How to create a Polaroid effect

Make any picture look like Polaroid with these quick and easy tips.

Images with a Polaroid look are often used on blogs and websites to give a retro feel. It's hard to find Polaroid film these days but you can easily create this specialised look with a photo editing app on your smartphone.

How to prepare

Your exact steps will depend on the software you use, but you will need two things:

Creating the Polaroid effect

Start by placing your image in a layer mask that covers the entire Polaroid frame in Photoshop. Next, "unlink" the subject image layer from the layer mask so you can fit the subject within the frame exactly how you want.

You can create a retro photo look by adjusting hue, saturation and lightness. Applying predefined filters to the subject image layer can be helpful. Avoid applying colourisation effects to the frame image layer for a more authentic look.

You can add some flare with a large soft-edged brush to give it a less-than-perfect appearance, then add finishing touches using the opacity control. With practice, you can make any image appear as if it were taken with a Polaroid camera.

You can also transform your photos into Polaroids and perform dozens of transformations on your mobile with Adobe Photoshop Express. Get creative with more photo editing tips and tricks.