Photoshop Tutorial: How to Transform a Photo into a Vintage, 1950s, Pin-Up Illustration!
Photoshop Tutorial: How to Transform a Photo into a Vintage, 1950s, Pin-Up Illustration!

Hi. This is Marty from Blue Lightning TV.
I’m going to show you how to create the look of a vintage, 1950s, pin-up-style illustration
from a photo. Open a photo you’d like to use for this project. I downloaded this one from
Shutterstock. This effect looks the best when your subject is tightly cropped. To do this,
open your Crop Tool. Delete the amounts in the Width and Height fields. Keep them empty.
For its Resolution, type in 150 pixels per inch. Drag the bounding box to where you’d like your subject cropped. Then, click the check-mark at the top. To fit your image onto the canvas, press Ctrl or Cmd + 0. Next, we’ll remove your subject from its background by
making a selection around your subject. There are many ways to do this and your method should
depend on the characteristics of your photo. For this example, I’ll use the Quick Selection
Tool. If you’re using this tool as well, drag it inside your subject to surround it with a selection. To preview the selection, press “Q’ to see it as a Quick Mask. To revert it back into a selection, press “Q” again. Click the Refine Edge button or go to Select and
Refine Edge. I did an in-depth tutorial on Refine Edge, so if you’d like to watch it,
I provided its link in the video’s description. Check “Smart Radius” and drag the Radius a
bit to the right. To adjust the size of your tool, you can type it in here. Brush your
tool over the edge of the subject’s hair. Check “Decontaminate Colors” and Output it
as a “New Layer”. Then, click OK. We’re going to create 2 layers below the active layer. To do this, Ctrl-click or Cmd-click the New Layer icon, twice. Click the foreground color
to open the Color Picker. In the hexadecimal field, type in FFE295. Then click OK or press
Enter or Return. We’ll fill the active, empty layer with this color by pressing Alt or Option + Delete. Make the empty layer above it active. Open your “Elliptical Marquee Tool” and go
to the upper, left corner of your document. Drag a selection to the lower, right corner.
Click the Refine Edge button or, as before, go to Select and Refine Edge. Drag the Feather
slider until your quick mask is feathered approximately this much. The pixel amount
may be different than mine depending on the size and resolution of your document. Output
it as a Selection and click OK. Invert the selection by pressing Ctrl or Cmd + Shift
+ I. We’ll fill the selection with black. Make your foreground black by either clicking
this icon or by pressing “D” on your keyboard. Since black is your foreground color, press
Alt or Option + Delete. To deselect it, press Ctrl or Cmd + D. Change its Blend Mode to Soft Light. Click off the eyeball icons next to the yellow color layer and the vignette layer to temporarily hide them. Make your cut-out subject layer active and make a copy
of it by pressing Ctrl or Cmd + J. Let’s name it “Surface Blur/ Smear” or Smudge. Go to
Filter, Blur and Surface Blur. Surface Blur provides a “smart” smoothing effect that
protects areas of contrast. Make the Radius: 5 pixels and the Threshold: 15 pixels. Then, click OK. Next, we’ll smear or, technically, smudge the hair to make it look more painterly. First, zoom into the hair by pressing “z” on your keyboard and dragging a rectangle
over it. Open your Smudge Tool. We’ll take care of its size in a moment. Make the Strength:
50%. To make the size bigger or smaller, press the right or left bracket key on your keyboard. Brush over the hair making sure you’re strokes follow the direction of the hair. To reposition
your image on the canvas, press and hold the Spacebar as you drag your image. Continue
to smooth out areas with the Smudge Tool making sure you avoid areas of high high contrast. To fit your image back onto your canvas, press Ctrl or Cmd + 0. Make a copy of your active
layer and change its Blend Mode to Overlay. Go to Select and Color Range. Open the fly-out
list and click “Midtones”. Drag the “Fuzziness” slider all the way to the right and click
OK. Cut the image inside the selection and copy it to its own layer. Change its Blend
Mode to “Vivid Light”. Make a composite snapshot of your visible image by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E on Windows or Cmd + Shift + Option +E on a Mac. Change its Blend Mode to Multiply.
Next, we’ll brighten up the dark areas. Scroll down to the bottom-most cutout subject layer
and Shift-click on it to highlight all the layers that comprise your subject. Press Ctrl
or Cmd + G to place them all into a folder. Make another composite snapshot and go to
Image, Adjustments and Shadows/Highlights. Drag the Shadows amount all the way to the
right and click OK. Next, we’ll give it a bit more painterly look. Go to Filter and Filter Gallery. Open the Artistic folder and click “Paint Daubs”. Make the Brush Size:
3 and the Sharpness: 0. Keep the Brush Type: Simple. Then, click OK. Make the vignette
and the solid color layers visible again. Next, we’ll add a grainy texture to our illustration.
Click the New Layer icon to make a new layer. We’ll fill the empty layer with 50% gray.
To do this, press Shift + the F5 key at the top of your keyboard to open the Fill window.
Open the fly-out list and click “50% Grey”. Then, click OK. Change its Blend Mode to Soft Light. Go back to Filter and Filter gallery. Close the Artistic folder and open the Texture folder. Click “Grain”. Make the Intensity and Contrast both 100 and the Grain Type “Enlarged”. Then, click OK. This is Marty from Blue Lightning TV. Thanks for watching!

34 thoughts on “Photoshop Tutorial: How to Transform a Photo into a Vintage, 1950s, Pin-Up Illustration!”

  1. jan wozniak says:


  2. Nataly Ascencio says:

    I'm studying grafic desing, and your videos are a really help for me. Thanks!

  3. Vic2or says:

    Great tutorial!!

  4. Marissa Vasquez says:

    wow thats awesome

  5. harris ibrahim says:

    can you teach us how to make a poster/banner please? thnks

  6. Fifteen Wintergreen says:

    Awesome as always

  7. Binty McFrazzles says:

    Nice look, thanks, Marty. However, I chose a model with red hair, and the blend modes you used didn't work, as it was too orange. I had to change blend modes and opacity. But that's the beauty of photoshop and your tutorials, it's always good to try variations if something doesn't work. 🙂 (Not a criticism of your tutorial, just saying what I did.)

  8. Наталья Прекрасная says:

    ╚══`.¸. great video, big like!

  9. Kathy Roberts says:

    Thanks Marty, love your precise instructions and easy to follow steps as always!

  10. Eric Gardner Sr. says:

    Refine edges is no longer exists in this new update and it has been replaced by select and Mask command, Y?

  11. SuperPicasso05 says:

    hi marty
    thanks for these great tuts.
    can you make a tutorial about decoupaged and distressed wood effect? like this:
    I tried a lot but couldn't achieve and I am sure there are a lot of people who will be glad to watch a tutorial about it.
    best regards…

  12. Tonton des Iles says:

    Always useful tutorials. Thank you!

  13. JUMOWA says:


  14. Sidney Silva says:

    Alway useful tutorials. Very good. Thanks

  15. Emran Mahmud says:

    sir u are a legend ! u r great please never stop making video !!
    Ur tutorials helps me a LOT LOT LOT !!
    Thank you so much sir

  16. Maksim oo says:

    please Subtitle

  17. Anjali Gupta says:

    Excellent tutorial as always

  18. Sabir Ali says:

    love the way you guide last 7 years watching your ps tutorial learn many thins Marty you doing good job keep posting . god bless you.

  19. Lars Diederichsen says:

    Hey..I Like this and i have tried to work it out but the step in 8:15 min isnt possible..I can't open the Filtergallery 🙁

  20. Juan Burch says:

    My image continues to get darker each step and it goes completely off the rails after I cut the fuzziness outline into a new layer. The layers don't align anymore and the image is almost blacked out. Any suggestions?

  21. Marleya says:

    How do you open the fill window on a mac? Shift + F5 doesn't work for me.

  22. William William says:

    hey Blue Lightning TV Photoshop turn photos into a 1950s

  23. Hayden Caldwell says:

    On your 6:55 mark how do you cut the image inside the selection?

  24. yashwanth vijay says:

    Hi when i press mid tones in color range the fuzziness is greyed out . Kindly help

  25. Mauricio De Santiago says:

    Best tutorials when it comes to Photoshop

  26. DewsJaz says:

    You should've played 50's music.

  27. Sheldon McAllister says:

    Hey Marty. I just wanted to know if you have or can try make a tutorial on how to make pictures into space age art. If you don’t know what I mean, try type in space age art in Pinterest💪🏼

  28. Kenzphotograph Y says:

    wow I got crazy

  29. Qasim Design says:

    O yeahh!!! thanks for uploading

  30. TheBombShhh says:

    looks good for photoshop, but not as good as an actual painted picture

  31. B Sh says:

    Excellent clarity and pace of instructions with perfect use of zoom into buttons. One of the easiest to follow complex PS tutorials I've ever seen. I just didn't like the result as it did not seem to really look like a 50s poster to me. Still, I'll be reviewing all your other tutorials to find any relavent to me because of the quality of instruction.

  32. C. Penn says:

    i cant find smudge tool. i have the 2017 version

  33. Ken Morris says:

    Amazing tutorial…

  34. Lorena Rodríguez says:

    I learned more about photoshop with this video than a whole semester at college

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