Recreating colourful, 1980s-style graphics isn’t hard – the tricky bit is updating them for the 21st century. In this tutorial, Karan Singh shows how to add a 1980s twist to stock or specially taken model shots, to jazz up your photos.

You’ll master vector gradients, including useful tips for successfully working with gradients. You’ll also use pre-prepared elements that you can scatter both in front of and behind your model to integrate her fully into the image. 

You’ll learn to vary your vector elements using Layer Styles, adding glows, drop shadows and other variants. You’ll also learn tips such as adding a vignette behind other layers to subtly direct the attention towards your model. 

Karan Singh has provided a selection of vector elements for you to use; you can download these from the Download Zone.


Step 1 Download and open the vector elements file in Illustrator; we’re going to apply some colour schemes to the objects. I’ve included some of the colours I used here in the Swatches palette for you to use if you like. Open the Gradient panel (Window > Gradient or Cmd/Ctrl + F9).