How To Make Any Picture Look Like A Polaroid

If you’ve ever wanted a fake Polaroid for your site, but never had an easy way to make one, I may have come up with a simple solution for you. I put together a template that you can import into your favorite art program (like the GIMP) and lay on top of your favorite picture to make it look like it was taken with an old Polaroid camera. The template conforms to the size of an actual Polaroid and will work with pictures that are scaled to 314 pixels tall by 302 pixels wide. No shaking required.

fake polaroid

If you’re ready to get started, download the Free Polaroid Template to your PC by right clicking and selecting Save Link As.

For people who need a little bit of guidance, instructions on how to make a Polaroid with this template in GIMP are included below.


How To Use The Template To Make a Polaroid With Gimp

  1. Open the Polaroid template in GIMP.
  2. Click File / Open As Layers and open the picture you want to use.
  3. Scale the image to approximately 314px tall by 302 px wide.
  4. Open the Layers Dialog by clicking [CTRL]-L
  5. Click on the image layer.
  6. Click on the green down arrow to move it underneath the Polaroid template.
  7. Position the picture in the middle of the template.
  8. Click Layer / Layer to Image Size
  9. Click Colors / Brightness and Contrast and jack up both brightness and contrast on the image because Polaroids weren’t known for their quality.
  10. Open the Layers dialog and right click on the Polaroid template layer and select Merge down.
  11. If you want to put writing on the Polaroid like in my shadow people post, find a good handwriting font, type out your message, rotate the text -2 degrees, and apply a 1 percent Gaussian blur to the text layer. Merge the text down the same way you did in step 10.
  12. If you want to get a little fancy, you can use the rotation tool to rotate your new Polaroid slightly so that it looks like you’re so cool that you don’t care where your Polaroids land when you throw them on your web page. I leave that choice up to you and your level of cool.
  13. Click File / Save As and save your picture to your desired format.

Special thanks to Chip O’ Toole for taking the time to measure a Polaroid so the rest of us don’t have to.

6 thoughts on “How To Make Any Picture Look Like A Polaroid

  1. I hope that isn’t your favorite picture. You look like one of Jerry’s kids. Minus the gray hair of course. Damn you are getting old. A little bit long in the tooth so to speak.

  2. Hey, cool, thanks! Doesn’t stick though, the tape’s missing. Any spare tape pieces you wish to share?
    BTW, great blog! Very good writing! I think I’d buy your book. (This from a foreigner…)

  3. @Pablo: Meh.

    @Andy: Funny, I intentionally eliminated the tape in case people wanted to use a tack or something else to put the picture up.

    To recreate the tape using Inkscape or another tool, make a box that is 49px W with a color of #ececec RGB (236,236,236) set to 64% opacity. Mine is 36 px high, but you can rotate it or make the tape as long as you want. If you want to get fancy, you can scallop the top and bottom edges to make them look torn, but it’s a detail that no one can see without a zooming way in.

  4. wow.. this is awesome!! i just searched “polaroid” and saved your picture, ready to do the same thing in photoshop to be able to put my pics inside the frame. when i opened it up, i realized the layer was already set up for me. you rock! thanks!

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