How to add Dust and Scratches using Lightroom and Photoshop

HOW TO ADD DUST IN LIGHTROOM AND PHOTOSHOP // If you always wondered why on earth do people purposefully degrade their perfectly digital photos with vintage dust and scratch effects, maybe stop reading right now before this will get out of control. However if you've wondered how you can make such art yourself, this is for you. Let’s learn how to make pictures look grainy. Consider yourself warned.

Now back to business. There are bunch of random iPhone and Android apps that allow you to add grain and dust overlay to your photos (like Afterlight), but if you're like me and want to achieve this effect on your computer using Lightroom and Photoshop so that you don’t waste any image quality, there's a super easy option.

adding vintage dust effect in Lightroom

Download or create some dust overlays

You’ll need some sort of .png file that you’ll apply over your edited photos. You can either make some on your own scanning actual dust (pretty easy actually) or download some freebies online (like this one for example).

After you have the files, you can add them to your Photoshop library for quicker access. Simply open Photoshop, click Window - Libraries and drag your .png files here so you can always access them without having to open your files manually every single time.

Adding dust in Lightroom and Photoshop

Now that everything's set up, you can edit your photos in Lightroom as usual and when you feel like it's time for that special vintage sauce, right click and select “Edit in” and click Photoshop.

In Photoshop, simply drag your dust file over your photo, adjust the crop and opacity and hit save. You’ll see the edited photo with your dust and scratches in your Lightroom and you can keep editing the rest of your set. Easy!

Pro Tip: When applying the overlay, you can hit Cmd+I to invert colors and switch between light and dark dust.

Another Pro Tip: Feel free to combine multiple dust overlays for more realistic results.

Also, I have a free texture preset available for download. It’s a simple combination of grain, clarity and sharpening for a softer, less digital look. Download HERE if interested.