I released some of my favourite textures this week on my. So, I thought it might be handy to give a lesson on how you can use textures to enhance a regular photo. Here is my original photo (an HDR image taken near where I live), opened into Photoshop (you can use Elements too):
Here is the texture:
Next open this texture and paste over the original layer:
By default the Blend mode is “normal”. Click on the Blend mode and you’ll get a list of 16 different modes; these are group by kind of blend. For this example I’m going to use “Overlay” and this is the one you will probably use the most with this kind of texture use. The book “The Hidden Power of Blend Modes” is a great resource if you really want to become an expert on how the modes work. For now I’m going to stick with Overlay. So, I here I changed the mode to Overlay and bingo the image changes:
My first feeling is that its not a great look; that’s the thing with blending – you often don’t know how things will work until you try them. Sometimes it’s just the wrong blend mode but in most cases the colours or texture blend changes in a way that doesn’t fit what you are after. I will just cycle through a few textures and modes until I find one I like. For now I’m going to stick with this one and make the change a bit subtler.
The sky is the part of this image that I find a bit muddy, so I will remove the effect of the texture there. To do that it’s pretty easy. The first step is to add a layer mask by pressing the Add Layer mask button at the bottom of the layers panel. Masks can be a bit confusing; think of white as being “transparent” and as being “opaque” or “block”. If the mask is white that all of that layer will merge through to the one below (or reveal it).
Next press “B” for brush and pick a nice soft one.
I set the Opacity to 35%, this will let me paint back and forth, slowly reducing the effect. I’m going to remove the texture from the sky completely. You should notice that as you paint away, the mask thumbnail gets filled-in with black; the sky part should be all black by the time I’m finished.
That’s it – the only thing left is to reduce the overall effect of the texture, I did this by reducing the Opacity to 79%.
You can either flatten the layers back to one once you’re done or just export the image as a JPEG, keeping all of the layers. I do this in most cases as it helps when you want to learn from “mistakes” or improve older images.
Here are some more examples of how I used textures on photographs: