A few years ago I became interested in using textures on selected images as a post processing technique. Obviously this is nothing new, many have been doing it for a long time. I don’t attempt to be different than others, I simply craft my images towards my vision. My approach is to apply the textures thoughtfully and carefully. My Something New Portfolio was my first foray into textures. I use a variety of sources for textures. Adobe Texture Pro that comes with CC 2015 is great, Brooke Shaden offers some free textures, Jen Kiaba offers a free texture pack if you sign up for her newsletter and some I’ve created a few of my own. The reality is that they are all over the Internet and easy to find. The challenge lies in your choice of which one to use for which image, how to apply it and even if it makes sense to use one. I use textures in both color and black and white, however I tend to lean towards color since much of the texture effect can be lost on black and white. Again it’s personal choice and what fits your vision. There are no rules or right or wrong. Below is a general narrative of my process. All adjustments in Photoshop are done on separate layers. I’m a firm believer in this as it’s much easier to go back in and tweak if needed. I always allow my work to brew for a day or two before showing it, i.e. I go back in on different days and look at it multiple times usually discovering a few things I didn’t see the previous time. It’s a process that I highly recommend as it will subtly improve the quality of your work. These subtle tweaks may not seam important but they are critical and add up to significant improvements.
- I always shoot RAW and import my images into Lightroom.
- Begin with a properly calibrated display.
- Exposure adjustment if needed in Lightroom.
- White balance adjustment if needed in Lightroom.
- Open the image in Photoshop as a PSD or TIF file.
- Color correction if needed
- Lens correction if needed.
- Straighten horizontal and vertical lines using the transform tool. Not always necessary depending on the subject and overall image. It was necessary for this image as it was shot using a fairly wide angle lens (35mm).
- Crop if needed. I always work hard to get my crop and composition in camera, however there are times when a post crop is necessary.
- Touch up as needed.
- Add the texture layer. In this case I used the Necropolis texture from the Adobe Paper Texture Pro tool. Set the blend mode to Overlay.
- Create a layer mask on the texture layer completely blocking the texture on the subject. In most cases my subject is a person.
I don’t use the selection tool, I manually brush in the mask taking great care to get the edges precise. Precise edges are critical for this technique. The selection tool can be used and then you can go in and clean up the edges. I spend most of the editing time here refining the edges.
- Highlight the mask on the texture layer and double click on it displaying the properties dialog.
- Reduce the density to somewhere around 80%, this will vary depending on the image, texture used and your vision.
- Feather the edges by about 1.2px. The intent of this coupled with a proper mask is to render the edges undetectable in the final image.
- Add a Hue/Saturation layer and desaturate the color to taste. The level of desaturation will vary depending on your vision. In this image I landed on -59.
- Add a Levels layer and adjust the contrast to taste. Sometimes I’ll add a Curves layer on top of the Levels layer to further fine tune the contrast. Once again these are all subtle adjustments.
The images below illustrate the various steps in the process. My hope is that you pick up something that may help you in achieving your vision.