No more pain with grain

No more pain with grain

I recently wrote about the fact that grain in photos has an indefinable effect. Somehow we find a structure in photos to be pleasant. It gives the photo character and feels good. In this article I also described that I somehow don't get really warm with the technical application of grain. That has now changed and I am happy to pass on my knowledge.


There are so many different ways to put grain on photos. Capture One has integrated this function with a slider. But of course I don't want to have any grain on my photos before retouching skin. And switching back and forth between Photoshop and Capture One doesn't correspond to the way I work either.

So the grain has to be applied as the last step in post production. The easiest way to do this is with a pattern adjustment layer. You basically apply a grainy pattern as endless tiles on your image.

How it works

I created a 1000 x 1000px grainy area which works as an endless pattern. You can download it here.

To apply this pattern, follow these basic steps:

  1. Open grain.tif in Photoshop and go to Edit > Define Pattern
  2. Add an Adjustment Layer > Pattern and choose the latest pattern at the bottom of the list
  3. Add adjustment layer
  4. Go to Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options. Set to Linear Light and reduce the effect from being applied to the white areas of your photo and create asmooth transition (Alt + Click on the left slider).
  5. Set blending options
  6. If necessary, reduce the opacity of the pattern layer to make the effect more subtle


No grain


With subtle grain


The advantage of doing it this way: The pattern is automatically scaled when you change the size of your image. But scaling can be adjusted at any time by double-clicking on the pattern by simply entering the desired value. For a rougher grain, you can also upscale the pattern, e.g. to 200%.

And the best part is that the pattern automatically adapts to the whole area of your photograph. Even if you enlarge the canvas.