Achieving the Old and Grungy Look in Photoshop

A Photoshop How-TO

Giving a photo the old and weathered look is pretty popular these days. The problem is that a lot of these photos are brand new, taken with high-end photography equipment that doesn’t leave much room for human error and that worn-out grunge look (especially if the photo is brand new). Don’t worry, though, giving your photographs a worn-out and old feeling is relatively easy with a few Photoshop tricks. So grab a photo, open photoshop and follow along.

Open your image and duplicate your layer by going to Layer >> Duplicate layer and then change your new layers blending mode to Hard Light using the blending mode drop-down menu in the Layers Palette.

Next, go to your Filter menu and choose Other >> High Pass. For this example, I chose a radius of 15 pixels, but use your judgment and experiment in your own photoshop file.

Here is a cool Photoshop trick. With both layers visible and you are using Photoshop on a MAC hit Command-Option-Shift-E (for a PC hit Ctrl-Alt-Shift-E). This adds a new layer to your image that is a direct composite of the two layers. It is basically the same thing as merging the two layers and duplicating it, but instead, you still have your originally two layers intact and unmerged. Anyways, change this composite layer to Overlay using the blend mode menu in the Layers palette. Now take that Overlay layer and apply a Sharpening Filter to it. Be sure to sharpen the layer much more than you would for a touch-up. For my example, i went although to 175 with a radius of 3.

To give it a more weathered look it’s a good idea to take some of the saturation out and add a warm tint to the image. Go to Layer >> New Adjustment Layer >> Hue/Saturation. Click the colorize checkbox which applies a color to the image. Use the Hue slider to choose a warm color and keep the Saturation and Lightness sliders at a pretty neutral level, but feel free to experiment with those sliders in your Photoshop image. Next, bring the opacity of this level down to let some color from underneath show through. I used an opacity of 50%.

I’d say it’s pretty much done and I’m sure your photo has gone a long way, but if you want to create even more of a weathered effect you can create a new layer and fill it with 50% Grey by choosing Edit >> Fill on your new layer and selecting 50% Grey from the color menu in the Fill dialogue box. Change this layer to use the Hard Light blending mode just like you do at the beginning of the process by selecting Hard Light from the blending mode options in the Layers palette. Give this layer some noise, using your judgment, and be sure check on monochromatic.

You now have an image that looks old, weathered, and grungy. Just the effect you wanted!