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

August 14, 2019

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!


  • Reply jan wozniak July 24, 2016 at 11:42 pm


  • Reply Nataly Ascencio July 24, 2016 at 11:52 pm

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

  • Reply Vic2or July 25, 2016 at 12:12 am

    Great tutorial!!

  • Reply Marissa Vasquez July 25, 2016 at 2:43 am

    wow thats awesome

  • Reply harris ibrahim July 25, 2016 at 5:26 am

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

  • Reply Fifteen Wintergreen July 25, 2016 at 9:51 pm

    Awesome as always

  • Reply Binty McFrazzles July 26, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    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.)

  • Reply Наталья Прекрасная July 27, 2016 at 5:11 am

    ╚══`.¸. great video, big like!

  • Reply Kathy Roberts July 29, 2016 at 10:04 pm

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

  • Reply Eric Gardner Sr. July 30, 2016 at 7:19 am

    Refine edges is no longer exists in this new update and it has been replaced by select and Mask command, Y?

  • Reply SuperPicasso05 July 31, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    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…

  • Reply Tonton des Iles August 14, 2016 at 1:29 am

    Always useful tutorials. Thank you!

  • Reply JUMOWA August 30, 2016 at 1:56 pm


  • Reply Sidney Silva September 7, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    Alway useful tutorials. Very good. Thanks

  • Reply Emran Mahmud September 10, 2016 at 11:41 pm

    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

  • Reply Maksim oo September 29, 2016 at 11:59 am

    please Subtitle

  • Reply Anjali Gupta October 7, 2016 at 7:13 am

    Excellent tutorial as always

  • Reply Sabir Ali October 10, 2016 at 4:48 am

    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.

  • Reply Lars Diederichsen November 7, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    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 🙁

  • Reply Juan Burch December 19, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    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?

  • Reply Marleya February 2, 2017 at 3:17 am

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

  • Reply William William May 11, 2017 at 10:43 am

    hey Blue Lightning TV Photoshop turn photos into a 1950s

  • Reply Hayden Caldwell August 11, 2017 at 4:07 am

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

  • Reply yashwanth vijay October 10, 2017 at 3:07 pm

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

  • Reply Mauricio De Santiago January 7, 2018 at 7:45 pm

    Best tutorials when it comes to Photoshop

  • Reply DewsJaz February 1, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    You should've played 50's music.

  • Reply Sheldon McAllister April 22, 2018 at 10:22 am

    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💪🏼

  • Reply Kenzphotograph Y May 5, 2018 at 9:38 am

    wow I got crazy

  • Reply Qasim Design May 23, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    O yeahh!!! thanks for uploading

  • Reply TheBombShhh July 5, 2018 at 6:29 am

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

  • Reply B Sh August 6, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    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.

  • Reply Chi Chi Penn August 11, 2019 at 12:55 am

    i cant find smudge tool. i have the 2017 version

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