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We're going to take a look at a technique for adding back in either grain or noise to an image. Now most of the time this is just an aesthetic choice where you want to add in a little bit of noise, but it can also be really useful if you're trying to match a look of multiple images. Say, you're having a show or publishing a book or on an ad campaign, and the images came from different sources, they were shot at different times with different films, maybe different cameras, and you're trying to get them all to look the same so you want to add either noise or grain to them.
We're going to take a look at both noise and grain and to do this non-destructively we'll right-mouse click on the background layer to convert it to a Smart Object. I am also going to make a duplicate of it so that we have one to compare to. So I will use Cmd+ or Ctrl+J to duplicate that layer. I will turn off the top layer and make sure that we have the bottom layer selected. In fact, let's rename this to be our Add Noise example and then I'll rename the top one as well. This will be Add Grain. Alright! So starting with Add Noise, go into the Filter menu, choose Noise, and then Add Noise.
Depending on how much noise you want to add we can go ahead and increase this amount. We can see a preview right here. This is a preview at 100%. So even though we are not viewing our image at 100%, we still do get to see an area. And in fact, if I click, for example, on the barn with my marquee that looks like a square that is the area that will then be in this preview. Of course the keyboard shortcuts Cmd++ and Cmd+- also work while you're in a filter, and you can use the Spacebar to temporarily access the Hand tool in order to scroll around on your image.
There are two different kinds of grain; the Uniform Grain and the Gaussian Grain. Now when I click on the Uniform option, you can see that the grain pattern is a little bit more structured. There's not as much variance in between the grain, whereas if I click on Gaussian, it's a little bit more organic and we see a little bit more contrast. You can see little pieces over here for example that they really look like they're just random, it's not as uniform obviously as the Uniform option. I've got the option checked for Monochromatic. If we turn that off we'll get a lot of noise in our image.
Again, this might be a good way to be matching the noise between two images, but in this case I prefer to turn on Monochromatic and just have the black-and-white noise. Let's click OK, and if I want to decrease the intensity here without going back in and changing the settings, we can double-click on the Blending Options and maybe change the Blend mode to something like Soft Light. You can see that that really does change the overall look. It does make my image more contrasty, because that's what all of the Blending Options do that are in this area.
But it is a very different look. I can then take down the Opacity if I still think that the noise is too intense. So that's one way that we can add noise to an image. Let's go ahead and take a look at an alternative way to add grain to our image. I will select the Add Grain layer and make it visible, and then choose Filter>Filter Gallery. In this case, I want to view my image at 100%. So I won't fit in screen. If I'm viewing at a 100%, I just get a more realistic look at what's happening to my image.
I am going to switch over to Texture and then choose Grain. Now, all of the different grain types here, they're all going to have color grain. But that's okay, in a minute when I'm finished applying the amount of grain and kind of grain that I want, I can remove that color. We can choose between maybe a Soft Grain or I like the Clumped Grain option here. And of course, every time you pick a Grain type, you can then take down or take up the Contrast, and you can take down or take up the Intensity.
So let's take the Intensity down a bit as well as the Contrast. I will just point out some of these other types of grain. There's a Stippled Grain that you can add that will convert it to black-and-white, there's Horizontal if you want that grunge look there, or we can change that to Vertical, or we can change it to Speckle. So lots of different options here and of course by changing the Intensity and Contrast, you can greatly vary all the different kinds of grain. I am going to go back up to Clumped Grain. Let's make that a little bit more intense, and a little bit more contrasty, click OK.
And I like that look, the only thing that I don't like, of course, is the color in the grain. So once again, we're going to double-click on our Blending Options for this layer and for a Blend mode we're going to use one that we haven't tried yet, and that's Luminosity. What that is telling Photoshop is that you're only taking the luminosity of this filter. So get rid of the color, just show me it as if it was in grayscale. And because I'm only changing the Blend modes for the filter and not the image itself, the image stays in color and it's just the filter that's applied in grayscale.
Click OK and now to see the difference between them, let's toggle the Eye icon. Here's my Add Grain effect and this is my Add Noise effect. Very, very different effects. Let's go ahead and scoot back. I am going to zoom out to Fit in screen and then I am going to do one last thing, because I just want to show you an example of how much color can change what an image means. I'm going to use the Photo Filter Adjustment layer and I am just going to add a slight warming filter here. If I wanted it to be more dramatic, of course, I could click the Color area here.
I could increase the Density and I could choose whether or not to preserve the Luminosity. If I turn that off and I really increase the Density, meaning that I'm adding a heavy color overlay--let me close that-- when I toggle that on and off for the before and after, you really get a different feeling for this image. This image looks like it was taken in the middle of the day in harsh light. And here, it's a lot more subtle. It's almost like it's an evening shot even though there's a lot of contrast here, but the warmth really makes it look antique.
It kind of gives it almost a timeless mood. So there we have two quick methods for adding either noise to your image or adding grain to your image. As you can see from the result here, we really changed the mood of the image not only with the grain, but also the Photo Filter. But we can use these two filters as well if we were say trying to match images. So although I've used it creatively here, both of these filters are very useful and pragmatic as well.
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