Basic 5-Step Texture Tutorial


(NOTE: I know this is now a bit dated, but it’s a great starting place if you want to learn to layer textures the good old fashioned way!)

If you haven't tried adding texture to your images, don't be intimidated...the process is really not that difficult. All you need is an image editing program that supports layers, such as PhotoshopPS Elements or Gimp, a little guidance, and of course, some textures!

There are many different ways to apply texture overlays, but we'll stick with the basics so that all level of users can follow along.  This tutorial is explained using Photoshop, but I believe that other programs are similar enough for this to make sense.  Also, since command shortcuts differ from program to program, I will not use them here. This way, the instructions may be applied universally.  If you know the command shortcuts for your program, by all means use them.

For this tutorial, I will be using two TJ overlays, shown below.  You may choose to use just one texture in your work or several, but I thought two was a nice number to use for this tutorial.

Below, is my starting image. Not too exciting as it is, but we're about to change that...



I'm using 'Coconut' from TJ    Watercolor 6 Pack

I'm using 'Coconut' from TJ Watercolor 6 Pack

and 'Jeepers Creepers' from TJ    Texture Pack 1

and 'Jeepers Creepers' from TJ Texture Pack 1

Step 1 

  • First I open all three images into Photoshop. (Tip: Always use a copy of your original photograph to avoid accidentally saving it as a texture file.) I begin with the Coconut Texture and click on Select>All (see below) This selects the entire texture so you can copy and paste it onto your photograph. (After you click 'All' you should see the marching ants appear on the edges of your image.) Next I clicked on Edit>Copy.

drag layer.jpg

Step 2  

  • Now I'm ready to paste the texture over my photograph. I select the train image by clicking the associated tab, and then click on Edit>Paste. The texture automatically appears over my photo. All I have to do now is drag and stretch it so it covers my image completely.


As you can see in the illustration to the left, Photoshop automatically placed the texture as Layer 1 in the Layers Panel.

I make sure my texture (Layer 1) is selected by clicking on it. You'll notice it's highlighted in blue. 

The next thing I'm going to do is open the Layers Adjustment Menu.  You'll find it right above the layer where you see the word Normal. 

(This is where the fun part begins!)  



Step 3

This illustration shows what the Layers Adjustment Menu looks like when opened.  As you can see there's quite a variety to help create endless variables in texture application. (Wait till you get your hands on it ... it truly can be addictive!) 

Choosing any of the Blend Modes will change how the texture interacts with the original image.  The most common ones to use are Multiply, Screen, Overlay and Soft Light.   But they're by no means the only useful Blend Modes. In fact, I didn't use any of them in this tutorial. Such is the way of using textures ... there are so many combinations, you just never can tell!

  • So, for this first layer I select Hue.  High quality texture for photographers, designers and artists.

That changed the image dramatically.  I could stop here, but I want more grunge. 

Step 4

  • Now I want to add the second texture called Jeepers Creepers, but before I do I make sure to double-click on the photograph to tell Photoshop to save my previous actions. I then repeat as before by clicking on the tab for Jeepers Creepers, choosing Select>All, and then Edit>Copy.


  • Next I move back to my photograph and click on Edit>Paste. Again, Photoshop creates a new layer in the Layers Panel and labels it Layer 2.

  • I open my Layers Adjustment Menu and this time select Color Burn.

Step 5

 We're almost done!

  • The last thing I do is change the Opacity of the texture because it feels a bit too dark. The Opacity Adjustment is to the right of the Layers Adjustments Menu. I move it down to 79%.

And  that's it, we're finished in five steps using two textures!  It really is that simple.  The challenge comes in finding the right combination of textures for your photo, but to me that's the fun part!  No two textures will work quite the same on every photograph and I think that's the beauty of them.  

Let your creative juices flow and allow your intuition to take over when choosing which texture to start with.  If it's not quite the look you were seeking, don't discard it, just add another texture.  There's no wrong way, so keep experimenting and have fun!

Final Image

Final Image