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A Better Method of Adding Texture in Photoshop

Canvas Texture
Canvas Texture
Photoshop has a number of texture filters that can be applied directly to an image. If you want to make an image look like it’s painted on a textured surface, don’t apply the texture on the same layer. I have found that a more realistic looking texture can be created by applying the texture to a layer above your image. I’ll show you a trick to accomplish this. I’ll also give you a quick rundown of what each of the texture filters looks like.


I’m working with this wonderful photo of meerkats that my husband took at the Los Angeles Zoo. But this technique will work with any image.

Meerkats
Meerkats

 

Make It Artsy

Before I apply my texture, I want the image to look a little more artsy, like maybe they were painted. Here’s what I did with my meerkats:

  1. Copy the image to a new layer: Ctrl+J (Mac: Cmd+J)
  2. Filter > Cutout
    1. Number of Levels: 8
    2. Edge Simplicity: 0
    3. Edge Fidelity: 3
    4. Click OK
Cutout Filter
Cutout Filter
  1. Set the blend mode of the new layer to Overlay. This allows some of the detail of the original photo back through.
Overlay Blend Mode
Overlay Blend Mode
  1. Save the file.
Artsy Meerkats
Artsy Meerkats

 

The Yucky Way to Apply Texture

What’s wrong with applying a texture to the image layer? It can look ugly. The texture filter applies the texture according to the lights and darks in an image. If I merge my two meerkat layers into a new layer (Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E) and apply the Craquelure filter (Filter > Texture > Craquelure…), it looks pretty bad:

Bad Craquelure
Bad Craquelure

This may be the effect you are going for in many images. However, to get a smooth, overall texture as if the meerkats were painted on a particular surface, I like the method below.

 

The Better Method of Applying Texture

Now let’s see what it looks like another way:

  1. Add a new layer at the top of the layer stack. Click on the “Create a new layer” icon at the bottom of the Layers panel (Window > Layers if you cannot see the Layers panel.)
Add a New Layer
Add a New Layer
  1. Edit > Fill
  2. From the “Use:” dropdown, select “50% Gray” and click OK.
Fill 50% Gray
Fill 50% Gray
  1. With the new layer still selected in the Layers panel, apply the Craquelure filter:
    1. Filter > Texture > Craquelure…
    2. Move the sliders around until you get a texture you like.
    3. Click OK.
Craquelure Texture
Nice Craquelure
  1. Set the blend mode for this layer to Overlay.
Overlay Blend Mode
Overlay Blend Mode
  1. Save your file. You can compare the two texture applications below.
Yucky vs. Pleasant
Yucky vs. Pleasant

 

On the next page, I’ll show each of Photoshop’s texture filters.

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