Photoshop: Quickly Apply a Texture to a Photo

Adobe Photoshop® CC 2020

In this lesson, learn how to quickly add a texture to a photo. Choose a photo that does not have a busy background or a background with too much contrast. 

To add a texture to a photo:

  1. From the File menu, select Place Embedded. In the dialogue box, select a texture and click Place. The texture opens as a Smart Object in a new layer.
  2. To expand the texture to cover the photo, click and drag a handle on the bounding box. The texture is resized proportionally. If you want to resize it freely, press Shift while you drag a handle. Press Enter or click the check mark on the Options bar to commit the changes.
  3. In the Layers panel, apply a blending mode to the texture layer. Blending modes that may work well include Overlay, Soft Light, Multiply and Screen
  4. In the Layers panel, click the Add layer mask icon to add a mask to the texture layer. You can paint on the mask with black to hide some of the texture and reveal the image below. If you make a mistake you can paint with white to bring back the texture again. 
  5. Set the foreground color to Black.
  6. Select the Brush tool. On the Options bar:
    1. Select a large soft round brush.
    2. Set the Opacity of the brush to 50%.
  7. Paint over the butterfly with the brush. If you want to change the brush size, you can press the left bracket and right bracket keys to decrease or increase the brush size. 
  8. You can stack textures on top of each other to create interesting effects. Repeat Steps 1-3 to add another texture to the image.
  9. To copy the layer mask from the first texture layer to the new texture layer, press Alt or Opt, then with the left mouse button down, click and drag on the layer mask to copy it to the new layer. Release the mouse button over the new layer. 
  10. For added effect, reduce the opacity of texture layers. 
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