Adding Texture to an image

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Adding Texture to an image

Your images can be transformed with a texture screen. It gives an image character, depth, imbues it with an artistic feel. Your images go from what you saw to what you felt or wish to convey.

It is exciting to watch your image transform as you develop your vision.

While it is pretty simple, there is an order of layers that make the transformation more effective and faster. You will need the following:

  • An image, preferable with lots of mid tone values. Images that are not too contrasty to start with will give you more range to work with. The layers of textures and modes can increase the contrast. Textures are more visible in the mid tones, disappearing in the darker and lighter zones.02 _7637477 blog
  • A texture overlay. These work better if they are black and white. A fine texture is more versatile that large, chunky textures. For example: a texture overlay of large stones is not as usable as a small granular texture like sand.
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  • Of course you will need an image manipulation program that can work with layers. Photoshop is the most common, especially since you can get it for $9.99 US a month. But there lots of other programs, some free, that offer layers.
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Lets start with my cactus image. I shot this backlit with the main subject in soft shade. The shallow depth of field will help with the final texture look. The first step is to process the image. I used Guy Gowan’s Process 8  for this after the initial Adobe Camera Raw processing.


In the initial raw image processing; I needed to open up the mid tonal range, keeping the saturation to normal.

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I usually work in larger file sizes; they are softer and less contrasty in the bigger size. The end result is much nicer, especially for a print out copy as the final image.

For the texture screen I found this ink spill. Texture screens are generally more effective if they have uneven tonal ranges. It is very organic so there is no pattern for the eye to follow. The density is uneven, there are dark and light areas. The grain structure is also uneven. The end result will look more natural to our eyes. We can spot even small repeated patterns.

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You should pick an image that will need minimal resizing. For printing my end result will be a 300dpi image sized to 30×40 inches. If the texture screen is small the grain becomes visually pixelated. Your effect becomes less pleasing and more obvious.

Place the texture screen in the layer above your base image. Set the mode (in photoshop layers) to Overlay. You can change it later.

You may need to flip it, move it up or down to get the placement effect you want. If you need to increase it’s size while changing its shape to fit your image use edit> content aware. This will keep your grain intact. Clearly the opacity is too strong. I like subtle effects, for that I reduced the opacity to 45%. It’s looking a lot more interesting.

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Now I want to add an aged look. With your texture layer selected, go to the adjustment options at the bottom of Photoshop’s layer palette. Click on Solid color. Then change your mode for the adjustment layer to Color. Now you can go back to the solid color, just click on the colored icon to open up the color picker; pick your color.

I picked #e0c048. If you find a color you like, record the #number so you can easily go back to it.

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My last step was to add a curves adjustment layer for a slight tweak to the contrast range.

You can play with the layers, the soft light, overlay and multiply generally give you the best choices. Play with the opacities of the other layers too. Adding additional texture screens or overlays can give more depth to your image.

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In the Yellow Flower shot I used the same choices of texture screen, solid color and curves. In this image the texture screen is only reduced to 89% while the solid color is 73%

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Texture screens can save a badly exposed image or an image with bad color.

You can see that my image of the girl is exposed for her shadow side, blowing out the highlight areas. While this was intentional I have used textures to save many that were not. The texture gives the illusion that there is detail in the blown out or underexposed areas. This image became a limited edition print  It can also be found in my Revealing Venus Book

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Her image had 9 layers to it with two texture screens.

Some programs like OnOne software has the texture screen process built into their program with screens provided. You can buy or find for free texture screens with a Google search. Naturally you can make your own up, which will give you unique textures.

Working with texture screens transforms you images from great to fantastic. Be careful not to get too heavy handed with them, subtlety is best.

Have a blast transforming your images into exotic art pieces.

Final image info

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