How to Convert a Photo to Tintype

Written by kylene arnold
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How to Convert a Photo to Tintype
Tintype portraits are known for their sepia tone, but may also be other colours, including chocolate brown. (Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

In the mid-1800s, photography was beginning to gain popularity among the masses. Although paper prints had not yet been developed, an easy, inexpensive method called ferrotype, or tintype, was in vogue. This process created a positive print directly onto a thin iron sheet. Most existing tintypes have a blue, green, sepia or chocolate-brown tint to them that can be duplicated on contemporary photographs using photo editing software. If it seems strange to you to be creating tintypes without tin, don't worry. The originals didn't contain tin either.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Photo editing software
  • Internet

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    Manual Conversion

  1. 1

    Open the photograph in a photo editing program, such as Photoshop or GIMP.

  2. 2

    Convert the photo to grayscale.

  3. 3

    Increase the black levels until the shadows are dark.

  4. 4

    Convert the photo to sepia tone or tint it blue, green or chocolate brown. Copy photographs of existing tintypes to achieve an accurate colour.

  5. 5

    Select a grunge brush and create scratches, dust or smudges across the photograph to make it look old.

  6. 6

    Darken the edges using a translucent brush or burn tool.

  7. 7

    Draw a ragged selection around the outside of the photograph, invert the selection and delete the edges to make the photograph look worn.

  8. 8

    Create a layer that looks like aged metal. You can do this on your own using textures, brushes and layers of colour, or you can download a texture from the Internet.

  9. 9

    Place the photograph onto the metal background to complete the tintype.


  1. 1

    Download a tintype filter from the Internet, such as the Tintype Photoshop Action.

  2. 2

    Install the filter into the appropriate directory for your software.

  3. 3

    Open the photograph in the photo editing program.

  4. 4

    Apply the Tintype filter.

  5. 5

    Add additional scratches or effects as deired.

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