Lomo Photoshop effect: step-by-step tutorial

Get a cool toy-camera lomo look with your digital photos in this simple 6-step Photoshop Elements guide

Lo-fi toy cameras, like the Lomo and Holga, produce pictures where normal considerations of quality are completely forgotten, but interest and vibrant colours are added instead. Rather than crisp, sharp images, the resulting pictures end up with a heavy vignette, lack of detail, blurred edges and surreal colour – but surprisingly the effect is rather pleasing. In this tutorial we’re going to take the image traits of these cameras and apply them to a digital image in Photoshop to recreate the lomo look. You will learn how to work with layers, masks, perspective correction and gradient fills to build up and apply the lomo effect. Remember to download the start image from the link below.

1. Prepare in Camera Raw

Open toycamera_before.dng in Adobe Camera Raw, select the White Balance tool and click the grey area of the 2010 sign. Select the Straighten tool and draw a line horizontally, parallel with the pavement. Set Exposure to 0.35, Recovery to 65, Fill Light to 15, Brightness to 20, Clarity to 20 and Vibrance to 50, then click on Open Image.

2. Correct the distortion

Go to Filter>CorrectCameraDistortion. Set the Vertical Perspective value to -20. Hit OK. To minimise the crop, use the Rectangular Marquee tool to make a selection from below the pier entrance to the bottom of the image. Go to Image>Transform>Perspective and increase the width at the bottom. Use the Crop tool to remove the chequered background.

3. Create depth of field

Duplicate the Background layer, then go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and enter a Radius of 15 pixels. Click on the Background layer and go to Layer>NewAdjustmentLayer>Levels. Click OK without making an adjustment. Hold down Alt and hoven between the Levels and top layer. Left click when the cursor changes shape to clip the layers together.

4. Using a Layer Mask

Click into the Levels layer’s mask and then select the Gradient tool from the Tools palette. From the gradient options, click the preview and select a Black/White gradient. Click OK, then select Radial from the Gradient Type menu. Click and drag from the centre of the image to the far left to reveal the sharp image beneath.

5. Add a vignette

To add a vignette effect, click on the top layer and then go to Layer>New>Layer. Select Edit>FillLayer and then choose White from the Contents menu. Go to Filter>CorrectCameraDistortion, then in the options menu decrease the Vignette amount to -50. Click OK. Click on the Blending Mode drop-down in the Layers palette and select Multiply.

6. Lighten the tones

Make sure that the top layer is selected and go to Layer>NewAdjustmentLayer>Levels. Set Shadows to 8 and Highlights to 233, lightening the picture. Click OK, then go to Layer>NewAdjustmentLayer>Hue/Saturation and increase Master Saturation to +20. To finish off, select Flatten Image from the layer options menu.