How to add retro effects to your photos using Paint Shop Pro.

In this tutorial we will add some cool retro effects to your photos using Paint Shop Pro.

During this 13 steps tutorial you will learn about applying gradients, creating custom brushes, the mesh warp tool, the deform tool, layer grouping, and blending layers using blend mode. This tutorial was inspired by a Photoshop tutorial called Mix Cool Retro Curves Into Your Photographs found at While the techniques used to achieve this retro effect are somewhat different for Photoshop vs Paintshop, the final results are very similar.

The free stock images used in this demonstration can be found at the following url’s: (no longer available) Here is a similar texture that you can use to achieve the same result Alternatively, you can just search for “grunge textures” or “paper textures.”

I have also attached a sped up Youtube video of me creating this effect that you can also use a reference.

Video Preview

Final Preview

Step 1

Download the following image at Once downloaded, open it up in Paint Shop Pro (PSP)

Step 2

Go to Adjust > Hue and Saturation > Hue/Saturation/Lightness (or just press Shift + H) and apply the settings in the image below to convert the photo to Black & White.

Step 3

Create a new raster layer and name it Brown Overlay. Next, Flood Fill this layer with (#875901), and set the Blend Mode to Overlay as seen the following image.

Step 4

Create another raster layer, and name it White Noise. Flood Fill this layer with (#ffffff) and set the Blend Mode to Multiply. Now, go to Adjust > Add/Remove/Noise and apply the Add Noise settings as seen in the following photo.

Step 5

Create another raster layer, and name it Stained. Then, download the following stained image at and open it up in PSP. Right click on the stained image and select Copy. Make sure the layer named stained is selected, and then go to Edit > Paste as new Selection to paste the image of the stained photo in your layers palette. Set the Blend Mode of the stained layer to Multiply. The handstand photo and your layers palette should look similar to the following images.

Step 6

Go to File > New Image, and create a new 75 x 600 transparent image (as seen in the photo below). Next, select the Rectangle Selection tool and draw a long skinny bar and Flood Fill it with (#000000). Now, go to Effects > Geometry Effects > Skew and use the settings in the below photo. NOTE: The size doesn’t need to be exact because we can adjust the size to anything we want once we export it to a custom brush. Just aim for a similar shape. Use photos below as a reference. Finally, export the skewed bar you just created into a custom brush. To do this go to File > Export > Custom Brush. Name the brush “skewed bar” or something similar.

Step 7

Create a new raster layer named Rainbow. Select your Paint Brush Tool and select the skewed bar brush you just created in the previous step. Next, double click on the materials foreground to pull up the Material properties, and select the Gradient Tab and choose the Rainbow Gradient (See images below for example). Now, paint several lines similar to the image below and the lowerRainbow layers opacity to about 50 percent.

Step 8

Right click on the Rainbow Layer in the layers palette and select New Layer Group. Now, rename the Group Layer to Rainbow Group. Create a new raster layernamed Rainbow 2 inside the new Rainbow Group. NOTE: Grouping the different layers of the Rainbow together will allow us to uniformly apply Deform and Warp effects to all the sub-layers in that particular group. Select the Paint Brush tool again with your custom Skewed Bar brush, then select the Rainbow Gradient we used in the previous step, and paint some more skewed bars in the Rainbow 2 Layer. Don’t lower the opacity any on Rainbow 2, leave it a 100 percentApply a Drop Shadow. Go to Effects > 3D Effects > Drop Shadow. Settings: Offset Vertical = 1, Horizontal = 1, Opacity = 75, Blur = 1. (This will give the Rainbow 2 layer bars a little more detail and definition). Your layer palette should look similar to my layer palette below.

Step 9

Select the layer in the layers palette named Rainbow Group. Press “D”on your keyboard to pull up the deform tool. Using the deform tool, rotate the Rainbow slightly to the left. You may also need to stretch/scale the Rainbow slightly (adjust your Rainbow until it looks similar to the image below).

Step 10

With the Rainbow Group selected choose the Warp Mesh brush tool. It is located in the bottom left of your tools toolbar (See photo below). Set the Mesh Horizontal  to 2, and the Mesh Vertical to 1. Grab one of the intersecting points on the Mesh by clicking and holding the left mouse button. Move the mesh around until you have created a wave in your Rainbow/retro effect, similar to what is pictured below. HINT: You can also hold shift while selecting a point on the mesh, this will allow you to move the entire line either horizontal or vertical, thus giving you a more uniform warp. Also, holding CTRL while selecting point works the same as holding SHIFT except it will allow you to create somewhat of a symmetric curvature in the horizontal and vertical lines. You can always reset the Mesh by clicking the Apply button, or double clicking a point on the mesh. NOTE: It’s really difficult to explain how to use the Warp Mesh tool  If you don’t get it right the first time, don’t worry, just click undo and try again. It takes a few trial and error runs to effectively use the Warp Brush.

Step 11

Next, with the Rainbow Group layer selected, select Adjust > Brightness/Contrast > Curves and apply the settings in the image below.

Step 12

Temporarily lower the opacity to around 50 percent of the Rainbow Group Layer so you can see to trace the outline of the leg (See sample below). Select the Freehand Selection Tool and set the mode to point to point mode (or whatever mode you are most comfortable selecting edges with), and outline the edge of the leg. Once you have the leg selected, press “Delete” on your keyboard. This will remove the portion of the Rainbow layer covering up his front leg, thus giving the appearance that the Rainbow is actually going between his legs. Set the opacity of the Rainbow Group back to 100 percent.

Step 13

Save your PSPIMAGE so you can keep the layers intact, and make future adjustments. To save the PSPIMAGE, go to File > Save As, and select Save type as: PSPIMAGE. Now that  your image is saved, go to Edit > Copy Special > Copy Merged. Then go to Edit > Paste as New Image. Congratulations, you have just finished the tutorial. Are you satisfied with the results?  Optionally, you can can crop it, add frames, and/or experiment
with different effects, such as the Time Machine photo effects. I cropped mine and added retro 1965 Time machine effect as you can see below. To add Time Machine effects go to Effects > Photo Effects > Time Machine.