Those of us who focus on animal photos have many textures we can highlight--fur, whiskers, ears, paw pads, etc. I thought about showing those differences here. But then I changed my mind. Because I have been doing so much of that type of texture work lately (go back through some of my blog posts and you will see it), I didn't really want to repeat that type of work in this week's theme.
Instead, I've decided to provide a little bit of instruction on how to use textures you place on an image, to enhance the background or subject of the image in some way. I am doing this because I know how many YouTube videos I have watched, not to mention trial/error hours I've spent playing around with textures. I thought by providing some information on the things I have already learned while doing, it might be helpful to you.
So let's first start with a before and after texture photo, below, where I get to use my before and after widget again!
Matty is, once again, a willing subject. I have used a gray plank background and subdued studio lighting. The BEFORE image is converted from RAW, adjusting brightness, small temp adjustment, and a little bit of levels adjustment.
You can find textures quite simply by googling the words "photography texture overlays." You will usually have to purchase textures, however, there are some free textures available on the internet. As mentioned in Week 42 of last year's blogging, when Texture was also the theme, some of my favorite textures come from www.portraitpizzaz.com.
If you ask 10 different photographers how they apply textures, you will probably get 10 different answers. So I will share my method, but just remember, there are plenty of ways to make it happen. (If some technical steps are not your idea of a party, you can skip down to the next paragraph.)
- I make my adjustments to the RAW photo using Nikon Camera RAW, and send the photo to Photoshop Elements.
- If I need to clean up, straighten, use the clone tool, or make minor adjustments to the photo in Elements, I make those adjustments first. The only thing I do not do is crop the image. I work on the image as a whole.
- I then click on File > Place and browse my computer for the folders where I keep my textures.
- Because I have worked with my textures quite a bit, I have a general sense of what I want to place on my photo, but it's also fun to experiment, and if you don't like what you see, you can simply back up a step (undo), or get rid of the layer with the texture. So, once I've found the texture I want to use, I simply click on it to open and it opens over the top of my image.
- I adjust the texture to totally cover my image and click to accept. (The image is still totally obliterated until the next step.)
- Now I need to decide how to apply the texture. Photoshop has a "blending mode" that allows you to choose how you'd like to blend your layers together. I most often use Screen, Overlay or Multiply when I apply textures. In the above image, I used Multiply, which gave me the effect I was looking for.
- I then create a layer mask that allows me to brush the texture off of anything in the photo that I do not want it to appear on. I can also set my brush to different opacity settings and only partially brush off the texture. Another option is to set the overall opacity of the texture itself. So there are many options and things to experiment with.
- If there are any final touches I need to make to the edit, I do them after the texture has been applied, to bring the whole image together.
Matty could care less about the technical side of texture application. He just wants the feather at the end of the stick I hold in the studio to get his attention, and a well placed cat treat.
Here is a final image of Matty using a different texture and a different blending mode. Which do you prefer?