Film Grain Effect

In this Photoshop tutorial, we’ll learn how to create natural film grain in Photoshop. If you are using Photoshop CS3 or higher, you will also learn how to create the effect using Smart Filters so that the film grain effect is completely editable.

Film Grain Effect

To create natural film grain in Photoshop, you’ll need:

  • Any version of Photoshop

Step 1

Open your image in Photoshop.

Film Grain Effect Open Image

Step 2

Next, create a new layer by clicking on the New Layer option on the bottom of the layers palette and name the new layer “Film Grain”.

Film Grain Effect New Layer

To create the film grain effect, we will first add a 50% gray color to the new layer. To do so, make sure the Film Grain layer is selected, go to Edit > Fill and use the settings shown below.

Film Grain Effect Fill

Now, change the Film Grain layer’s blending mode to Overlay to reveal the background layer. Most blending modes including Overlay treat a 50% gray layer as a transparent layer. If you are using Photoshop CS3 or higher, you can convert this layer into a smart object in order to make the effect completely editable. To do so, go to Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object.

Film Noise Effect Overlay

Step 3

Now, go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise and use the settings shown below. The Amount value may change according to the picture you are using.

Film Noise Effect Add Noise

Step 4

We have added some noise, but it only looks like some digital noise instead of film noise. To change that, we will blur the noise by going to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and adjusting the Radius value to get the noise result you like.

Film Noise Effect Gaussian Blur

Step 5

If the film grain effect looks too strong, you can reduce its intensity by lowering the opacity of the Film Grain layer. If you are using Photoshop CS3 or higher, you could also double click on the Add Noise or Gaussian Blur filter and edit the settings.

Film Noise Effect Opacity

And we’re done! The natural film grain Photoshop tutorial is complete! For comparison, here’s a close-up of the original photo:

Film Noise Effect Original

And here’s our film grain effect:

Film Grain Effect