How To Give Your Photos A Gritty, High-Contrast Look

How To Give Your Photos A Gritty, High-Contrast Look

You’ve probably seen professional photos and advertisements (especially sports ads) with a gritty, high-contrast look. Assuming you’ve got a well-lit photo, this effect is very easy to achieve in just a few seconds by blending a colour channel. Here’s how.

The video above demonstrates the process for you, but here are the basic steps:

  • Go into the Channels palette in Photoshop, select the green layer and copy it.
  • Select the RGB composite layer in the Channels palette, then switch back to the layers palette and paste the green layer you just copied into a new layer.
  • Set the blending mode of your newly pasted layer to Overlay.
  • Dial down the opacity until you get the look you want.

That’s it!


  • I do a similar effect by using a black and white layer rather than using the green channel, from there you can boost or reduce any particular colour you like.

  • Just out of interest – why is Lifehacker doing posts on using a professional graphics package costing hundreds of dollars that the average user would not have (unless via BT)? Why aren’t these tutorials using Gimp or Paint.NET which are free?

    • Probably because BT is where 50% of people get PhotoShop. I use Gimp instead and it’s usually fairly easy to apply the PS techniques in Gimp.

  • better late than never…?

    I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to do this in GIMP for a while now, I think the best way is create an new layer, do the “Colorify” in the colors menu, pick the green color, then adjust the opacity of that layer down to 20-40%

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!