How do I emulate this digital texture?
November 6, 2012 4:54 PM   Subscribe

Digital artists: What is this cool, grainy Photoshop texture used in webcomics and how do I make it too?

I've been seeing this texture appear in several webcomics, particularly Gunnerkrigg Court (previous pages offer more examples). I think he draws in Photoshop. It's not a smooth color look, and I like the depth and atmosphere it gives to the art, giving it more of a painterly feel. How do you think it was most likely created (with noise? a filter? some type of layering?) and/or what is the simplest way to achieve this effect?
posted by iadacanavon to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This is purely speculation, but photographers (like myself) use the technique of overlaying high-res textures on top of their photographs quite a bit. There are some wonderful resources online, like Lost and Taken.

Depending on the blending mode and opacity you go with, you can get some wonderful effects. You can also Unsharp Mask the layer the textures to really bring out the details. I'm sure designers do the same thing for posters. You probably want to go with a texture that is pretty uniform.

You can also layer mask the texture and bring it back in with a brush so that in some areas, the texture overlay is more pronounced. In the image you linked to, this seems to be the case in some of the lighter volcanic areas.

There's also the Noise filter you can experiment with in Photoshop. I use this to sometimes cover up retouching, or to add a graininess to photos. The way to introduce this is into your image is by creating a layer and filling it with CMYK 0,0,0,57. Changing the blending mode to overlay and then add a monochromatic uniform noise of... well, it will depend on the size of your image. For a large high quality photo I use about 5%. You could also experiment with gaussian distribution i guess. The 57 K value will probably boost your contrast up a little, I think to get no boost in contrast you should use a value of 50.
posted by phaedon at 5:19 PM on November 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Tom Siddell seems like a nice man. He might tell you if you emailed / twittered / sent him a carrier pigeon. (Especially the third.)
posted by pont at 6:12 PM on November 6, 2012

Best answer: Find a nice vintage paper image, make it your top layer and set it to multiply somewhere around 60%, depending on how much of an effect you want. Multiply is probably the least obtrusive, but it will darken the image slightly. You should try other modes - things like screen or lighten will brighten the image.

Now if you want to hear it from the man himself (scroll down to 39), it's actually a rock texture, not paper!
posted by O9scar at 9:30 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

After drawing something, I'll take a photo of it using my camera phone, which adds a bit of noise, and then (in photoshop) make layers at different opacity and with different threshold levels. Like the background Here (self link)

Most of this is from experimentation. I took photos of my work because it was easier than scanning it, and would use photoshop's threshold feature to get the lines to stand out, which brought with it the noise from the camera and, thus, a pretty cool texture.
posted by hellojed at 10:51 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Lots of good strategies to try, thanks so much. Nice find on Tom's answer too! You guys rock.
posted by iadacanavon at 1:08 AM on November 7, 2012

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