Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Adobe Photoshop > Technique

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Hollywood Grunge Effect

I originally saw a great tutorial that showed me the basis of how to do this effect on the Web site It opened my eyes to a whole new way of creating these trendy “neo” grunge effects that are so popular in movie titles, CD covers, and ads targeting young consumers. Here's my take on how to create this popular effect.

Step ONE. Open a new blank document in RGB mode. Press the letter “t” to get the Type tool and create some type. (In the example shown here, I used the font Trajan from Adobe.)
Step TWO. The grunge effect is created using a photo. Any photo with well-defined lines seems to work well, including photos of buildings, cities, walls, and stairs. So, choose a photo with lots of objects that have straight or angled lines (rather than curves).
Step THREE. Press “v” to get the Move tool, hold the Shift key, and drag this photo over to your Type document (the photo should appear above your Type layer in the Layers stack, and it should be centered because you held the Shift key). Press Shift-Command-U (PC: Shift-Control-U) to remove the color from your photo (as shown here).
Step FOUR. Go under the Image menu, under Adjustments, and choose Threshold. When the Threshold dialog appears, drag the Threshold slider (under the Histogram) to the left until the Threshold Level (at the top of the dialog) reads 26 (as shown here). This increases the contrast of the photo, and gives it a noisy, dirty look. Click OK.
Step FIVE. Duplicate this layer by pressing Command-J (PC: Control-J). Then, in the Layers palette, hide this duplicate layer (by clicking on the Eye icon beside it) and click on the original photo layer (as shown). Then, change the Blend Mode of this layer from Normal to Multiply in the Layers palette, so you can see through to your text on the layer beneath it (as shown here).
Step SIX. Press the letter “m” to get the Rectangular Marquee tool and drag a rectangular selection around your type (like the one shown here). Remember, you're still on the photo layer—you're just seeing the type layer beneath it.
Step SEVEN. Go under the Select menu and choose Inverse (this selects everything except the area you just selected) and press Delete (PC: Backspace) to erase the top and bottom chunks of your photo layer (as shown here). Deselect by pressing Command-D (PC: Control-D).
Step EIGHT. Press “e” to get the Eraser tool. In the Option Bar, click on the down-facing arrow next to the Brush thumbnail to get the Brush Picker. Choose a Spatter brush (any Spatter brush will do: 24, 27, 39, etc.). Use the Master Diameter slider in the Picker to increase your brush size to 65.
Step NINE. Take the Eraser tool (with this Spatter brush) and starting clicking your way across the word, erasing as you click. Basically, you're erasing away the grunge that obscures the type. This will take hundreds of clicks as you work your way from left to right (don't worry, it only takes a minute or so). Then start clicking over other areas, erasing away (remember—no paint strokes—only clicks).
Step TEN. Spend another minute or two erasing other areas until you basically have a mess (like the one shown here). Yours won't necessarily look just like the one shown here, and that's perfectly fine—just erase the areas that annoy you, and leave some grunge around your type area. How much grunge is enough? It's your call.
Step ELEVEN. Now make the duplicate photo layer visible and active by clicking on it in the Layers palette. In the Layers palette, change the Blend Mode of this layer from Normal to Multiply (so you can see through it). Switch to the Move tool and drag this layer around (down, left, etc.) to find an area of this layer that looks cool over your existing type and grunge. Again, where you stop is up to you (I went down a little and to the left in this example).
Step TWELVE. Once your duplicate photo layer is in place, get the Rectangular Marquee tool, drag a large rectangular selection around the top half of your image area, and press Delete (PC: Backspace). Then do the same for the bottom, starting fi inch or so under your type (like the one shown here) and press Delete (PC: Backspace) to delete this excess area. Get the Eraser tool again, and click away over any areas that look too distracting or cover up your type too much.
Step THIRTEEN. Here's the finished effect, with a line of text added underneath it (I used the standard font Helvetica). This technique is fun to experiment with, either using different photos, or using the same photo and trying different Blend Modes (other than Multiply) and erasing different parts of your photo.
  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020