Thursday, June 17, 2010

CoffeeShop Urban Grit Action and Tutorial

I have had so many people visit my Flickr CoffeeShop Group and write that they would love to have the Urban Grit layer in Perfect Portrait as a stand-alone action. Well, here it is! I also wrote a little tutorial for those of you that prefer to do it on your own (yes you!!!) and also to show you how I went from my before to after with texture in the sample above. This tutorial works in both Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.

Click on the image above to see it large!

1.  Run the Urban Grit action on a flattened image. If you don't want to run the action simply make a copy of your background (Ctrl-J) and run a high pass filter on it with a setting of 20 (Filter, Other, High Pass) and then put that layer into vivid light blending mode and adjust opacity to taste. 

2.  The action applies a black layer mask (if you aren't using the action you can download my free PSE layer mask here and click on it and fill it in with black - Edit, fill layer, black).  When you run the action you won't see any changes on your image (the black mask "masks" or hides the effect so you can paint it in where you want it). 

Simply click on the black layer mask on the Urban Grit layer to select it and then paint on the image with a low to medium opacity soft white brush (in normal mode, check your top menubar!) in areas you want to give that gritty almost HDR effect.  If you make a mistake paint back over the image with a black brush.  You can also adjust the Urban Grit's layer opacity after using the brush.

On this tractor photo I wanted the grit applied evenly over the entire image so I removed the black layer mask.  Just click to select it and drag it into the trash. 

3.  I then dragged the ShadowHouse 1000YearsBC free texture on  top and put it in multiply blending mode and lowered the opacity a bit.

4.  For the last step I added a levels adjustment layer on top and pulled up the highlights and gamma sliders a bit to brighten the image.

This effect is gorgeous on urban-type settings and things like tractors and cars and anything that needs a bit of gritty enhancement.  I use this on brick, stone, metal, and vintage grungy wood fences in portraits all of the time. It also looks great on old barns and walls.   Like all effects, moderation is the key, so make sure to start with a low opacity soft brush and lower the opacity of the layer to taste.

You can download the free Urban Grit PS/PSE action HERE!

Want all of my favorite CoffeeShop Actions or Design Elements in one simple download AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures. For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


  1. ooo... I love this action! Thanks so much... can't wait to use it!

  2. sweet! can't wait to try it Rita, tornado watches in sight right now, but I will :), now were'd I put those flash lights?

  3. Awesome!! I take pics of lots of things with "grit" and this action will make them even better.

    Thank you! Love ya more'n my luggage! ;-)

  4. Yeahh!!! Coffeeshop is gettin' Gritty!! I have a feeling I'll be using this one ALOT~

  5. Fantastic!!1 Here's a direct link to Jerry's 1000YearsBC texture.

    Thanks for the tutorial.

  6. Thank you for freebies. Link on your post was added to Lori's freebie list

  7. Thank you! I sometimes run "Perfect Portrait" just for the "Grit" layer. So thank you for this special little action!

  8. awesome action.... cant wait to see it used on my pictures! Thank you for sharing.

  9. thank you for this, i've been using pp3 just to get the grit. thought i should check to see if you have just the grit!! I think you are really grit, i mean great!!

  10. I didn't get it. I got lost after changing the photo to that dark action...didn't know where to find the brush action and all that stuff.


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