How To Add Textures to Photos with Photoshop

I get a lot of requests on my blog asking me to explain how to add texture to photos of flowers.  There are a few methods that can be used to add texture, and this method works for me, and is quite simple to follow.  Using this technique, you will easily be able to add textures to photos of anything using Photoshop.

First, my original photo of an aloe flower taken one evening.  It was just after the sun set, so I used my flash to take the photo with my 50mm lens with f-stop at 1.8 and ISO 200.

Using Lightroom to Adjust the Colours

I could have kept the original colours and overlayed a texture, but I wanted something different (I was in an odd mood).  So I went hunting through my Lightroom presets (I use Lightroom 3 Beta 2) that I don’t often use for portraits because they’re too strong, and ended up using the Southern Comfort preset from Dawn Gordon’s Free Preset set, and then reduced the Black and increased the Fill Light setting, to get this image:

Remarkably different, isn’t it?  But I needed strong colour.

Now I quite like it just like it is, but thought that just maybe a texture would make it even better, so I exported from Lightroom (LR 3 Beta 2) as a full size jpg, and opened it in Photoshop.  And that’s where the texturing happens.

Adding Texture in Photoshop

Find The Textures You Want To Use

There are plenty of sites with free textures, and in fact, the 2 that I’m using today are from a Flickr group (and I can’t remember which one), but a good place to start looking is the comprehensive list that MCP Actions set up. I keep the texture JPG’s in a seperate folder so that I know where they all are.

Open The Textures and The Photo

Open them both in your program so that you can see each of them.

Drag One Texture Over The Photo

Adjust Texture Size and Change Blending

Adjust the size of the texture to the size of the photo. Then change the blending mode on the right to something that suits the image. I usually use “Overlay” or “Soft Light”. In fact, if I’m using 2 textures like I have in this example, then I find it looks better to have the first texture as Overlay, and the second one as Soft Light. Then play with the opacity to suit the image.

Choose Another Texture

Using yellow or green based textures will lighten the tone of the image, and works really well to lift the colours. In this case, the yellow of the second texture has enhanced the green in the original image.


Again, Change the blending mode

This time it’s set to “Soft Light” and adjust the opacity.

If this was a portrait, I would have to erase back the texture over the skin using the erase brush; some photographers use a layering mask with Gaussian blur to blur out the texture (the second option actually works better because then the colours of the texture remain over the whole image and don’t get erased), but that’s not necessary in this case.

Viola, it’s done…

Have fun with this tutorial, and if you have more questions I’ll gladly answer them either in the comments or in another blog post.

What do you think?

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Comments

  1. 3

    Great post Jeanette, I was hoping you’d post a tutorial on how to do this, I love the effects you get when you add textures but have never managed to master it myself.

    I do have one question though, would it not be better to export from Lightroom to something a bit less harsh than JPEG, as saving JPEG again after the Photoshop would result in double compression? Or do you not find it makes a difference at high enough res?

  2. 4

    Great post Jeanette, I was hoping you’d post a tutorial on how to do this, I love the effects you get when you add textures but have never managed to master it myself.

    I do have one question though, would it not be better to export from Lightroom to something a bit less harsh than JPEG, as saving JPEG again after the Photoshop would result in double compression? Or do you not find it makes a difference at high enough res?

    • 5

      Hi Jim, I suppose you could, but then again the whole point of using textures is to distress the photo, and to get rid of the smoothness, so using a JPEG is going to be just fine.
      Glad you liked the tutorial :)