Photoshop tip - How to create a gritty portrait in Photoshop

07th February 2010
This is the kind of trick most photographers keep to themselves. My policy is to share my knowledge and hopefully this will keep you coming back to find more tips. It all helps my Google ranking to be honest. You can either read how to do the technique or watch the video below.

To start with find a photo that you think will benefit from a gritty effect that adds texture and detail to the image. I find the technique works brilliantly with older people - particularly men with beards or stubble. Urban scenes of dark alleys and industrial towns can work well too.

Now you've picked a suitable photo it's time to open it in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.

Step 1.
Press CTRL and J at the same time to create a duplicate layer of your original photo.

Step 2.
Click on ‘Filter’ (at the top of the screen) then ‘Other’ then ‘High Pass’ from the drop down menu. Adjust the radius slider to between 10 and 20 pixels and press OK. The number you choose depends on how much you want to affect the photo and how many pixels are in the image. It's wise to start at 10 pixels and work your way up if you decide you want more grit.

Click 'OK' and you'll be faced with a weird sort of embossed look on the photo. Don't worry, we're not quite finished. The High Pass Filter is basically finding all the edges within the picture so it can sharpen them up and add contrast. High contrast and sharpening are essentially what the High Pass filter is doing in it's distinctive and special way.

Step 3.
Click on where it says ‘Normal’ here:

This will bring up a long list of options and you need to select ‘Overlay’ which is located in the middle.

This should give you the effect you’re after. However, if the effect isn’t strong enough you can press CTRL and J again and it will double the effect.

Before: After:

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