Linda Gregory

Green Valley, United States

I am a 60+ retiree who loves photography. I am active in the Green Valley (AZ) Camera Club where I teach several classes. Joining this...

The Grunge Effect or Layering with Textures

Several people have asked me how I create the effect I’ve used with my color Tombstone portraits and photos such as Cochise Stronghold and Out Of The West.

First, I did a search for “free grunge textures” and found a couple of very good websites that allow you to copy the textures for free. Where a choice was available, I used the highest resolution available since my photographs are usually printed fairly large. Among the textures I chose were several “frames.”

I use Photoshop Elements for this effect. The technique goes like this:
1. I open the frame layer, a texture layer and my photograph and minimize the texture layer and the photograph to the palette bin.
2. I then open the texture layer.
3. I go to Select > All, go to Edit, and copy. I then minimize the texture layer. Next I paste that layer to the frame. If the layer doesn’t fit the frame, use the move tool to make it match.
4. At this point, I play with the opacity of the texture layer until I have the look I want. Because I’m working with layers, I can always change it later.
5. Next I open my photograph and using the quick selection tool, I select the entire photograph, go to Edit and copy. After minimizing the photograph, I paste the photograph on the texture layers. At this point you’ll only see the photograph.
6. The magic happens when you change the blending mode of the photograph to “multiply.” That allows the layers underneath to come through the photograph. You can play with the opacity on this layer, too, if it’s too strong, but I’ve found what works really well to get a very old look is to desaturate the photograph using Hue and Saturation under Enhance.
7. Different blending modes give different effects so try them all. This is how I learned which blending modes do what.
8. As I experimented with this effect I found that sometimes the frame is too strong (it’s the background layer remember and you can’t make any opacity changes to a background), I made a copy of the background layer and changed the opacity of that layer. Be sure you turn off the bottom background layer so you can see what you’re doing.
9. Once you get the overall look the way you want it, flatten the layers.

The overall effect really depends on the kind of texture layer you use. Experiment with a bunch of them on the same photo until you come up with the one you like the best. On my “Bisbee Graffiti,” my first attempt at this effect, I used a rust texture. On “Out Of The West” I used an old wrinkled paper texture. The fun of this effect is that you’re only limited to the textures you use. Have fun with this and I hope to see your work on Red Bubble. And, by the way, this works with black and whites and sepias, too.

I’m now photographing my own textures. It’ll make people laugh when you walk around taking pictures of sidewalks, rocks and rust!

PS One of my RB friends says that putting texture on top of the photos works, too. I’ll have to try that.

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