Creating a Soft Vintage Look in Lightroom & Photoshop

||, Tutorials|Creating a Soft Vintage Look in Lightroom & Photoshop

Creating a Soft Vintage Look in Lightroom & Photoshop

By |2018-08-16T15:52:26+00:00September 1st, 2013|Categories: Photography, Tutorials|Tags: , , |3 Comments

One post-processing question that pops up from time-to-time is how to get a “soft” look when post-processing your images. To create this look there are just two settings and adjustments you’ll want to really focus on: Curves and Split Toning. Here’s how to create the look using both Lightroom and Photoshop.



Lightroom — Step 1:

In Lightroom, first make sure you’re in the Develop module. Then, go to the Curves panel. If the panel is not already in the “Point Curve” mode, click on the little curve icon on the bottom-right to activate it.


Lightroom — Step 2:

Next, click on the curve somewhere in the bottom-left part of the curve to add a point, but try not to move your cursor. This will create an “anchor” for your curve. Then, click on the very bottom-left corner of the curve and drag it straight up. This will end up “crushing” your blacks so that they start to get a bit faded.


Lightroom — Step 3:

The next step is to make some adjustments to the Split Toning panel. First, start with the Highlights; move the Saturation slider in a little bit and then adjust the Hue slider until you get a color you like. Then, do the same for the Shadows setting until you’ve come up with a split-toning look you like. You can also adjust the Balance slider to push preference to one color over the other.


After you’ve made this adjustment, your vintage look is pretty much ready to go. From here, you can alter other settings to get a polished look (such as adjust your Exposure, add a vignette, etc.).



Photoshop — Step 1:

Now, let’s do this inside of Photoshop. Using the Adjustments panel, add a Curves adjustment layer.


Photoshop — Step 2:

Just like with the curves in Lightroom click once on the bottom-left portion of the curve to add a point. Then, click on the bottom-left corner and drag it straight up.


Photoshop — Step 3:

Next, in the Adjustments panel, click on the Color Balance icon to add a Color Balance adjustment to your document. This is what we’ll use to add a split-toning effect to the image. To start, change the “Tone” drop-down so that it is set to “Shadows”. Then move the color sliders around to adjust the shadow color to your liking. For this image, I went with a warm yellowish-red color.


Photoshop — Step 4:

Then, go back to the “Tone” drop-down and change it to “Highlights”. Adjust the colors again until you get an overall look you are happy with.


That’s it! Now you can continue to process the photo to get a nice, polished look to your liking.

About the Author:

Nicole S. Young is a professional photographer and published author whose love of photography and teaching has grown into an online business where she creates training materials and resources for other photographers. Nicole is best known for her books on food photography, but is widely versed in a variety of photographic genres, including landscape, travel, lifestyle, and even underwater photography. You can learn more about Nicole's work on her website,


  1. Jesse September 11, 2013 at 10:25 pm - Reply

    I can not thank you enough for sharing this information!!!!!!!!!! I always wanted to mess around with crushing blacks without purchasing a preset! thank you:)

  2. Lauren Elizabeth November 11, 2013 at 8:47 pm - Reply

    I just discovered your site (I’m a bay area girl too!) and I’m totally in a Nicolesy rabbit hole now. Love your work!

    This tutorial rocks. I thought I knew all the tricks for softening photos – but this by far surpasses any of them. Love the look it gives. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Lauren Elizabeth
    Ruffles Art Studio

  3. kate December 5, 2013 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    Do you know how to achieve this look in Elements?

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