Photoshop Tutorial: Adding Grain to Your Photos
When used correctly, adding grain to photos can do wonders for the image. Aditya Nair shows you everything you need to keep in mind while adding grain in Photoshop.
Adding noise to an image in Photoshop is a simple matter of going to Filter > Noise > Add Noise and choosing the amount you want. But that’s not the reason for writing this tutorial. Over the years of tinkering around with Photoshop, I have come up with my own preferences when it comes to adding Noise to photographs. So, along with being a step-by-step on adding noise, this tutorial is also a list of these recommendation.
Also, while I have used Photoshop CS6, this tutorial can be used for anyone using Photoshop CS2 or higher.
Step 1: Convert to Smart Object
Directly adding grain to the image layer is a destructive process as there is no way to undo it later on. To avoid this, select the Background layer (the layer with the image), then go to Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object. You can also just right click on the Background layer and choose Convert to Smart Object.
Step 2: Add Noise
Now go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise. By creating a Smart Object layer, the noise gets add as a separate Filter layer and can easily be tweaked later on.
Step 3: Types of Noise
Photoshop let’s you choose between Uniform and Gaussian Noise.
Uniform Noise: As the name suggests, using this option adds random colour noise of equal intensity all over the image. The effect is noticeably more subtle than Gaussian Noise.
Gaussian Noise: This type of noise adds more Noise to the midtones and less noise to the shadows and highlight regions of the image. I prefer using Gaussian Noise because by adding noise to the midtones it makes the overall image look sharper.
Monochromatic Noise: I find color noise to be disturbing so I prefer to use Monochromatic Noise. Select this option to add only black, white and grey specks of noise to the image.
It is a feature that applies to both Uniform and Gaussian Noise.
Step 4: Control the Amount of Noise
Obviously, we have exaggerated the amount of Noise in the image so far. Time to fix it! Below the Background layer you should see a sub layer that says Add Noise. Double click on it to open the Noise filter again. This time let’s choose a more respectable amount.
The amount of noise you choose to add will depend the resolution of the image (a low res image image will need less noise added for it to be noticeable) and also your own aesthetic taste. For this picture we choose a value of seven.
Step 5: Using the Preview Option
To toggle between the before and after versions of the image, check off and on the Preview option. It is a easy way to see how much your image has changed before you confirm your edit.
Step 6: Final Touches
Noise doesn’t look very pleasing in the shadow regions of the image (another reason to use Gaussian over Uniform Noise). To reduce the noise in the shadows (or get rid of it completely) select the Masking layer by clicking on layers thumbnail. It will be the blank white layer next called Smart Filter.
Now select the Brush tool of an appropriate Size and Hardness, choose the foreground colour as black and start painting over the areas that you want to mask. If you want to get rid of all the noise keep the Opacity of the Brush tool at a 100%. On the other hand, if you only want to reduce the intensity of the noise, you can reduce the opacity.
Step 7: Contrast & Sharpness
This step has nothing to do with the steps in the tutorial above, but is a great way to boost the contrast and overall sharpness of the image using the Noise tool and Layer Blending Modes.
Double click the Add Noise layer and exaggerate the amount of noise you want to add.
Double click on the Filter Blending options button (highlighted in red below)
The Blending options menu will show up. Change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and adjust the Opacity accordingly. You can also use layer masking to mask out areas where you don’t want noise (As mentioned in Step 6).
Final Image:Tags: Noise, adobe photoshop, contrast, grain, Sharpening, Photoshop Tutorials, Layer Blending Modes, Soft Light, Overlay, Add Noise in Photoshop, Layer Masking, Smart Objects, Photoshop CS6, CS5, CS4, CS3, CS2