Designing with Textures in Photoshop

Adapted from Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks for Designers, Volume 2 (New Riders)

By Corey Barker

There are so many uses for textures that I always say you can never have too many. In this tutorial exercise, we will build a design on top of a texture and explore some filter effects that will allow us to keep the texture a critical part of the overall design.

Step One:
Start by opening the background texture file which you can download in a zip file that contains images for Chapter 3 of this book. The background texture file is 3_middleeasttexture_1.jpg. If you have a similar texture you are free to use that. This texture needs a little punch, so make a duplicate of the Background layer by pressing Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J), then remove the color by pressing Command-Shift-U (PC: Ctrl-Shift-U). Change the duplicate layer’s blend mode (in the top-left corner of the Layers panel) to Color Burn and drop the Opacity to around 40%.


Step Two:
Next, open the model image, 3_middleeasttexture_2.jpg. I chose this one because of the position of the model and the way the hair flows in the image.


Step Three:
Now, we need to make the image black-and-white, but instead of using a simple Desaturate adjustment, we are going to use a different method. Set your Foreground and Background colors to their defaults of black and white by pressing D. Then, go under the Image menu, under Adjustments, and choose Gradient Map. When the dialog appears, click OK. This method maintains a little more contrast when the color is removed.

Step Four:
Go to the Filter menu, under Texture, and choose Grain. (Note: If you don’t see Texture under the Filter menu, choose Filter Gallery to get directly to it there, or open Photoshop’s Preferences dialog [under the Photoshop menu on a Mac or the Edit menu on a PC], click on Plug-Ins on the left, and turn on the checkbox for Show All Filter Gallery Groups and Names.) Set the Intensity to 5, the Contrast to 50, and the Grain Type to Speckle. Click OK.

Step Five:
Using the Move tool (V) (or the Copy and Paste commands), bring the image into the main texture file. Press Command-T (PC: Ctrl-T) to activate Free Transform. Move the cursor just outside the bounding box and, when you see the curved arrow, click-and-drag to rotate the image counter-clockwise just a little. Press Return (PC: Enter) when you’re done to lock in your transformation.

Step Six:
Once the image is in place, change the layer’s blend mode to Multiply to drop out the white background.

Step Seven:
Even with the blend mode change, it still needs a little color adjustment. So, press Command-U (PC: Ctrl-U) to open the Hue/Saturation dialog. Turn on the Colorize checkbox, set the Hue and Saturation both to 30, set the Lightness to 10, and click OK.

Step Eight:
Open the Channels panel (under the Window menu) and make a duplicate of the Red channel by clicking-and-dragging it onto the Create New Channel icon.

Step Nine:
Press D to set your Foreground and Background colors to their defaults of black and white, then select the Gradient tool (G) from the Toolbox. Go up to the Options Bar, click on the down-facing arrow next to the gradient thumbnail to open the Gradient Picker, and choose the Foreground to Transparent gradient (the second from the left in the top row). Then, make sure the Linear Gradient is selected (the first icon to the right of the gradient thumbnail). Now, click-and-drag to add a gradient all around the subject, so the background is totally blacked out.

Step 10:
Press Command-L (PC: Ctrl-L) to open the Levels dialog. Grab the shadows Input Levels slider and push it to the right a little to increase the contrast. Push it until the overall black area looks the same. Then, drag the gray midtones slider to the right a little, as well, to darken some of the highlights, and click OK.

Step 11:
Go back to the Layers panel and click on the original background texture layer. Now, go to the Select menu and choose Load Selection. In the Load Selection dialog, make sure the Channel pop-up menu is set to the Red copy channel we just created, and click OK.

Step 12:
With the selection active, press Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J) to copy the selected area to a new layer. Then, click-and-drag the layer up in the layer stack and position it just below the model layer (as seen here). Change the layer’s blend mode to Screen and drop its Opacity to 75%. This will enhance the highlights on the model’s face.

Step 13:
Next, click on the top layer in the layer stack, select the Horizontal Type tool (T), and click on the canvas to set a type layer. Here, I set the Roman numeral 2014 (MMXIV) on three lines, then in the Character panel (under the Window menu), increased the font size to fit the full height on the left side, and increased the leading so that the tops and bottoms of the letters just barely touch. Finally, I selected the last line and reduced the kerning (the spacing between letters) a little.

Step 14:
Once the text is in place, select the Move tool, then press-and-hold the Command (PC: Ctrl) key and click on the text layer’s thumbnail to make a selection of the text (as shown here).

Step 15:
Go under the Select menu and choose Inverse to flip the selection, so everything is selected but the text.

Step 16:
Click on the Create a New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to create a new blank layer, then select the Gradient tool again and make sure you are still using the Foreground to Transparent gradient. Press-and-hold the Option (PC: Alt) key and click on the dark brown area of her cheek to sample the color. You will see the sample ring appear when you click (as seen here). The bottom half of the ring shows the current color; the top half shows the sampled color. You can see I sampled a couple times until I got the shade I wanted.

Step 17:
Click on the Eye icon next to the text layer to turn it off. Then, in the Options Bar, set the blend Mode to Dissolve and drop the Opacity to 75%. Press-and-hold the Shift key to keep your gradient straight as you drag it, then click on the left edge of the image to start your gradient, and drag to the edge of her hand (as shown here). The text will appear in the negative space of the gradient.

Adapted with permission from Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks for Designers, Volume 2 by Corey Barker. Copyright © 2014 Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and New Riders.

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