Analogue design techniques are becoming increasingly popular as people reconnect with handcrafted styles and timeless traditions like hand lettering, printing and illustration.

But not everyone is ready to ditch their tablet for a set of paint brushes just yet. In fact, one of the advantages of digital design is the ability to quickly create analogue-looking effects—wherever you are and with minimal mess—through applications like Photoshop.

When done right, Photoshop effects can evoke the same emotions that one feels when they interact with something handmade. Your work can instantly feel more authentic, nostalgic and personal.

In this article, we’ll go over seven trending Photoshop effects to give your digital work that extra oomph, along with recommended Skillshare classes to help you master each technique in no time.

1. Mix & match
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Who can’t relate to the bliss that comes with cutting up magazines and collaging the pieces together?

But as much fun as it is to make a mess on your living room floor, most of the pros are opting for digital techniques to seamlessly blend old imagery with contemporary style. Sift through the public domain for vintage illustrations or snap a few of your own photos—then let the creativity begin!

While mixing and matching materials manually can be pretty labor intensive, editing your images digitally lets you push your work even further. Coordinate colors and tones, expertly blend in typography, add interesting textures, and (best of all) Command-Z when you inevitably make that mistake.

Class Recommendation: Source & Mix – Digital Collage from Vintage Encyclopedia Illustrations

2. Halftones
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Halftone screens are the basis of photographic printmaking. They allow printmakers to create shading through black dot patterns.

Print by Conrad Garner (via Behance)

In other words, halftone patterns allow you to print all the tonalities of a black and white photograph with a single pass of ink (which saves a lot of time and material).

This also applies to colors. For instance, a CMYK color print consists of a layering of four halftone screens. In older publications, especially newspapers, large halftone screens were used due to resolution constraints and this look has since come to represent a vintage or nostalgic appeal.

Today, halftone screens are used intentionally in the design world as an element that brings that analogue or vintage feel into digital design. Thanks to Photoshop, adding a halftone screen to an image can be accomplished in just a few clicks.

Class Recommendation: True Grit – Handmade Textures & Halftones

3. Inky accents
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Illustrations done in ink can yield some beautiful imperfections and give your work a light, whimsical feel. But how can you carry that personality over to a digital canvas? With the help of a scanner and Photoshop, you can import the physical marks and textures you love into your digital toolkit—which can be much easier than attempting dozens of trials on paper.

Digital ink techniques can be applied to all types of projects. Channel a more playful look for children’s brands, apparel and books. Or give it a more sophisticated spin by applying it to your typography or recreating a trendy style like mid-century illustration.

Class Recommendation: Inky Illustrations – Combining Analogue and Digital Media

4. Line engraving
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Illustration by Irudh

Engraving has been around for ages and continues to be seen across things like money, postage stamps and etchings. Besides having a classic look, this technique portrays a sense of permanence and that the product has been time-tested. For this reason, it’s a great effect to use if you want to instill those values in your business.

Engraving works well on craft beer, wine or liquor labels looking to harken back to the past, but it’s also great for illustration jobs that require fine detail and a vintage feel. While it looks complex, you can easily do digital line engraving through several manageable Photoshop steps.

Class Recommendation: Line Engraving Effect in Photoshop

5. Watercolor
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Cosmetics company illustration by ananana14
Cosmetics company illustration by ananana14

Incorporating watercolor strokes and textures into your design can give it a softer, more sensitive feel. It’s an ideal technique for clients like massage therapists and skin care products, or businesses with a gentler side like pet care.

As much as we’d all love to have watercolor paint, brushes and paper on hand—this isn’t always an option for designers. That’s where designers often lean on Photoshop.

With some basic processing, you can have create a design that looks like it was carefully painted by hand—but without any of the time or material commitment.

Class Recommendation: Watercolor Effect – Instant watercolor effect in Photoshop

6. Dry ink
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For the vintage fanatics out there, knowing how to create a convincing, dried ink look is a must. Unlike the sharp precision of line engraving, stamp textures can give your work a more down-to-earth, homemade feel.

Texturing can transform a lifeless logo into an earnest, heartfelt brand, which is why this style is a great match for homey businesses like your local bar and grill, vintage shops or even an artisanal soap company.

Class Recommendation: Dry Ink – Smart Texturing In Photoshop

7. Metallics
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Logo by THELOGOLOUNGE
Logo by THELOGOLOUNGE

If you’re looking to add some extra sparkle to your next design, consider using metallic accents.

Whether you’re looking for something feminine or flashy, there’s a full spectrum of colorful metallics just waiting to be utilized.

Gold evokes luxury, wealth or status. Rose gold can assist with a trendier vibe. Copper or bronze can give your work a chic, vintage feel. The trick is not to go too overboard with metallics. After all, these are precious metals—and by using them in your design your customers will value… you!

If you’re trying to convince your client to upgrade their print job to include metallics, consider recreating the effect in a Photoshop mockup first. Or use this digital technique to add some glitter to things like “Save the Date” emails or wedding websites for an extra glitzy glow.

Class Recommendation: Creating Gold Effects In Photoshop

 

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