Blending Textures with your Photos using Adobe Photoshop
(intermediate photoshop technique requires an understanding of how to use layers)
by Dr. Robert Berdan
January 30, 2014
An interesting technique in Adobe Photoshop is to take two or more pictures and blend them together. Usually I use a regular picture and a 2nd image that I layer on top the top that consists of a texture like wood, rust, old metal, cloth, or patterned paper. Then I select one of 27 different blending modes in the layers palette to see how the two blended images look. This technique requires some experimentation to find out what textures and blend modes work best . I usually use one of the 6 different blend modes: Multiply, Lighten, Screen, Overlay, Color or Luminosity.
Many smart phone cameras have apps that will overlay and create blended photos automatically. Blended photos can take on an artistic look that can sometimes make them appear more interesting. One well known photographer that uses phone apps to blend images is Dan Burkholder - visit his web site for inspiration. The problem with using phone apps is that most smart phones produce low resolution images. Using Photoshop with images created in your DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera allows you to create blended images of any size or resolution.
The blending technique can be used in any version of Photoshop that supports layers, however, in Photoshop CC there is a free extension that makes the entire process much easier. I will describe this technique last as it only pertains to folks that have an Adobe Cloud membership for Adobe Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud). .
Although its possible to blend any two images, even a duplicate of the same image, in this tutorial I will use images of various textures. You may want to go out and shoot your own library of textures which can be fun or you can purchase a wide variety of texture images from various web sites. One web site that specializes in offering texture images is Flypapertextures.com - this site sells textures for use in blending photos.
Left click on blueberries photo to visit Flypapertextures.com, on the above right the image shows thumbs for one of their paper texture packages that cost $40. The web site has some tutorials and shows how other artists are using the textures with their photographs. I recommend you take a look a their web site (note I am not an affiliate).
2. Select another image with a texture - drag the texture image on top of your photo - if necessary resize the texture (Ctrl-T) and stretch it so it fills the image below.
3. Open the layers palette, select the top texture image, and then select different blending modes: e.g. Overlay, Lighten, and watch what happens. In Photoshop C6 there are 27 different blending modes.
One of the things I do to quickly test each of the blend modes is to select the top blend mode Dissolve, then I use my scroll wheel to scroll through the different blending modes and view the changes to the blended images. (Works on Mac if you have a mouse with scroll wheel - on both the PC and Mac using the down arrow keys to scroll through the blending modes also works).
4. It's possible to add multiple layers and blend them into the the bottom image, but I usually find one image is sufficient.
5. Finally - if you want to selectively eliminate the effects of the blending - you can add a layer mask as shown in the movie above. Then select a soft paint brush and paint black on the layer mask. This creates a window so the photo below is seen without the blending effect. Paint with white to return the effect. When you are done - flattten the image and save your file.
Photoshop CC - Cloud - Adobe Paper Textures Pro
Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud) offers the ability to add extensions which behave like plug-ins into Photoshop. Some of the extensions are free, others cost money.
To get this extension with Photoshop CC or CC-2014 do the following:
1. Start Adobe Photoshop CC
2. Select Window > Extensions - select Adobe Exchange - search for free extensions - and select Adobe Paper Extension Pro - download and install (just follow their instructions).
3. Open an image you want to add a texture overlay to.
3. Select Window > Extensions > Adobe Paper Texture Pro - and you should see a palette like that shown below.
Click on the one of the textures and it will automatically blend it with with the photo you have. You can select different textures on the top right of the palette e.g. Fly paper set 1 or 2 and you can even select your own folder of images with your own textures (features are shown in the movie - click on the link above to see). See Red arrow in the image below this directly below to see where you select different Flypaper sets.
Above shows a picture of a bald eagle, the Flypapers extension palette that can be downloaded for free and added to Photoshop CC - CC2014. It already comes with 2 sets of Fly paper textures and its possible to Load your Texture Folder as shown in the video.
This extension makes the process easy, you can change the blending modes, choose how many layers you want to blend and even randomly select different blending modes and texture images.
Watch this Video by Mark Johnson on Texture Blending with Adobe Paper Texture Pro (About 16 minutes)
Some Samples Pictures I made while playing with Photoshop's Fly Paper Textures Pro Extension.
Above original scene from Newfoundland.
Same scene after applying paper texture.
West Coast Image unretouched.
Blended image with texture and overlay blending mode
West Coast Image untouched.
West coast image - with brown paper texture applied.
Below are a few more images with various textures blended with the photos.
Finally this image was created by blending and then I applied Edge FX lite free extension from Adobe to create the edge effect. I will cover creative edges in a future article.
I hope that this article provides you with an introduction to the possibilities that you can create with your own images by blending various textures in Adobe Photoshop. If you would like more information or get inspired by other artists please have a look at some of the links below. RB