Add Film Grain for a Beautiful Finishing Touch

There are many things that make digital photography appealing and one of those is the beautiful finish of smooth sky’s and clean colors. Back in the day, photographers used slow films to avoid the grain that was common in fast films. I have always believed film grain in black and white photography added a beautiful touch and often it was the texture that grain brought to the photo that was so appealing to me. Over the last couple of years I have experimented with film grain in many of my photographs as well as my photo illustrations and have liked the results. The series of photos below show the transition of a photo made into a illustration adding film grain as the finishing touch.

OriginalA slow traffic day forced me to shoot about ten frames until I got the automobiles in position to get what I needed to make this photo work. I also needed a darker exposure to use in post production for the sky. As you can see a empty street and a dull sky make doesn’t make this an appealing photo.

In Adobe Photoshop I added the autos and blended in the darker sky. This addedautosadded a little more interest but still there wasn’t much here that I felt made it interesting.

toolsThe next step was to either straighten the buildings with the skew tool in Photoshop or do something else. I decided to exaggerate the entire scene but using the skew, scale and war tools with the idea of running it through a couple plug ins to see what I might create.

The finished illustration was run through Aurora HDR Pro which added a bit of a grunge look and popped the contrast with a bit more saturation. Once I opened it back up into Photoshop I turned to Topaz Simplify and used the BuzSim preset to give me the illustrative look. I liked what I had but with the light colored buildings I felt it needed some texture or something to give it a finished look. As this post suggests, film grain is what I needed to finish it out. The final touches were added in using Nik Color Efex with the film grain preset. And there you have the finished photo illustration.


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