Photoshop Elements: Make Your Photos More Interesting Using Textures :: Digital Photo Secrets

Photoshop Elements: Make Your Photos More Interesting Using Textures

by David Peterson 6 comments

Have you ever seen some of those intentionally old looking images? Chances are they were taken with a digital camera, but the photographer knew a few things about Photoshop, and more importantly, textures. With the right combination of textures and skills, you can take a decent looking photo and accentuate it for a more interesting effect. Let’s give it a try.

This image already has a lot of texture in it,
but what would happen if we were to add in our own custom texture?
Photo by: Rodrigo Basaure

Here’s the basic rundown of what we’re going to do in Photoshop Elements. We’re going to get an image of a texture and place it on top the above image. Then we’ll use some Photoshop techniques to blend the two images together, creating what appears to be a more textured version of the first image. It might seem like an ambitious project, but it’s really not. You’ll see that it’s done with some pretty easy techniques you probably already know.

Find A Texture

I’m choosing the image above. I’ve opened it in Photoshop, and I’m ready to put a texture on top of it. Which texture will we be using? Glad you asked. Here it is:

I like it. It’s got a stony feel to it without being too rough. Just so you know, there are a variety of ways to get textures to use for this purpose. The following are just a few of them.

  • Photograph them or scan them in. If you’ve got a scanner, a quick and easy way to get a texture is to scan some old paper right in. To get something like the above, you could take a picture of a wall and then crop out the edges so it is even and flat.
  • Stock photography sites. When you’re looking for a lot of variety, stock photography sites are a huge help. There are literally thousands of different textures to choose from, so you’ll never be at a loss for new ideas. Don’t tell anyone, but I got the above texture from iStockPhoto.

Paste your texture over the top of your photo

Do a select all on the texture file, then copy it with ctrl-c, and then paste it onto your original image with ctrl-v. When you do this in Photoshop Elements, it creates what is called a “layer” over the top of your original photo. If nothing pastes over to the photo file, it might be because you forgot to select the entire texture file.

Also, don’t freak out if it looks like you’ve lost your photo right after you paste the texture. You haven’t. It’s just hidden underneath the texture. You can see it if you click on the eye to left of your texture in the layers menu.

The layers control panel. Make sure your texture is on top of your photo.

Don’t forget to make sure your texture is at least as big as the image you’re blending it with. It doesn’t have to be the same size. It just needs to cover up the entire image. If you don’t do this, the effect won’t cover the entire photo, and it will look a little strange. Don’t stretch the texture if it’s too small. It will reduce the quality of the texture and make it useless for the purpose of this effect.

Change the opacity and play with blend modes

Now the fun part begins. I like to start by playing with the opacity slider for the top texture layer. That’s the one in the upper right hand corner. It looks like the image to the right.

As you slide the opacity slider to the left, the image underneath begins to show through the texture on top. That’s really all there is to what we’re doing here. Keep adjusting it until you find something you like.

I stopped at 37%, and this is what I got:

I like it. It looks like the same texture of the stone statue has a presence throughout the entire photo, almost as if it was etched out of stone.

Blend Modes

Is there more we can do with this concept? Sure there is. Do you see the pull down menu to the left of the opacity slider? If you haven’t changed it, the menu should say “normal.” This is the menu for the different blend modes. Each blend mode you select changes the way Photoshop Elements blends the top image (i.e. the texture) with the bottom image (the photo) to produce the final result.

To try a different blend mode, just select one of the options. Depending on the texture you’ve picked and the image underneath, some will look better than others.

Here are a few variations I got by experimenting with blend modes.

I’d say the “hue” blend mode is my favorite out of all of these. Sure, it took away some of the color, but it helped to give the rest of the photo a whitewashed stony sort of feeling.

What you choose has everything to do with what looks right to you. Just don’t forget to play with different opacities as you switch between blend modes. There are a lot more options than you might originally think.

Once you’re happy with what you see, you can export the image by saving it. You can also add in another texture layer to go for a multi-texture effect. The process is the same. You add the layer, figure out the opacity, and then blend it with the rest of the layers underneath it. So if we wanted to add a papery feel to this image, we’d put a layer of paper on top and tweak it until we like what we see.

Hopefully that wasn’t too complicated. The hardest part is picking what you like. With so many options, you could spend hours tweaking something until it works. That’s not a bad thing at all, actually. It’s one of the funnest things you can do as a photographer.

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  1. elizabeth gibson says:

    thank you so easy to understand

  2. Alain says:

    many thanks David , very interesting !

  3. Kåre Gundersen says:

    Thank you very much, Mr. Peterson. I finally understand the layers \ texture-stuff in Elements because of you!

  4. arunduddilla says:

    David, Appreciate all your help and tips for photography community.They are really good and easy to follow.

  5. Patt says:

    David -- thank you so much for sharing so much info! Your instructions are the easiest I've found for someone (me) who doesn't have a clue. I know it takes a lot of time for you to put this together so once again -- THANKS!!!

  6. luis says:

    Thanks for the tip Apreciate it.

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