Add a grain to a photo in Photoshop

Over the years, photography has evolved into a whole era of digital technology, and very rarely you can see photos taken with film. However, there is something unusual about this old noise / grain effect in photos taken from film, and we want to apply this effect to our digital photos.

Sometimes we need to retouch photos. In the process of replacing the background or removing elements from a photo, we also need to simulate the noise / graininess of the original image in order to get a good result. There are infinitely many ways to do this, but today I’m going to show you how you can easily simulate noise / grain in Photoshop. It is very simple, all the more there is the ability to edit the image without performing all the steps again.

Download the archive with materials for the lesson

Step 1

Open the image in Photoshop.

Step 2

Go to Layer> New Layer (Layer> New Layer). Name this layer “Film Grain” and click OK.

Step 3

Open up Editing> Run Fill (Edit> Fill). In section Content (Contents) select 50% gray, mode (Mode) – Usual (Normal) parameter Opacity (Opacity) 100% and unchecked Keep transparency (Preserve Transparency).

Step 4

Go to menu Layer> Smart Object> Convert To Smart Object (Layer> Smart Objects> Convert to Smart Object).

Step 5

Select the “Film Grain” layer and set the blending mode to Overlap (Overlay).

Step 6

Go to Filter> Noise> Add Noise (Filter> Noise> Add Noise). Set the desired amount of noise, (I will use 4.3% for a more noticeable effect). Select Distribution (Distribution) according to Gauss (Gaussian) and be sure to check the box. Monochrome (Monochromatic), then click OK.

Step 7

Select the “Film Grain” layer, go Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur (Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur). Depending on how much noise you added in the previous step, you can adjust the radius to your amount of noise. Set the desired blur radius and click OK. In this case, I will use a small radius of 0.3 pixels.

Final Tips:

Since we were making our grain effect on the Smart Object, we can easily change the noise and blur settings by simply double-clicking the effect name under the “Film Grain” layer. This is a great advantage because, although it is a fairly simple effect, there is no need to take all the steps again if we want to make some adjustments to our final result.

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