Thursday, July 14, 2011

How to Give Your Picture a Polaroid-Stack Effect in Photoshop

Today, I’m going to show you how to make your pictures attractive by applying a cool polaroid-stack effect. It looks very beautiful, and is very easy to create. You only need to be somewhat familiar with Photoshop’s interface and its basic tools. No special skills are required.

For this tutorial, I chose a picture of a very beautiful model taken by CT Pham.


At the end of this tutorial, we will have this.


Let’s begin.

First, download this Polaroid brush for Photoshop, and unzip its contents to a folder. Next, you need to load the brush into the program. If you already know this, you can skip the next part and proceed directly to the main tutorial. Those who don’t, stay close.

How to load a Photoshop brush

To load a brush, select the Brush tool from the vertical toolbar on the right, then click on the small arrow on the top panel as shown below, to open the Brush Preset Picker.


Then click on the arrow next to ‘Master diameter’ and from the fly-out menu select ‘Load brush’. Load the ABR brush file you downloaded.

Open the Brush Preset Picker again, scroll down the list of brushes and pick the polaroid brush.


Polaroid-Stack effect

With the polaroid brush in your hand, open the image you wish to edit, which in our case, is the female model.

On the right side of the main toolbar is a tab called Brushes. Open it and select ‘Brush tip shape’. Use the circular cross-hair like tool to rotate the brush to left or right. I set the angle to 14 degrees.


Add a new layer by clicking on the menu item Layer > New > Layer

Click the brush once over the new layer.


Go back to ‘Brush tip shapes’, change the brush angle again, add another new layer and click once again on the new layer. Repeat these steps one more time. Make sure that each brush-click is on a new layer.


Select the 2nd layer from the Layer selection panel on the right, pick the Eraser tool and carefully erase the portion of the polaroid frame (on the 2nd layer) that is showing through the 3rd polaroid frame (on the 3rd layer). After this, select the 1st layer and erase the portion of the polaroid frame (on the 1st layer) that is showing through the 2nd polaroid frame (on the 2nd layer).


Now we will apply some drop shadows. For this, right click on a layer (on the layer selection panel) and select Blending Properties. Click on the Drop Shadow option, choose the Blend Mode to Darken and apply a subtle drop shadow effect. I used the following settings.


Repeat the drop shadow on all three layers.

I didn’t like the bluish color tone of the picture, so I applied a little color adjustment using Curves to get the following result.


If you want, you can end this here. It looks good enough. You can also try something different, like add a wood background to make it appear as though the polaroids are lying on a table. Here is a nice high resolution wood texture.

Open the texture image and crop it to the required size. Press Ctrl+A to select it, and then Ctrl+C to copy.

Click on the picture layer on the Layer selection panel and paste the copied texture image.


Now erase the wood layer so that the picture underneath shows through the polaroid frame.


Easy peasy!


  1. Very cool, but I don't see the 'Polaroid brush' as being the most sensible way to do this. Wouldn't a simple transparent png of a Polaroid be easier? Then you could just paste it in and rotate it. Cheers!

  2. Yes, that's another way to do it. I just wanted to make this tutorial as easy as possible.

  3. The drop shadow on the inner of the frame ruins the look. It is as if the photos are bellow the level of the Polaroid paper.

  4. @Steve GW7AAV, you are right. The effect will look better without the inner shadows.

    You can avoid the inner shadow by creating a layer mask. This is nicely described here

  5. Hey,

    first of all tanks for the great tutorial. However, I'm kinda too stupid for the last step. When I copy the wooden strucutre into the edited picutre it automatically creates a new layer for the strucutre. So ofc, if I delete that layer the structure gone :-) What am I doning wrong?



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