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  PowerRetouche photo editing software - Our photoshop plugins are for most photo software and graphic software like Fireworks, Corel Draw, Paint Shop Pro and others
The left side is the original. Right side is filtered with the plugin. Notice all values and hues of the color are preserved.

A Photoshop plugin to create film grain effect in digital photos

Power Retouche film grain effect plugin is an exact digital equivalent of film grain in both black & white and color images. Color images can be given both black and white grain and color grain independently. The plugin fractally emulates real film grain, it does not just apply noise. It applies grain texture across the brightness levels in the same way analog photography does with a special "Photographic Mode" option.

free photoshop plugins, brightness, lightness, photo software, software download, free demo, color, photo editing, pluginsWindows version is for all versions of Photoshop, Elements, Fireworks, Paint Shop Pro, Corel Draw,
Illustrator and other software that supports Photoshop plugins. See list.
Film grain effect Mac
version is for Photoshop CS3 and later and Elements and is universal only.

Introduction to the PowerRetouche Photoshop plugin: Brightness Editor


The Plugin

The plugins are for both OSX and Classic
The plugins are for all versions of windows

of the plugin

Control the intensity (amount) of grain Control the intensity (visual presence) of grain
Control the size of the grain Control the size of the grain
Control the contrast of the grain Control the contrast of the grain
Control the softness & hardness of the grain Control the softness & hardness of the grain
Target grain to lights, midtones or darks independently Target grain to lights, mid tones or darks independently

The Film Grain plug-in works with these image modes (Windows and Mac)...
8 & 16 bit / channel: RGB, Duotone, Grayscale, Lab.


Tutorial as pdf

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Products overview

Film grain controls

This is the Film Grain Plug-ins control panel. Click on the image to enlarge. The controlpanel and preview area can be changed by dragging the sides.

It has two groups of controls: B&W and color.
Each has three groups of controls:

1. Grain details (intensity, size, etc.)
2. Light (softness/hardness of grain)
3. Retouch levels: target lights, mid tones or darks

See the control panel for the windows version See Windows plugin

See Mac plugin

Download Win plugins

Download Mac plugins

Download tutorials

Examples - applying various types of film grain texture

The Film Grain Photoshop plugin is an advanced digital version of traditional film grain. It gives you full control over grain size, amount and hardness for both B&W and color grain

How the plugin filters the photo PowerRetouche Photoshop plugins tutorial

Tutorial for the PowerRetouche photoshop plugin, Brightness Editor. It can be used with most other photo software and graphic software too.


Tutorial Video


Why Emulate Film Grain?


Three reasons:
1. Digital cameras ideally produce grainless images (though they can be very noisy).
2. Film grain can be very beautiful and convey texture and mood.
3. Photoshop's gaussian noise, or other noise, is very ugly.

Below you can see a sample of Power Retouche Film Grain for comparison with noise. The gaussian noise is, well, nothing but noise. The PR film grain on the other hand is pure texture and vibrato -- as it should be. Please compare the two Power Retouche samples with the real film grain below.

Gaussian noise

Gaussian noise

Power Retouche Film Grain Photoshop plugin

Power Retouche Film Grain Photoshop plugin

Grain is often considered at its best in B&W images or color images of low saturation. Here it gives not only texture, but also mood. I hope the examples below will show color images can benefit from grain too.


Real Film Grain


Compare these six samples with the two Power Retouche samples above. Remember PR Film Grain let's you adjust contrast and size to produce any grain desired. What you should look for when comparing is texture and "feel" and how unified the grain is in an overall vibrant surface.



Old film

Old film




The Plugins' controls

Grain controls

B/W grain
Color grain






As you can see, the Film Grain Plug-in has two identical sets of controls, one set makes the black & white grain, the other the color grain. The top checkbox turns the entire group on or off.


This slider ranges from 0 to 100 and changes the degree to which grain will be apparent in the image. It does not change the amount of grain pr. square centimeter.

Grain Size

This sets the general size of the grain. In reality grains do not have a strictly uniform size and likewise our Film Grain Plug-in will create varied grain.


In the BW-Grain this will make the difference between light and dark grains more pronounced.
In the Color Grain it will primarily make the grains more or less saturated, but it will also make light-dark differences more pronounced.

Photographic Distribution

This checkbox will change the distribution of the grain to emulate the grain distribution in film as it varies at different brightness levels. When off, grain will be distributed evenly. In both cases you can adjust the distribution to taste with the three Retouch Levels sliders. In Photographic Distribution, the whites and blacks do not get any grain.

Soft <--> Hard

This slider emulates the way the light in the darkroom projector can manipulate the appearance of the film grain. It can make the grain softer or harder.

Retouch Levels

The three Retouch Levels sliders (Lights, Mid tones, Darks) are common to most Power Retouche plug-ins. They regulate how strongly the retouching should be present in the respective levels of brightness. By turning Photographic Mode on or off and using these sliders, you can create your own grain distribution. You can of course save it as a preset for later use.

Show Grain

Different color grain for different image modes

This checkbox toggles the preview between drawing the grain on the source image or on a neutral medium gray background. You can choose between viewing the B/W grain or the color grain. Of course, this requires the BW grain or color grain are on. If you have turned BW grain off and select Show Grain and pick the B/W grain, then you will simply see the original source image. Likewise with color grain off.

Show B/W grain

Show color grain (RGB)

Show color grain (Lab).
(See also sample below)

Show color grain (CMYK).

As you can see from the three color examples, the color grain is different depending on the image mode you use. This way you have more choices of effect. The grain in a RGB image will tend towards red, green and blue. The grain in a Lab image will tend towards yellow, magenta, cyan and green and will have higher contrast. Grain in a CMYK image will be very slight and tend towards cyan, magenta and yellow.

Note that pure color grain in RGB will inevitably have some BW grain also.

It is special in Lab mode that pure color grain will be without any brightness value variation. You can add that with BW grain.

If you in Lab mode combine color grain with BW grain, this is the result.


Examples of B&W Film Grain

Grayscale image without and with B&W film grain in photographic distribution

This nice grayscale image would improve with a bit of grain. The smooth, even slick, appearance of the mid tones does not suit neither the clouds nor the mood.

This example illustrates Photographic Distribution. Notice how the intensity (presence) of the grain changes with varying brightness levels. Pure black and pure white has no grain in film, nor in our photographic distribution. If you need grain in the lights or darks, turn photographic distribution off and use the Retouch Levels to create your own grain distribution.


With slight grain

Soft or hard

These two examples illustrate soft film grain versus hard film grain, but you will also notice that (true to nature) the soft film grain appears larger than the hard film grain.

Soft film grain

Hard film grain

Film grain in color images

Though film grain is mostly utilized in grayscale images, it can give a nice quality to color images also. If you just use B/W film grain in a color image, the grain will not be integrated but will appear to float on top of the colors; not nice! So with color images either use B/W film grain together with color film grain or just use color film grain alone.

In this RGB example we only used color film grain and still with photographic distribution. Notice how the grain enhances the mood by adding a slight vibrato.


Slight color film grain (RGB)

The problem here is, that even though it's photo-technically correct not to have grain in the dark blue clouds, it is aesthetically not pleasing in this particular image. So we will have to use the retouch levels and turn Photographic Distribution off. See below.

Retouch levels

Here we used the retouch levels to add a slight grain to the dark blue clouds. To the right you can see the settings we used.

These are the settings we used


B&W or Color?


Above: Original image. Below: Color grain only (RGB)

Above: Color grain only (RGB). Below B/W grain only

As you can see from the above two examples, the effect of adding either B&W grain or color grain is very different.

In general you will find that with color images, even when they are as low in color as this one, color grain works better than B&W grain. This is because, as you can see, pure B&W grain in a color image tends to sort of float above the colors. On the other hand, if you want strong grain in a color images, then using color grain alone will not work well because the colored grains will stand out. In this case you need to enhance with B&W grain. When combined with color grain, B&W grain will not stand out in color images.





Here's the classic Zebra, that used to come with Photoshop. It is photographed in such a manner that the zebra is in focus and the background blurred. The problem with this is that the blurred background becomes overly smooth and, at least in my view, becomes a sore spot for the eye. It's just so slick, it acts like a green piece of paper onto which a cut out zebra has been pasted. Adding some medium sized grain (BW in Photographic Mode) will fix this.


PR Film Grain

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