Tintype Portrait Photoshop Tutorial

posted in: Blog, Tutorials | 3

Lately I’ve been so fascinated by Giles Clement‘s tintypes on his Instagram feed. He’s a Portland photographer traveling the country taking captivating portraits of the people he meets with his antique camera and trusty dog. I’ve tried to convince my husband that we need a tintype family portrait (11 month old included — how fun would that be?); I’ve even pulled the upcoming-birthday-card, but to no avail, I can’t convince him that something “hipstery” is worth his money (he wore Danner’s (for function) before they were cool, by the way — ironic, lol).

In lieu of my very own tintype hanging on my wall, I decided to play around in Photoshop to create a process to make any photo look like a tintype. It may not hold a candle to the real thing, but at the very least it adds an interesting old-timey quality to any modern portrait.

Let’s dive in!

Download the texture I used from Lost & Taken (or find your own — there are some great ones under the film section).

Note: This tutorial assumes that you have some basic skills in Photoshop 🙂


  1. Open your texture as a smart object.
    File > Open As Smart Object…
    Rotate to make portrait or landscape as needed
  2. Place your photo
    File > Place
  3. Drag texture layer above photo and turn off visibility.
  4. Enter into “Edit in Quick Mask Mode” (Q)
  5. With the Paint Brush Tool, paint over the face(s) or the parts you want to focus on and not blur.
    Opacity=100%, Flow=100%, Hardness=50%
    Adjust the paint brush’s opacity and hardness to “feather” around the area so it’s not so hard and to bring definition to clothing and hair.
  6. Exit out of the Quick Mask Mode (Q) and now the parts you didn’t paint are selected.
  7. Choose Filter > Blur > Box Blur
    Set radius to 15 px
  8. Create a layer above your photo and fill with white and change Layer Blending mode to Multiply.
  9. Add a Layer Style of Inner Glow
    Blend Mode=Multiply, Opacity=100%, Color=Black, Size=250px
  10. CTRL+Select the mask on your photo’s smart filters
  11. Above the Inner Glow layer, create a Gradient Map
    Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map
    Click Ok and click on the gradient in the Adjustments panel.
    Add the following colors:
    #120d06, location 0%
    #957e64, location 50%
    #d5b48f, location 100%
  12. CTRL+Select the photo mask and inverse
    Select > Inverse
  13. Create another Gradient Map
    Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map
    Click Ok and click on the gradient in the Adjustments panel.
    Add the following colors:#120d06, location 0%
    #957e64, location 45%
    #d5b48f, location 75%
    #f8e9d6, location 95%
  14. Unhide your texture layer and CTRL+Select the mask on your photo and apply to your texture.
    Click the New Layer Mask button  in the Layers panel.
  15. Set your texture layer’s Blending Mode to Multiply at 55% OpacityAt this point it may have become clear that your mask is not perfect and you see some gaps between the background and foreground. You can see in my example that there are some awkward lighter areas around his face. Follow the steps below to fix it. If it looks great so far, skip to step #19
  16. CTRL+Select the mask on your texture layer and enter the “Edit in Quick Mask Mode” (Q)
  17. Use the Eraser tool to clean up the gaps, add or subtract as needed.
  18. Delete the old texture mask (drag to trash in the Layer panel) and apply the new mask to all the layers with the same mask.
  19. Duplicate the texture layer and change the Layer Blending Mode to Soft Light at 65% Opacity
  20. Add some blurring to that new texture layer
    Filter > Blur > Gaussin Blur = 3.5px

And BAM! You’re finished!


Here are a couple other photos that have been processed the same way. I love how they turned out!



3 Responses

  1. Thanks for this! I made a couple of simple errors in setting mine up…like not adding the picture itself as a smart object…but it came out phenomenal!
    I had a shot that was just begging to be “tintyped”, found this tut, and it worked like a charm.

    • I’m so glad, Curtis! I really appreciate your feedback and that you tried it out; I’d love to see your results. How did you find the tut?

  2. I did something similar once.


    I can’t find my working files or the tutorial I put together, but I know I got my textures from ill-exposed photos (no detail) I found at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/index.html

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