Instagram Filters De-Mystified

Ever wonder what the “magic” is behind the instagram effects? Well, Daniel Box did and created Photoshop actions that can be loaded into the actions palette and let’s you apply the filter in a single click, but also let’s you see what layers, transparencies, hues, saturation, etc., are used to achieve these effects.

I test drove the Brannon and Nashville effects Box created just to see how they compare and was surprised at the accuracy of Brannon and not so happy with Nashville. Nevertheless, it was a fun experiment and I can’t wait to try out some more. It sure beats fooling around in photoshop for hours trying to emulate the instagram effects. I counted up to 25 actions for the Brannon effect alone. Thanks Daniel for doing the hard work!

Here’s the original photo with the Brannon effect. The original photo with no effects is at the top, the Box version is on the bottom left and the Instagram on the bottom right. I still like the instagram version better, but can slightly tweak Box’s to match.


Here’s the Nashville effect with the original photo on the top, the Box version on the bottom left and the instagram version on the bottom right.


To try these out yourself download Box’s action scripts at If you have an early version of Photoshop CS some of the actions won’t work, but most of the actions use basic PS functions.


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