Create Vintage and Retro Images for Sublimated Photo Gifts

Every day we are presented with powerful retro images and effects via TV. Why not apply them to your custom gifts business as well? Here's how...

Using layers in Photoshop with various transparency settings and layer blend modes makes experimentation with retro image effects easy.

The fastest way to create a vintage or retro style image is to use a preset from one of the popular plugin suites. Every popular black and white print film and color slide and color print film from the past can be found in one of the suites from onOne Topaz Labs, DxO, and Google Nik. Every film manufacturer is represented, including Kodak, Ilford, Fuji, and Agfa. The digital simulations provide accurate grain reproduction, color, tonal range, and iso film speed.

Here are the major applications that provide vintage and retro effect plugins:

  • onOne: Perfect Effects 8, Perfect B&W 8
  • Topaz Labs: Topaz Adjust 5, Topaz BW Effects 2
  • DxO Labs: DxO Filmpack
  • Google Nik Suite: Silver Eflex Pro 2, Color Eflex Pro 4

Restaurants and bars make great clients for your shop. They often display a wide assortment of images from various decades to make the establishments a comfortable place to visit and stay awhile. Advertisers also use retro style imaging for the same effect.

Holiday sales of vintage- and retro-inspired gifts, cards, ornaments, decoration, gift wrap, movies, and clothing/jewelry remain brisk every season.

Using this information, you can develop samples of products sublimated with photos edited in vintage or retro styles and market them to groups like those mentioned above.

-Bill Leek

Bill Leek

Bill Leek

Bill Leek of Houston, Texas, has over 33 years' experience in digital decorating system development and graphic design. He has developed several lines of color imprintable products utilizing inkjet, sublimation, and color laser transfer technologies. In addition, he has extensive working knowledge of color management and product durability testing and has consulted for many of our industry's leading companies. He may be reached at

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