I'm trying to reverse engineer a graphic that I like in Illustrator, and here is the part that gives me trouble:

Grain texture

I have followed a few tutorials using the Grain effect with multiply, however it does not have the desired effect in my case. Here's what I did:

Grain appearance

The result is this: The color is correct when over transparent background, but when I move it over the desired background, it becomes darker. I suspect this is an effect of "Multiply", where the grain is multiplied with the background color instead of simply covering it.

Grain result with multiply

I guess I could try and changing the grain color until the combination matches, but that just seems wrong and inefficient. There has to be a better way. How to best achieve this?

  • Have you tried using darken instead of multiply?
    – user72228
    Jul 27, 2016 at 10:50
  • 7
    why using multiply? you could just use the normal mode to get the same color as on a transparent background
    – troxup
    Jul 27, 2016 at 11:43
  • 1
    Can you "expand" the pixels and not use a layer style? Sep 27, 2016 at 17:51

2 Answers 2


I noticed that this is still on the 'Unanswered' page... So I decided to tackle it. I love figuring things out; we can do this!

I found that it's just simple math in the end – but unfortunately Illustrator is lacking the feature we need in this case.

Here are the two colors you used (on the left):

Color one and color two

Color 1 is the base color and Color 2 is above it. As you've seen, applying a Blending Mode of Multiply to these two colors gives you this resulting third color:

Color one multiplied by color two equals three

This clearly does not give you the result you want, so as you've already deduced your second color is wrong.

To "reverse engineer" two colors – where it is known that Color 2 is the result of color multiplication – just take the two final colors and do the reverse.

Here's the math part:

  • (Using numerals for example) we know that 4 multiplied by 6 gives us 24

  • We also know that 24 divided by 6 gives us 4

  • (Now with colors) we know that Color 1 multiplied by Color 2 gives us Color 3

  • Therefore Color 3 divided by Color 2 will give us Color 1

Unfortunately for whatever reason (I don't know) Illustrator doesn't even have a Divide Blending Mode.

But Photoshop does...

So starting again in Photoshop now, using the two colors you want to end up with (as seen on the right in your example)... As per the example above we have Color 1 on top of Color 3:

enter image description here

Then change the Blending Mode of Color 1 to Divide, and the result gives us (the desired) Color 2:

And a new color emerges

A new color... This is the color you'll want to replace Color 2 (in the first example) with...

So now beginning again with our (new) Colors 1 and 2:

New 1 and 2

By applying the Multiply Blending Mode we now get the proper outcome:

Color 1 multiplied by Color 2 equals Color 3

I know I'm probably too late to help Alexander but this is useful information anyway... so here it is.

  • The Original Poster wrote: "I guess I could try and changing the grain color until the combination matches, but that just seems wrong and inefficient. There has to be a better way. How to best achieve this?" I guess your better way is to scientifically change the grain color?
    – Wildcard
    Jul 14, 2017 at 1:38
  • @Wildcard Not sure I'm following you... The OP didn't want to have to figure out the pre-multiplied color by trial and error; changing it until the multiplied result looked right. OP had colors 1 and 3 and needed to solve for Color 2. Here I show that Color 3 / Color 1 = Color 2 and therefore Color 1 x Color 2 = Color 3. So this is a way to just figure it out... mathematically.
    – BANG
    Jul 14, 2017 at 2:26
  • What's unclear is that this comment seems to answer the intended end result. Just don't use multiply. I think this is cool what you did here (hence my upvote), but I'm not sure it's what was really being asked about.
    – Wildcard
    Jul 14, 2017 at 2:29
  • 1
    Well OP said he was trying to apply a grain effect using multiply specifically – so I just figured there must have been some reason for doing it using multiply that we hadn't been made aware of... Maybe you're right; perhaps I misunderstood the question entirely... But once I had the question I had to find the answer for myself anyway. Cheers man
    – BANG
    Jul 14, 2017 at 3:00

You'll need to change the grain color or blend mode to get the color you're looking for.

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