By day, I’m an associate creative director at Adobe; by night, I’m a photographer, musician, and Adobe Photoshop composite artist. For this giveaway, I drew on my day and night selves to create a pack of light leaks and scratch effects that give photos a vintage, atmospheric, and distorted look. The effects are inspired by the real-world distortions and discolorations that can occur with film cameras.
You can use the effects in any project, personal or commercial. All we ask is that you don't re-distribute the original PSD.
How to Use the Effects
To use these effects, open the PSD file you downloaded from the link above and add your photo as a new layer below the effect layer groups. The effects are grouped by type:
- Light Leaks
- Light/Color effect groups
Turn on as many or as few of the layers as you like to achieve a vintage and distressed look.
Adjust the opacity slider in the Layers panel to change the intensity of any of the effect layers. to customize your look, try changing the color and position of the effect layers.
How I Created the Effects
I made most of the light leak effects using color gradients or brushes on a blank canvas. Next, I applied blur and distortion to create variation and imperfection. Once I was satisfied with the atmosphere of a color layer, I changed its blend mode to Screen and moved on to the next one.
I intentionally kept my process loose, working quickly and not overthinking my decisions. Light leaks in film cameras are mostly accidental, so I decided I needed to channel that serendipity to make the most surprising results.
I created many of the dust and scratches by snapping photos with my phone of concrete, dirty windows, and scratched walls. I brought the images into Photoshop and adjusted their sharpness and contrast to the extreme. Eventually they became messes of black and white pixels, which I overlaid on the images with a Screen blend mode.
I made other “scratches” by dropping loose soil on a sheet of white paper and photographing the results. Following the same process as above, I converted the captures into purely black and white images to be overlaid on a photo.