In this tutorial we will show you how to create a basic retro feel, with the following steps, for you to build off of.


  1.  Apply one-click, darkroom inspired effects to the chosen image at reduced transparencies.
  2.  Use the Tone module within Adjust to create new and unique look

So follow along and learn a creative way to produce a stylized effect with Topaz Adjust!

Initial image

The image we will be working is an African American woman with a crown of flowers on her head. We are going to apply multiple effects in this tutorial, and then accentuating  the pink and exaggerating the retro effects we are going to apply. (you may download this image to the right to follow along)

Overall the colors on the original image are bright, dramatic, and expressive; but I have a different  idea for this image. Using the presets in adjust, in a thoughtful manner, we can incorporate a different emotion to this image.

Step One: Appplying Presets

We’ll start by browsing through the Film and Toned Collections. Each of these collections contain darkroom inspired presets that can help you achieve a stylized, retro effect.

  • To access grid view mode, click on the tiny 3×3 square icon adjacent to the presets. 

As you are browsing, keep in the back of your mind that if the effect appears too strong, you can always expand the Finishing Touches panel on the right side of the screen and reduce the Transparency of the effect later on.

Film Collection in grid view mode

(Should you find a preset you really like and might use again, click on the star icon to “favorite” it, adding the preset to your Favorites folder.)

  1. The preset Timeless III (at 45% transparency) has really caught my eye…just look at the before and after

    I love this look, however I still want to aim for other interesting, retro looks. In that case, let’s apply several filters on top one of another at reduced transparencies to create something new & unique.

  2. Start by applying Cross Process II (or a similar filter) to your image.
  3. Go to Finishing Touches-> Transparency to adjust the overall transparency of the applied effect, as it may appear too strong, and bring it down to .45.

    Timeless III & Cross Process II applied
  4. Be sure to press the Apply button (bottom right corner of the interface) before moving onto the next applied preset, or else the settings will be lost.
  5. Select the Tungsten Film in Daylight I preset to the image with a transparency of 0.50 and press Apply.
Tungsten Film in Daylight 1 applied

You may also decide to check out the Toned collection, which contains more presets to help you achieve the retro or vintage style. Just be sure to reduce the transparency should the effect be too strong.

  1. I applied the Split Tone V preset to this image with no transparency change and press apply. 
  2. Press OK when finished to return back to your host editor.

Here’s the final result after stacking several one-click presets on top of one another at reduced transparencies:

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