A washed out effect with crushed blacks and lessened contrast, the matte look was first developed in antique film processes and is popular in today’s digital photography.
While you can purchase film packages and actions that have replicated this vintage look, the secret to how this effect is created is all in the curve tool. Follow along to learn how you can easily create your own custom matte look using the curve tool in Topaz B&W Effects.
Creating the Matte Look
To create a vintage matte look:
- Open your image in a compatible host editor. For this demo I’ll be using Photoshop.
- Duplicate the background layer by pressing ctrl/cmd + J.
- Open Topaz B&W Effects from the Filter menu.
- Press Reset, found in the bottom right corner, to start with a clean slate. (B&W Effects will remember your previously applied settings).
- Optional: you can apply a preset from the list of darkroom inspired effects on the left side of the screen before creating the matte look. For this example I left the image in pure grayscale (sans preset) as shown:
- Expand the Conversion panel.
- Then, expand the Curve Tool panel.
- To create the matte look, you’ll want to create an anchor point along the curve line. Simply click to create the anchor point. (Tip: try creating the anchor point closer to the shadow anchor point, where the curve data meets the negative space.)
- Then, drag the shadow anchor point upwards. Make sure you don’t accidentally create an extra anchor point (something I’ve done many times). Just press reset under the curve tool to start over if this happens.
- You’ll notice as you drag the anchor point up, the image becomes more washed out and flattened. If you drag the shadow anchor point above the anchor point you created, the tones will start to become inverted.
Once you’ve created the matte effect, you can then do whatever else you want to the image. I’d suggest checking out the Basic and Adaptive Exposure options within the Conversion panel to further adjust the tones in your image.
Another trick is to try reducing the opacity of the layer to blend color back in. You can either do this in B&W Effects by going to Finishing Touches -> Transparency or back in Photoshop by reducing the opacity of the black and white layer.
Adding a Vintage Touch
Here are some other features within Topaz B&W Effects that can further add to the vintage look and give your image additional depth.
Clicking on any of these tear drops will automatically bring up the adjustment panel so you can further refine the settings.
2. Adaptive Exposure
Use the adaptive exposure slider to further intensify the dynamic range in your image.
3. Authentic Grain
Use the film grain (found under Finishing Touches) within Topaz B&W Effects to add a vintage touch to your matte look.
The grain within the program was taken from real film and scanned into the program’s algorithm for the most authentic look possible. Choose from an assortment of different grains, but remember, the higher the number (i.e. 3200), the grainier the image will be.
Discover other learning resources here: