Dramatic Gritty Effect

In this tutorial we’re going to show you how to add a dramatic, gritty, bronzed effect to your images. We’ll convert our subject image as follows:




1. Open our project image and immediately duplicate the background layer by right clicking the background layer and selecting ‘Duplicate Layer’. With the ‘Background Copy’ layer selected, go to ‘Filter’ on the menu and choose ‘Other’ -> ‘High Pass’, enter ‘5′ pixels as the radius and click ok. Next, change the blend of the ‘Background Copy’ layer to ‘Overlay’.


2. Duplicate the orginal background layer again (’Background Copy 2′) and move it to the very top of the layers list. With this new layer highlighted in the layers palette, go to ‘Image’ on the main menu and choose ‘Adjustment’ -> ‘Desaturate’. Change the blend of the this new layer to ‘Hard Light’.


3. Click on the right facing arrow in the top right corner of our layers palette and choose ‘Flatten Image’ from the drop down menu. This once again leaves us with a single layer ‘Background’. Duplicate this layer and press ‘Ctrl+F’ (Commmand-F on mac) to apply the same filter effect used in step 1. Change the blend mode of this layer
to ‘Overlay’.



4. Flatten the image again (Click on the right facing arrow in the top right corner of our layers palette and choose ‘Flatten Image’ from the drop down menu). Next, click the ‘Create New Adjustment Layer’ icon at the bottom of the layers palette and choose ‘Curves’. In the ‘Curves’ dialog add a point by clicking directly on the diagnol line (around the upper third in our example), move it toward the left, and click OK. This will lighten the entire image (but focus on the eyes).



5. Click on the layer mask thumbnail of the Curves adjustment layer we just created and press ‘Ctrl+i’ (Command-i on mac), the image will appear darker. Set your foreground color to white (press D). Select the Brush tool from the toolbox and using a soft edged brush (I used a brush with diameter of 15px and hardness of 15%), paint over the eyes to brighten them up.


Our effect looks like this now:


6.Create a new layer, and change your foreground color to a nice eye color you would like to highlight your subjects eyes with. We’re going to select a nice light blue (#94C4D4) for our subject. Change the blend mode of this layer to ‘Color’. Now using the same brush settings we used in the previous step, paint over the eyes to highlight them with your selected foreground color. If you find the color is too vivid, try adjusting the layer opacity to lessen the effect.


And voila…our dramatic gritty effect is complete! Have fun applying this technique in your projects.


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Comments for Dramatic Gritty Effect

  1. colin Says:

    Great Job!

  2. Irai Says:


  3. Niels Says:

    Looks nice on your photo, not on mine

  4. Kaptain Says:

    Great work. Brings the picture back to life. But I need more practising.

  5. Great tut!
    I think someone did this to me in my sleep!


  6. Titano Says:

    Fantastic, I was looking for a tutorial like this to use on some of my photos, and this help me a lot, you can combine with other technics at the same time, the results on my photos are really good, but you have to recognize what photos are good for this effect. and if you create other layers, like a 50% grey with noise and set to overlay helps with texture and more, again great job and THANK YOU


  7. Peter Brown Says:

    Hi, this is a great effect, BUT, who is the model? This man looks exactly like my late father, the likeness is uncanny to the point it could be a picture of him about 15 years ago.

    Best regards

    Peter Brown

  8. Imtiaz Says:

    I was looking for a tutorial like this to use on some of my photos, and this help me a lot, you can combine with other technics at the same time, the results on my photos are really good, but you have to recognize what photos are good for this effect. and if you create other layers, like a 50% grey with noise and set to overlay helps with texture and more, again great job and THANK YOU

  9. g Says:

    i’m only here to see if this in fact turns out to be Peter Brown’s father. That’s a very distinct looking fellow. It would be hard to imagine that someone so unique would not in fact be the person a son imagines his father to be.

  10. jimbob Says:

    The photo is the one used on the album cover of Jason Upton’s album ‘Beautiful People’…

    …unfortunately it doesn’t say in the sleeve notes anything about the picture, so I don’t know how much that’ll help!

  11. Jen Says:

    I have been looking for something like this for a long time. It’s great to use on portraits of older people, and has a totally different look on other types of faces and lighting. LOVE and will use again and again! Thanks!

  12. estefania Says:

    me gustaria recibir este tutorial en español.

  13. kris Says:

    just wondering exactly what part of the eye do u lighten up? all of it? just the iris?
    I cant seem to get the color right either
    but I have gotten some good pictures out of it
    its a great tutorial …well discribed
    here are some og my pictures (not stisfied with the eye there)
    best wishes

  14. sunquick Says:

    Masha Allah :-)

  15. Greg Says:

    Peter: This is a fairly well known stock image. You should be able to contact the photographer here:

  16. geena Says:

    Thank you for posting this great tutorial… the instruction is easy to follow, and the results I’ve gotten are amazing! Love it!

  17. whlooi Says:

    Great tutorial, in fact it’s easy to follow and remember!

  18. loi Says:

    cool.great job!


  19. Theodore Says:

    why is _longterm_ coming up I cant read the tutorial

  20. kingpin Says:

    excuse me but how do i get to change the filter radius?[lease email me the answers thank u

  21. Brad Says:

    It should be noted that this was commonly known as the “Dragan Effect”. He was the first one to apply this technique and his photos are amazing! You can check out his website here -

  22. Shadowfaux Says:

    Looks not unlike the draganizer action, but this is much quicker. Thanks!

  23. Mr. Editor Says:

    The same effect = Unsharp Mask (with Radius above 2 pixels)

  24. mkb Says:

    quite crappy tutorial. looks like puke

  25. andreas Says:

    wow that like we use lucius filter….amazing
    visit my blog

  26. thales Says:

    essa montagem estar tudo inglês da para coloca em portugues

  27. Pete Says:

    Thanks for the Tutorial!!! Great Work

  28. perfect this is soo original and simple A+ for you jajaja

  29. Pooj Says:

    this tutorial is amazing, thank you

  30. 9 Says:


  31. gildor Says:

    exclusive tutorial, so much thanks!

  32. warren Says:

    this looks like me ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

  33. warren Says:

    oooo i like the children especially this guy

  34. Jeje Says:

    great great work.. thanks alot for helping me :)

  35. Billy Says:

    I agree it looks great on “older” people or should I say people with more character in their faces.

  36. billy Says:

    Not much of a tutorial… this dosn’t really work for any other picture. This tutorial exclusively works with THIS picture.

  37. OFY Says:

    Thanks, nice work

  38. nice working.

  39. sivas Says:

    very good, thanks

  40. good working
    thanks for sharing…

  41. Rajeesh Says:

    Superb Effect. All steps are very simple and easy to follow. Thanks a lot buddy.

  42. maurice Says:

    Perfecto!!!! gran tuto felicidades!!!!

  43. LoriZ Says:


  44. Mo Says:

    It also looks like Dave Hill effect :-)

  45. sam Says:

    nice very easy to follow and nice effects ,good teater.

  46. habil Says:

    its nice and great thanks all you and this wonderful site i am from baku thanks 100000000000000000 time

  47. Zenny Jones Says:

    that is not homeless mike… that is hippocrates

    you can see him here…

  48. gomlek Says:

    thank you

  49. pantalon Says:

    great link.

  50. boominatham Says:

    superb work in the image now iam currently try to finish that same out put..

  51. goshthunt Says:

    great effect!!
    i was lookin it, and that so cool!!

  52. Manumora Says:

    Very nice effect , i would like to add that you can apreciatte a lot more of that style photos looking for “Andrzej Dragan” workarts .

    Excuse my bad english :P

  53. cezar Says:

    Why can’t i lighten the eyes?did everything step by step but can’t lighten the f…. eyes.any idea what i’m doing wrong?thanks.allmost forgot: Great tutorial.cheers

  54. cezar Says:

    got it.idiot me

  55. Jack Says:

    Totally Alphanumeric!

  56. kerr Says:

    excellent!! thanks!! : )

  57. Interesting look, certainly adds a gritty dirty atmosphere.

  58. thanks for information

  59. Perde Says:

    Nice articles, helped me a lot thanks.

  60. Nakliyat Says:

    I am grateful to you for this great content

  61. chrystian Says:


    it´s impresionant is very easy

  62. Clive Says:

    Very well written tutorial, thanks.

  63. pipedelico Says:

    thanks mate!

  64. Julio C Says:

    Very easy and very effective. Excellent job


  65. noux Says:

    Hey dudes, if you need a more complete and soft tutorial about this effect, I recommend you this :
    Feel free to check it out !

  66. bursa Says:

    Thank you

  67. great job. hope to see some more tutorials made by you

  68. thanks very good

  69. kaila Says:

    dude this is awsomw ahaha this is something i will use allot on me dog ahahahahha♥

  70. Thank you for sharing the great tutorial

  71. very good work

  72. thanks

  73. giyim Says:

    thank you ,

  74. giyim Says:

    thank you great link…

  75. Serge Says:

    Impressive effect!
    I’ll try it.
    Bye and thanks

  76. Mark Says:

    Very cool!!

    best free chat rooms

  77. Я знаю, что надо сделать )))

    Начальник цеха начальник смены In this tutorial we’re going to show you how to add a dramatic, gritty, bronzed effect to your images..

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