How To Add A Texture To Your Photos - A Tutorial On Adding Textures To Photos

  • 01 of 08

    How To Add A Texture To Your Photos - A Tutorial On Adding Textures To Photos

    © Liz Masoner licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Adding a texture, or design overlay, to a photo is a great way to express your creativity and to transform your photos into whole new works of art. The process is also very simple in most photo editing software that uses a layers feature (Layers Lesson). For this tutorial I am using Photoshop Elements but while some menu options may have different names in your program the basic process should be the same.

    What Are Textures
    Textures are simply another photo of a pattern. This could be a close up...MORE shot of a shaggy rug, interesting cloud formations, a wrought-iron fence, your pet's fur, a brick wall, or anything else that has an interesting design or texture to the image. Large design textures tend to work best with large subjects such as landscapes while small design textures tend to work best with smaller subjects like portraits. This is because the large designs only repeat a few times across the image and overwhelm a small subject while a small design would get lost among the many features of a large subject. Of course, there are exceptions to this as with every "rule".

    So fire up your photo editing software and let's get started adding textures.

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  • 02 of 08

    How To Add A Texture To Your Photos - Step 1 Selecting Photos

    © Liz Masoner licensed to About.com, Inc.
    The first step of adding a texture to your photos is to select two photographs. For this tutorial I have selected a shot of a faded muslin background and a gliding egret. Once you have both photos open in your editing program you need to make a few preliminary adjustments.
    1. Crop both photos to the same size
    2. Adjust white balance on both photos if needed
    3. Adjust color settings on background if desired (desaturate/change color tint/etc)
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  • 03 of 08

    How To Add A Texture To Your Photos - Step 2 Move Texture to Photo

    © Liz Masoner licensed to About.com, Inc.
    Step 2 of adding a texture to your photos is to get the texture photo layered onto your subject photo. To do this use the arrow/select tool, click on the texture photo and drag it to the subject photo. If your program does not allow this feature you can copy/paste the texture onto the subject photo. The resulting layer should be on top of the subject image as shown in the layers section of the screen (right side of illustration above). At this point the next texture layer will completely hide...MORE your intended subject.
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  • 04 of 08

    How To Add A Texture To Your Photos - Step 3 Adjust The Texture Opacity

    © Liz Masoner licensed to About.com, Inc.
    Step 3 of adding a texture to your photo is to adjust the opacity of the texture. To adjust the opacity make sure the texture layer is highlighted on the layer menu (right side of illustration above). Then use the opacity slider to adjust the image until you like the way it looks. The exact amount of transparency/opacity will vary from image to image. For this image set I am using around 48%. Don't worry about your subject looking dull at this point. We will adjust that later.
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  • 05 of 08

    How To Add A Texture To Your Photos - Step 4 Select A Focus Area

    © Liz Masoner licensed to About.com, Inc.
    Step 4 of adding textures to your photos is selecting a focus area. Many, if not most, images will have a specific area that you will want to be affected less by the texture. In this step we will erase part of the texture so this focus area is more defined. Making sure the texture layer is still selected, use your brush select tool to roughly draw over the focus area of your subject. For the sample image, I am drawing over the egret's head and neck. Once you have the focus area selected you...MORE will use the "refine edge" option to clean up the selection.
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  • 06 of 08

    How To Add A Texture To Your Photos - Step 5 Clean Up The Focus Area

    © Liz Masoner licensed to About.com, Inc.
    Step 5 of adding a texture to your photo is to clean up your focus area. Using the refine edge option feather the selection (make the edge less sharp). You can also enlarge or reduce the selected area using the contract/expand option. These adjustments will make sure that the focus area blends nicely into the texture without the selection becoming obvious on the finished image. Remember to make sure you are working on the texture layer at this point. Once you have adjusted the edge of your...MORE selection click ok and select the eraser tool. Select a large diameter that will cover all of the selected area in one click. Now set the opacity of the eraser to around 30% (you can use undo and adjust that amount of opacity to fit your preference). Click over the selection area to erase the texture at that point.
    What this process did was set up a selection area for the eraser to work within. While that area is selected, the eraser will not erase anything else on that layer, no matter where you click. This allows you to make all your selection and edge adjustments without worrying about erasing the wrong thing.Once you have erased as much of the texture layer as you wish to make your focus area pop a bit more, clear the selection with the deselect feature.
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  • 07 of 08

    How To Add A Texture To Your Photos - Step 6 Adjust Exposure

    © Liz Masoner licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Step 6 of adding a texture to your photos is to adjust the exposure. Click on the subject layer of your image and then select the levels option (Levels Lesson). Use the levels input to adjust the exposure of your subject layer so that it does not look dull or washed out. You can also click on the texture layer and adjust levels for that layer separately to tweak the look of your composite image.

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  • 08 of 08

    How To Add A Texture To Your Photos - Step 7 You're Finished

    © Liz Masoner licensed to About.com, Inc.

    Step 7 of adding a texture to your photos is that you are now finished! Congratulations, you have added a texture to a photo. Remember that there is no "right" or "wrong" look to these images. They are an expression of your creativity. You can further embellish your photos by adding things like vignettes or borders as well.