

Now the image is flattened. Now there’s only one layer in the layers toolbar, and you can’t make any further changes unless you undo the image flattening.

Polaroid Frame DIY

Go to File>>Save As and select “JPG” from the drop down menu. Save it!

Polaroid Frame DIY

Now you’ve got a faux Polaroid! If you make one, make sure to share it with us!

What would you like to know how to do in Photoshop? Next up is creating photo packages so you can print tons of photos on one piece of photo paper!