Digital Textures - before and after examples (share yours too!)

One of the coolest things I learned to do when I got Photoshop last year was to digitally layer textures with my photos. Textures are just photos or digitally created pieces that you can blend in with your art or photos to create a completely different feel and look. My favorites tend to be ones that make my photos look aged, like canvases, or old photos.
I pulled together a few of my photos to show how easy texture work (simply copying and blending in any texture, lightly, in Photoshop) can change the way it comes across....I'll also share where some of my textures come from!  Note: there are thousands of ways to use texture, and these below are just some simple layering techniques. You open your file and the texture both in Photoshop, copy and paste the texture over your photo, and blend away. Use any blending mode and switch up the opacity to make the effect less dramatic if you wish. I sometimes layer multiple textures for different effects!

 Above, the first photo is simply a beautiful day at the beach in Rhode Island. I love the look of the zig zaggy fences, but wanted a more intimate and old fashioned I cropped the second one, and layered an "aged" looking, brownish gold texture in the darken mode. I like how it transformed the sky here.

Above, a simple shot of beach rocks, layered with a light creamy-yellow texture, lends an aged, sunny feel. It's incredibly subtle but I love the way it looks.

Above: a lighthouse in Maine. The first shot is the original layered with a light, bubbly sun flare. I love the rainbows and way it makes this look the way it did in my mind, after the sun comes out following a light rain. The second example is the same photo, cropped to show more of the foreground water. The water had very little detail and was slightly blown out, so adding a texture to just the water here (and selectively erasing the top portion) gives a lot of interest to the water, buoys, the blue color, and emphasizes the lighthouse being on a far away island. Without the extra texture, I felt like the water looked boring and was forced to crop it out.

Above, a sunlit autumn floral is ethereal and beautiful as is straight out of the camera. But with a light minty canvas texture, the flower becomes more like a drawing or textured painting. I worked in the texture to display darker around the flower and lightly erased it from the center outwards to bring attention to the flower and not allow the texture to completely erase the detail from its petals.

Above: an older photo that I really loved but was a little bored with (again!). In Photoshop, I used the magic eraser tool to "cut out" the pelican from the sky, then flattened the image so just the pelican was showing against a white background. Then I layered in this patchy, light turquoise texture in the background. I added a sun flare in the corner to emphasize the sunny day feeling and add some interest, then applied a "sunlight" texture in the corner where the sun is. This light, buttery yellow texture made the white light look more like sun and gave the photo a lighter feel.

Above: the original photo, a sweet early summer day on Cape Cod, was nice and serene. But on the right, I added a light blue bokeh texture (those little light circles)  and set it on darken mode to give a more vibrant feel to the sky and water and darken the white sand to a tan shade. I increased the contrast on just the bokeh texture layer to make the circles pop a little more in the sky. I like the dreamy, colorful result.

Above, right, a photo of Black Point, a rocky coastal area. The midday sun made the foreground rocks look white and the overall feel was very "cool". I applied a yellowish, brownish texture right over it to make it look more vintagey and bring interest to the strip of sky. I also used the selective highlight/ shadow tool to lighten the black rocks so they would pick up more of the warm texture. Now, the rocks have more warm color, and they look more alike. It looks like a totally different beach!

Well, those are just some quick and easy ways that texture has helped me, and I love experimenting with them, using them as overall layers, skies, backgrounds for animals, and so on. I find them mostly on Flickr, searching for "free textures" and making sure the ones I download are available for creative commons use. Here are some resources:

Joy St. Claire - My fave!  Joy is a wonderful photographer herself, but her textures are fabulous! She has textures to suit landscapes, still lifes, add a vintage feeling or enhance a plain photo. I used many of them in her Moderne set in my examples above.
Life N Reflection - Kristy not only sells her awesome textures, but shows you how to use them, too. Her blog is an awesome resource for texturing and digital photo work. 
Textures for Layers - a wonderful Flickr group! I've used and donated some textures from this group. Be sure to check the privacy settings and allowances before using a texture and be nice and share your creations afterwards- the creators of these textures do spend lots of time and creative effort making them!
Spectrum Textures -  you need to sign up, but there are some great grungy and industrial textures here. It's free.
2Textured - another free site where you may find still life objects and nature landscapes to add interest to your art or photos.

I'm developing a pack of textures that I made myself as well....I'll be sure to share as soon as I have it put together! :))


Kristy said...

These are amazing before and afters!! Thanks so much for the review!!

Danangib said...

Great post, very helpful and your photos are gorgeous!

Lynda said...

Love the before and afters, Mary! I'm addicted to textures. :)

A New England Life said...

Textures certainly make a wonderful difference. Thank you for the list. Although I did know about most of them there were a few I hadn't heard of. Will check them out!

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