Making a New Photo Look Old Using Snapseed

Sometimes you have a photograph that you decide might look better if it had that old time look. Sure, you could just slap a sepia filter on it and call it a day, but that wouldn’t have as authentic a look as if you played with it in Snapseed. All that fiddling with a picture to get a specific look may sound time consuming, but it isn’t. In fact, all you need is two or three tools and your done.

For this tutorial I’m using a photo I took at the Worcester Art Museum back in August.

Find the photo you want, then open it in Snapseed. Go to Snapseed, tap on the large plus sign, then find your picture. You may need to tap on the three lines in the upper left corner, then navigate to where it’s stored that way.

open a picture in Snapseed

I find the easiest to open any picture in Snapseed is to do it directly from Google Photos. Find the photo in Google Photos, hit the edit button, then the button on the bottom right that looks like a square made out of nine dots, choose Snapseed.

Once you have your image loaded in Snapseed, select TOOLS in the lower right, then choose Grainy Film.

Grainy Film

In the Grainy Film tool, you’ll see two choices at the bottom. One looks like a set of color swatches and the other is the edit button, which looks like volume sliders. The color swatches button allows you to choose which look you want to play with (think of them as filters). Choose one you like, then tap on the check mark to save the selection or the X to start again.

You can now use the edit button to play with your selection. I suggest choosing the amount of grain you want first by tapping on Grain, then swiping your finger left or right on the screen. The changes will happen as you swipe. You can also see the amount of change above the image in numeric format.

When you’re satisfied, click on the check mark at the bottom, right.


Once you have the right amount and strength of graininess, go back to TOOLS and choose the Retrolux tool. This tool will add the discoloration, scratches and blemishes often associated with older photos.

Once again, choose the swatches button to get the overall look you want, click on the check mark, then choose the edit button to make your adjustments. Play with the option by selecting one and dragging left or right on the screen to see what it does.

retrolux options in Snapseed

The Retrolux tool has an extra button to the left of the edit button that looks like two crossing arrows. Choosing it will give you the opposite of your edits.

Once you have the look you want, choose the check mark.


The grunge tool is optional. This tool will add extra artifacts and a vignette to your image. You’ll see a blue dot in the center of the image that you can drag around to move the vignette, or pinch to increase or decrease the its size.

Instead of the swatch button, this tool has a button that looks like a square with diagonal lines to the right of the edit button. This button allows you to choose the type of texture you want on the photo (think of it as choosing a filter). You can remove the texture in the edit button by setting the Texture Strength to zero (swiping all the way to the left). The Style option will allow you to change the color of the photo.

I suggest you play around with the options to get a feel for what they do. Again, use the check mark button to save your edits and the X to remove them.

Below are both the original picture and the edited version.

If you liked this tutorial, I also have one on Retouching Old Photos in Snapseed.


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