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How to Add Grain in Photoshop

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

The use of grain is a very useful and popular effect in photographs and other digital imagery. It has many uses and can be used as a mood enhancer, to create focus, or to recreate that filmic look. It is usually applied as the very last stage of editing and can often help 'gel' certain elements of an edited image together.

In this tutorial, we'll learn how to create this effect in Adobe Photoshop from scratch. We'll start by focusing on adding film grain in Photoshop, and then we'll use Smart Filters to make sure that our grain photo effect is fully editable. 

What You'll Learn in This Photoshop Tutorial

  • How to add grain to an image in Photoshop
  • How to use a film grain overlay in Photoshop
  • How to enhance an image of your choice using a grain effect
  • How to use Smart Layers and Smart Filters for your grain photo effect

Follow along with us over on our Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel:

What You'll Need

To learn how to add grain in Photoshop, you can either use your own photo or download this one to follow the tutorial exactly:

You can use this photo to follow along with the tutorial. Find more resources on Envato Elements!

Original Photo

1. How to Prepare the Film Grain Layer in Photoshop

Step 1

Let's start by opening up your chosen photo in Adobe Photoshop (File > Open or Control-O). Navigate to the location of your image and click on the Open button.

Open the photo

Step 2

In order to preserve the original photograph, we need to create a new layer. Open the New Layer dialog box by clicking on Layer > New > Layer (Shift-Control-N).

Add new layer

Step 3

Name the new layer 'Film Grain', and then choose the film grain effect Photoshop options:

  • Mode: Overlay
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Check the box for: Fill with Overlay-neutral color (50% gray) 

Click OK to close the dialog box, and a new layer called 'Film Grain' will appear in the Layers panel, which is placed above the original photo. Now you've successfully created a Smart Object which will prepare you to learn how to add grain to Photoshop.

Edit new layer properties

2. How to Convert a Layer Into a Smart Object

Step 1

Select the add grain Photoshop layer which is named the 'Film Grain' layer and click on the small menu button located in the top-right corner of the Layers panel.

Click the menu button

Step 2

A drop-down menu will appear after clicking on the small menu button. Select Convert to Smart Object from the list.

Select convert to smart object

Step 3

A small icon will appear in the lower right corner of the layer's preview thumbnail, indicating that it has been converted into a Smart Object. This means that any filters and effects that we add to this layer will be fully editable. 

Smart object icon

3. How to Create the Film Grain Overlay Photoshop Layer

Step 1

In this section, we'll learn how adding film grain in Photoshop can enhance the look of your photo. Add a Noise filter to the photo grain texture layer by going to Filter > Noise > Add Noise in the top menu bar.

Add noise

Step 2

In the Add Noise dialog box, use the following film grain effect Photoshop settings:

  • Amount: 10%
  • Distribution: Gaussian
  • Monochromatic: Checked
Edit the add noise properties

Step 3

With the Film Grain layer still selected, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur in the top menu bar.

Select gaussian blur

Step 4

This will open up the Gaussian Blur dialog box. Use the settings below to soften the noise texture slightly:

  • Radius: 0.5 pixels
Edit the gaussian blur properties

Step 5

Click OK to close the dialog box and apply the Gaussian Blur to the layer. You have now successfully added a subtle film grain overlay Photoshop layer to your photo.

Add film grain to photograph

4. How to Edit the Film Grain Effect in Photoshop

Step 1

Because we have used a Smart Object and Smart Filters, we can reopen the filter dialog boxes by double-clicking on the filter name. This will allow us to edit the photo grain texture effects even after they have been applied. This can be found as a list underneath the Smart Object layer. 

Select smart filters

Step 2

Once you double-click on the Smart Filter, you can then adjust the settings to your liking. You've now successfully added a grain texture Photoshop layer to your document.

Edit smart filters

Awesome! You've Finished!

Congratulations! You have successfully completed this tutorial on how to add grain to an image in Photoshop! I hope you found this tutorial helpful and that you've learned many new tips and tricks that you can use for your future designs. See you next time!

Final image with film grain applied

Top 5 Grain/Noise Effects 

Now that you've learnt how to add grain to Photoshop, why not check out these other film grain Photoshop effects from Envato Elements?

Noise Textures Background | Patterns Seamless (JPG, PSD)

Noise background overlay

This pack contains 10 different high-res patterns and can be used as a mood enhancer, to create focus, or to recreate that filmic look. Use it for all types of different projects such as websites, advertising, print, photography, etc.

Noise Blurred Backgrounds (JPG, PSD)

Grain Noise Blur

This pack contains ten different blurred noise backgrounds to enhance the look of your projects. It is ideal for web, apps, presentations, print templates, banners, flyers, as a wallpaper, etc.

Black and White Scratches Textures Volume 1 (JPG, PSD)

Scratches Texture

This pack contains 36 black and white scratches to add grit and grunge to your work. It's ideal for all sorts of projects such as logos, websites, advertising, print, wallpapers, etc.

Glitch Effect Overlays Vol. 1 (JPG, PSD)

Abstract Glitch

This pack contains 15 high-quality abstract glitch textures to use for your projects. Great for presentations, print templates, banners, flyers, wallpaper, etc.

Noise Background (JPG, PSD)

Grain Noise

This pack contains an Ultra HD, 3840(W) x 2160(H) Pixels, Noise Glitch Themed Background. Perfect for enhancing the look of your projects such as print, wallpaper, advertising, banners etc.

Looking to Learn More? Check Out Even More Texture Tutorials Below!

If you liked this tutorial and are looking to learn more film grain Photoshop effects or grain effect Photoshop textures and skills, check out these awesome links below:

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