Applying Textures in Photoshop: A Basic Guide

Applying textures in Photoshop involves selecting the right texture, blending it with your original image using blend modes, and adjusting opacity and saturation for a harmonious integration. This process enhances the visual appeal and narrative depth of your photographs. You can even combine two or more digital textures, by texture blending in photoshop for more advanced and original effects. The same texture will look different depending on what image you are applying it to, so experiment and try different combinations to explore all of the creative possibilities!

There are several ways to add a texture to your image and it can be done in any photo editing software that allows layers. If you are using Photoshop, add the texture file as a layer above your image and then use blend modes to create various artistic effects.

To begin, open your image and texture files in Photoshop. Once your background or texture is open in photoshop you can click and drag it over to your image. You may also use the PLACE EMBEDED tool under the File menu dropdown, or the “place” feature to copy and paste your digital asset over to your image. To do this, select and copy your digital asset, go to your base image and select Edit>Paste. This will add your digital asset as a layer on top of your base image.

Now that your digital texture or background is applied as a new layer in your Photoshop document, adjust your layer to blend it in seamlessly with your base image. In your layers panel reduce the opacity (drag the opacity slider, or type a value in the opacity text box) of your background, overlay or texture. Depending on the effect you would like to achieve you may want to add a layer mask to control what areas of the image are covered. I often brush the digital background or texture off the subject using a soft brush, especially from areas such as skin or clothing.

Make sure your digital background layer is active and create a layer mask by selecting Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal all (or click the button that looks like a little rectangle with the circle inside it at the bottom of the layers panel). This will add a white layer mask to your background image. Ensure you click on the white layer mask, select a black brush, and paint over any areas you want to hide or remove the digital background, overlay or texture. You can adjust the softness/hardness and opacity or flow of your brush to control how little or how much of the layer you reveal or hide. The great thing about using the layer mask method is that if you make a mistake then you can simply change your brush back to white and paint back over your mask to reveal more of the background.

In addition to using layer masks, also consider trying out different layer blend modes. The results you get depend on the colors and contrast of your image and the texture/digital background but some of my favorite blend modes are multiply, screen, overlay, soft-light and hard light.

To use blending modes, look for the box at the top of the layers panel that says Normal. By clicking the dropdown menu you can see all of the different options. Some of the most common blend modes used when editing textures in Photoshop are Multiply, Screen, Overlay and Soft Light. In the example below, the MULTIPLY blend mode is used over the base image to change the color tones, resulting in a darkening effect.

example of normal and multiply blend modes in photoshop when using textures to edit photographs

Inspiration Gallery

Check out this series of before-and-after images demonstrating the transformative power of textures. This visual comparison not only inspires but also illustrates the practical application of textures in various photographic styles.

before and after example of a photo using a tea stain texture overlay in photoshop by alana lee for the imaginator studio before and after example of a photo using a tea stain texture overlay in photoshop by alana lee for the imaginator studio

Before image @pexels-ivan-samkov-5255132
After edit by Alana Lee using textures from The Imaginator Studio

before and after example of a photo using a tea stain texture overlay in photoshop by alana lee for the imaginator studio before and after example of a photo using a tea stain texture overlay in photoshop by alana lee for the imaginator studio

Before image @pexels-jj-jordan-5777416
After edit by Alana Lee using textures from The Imaginator Studio

before and after example of a photo using a tea stain texture overlay in photoshop by alana lee for the imaginator studio before and after example of a photo using a tea stain texture overlay in photoshop by alana lee for the imaginator studio

Before image @pexels-monique-laats-736530
After edit by Alana Lee using textures from The Imaginator Studio

Tags: Photoshop & Editing

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