One of the most popular techniques lately seems to be adding a pseudo-TV look to images, also called “Scanlines.” Here’s a down and dirty simple way to add some “tech/gritty” look to your image. The technique is used in a lot of movie posters and hi-tech imagery. Read on for a step-by-step tutorial on how to create scanlines quickly and easily. First, choose your image. High contrast images work best, but virtually any image will do. Here we have a fairly boring product photo. But we need to add “a little something” to spice it up for a Web site splash page. The first thing to do is make sure you’re working at 300 dpi. This technique will work with 72 dpi, but the effect won’t be the same. You can size it down later.

  1. Create a new layer
  2. Press “D” to reset your colors to black and white
  3. Hit Command + Delete (Backspace on some keyboards) to fill the new layer with white
  4. Go under Filter>Sketch>Halftone Pattern and choose 1 for size, 50 for contrast and Line for pattern type
  5. Your image should look something like this:

Now you could stop there, but the image may be “distorted” enough that your client isn’t happy. In this case, we want to see the keys on the phone more, and the image itself to be a little more dirty and have a little more contrast. To do that:

  1. Create a selection around the areas you want to adjust (in this case it was the keys and the screen
  2. Feather the edges around 5 to 10% (you can use whatever amount you like)
  3. Paste this selection on top of the scanline layer
  4. Set the layer style to Overlay and adjust the opacity to around 80% (you can adjust this amount to your liking)

Now we need to focus on the highlight area again. To do this:

  1. Make a copy of the layer we just worked on (the selection of the buttons)
  2. Command + Click on the layer to select it
  3. Go to Select>Modify>Contract and enter about 10-20% (again, you can use any amount, but we’re trying to reduce that selection by about 20%)
  4. Invert your selection and hit delete to get rid of the area outside the selection
  5. Set the layer style to Normal and the opacity to around 90%

We could stop here. But It’s still not “dirty” enough. Lets add some “distortion” to the scanlines. This portion is completely optional. If you want a “clean” look to your image, skip this step.

  1. Create a new layer on top of all the other layers
  2. Fill the layer with white by hitting Command + Delete again (your colors should still be the default black & white)
  3. Go to Filter>Noise>Add Noise and use 40% for the amount and set the check boxes for Gaussian and Monochromatic and hit OK
  4. Now make your layer style Multiply and the opacity around 20% (adjust to your liking)

Now you can just add text or other elements as you see fit. I chose to set the type layer to overlay and place the layer just above the original image layer. You could also adjust the colors to add some mood or action by using the Hue/Saturation (Command + U) dialog with the Colorize box checked. Now is the time to reduce the resolution for Web use. The reason you do that last is that if you start out with 72 dpi, the scanlines we created in the first steps will be too large.