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Textured Photographic Effects using Blending in Photoshop

What's great about Photoshop is there really is no right and wrong way to use it. As users we get to play and experiment with effects until we come up with something that looks cool to us. In this tutorial, we'll take a look at using Photoshop's blending modes to apply a simple photographic effect.

Step 1

The first (and most obvious thing) we should do is get our images open in Photoshop. You can use whatever images you have handy, but textures work really well. In my example, I'm going to be applying a rusted metal effect to a teapot, so I'm going to get both images open and ready to roll.

Step 2

Next, grab the Move tool from the Toolbox and drag the texture onto your image. You may need to use Free Transform (Edit > Free Transform) to scale your texture so that it fits the object that you want to apply the effect to. Hold down Option (Mac) or Alt (PC) and Shift-drag on a corner to scale your texture proportionally from the center; then hit Enter to lock in the change.

Step 3

This next step is optional. As mentioned, I'd like to apply the effect to an object, a tea pot. So I'm going to need to select the object. If you want to apply the effect to an object in one of your photos too, you'll also need to select the object. Sometimes though, I'll want to apply an effect to an entire image, so in that case, this step isn't necessary.

Photoshop certainly has no shortage of selection options, so use whichever method you're most comfortable with. You could use the Lasso tools, Quick Mask mode, Color Range, or my longtime favorite, the Pen tool.

To make things easier, in the Layers panel, hide the layer that contains your texture. Once you create your selection, be sure to turn the texture layer's visibility back on, and make sure that layer is selected.

Step 4

Now we'll use a layer mask to help us out. With your selection still active, choose: Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection. The contents of the texture layer are now clipped to your object. The areas of your texture that fall outside of the object are not deleted, they're merely masked.

Layer Masks are a very powerful, yet non-destructive way to work in Photoshop. Notice too what happens in the Layers panel.

Step 5

Now for the fun part -- messing around with Photoshop's blending modes to get the effect we want. In the Layers panel, make sure the texture layer is still selected; then try selecting an option from the Blending Mode menu. There's no right or wrong here, so have fun trying out the different blending modes. What's more, try adjusting the texture layer's Opacity too. Blending modes and opacity tend to work together to produce different effects, so try to arrive at something that looks cool for your image.

I tend to gravitate towards my favorites: Overlay, Hard Light, Multiply, and Darken to get me started.

Have lots of fun applying effects to your images and check out this tutorial below to learn more:

Geoff Blake

Geoff Blake | Articles by this author

Geoff Blake is a book author, video presenter, designer, and visual artist. As an in demand live-on-stage software educator since 1997, Geoff has taught desktop publishing, web design and graphics courses all over North America and is regarded as an expert in Adobe's Creative Suite applications, as well as in HTML, CSS, WordPress, and related technologies. With his humorous, non-jargonny approach, Geoff produces highly regarded articles, video training and DVDs, and regularly contributes to top industry magazines and websites.


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