Create Instagram Effects Using Photoshop Elements

I am behind the times, I know. I do not have an iphone. Which means I do not have Instagram. But I can still play around with getting my own Instagram effects using Photoshop Elements 9. And it is easy.

If you don’t have Photoshop, there are other photo editing programs that will do basically the same things. Gimp is one that comes to mind. So I have put together a tutorial on getting Instagram effects using photo editing tools. If you want to view it just keep on reading. If not – leave me a comment telling me how talented I am. And I am not kidding. (OK, ok! – I’m totally kidding).

Open the image you want to play with.


The first thing we need to do, is make a background layer. I know! I said layer! But they really aren’t scary. Trust me. Click on Layer and then Duplicate Layer.


The Duplicate Layer Box will pop up. Just click “OK”


And then, you will see the Background Layer added to the Layer palate. (Which will be at the right of your screen if using PE9). Make sure your Background Layer is the active layer. In the picture below, “background copy” is black and “background” is gray. There is also a white box around the image. This means my background layer is the active layer… so all is well.


Next, click on Edit and then Fill Layer.



And a box will pop up, like this one.


Click on the arrow shown, to expand the contents box. Then click on “Color”

This causes another box to pop up, and here we will choose a soft yellow to fill our Background Layer. What shade you choose doesn’t really matter. It just needs to be a light, soft, yellow. If you want to use the yellow I have shown here you can always key in the color code at the bottom.  Mine is eee9ac. Just type that in and you will have the exact color as this one.

After you have chosen your color, click “OK”.


Then click “OK” on your Fill Layer Box.


And now you have totally ruined your photo.

Just kidding. This is what it will look like.


Over at the right edge of your screen, you will see your Layers. See how the background copy is now yellow?


You will see a Drop Down Box with the word “normal”. Click on the arrow to expand it. Then click on “Multiply”.


Here is the photo of what we have so far.


Now we are going to merge our layers so we can move on to the next step. Click on Layer >Merge Visible.


Now we are ready to work on the levels. This is what makes it all happen. Click on Enhance, then Adjust Lighting, then Levels.

Your Levels Box will pop up.


In this next step, we are going to lighten and fade the photo. My “channel” is on RGB. And I have circled the two arrows on the histogram box that need to be slid to the left. How much, depends on your photo. But you can see how far I slid mine over and the effect I received.


Now that our overall RGB level is lightened, we are going to adjust the green, red, and then blue individual colors. In the Channel drop down box, click the arrow to expand it. Your choices will be RGB, Red, Green or Blue. Click on green.


The middle slider (circled in orange) needs to be moved over to the left. You can see how far I moved mine and the effect it gave me.


Now let’s move on.  Go back up to the Channel Drop Down Box and choose Red. The slider you will be moving for red, is at the very bottom. It is the Output Level Slider. And this one will be moved to the RIGHT a bit.


And lastly, you will do the same thing for Blue. Select it from the Channel Box and move the Output Level Slider over to the right.


Then go back to your RGB color in the Channel box and we are going to put back in some black that was removed. Move the left arrow over until reaches the edge of where the black histogram lines begin.


Next, we will crop the photo as desired. For this photo I decided to rotate it to the left a little bit before cropping so I will go ahead and include these steps in case you want to do the same thing to yours. Click on Image, then Rotate, then Custom.


And this box will pop up. I set mine to 4 and wanted it to rotate to the left. Click “OK”.

(I ended up repeating this step because 4 wasn’t enough. So I actually rotated this photo 8 degrees to the left)


8 degrees rotated to the left.


Next, we will crop the picture to get rid of the white that was caused when rotating our image. On your left side toolbar you will see the rectangular selection tool. Click it.


Start in the top corner and click and drag your rectangle square, as desired, around your image.



Then click Image, then Crop.



Here is what we have so far.


And now the final punch – this part is the most fun! In PE9, go over to the right of your screen and click on Edit and then Guided. (And I just have to stop here and tell you how much I love this guided feature in PE9. You can do so many things with it.)



After you click on Guided, a box opens with a lot of options. Scroll on down until you see Lomo Camera Effect. And then click it.


The box below will pop up. There are two things we will do here. First, click on Cross Process Image.



And next, click on Apply Vignette.


Click Done (at bottom)


And click Full (at top). This closes out this special effects section you were in and takes us back to regular Photoshop.


You now need to merge your layers.


Click on Layer, then Merge Visible.


The last thing I want to do on this photo, is add a black border. This is very easy to do. First go to your rectangular selection tool and click it.


Then Click in a top corner and drag your rectangle down to the bottom, outlining your photo. You want to eye-ball it so the distance is pretty even on all 4 sides. If it isn’t, just try again until you get it like you want. Sometimes I try 4 or 5 times until it looks good enough before I fill it in with black.


After your border looks good and even, click on Select and then Inverse.


You will now see a double border line.


We are going to fill this with black. Click on Edit and then Fill Selection.


You will see the Fill Layer Box pop up. Click on the arrow to expand the selections.


Click on Black and then click “OK”.


Here is the finished photo on my screen.


And here is the final Photo. So tell me what you think? Has this photo gone all Instagram on its bad little self?


And just for the fun of it – I opened up my finished final photo above and wondered what would happen if I played around with the levels to create more of an edgy feel.


All I did was open up my levels Box again and leaving it on RGB, slid the left slider towards to right and the right slider towards the left. In other words, I just moved them closer in the direction of the middle of the histogram. I don’t have a close up, but if you look at the histogram in the screen shot below you can see the left and right arrows that have been slid closer to the middle.

Much more edgy! Maybe too much? Not sure. I think I like the first version better. But it’s always fun to play around to see what you can come up with.

So which one do you like better? The softer version or the edgy one?


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