Creative Texturing

June 10th, 2011 by Denise Ippolito

Editor's note:  Welcome Denise Ippolito to the blog!  Denise is a freelance photographer, artist and writer living in NJ.  With a background in the florist industry, Denise concentrates her photographic vision on soft, dreamy images of flowers.  Denise has written several ebooks in the OPG store, including A Guide to Creative Filters and Effects and A Guide to Pleasing Blurs.  She is also a moderator on Bird Photographers.Net.  Check out Denise's website here, and watch for informative articles and soothing images from Denise on the blog! 




The same Viola Image as above but with a different texture applied



In this mini-tutorial I will walk you through some creative texturing applications as well as multiple filtering applications to bring your textured images to life. Adding texture to an image can really change the look of it. Knowing how to blend an image with the right textures and learning some highlighting techniques can really improve your final product and that is what we will be discussing here. Most of the things you will need to create textured images can be found in Photoshop, however there is a cool program out there called Dirty Pictures by Totally Rad. It allows you to very easily change out the texture backgrounds by blending them automatically for you. This is by far the easiest way to apply the textures. But convenience comes with a price. The software is not free it costs $149.00. You do not need to buy this program to apply the textures- it just makes it easier. You don’t even need to buy the textures; they are available all over the web for free. All of the textures that I used here are from Shadowhouse Creations they offer lots of great free textures and tutorials.

Choosing the Texture:

When choosing a texture to use for an image there are some considerations to think about. First of all you never want your texture to completely over power your subject. For example, if you are applying a texture to a dainty flower you don’t want to choose a texture that will be too strong either with its color or its pattern. Heavily raised textured looks can be very nice for the right image but a dainty flower needs a softer approach in my opinion. Use complimentary colors but don’t be afraid of strong contrast, just learn to use it well and you can create some dynamic images. Always try several out before you settle on one. Also some of the textures have brush strokes going in a vertical or horizontal direction, you can always change the orientation in Photoshop so don’t let that stop you. Another thing that I do is change the hue and/or saturation to suit my image. Below is an image that reflects a hue and saturation change to the texture layer.

This is the texture I chose; I changed the opacity of the layer and the hue.


This is my daisy image with the above texture applied.


Here is the same daisy image with a different texture applied.



Applying the Texture:

The first thing you need to do is bring your base image and your texture into Photoshop. Once you have done so go to WINDOW> ARRANGE> TILE horizontally or vertically then use the Move Tool to drag the texture on top of the base image. Your layer palette window should show- Your base image as your background and your texture should be Layer 1. Now you can adjust the size of your texture layer (if needed) using Ctrl T for the Transform Tool. Now that you have the texture layer on top of the base image you can begin to experiment with the Blend Modes. Most of the time Multiply, Soft Light and Overlay are good to use. Once you have selected your Blend Mode you can add a layer mask to the top layer and reveal a bit more detail from the base image. I suggest using a soft brush set to 40% opacity and feathering it outward by starting at the center of your subject.

Additional Processing:

You can handle your image layers however you want. I usually just flatten my layers; I know many of you do not. I work on a lot of images each day and after years of labeling layers and saving them, I realized I never once went back for a minor tweak-the only thing I have ever done is completely reworked an image using new techniques that I have learned. Never use your master file always start with a copy of it. Anyway at this point duplicate your image CTRL J, go to FILTER> DISTORT> DIFFUSE GLOW. I set my Graniness to 0, Glow Amount to 1, and my Clear Amount to 9 (these values may be different depending on your image) I adjust the opacity of the layer if needed or change the blend mode- you will need to experiment here. I duplicate my image again Ctrl J then go to FILTER> RENDER> LIGHTING EFFECTS. I select Omni as my light type and set the Intensity Slider to approx 35 depending on the image. The focus is set to about 40 but these numbers can only be vague guidelines since every image is different. I keep the other sliders set to default. You can pull the small circle out to encompass as much of the image as you want highlighted. Now you can make some adjustments to this via the opacity slider in your layer palette window. As you decrease the opacity slider you will see that the original lighting on the image from the bottom layer will be revealed and the Omni spotlight effect on the top layer is decreasing. Try to adjust it so that the Omni light is subtle and doesn’t look obvious. You may need a layer mask to help with the adjustments. After you are happy with the effects you can always take your image a step further by adding a little of the Fractalius Filter or Poster Edges in Photoshop for some added dimension and lines. Whatever look you decide on for your image I hope that I have inspired you to give textures a try.


Before texture


After the texture and lighting is applied, note the subtle use of the lighting effect. Also I am not saying that the image will always look better with a texture overlay, I am saying it is a way to change up the look.



To create the look above I started with a single daisy image, after adding a texture layer to that image I duplicated my layer Ctrl J and moved that layer Ctrl T. I also lowered the opacity of that layer to create this look. Then I added a little of the Fractalius Filter to give it the crackled look.

To Learn more about Creative Filtering check out my eBook A Guide to Creative Filters and Effects.


Check out my guest blog for Topaz Labs here.




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