Skip to main content

Creating a Distress Look

Lesson 3 from: Creating a Cinematic Campaign with Special Effects

Lisa Carney

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

3. Creating a Distress Look

Lesson Info

Creating a Distress Look

We're gonna totally switch gears now and we're gonna go talk about distressed textures and whatnot. I'm gonna be all over the map in terms of technique, but hopefully you'll find that interesting. All right, again, this is a Gravillis piece, and I love Gravillis because that company- I showed you at the beginning with the IMP awards. Gravillis has never met a texture they didn't like. They are the texture queens and kings, and they often have to do movie posters with really less-than-high quality materials or assets. And they pull some really great rabbits out of their hats. So, these are the originals on this guy. It's a dude with an ax. That's attractive. And a dude with no ax. He's masked out, they use a brush on the mask, I'll show you that in just a second. This is one of the ones where I'm kinda gonna dissect it. So, here's the base. It's really simple, they used a little brush. See that? To get a little texturey... Texturey edge, it's just like a Kyle brush. Same on his head, so...

nothing very exciting. But wait. Gradient map! Huh. Do you remember we talked about gradient map? But that's a very harsh gradient map. Why is it harsh? Do you remember I said you could move the houses? If you move the house, the file gets less exciting. So, when you start a gradient map, it's gonna look like this, which is really ever so not so exciting. But, if you move it in, now you're getting something. Again, single layer. That actor could suck, they want the other actress in there, you just fly it in, you're done. Okay? Gonna cancel that. Now, blood is ever so important, and in entertainment art, you wanna have some stock stuff. We're gonna talk about this, like, how to do these kind of things. And on this, it's all about the mode. So, this one is on a darkened color mode. And they're really good about this. They don't mask out a lot of stuff. They're not wasting all their time. Just put it on the mode. And as long as that foreground color is white... As long as the foreground color is white, you- Oh. I did mask this out. This is the finish. Sorry about that. Hey, can I tell you a production thing real quickly? When you have a RGB job and you have to deliver a layered CNYK file to the printer... When you have a RGB layered file that you have to deliver a layered CNYK file, you have to change these all to 'normal'. You can't have layered modes. Hence why that got masked out because I have to deliver layered files. Anyway, just a little tid-bit if you're gonna be out there working. All right, let's talk about some textures because this company is all about textures. So, like I said, they haven't met a texture they didn't ever say 'no' to. This is all about blend modes, so they just put it on 'multiply' at 70, and a mask. Look at that, isn't that beautiful? They have a whole library of these textures. And they seem to share with each other 'cause I keep seeing the same ones over and over again. Another one, this is on screen. So, I'm gonna pull this out. This is something they tend to do, and I don't see a lot of other companies do. I'll put this on 'normal' for you. Turn off the mask. Again, it's the same kind of look but most people tend to use this for the darks. They're using it for the lights. So, instead they put it on 'screen' mode. Sorry, my mouse is sticking. At a low opacity. So, let's take a look at that. It's on 'screen', it's on 15%. Can you see that? And it's just got a big old mask. So, that way they're adding whites to it but they're really gentle and then they start adding up. But it's only four layers. This is a Getty image and it's on 'soft-light' at 50%. 'Normal'. 100%. It's just some paper. On the screen, it's probably really hard to see. On a print, you absolutely 100% can see this. It's got a nice tooth to it. All right. And then, finally, this little black thing which they use all the time on 'subtract'! How many of you guys use 'subtract' for layer mode? Probably not a lot of you. Let me pull this out. I'm holding the 'option' key and dragging it to the 'add a new layer' icon, just so I can pull it out. I do this when I'm investigating a job, because how many of you guys have done this on a job where you change the layer in the blend mode and then you can't remember what it was set at, and you have to turn it back? And you're like, "ah, I can't remember." So, this is a beautiful scratchy image, and they just put it on 'subtract' mode, which hardly anybody uses. And it means you don't have to mask it out and it'll give you some awesome scratches. I'm gonna turn it off and on to show you. I'm gonna turn the layer mask off for just a second so you can see it. Do you see those scratches? That's on 'subtract' mode at 50%. I'm gonna put it at 100%. Even at 100%, you don't have to mask it out. So, it's a really great technique if this is your kind of genre. It may not be, I don't know. Color look-up table. Once again, these folks like a color look-up table. It just adds a gentle pink tone to it. These are canned. That means it comes with Photoshop. All these are canned. And when you're on a color look-up table, you can also go into this section down here, there's some really nice ones. There's a beautiful sepia in here, which will change it. Isn't that nice? Could put the blood on top. There's also another one, I think it's called 'smoky something', it's another one of my favorites. Yeah, on the third one, this smoky one, I love this. Not so much for this image. It's great on people. But, actually, that ain't bad, is it? That's kinda nice. All right. So, there you go, that's a simple distressed- It's easy-peasy! It is a gradient map to darken it out, a little bit of blood, four little bits of texture, and a little pinky lee that I've changed to orange. That's all it is. It's nothing. And look how easy that is.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Cinematic Effects Presentation & Notes
Cloud Brush
Dust Brush
Light Ray Brush

Ratings and Reviews


Watching Lisa work her creative magic is so fun! This was such an incredible class, I can't wait to watch it over and over again while I practice using the tools and techniques that are covered. It's enough to make me want to move away from portrait work and into creative commercial art. Such an awesome class!


Lisa is a great teacher! She does move quickly, but I have found her instruction to be very precise, and focus. So I think the time she spends on each topic is very efficient, and thoroughly covered. I love her teaching style. Thank for for another great course Lisa!


There are so many ways to accomplish the same thing in Photoshop. But I always love to learn new ways. This is a great class if you are already comfortable with Photoshop. It is not a beginner class.

Student Work