High surface area nickel such as porous nickel has been found advantage for being utilized in a high capacity electrical energy storage device, gas sensor and catalyst. However, typical fabrication technique is template-assisted in which template material is consumable contributing to production cost, especially in the case of nanoscale featured nickel. Here, we proposed a template-free fabrication technique for micro-nanostructured nickel film on a flexible substrate utilizing the modified Watts nickel plating process. Thin nickel film was electroplated on an aluminum foil substrate precedingly coated with a layer of zinc microcrystal. Morphology, composition and structure of the as-fabricated film were studied. Porosity of the film was indirectly examined using reflectance spectroscopy and contact angle measurement. Multiscale structured nickel film was achieved in which nickel particles with a few hundred-nanometer diameter were featured on the microstructured underlayer. The electroplated nickel film was crystalline and highly orientated in  direction. Enhancement of light trapping and an increase in hydrophobicity after stearic acid treatment were observed, attributed to the presence of microcavities at the film surface. The presented fabrication technique for high surface area nickel film is ease to scale up and could be useful for mass-production of a nickel-based functional device. Benchmark with other fabrication techniques will be discussed.