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Photoshop plug-ins for retouching

Film grain

Quick introduction

This Photoshop plug-in emulates film grain texture in digital photos, both B/W and color. It does not overlay the photo with a scan of grain but creates the grain effect using fractal technology. Here's the Film Grain Photoshop pluginís control panel. Click on the image for a larger view. It works with the following image modes: 8 & 16 bit/channel: RGB, CMYK, Grayscale, Duotone, Lab.

Video introducing the Photoshop plug-in

Why film grain?

1. Digital cameras produce grainless images (though they can be very noisy). 2. Film grain can be very beautiful and conveys texture and mood. 3. Gaussian noise, or other noise, is very ugly.
Here you can see four samples of Power Retouch Film Grain. Please compare these samples with the real film grain below
Old film
Old film

The film grain controls

The Photoshop plug-in has two identical sets of controls. One set makes the black & white grain, the other the color grain. The top checkbox turns the entire group on or off.


All examples are done with the Power Retouch plug-in.
Commercial films
Intensity. † This slider ranges from 0 to 100 and changes the degree to which grain will be apparent in the image. It does not change the amount of grain pr. square centimeter.
Grain size. † This sets the general size of the grain. In reality grains do not have a strictly uniform size and likewise our Film Grain Plug-in will create varied grain. Contrast . In the BW-Grain this will make the difference between light and dark grains more pronounced. In the Color Grain it will primarily make the grains more or less saturated, but it will also make light-dark differences more pronounced. Photographic distribution . This checkbox will change the distribution of the grain to emulate the grain distribution in film at various levels. Soft <-> Hard . This makes the grain appear softer or harder. Levels . The three sliders (Lights, Midtones, Darks) are common to most Power Retouch plug-ins. They regulate how strongly the retouching should be present in the respective levels of brightness. By turning Photographic Mode on or off and using these sliders, you can create your own grain distribution.
This example illustrates †††† Photographic Distribution . Notice how the intensity of the grain changes with varying brightness levels. Pure black and pure white has no grain in film, nor in our photographic distribution. If you need grain in the lights or darks, turn photographic distribution off and use the Retouch Levels to create your own grain distribution.
Soft film grain
Hard film grain
This example illustrates the difference between extreme soft and hard grain . Something in-beween will suit most cases. Both have Photographic distribution on.
Original photo. No grain
Photographic distribution
Here's the classic zebra, that used to come with Photoshop. It is photographed in such a manner that the zebra is in focus and the background blurred. The problem with this is that the blurred background becomes overly smooth and, at least in my view, becomes a sore spot for the eye. It's just so slick, it acts like a green piece of paper onto which a cut out zebra has been pasted. Adding a medium sized color grain will fix this.