Using textures in Photoshop layers is a quick and easy way to spice up photographs and turn them into photographic art. Textures can be subtle or serious; they can brighten and image or “grunge” it up. Using textures can also become quite addicting; we may keep files of textures on our desktop and try them on every photo we process. Textures can add a hint of linen, or a subtle handwriting script. Some texture layers simply alter the colors of an image without much change to the background. Try experimenting and you will find your groove.
I’m going to give you a quick tutorial on using textures in the layers area of Photoshop. I will also direct you to where you can find high quality free texture files. QA quick Google search will also direct you to literally hundreds of sites to find free textures. I will also direct you to some artists that use texture layers in their work.
Okay let’s get started.
Step 1: Open your jpg, tiff or raw photo file in Photoshop. Make any general adjustments you need to make (crop, white balance, sharpen, etc.).
Step 2: Open or drag your texture into Photoshop. You will now have two files open and you will want to be able to view them side-by-side. Click on the arrange documents button along the top row of buttons. There you will see many options and configurations; chose the one that says “2 up”. This will arrange your two files side by side.
Step 3: On the left side bar at the top is a move tool icon. Click on this tool and use it to drag your texture file right on top of your photograph. A dialog box may pop up and ask you a question about the size of the file; just click yes. I will tell you how to resize it in a moment. When it has been successfully dragged over, you can close the original texture file open in Photoshop. Now you have a file open with two layers. Your photo layer is underneath your texture layer. It is a good idea to make sure the size of your texture layer is at least as big as your photo. Using a high-resolution file is important to a quality outcome.
Step 4: Resize your texture layer so that it will lie neatly on top of your photograph. One way to do this is in the Edit option along the very top option menu. Select Edit > Free Transform. This will allow you to grab the corners of your texture layer and resize it that way. Another way you can adjust the size is with the percent boxes for width and height along the top of your file. After you get the texture file sized how you want it, make sure you click the check mark at the top of the document (upper left corner.)
Step 5: Now comes the fun part! On the bottom left of the Photoshop workspace is the Layers panel. You will see there are two layers in your file. You should be able to see your photo as the background layer and your texture as layer 1. Make sure your texture layer is selected. Above the layers is an option drop down menu that should say normal. Here is where you will choose a layer option. My favorites are overlay and multiply. But I do encourage you to try each and every one to get a feel for how they work. You can also adjust the opacity level of the texture layer. This will lighten or darken the effects of that particular texture.
Step 6: When you have created the desired effect, you may want to flatten your layers. Go to Layers in the menu along the top and near the bottom select Flatten Image. *It is important that you make copies of your work before flattening in the event you would like to change something later.
Step 7: Save the image as .jpg (for web use), .tiff (for a high quality print) or .psd if you want to leave the layers intact for future editing.
Have fun experimenting with textures. There are many resources, examples and inspirations on the Internet if you are looking for more information. If you find some resources to share, go ahead and post them in the forum for all to enjoy. If you have any issues, questions or you simply want to share your work please hop on over to the forum to share. I’d be happy to answer any questions and would love to see your work!