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How To Add Film Grain To Photos For A Vintage Look

By Melanie Doncas | Basic Photo EditingPhoto Editor Tutorials

Ever noticed that gorgeous, grainy texture in images captured with a film camera? Known as Film Grain, this grittiness is created by the presence of small particles of a metallic silver in processed photographic film. While it might sound all scientific, no one can deny the raw beauty that this effect has on a photo, giving it an older, vintage feel.

film grain photo filter by BeFunky

Owning a film camera is less common these days, but that doesn’t mean the Film Grain effect should be hard to achieve. The good news is, even though you might not have access to a film camera, you can still get this retro look with the Film Grain effect in BeFunky’s Photo Editor! It’s part of our new collection of Cinematic effects that will add tons of character to your images. We’ll show you how to add this unique, vintage flair to your photos in just a few steps below.

Film Grain Photography Inspiration

When it comes to Film Grain photography, there are plenty of examples to inspire your next project. From gritty landscapes to retro portraits, noisy cityscapes, and more – the following images are sure to give you some Film Grain ideas.

Film Grain Portraits

There’s just something about Film Grain that gives portrait photography an ethereal, almost-dreamlike aesthetic. It’ll definitely make your present day portraits look like they were taken decades ago.

film grain filter for photos

Whether your portrait shots are colorful, monochromatic, or black and white, the added texture of Film Grain will give it a totally retro look.

Black & White Film Grain

In true vintage photography style, the Film Grain effect looks totally natural on black and white photos. The best part about the Film Grain effects in BeFunky are that you can choose to add RGB (red, green, and blue) film grain to colorful photos or select the Monochromatic option for muted tones or black and white.

film grain black and white photography

In this case, we’ve gone with the Monochromatic option in the Film Grain effect to keep things looking natural.

Chromatic Film Grain

By first adding a Chromatic photo filter, then adding the Film Grain effect, this photo has the color palette and texture of a retro image. It helps that the car in the photograph is a vintage model, but this look works on present day imagery as well.

chromatic filters with film grain

With an entire collection of Chromatic filters in our Effects tab, you'll be able to alter the color palette of your image to take on even more of a vintage look.

Monotone Film Grain

Imagery with a monotone or muted color palette works beautifully with the Film Grain effect, since retro photography wasn’t overly colorful. If you want to get the look, try adding a photo filter from the Chromatic or Vintage Colors category. You can even create a custom photo filter with the new Color Grading effects (also found in the Cinematic category of the Effects tab!).

muted photography filter with film grain

Whether your photos are colorful, monochromatic, or black and white, the Film Grain effect will add tons of character. We’ll show you how to add and customize the effect below!

How To Add Film Grain To Photos

Once you’re ready to incorporate the Film Grain look into your own image, it’s time to head on over to BeFunky’s Photo Editor. Upload your desired photo using the Open tab at the top of the Photo Editor, or simply drag-and-drop your image file into the interface for an instant upload. With your photo uploaded, click on the Effects tab in the main menu on the left, then select the Cinematic category, followed by the Film Grain effect.

Film Grain filter by BeFunky

When you preview the effect on your image, you’ll notice three circular buttons: Settings, Cancel, and Apply. Click on Settings to open a wider range of options and to further customize your Film Grain.

Film Grain photo filter by BeFunky

In the Settings menu, you can adjust the Intensity of the Film Grain effect by dragging the slider to the left (less) or right (more). Below this, you’ll see a Generate button, which randomizes the Film Grain effect and scrambles the texture on your photo. Keep clicking this until you achieve a Film Grain look you love!

how to add film grain to images

Below Generate is a Monochromatic option, which you can toggle on or off. The Monochromatic option makes the Film Grain more neutral in color, instead of the default RGB. We'll zoom into the image to show you what the default RGB film grain looks like:

RGB film grain

And what happens when you click the Monochromatic option:

Monochromatic film grain

Because of this, the Monochromatic option is better for neutral colored or black and white photography, whereas the default option works better for more vibrant, colorful photos. Since the colors are a bit more muted in this image, we went ahead with the Monochromatic option.

film grain photo editing tutorial

Next to Adjust in the Film Grain settings menu, you’ll also find a Paint option. Clicking it will open up a new menu, allowing you to paint the Film Grain effect selectively on your image. Simply adjust elements such as Brush Size, Brush Hardness, and Brush Strength, then use your mouse to paint on the Film Grain effect to selected parts of your image. For example, you might want to apply a Film Grain effect to just the background or foreground of your image for something a little different.

selectively add film grain to photo in BeFunky

Once you’re happy with your Film Grain effect, you can click the blue checkmark button to apply it.

how to make it look like photo was taken on film camera

Then, all that’s left to do is to save your image so you can share it online, print it to frame, or anything else that takes your fancy! Click on Save at the top of your screen to save your work to your Computer, as well as Facebook, Dropbox, and more! If you want to come back to your project at a later date (i.e. to add some extra effects to it), then we also recommend the Save as Project option (which lets you save it as an editable BeFunky Project file to your BeFunky account or Computer).

Before and After

When it comes to achieving that old-school Film Grain effect, you don’t have to travel back in time, nor do you need to splash some serious cash on a film camera. Instead, just use BeFunky’s new Film Grain effect to achieve the grainy, film-inspired look you’re after!

add film grain to photo
portrait of a woman

Before

After

Ready to try it out for yourself? Click the link below to get the look!

Photo Editing, Simplified.

Photo Editing. Simplified