American Writer, Photographer, and Website Designer. Former career Fire and EMS Lieutenant. She/Her/Lesbian.

Advanced Grunge Editing

My original post in this series was Easy and Creative Grunge Effects.  This post is for the more advanced photographer who is looking for some more interesting and stunning effects and editing.

For this tutorial, you will need the following.  First, as always, you will need a photo image, such as the one shown in this tutorial.  Second, you will need a copy of Photoshop, or a similar image editing program.  Thirdly, you will need some brushes for use with Photoshop.  A few of the brushes used in this tutorial were found at  Additionally, there are Photoshop actions available for purchase that closely follow tutorials such as this one.

Lined-Up Rail Cars (2)
For this tutorial, we will start with this photo.  

The first step is to crop the photo squarely.  A perfect square is what we’re looking for.  In Photoshop you need to hold down the shift key while cropping.  On a side note, a great group on Flickr for square photographs is squareFormat.

Step two is to add some scratches.  Using a grunge style brush, we can create the effect that someone went absolutely nuts on this picture.  For best results, set the opacity around 50%; experiment to see what looks best.  Subtle nuances are always better.

The third step is to add this stain in the bottom left corner.  In case you are wondering, this is a coffee splatter stain.

Fourth on the list is to add some stains to the corners.  This is what will happen to your photo if you hang them up on a wall with cheap tape.  (Trust me, I’ve made that mistake.)  The stains were all created with the same brush by randomizing the location and depth; the opacity was set at 75%.  Again, experiment to see what works best.

The last step is to balance the levels and convert the image to black and white.  Of course, the black and white conversion is completely optional, but I thought it made the picture.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.  Some of the brushes used here were found at  The black and white conversion was accomplished using a Photoshop Action called Black & White Essence, and can be purchased here.

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