This week we invited Utah photographer Amber Prior, owner of Old Main Photography, to share her photo editing workflow using textures. Follow along step-by-step as she demonstrates how to edit a photo in Photoshop and use blending modes to adjust textures.
Digital textures are all the rage in editing! They appeared on the scene a couple years ago and have proven they are here to stay. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, you may have even splurged and purchased a pack or two. Even if you don’t own any yet, I’d like to show you how I have learned to utilize textures in a way that pleases my eye and fits my photography style.
It’s rare that I leave actual “texture” on my photograph. It just doesn’t work for me. Instead, I smooth them out and use blending modes to create more of a color overlay that I use in editing. I will show you how.
First of all, you’re going to need a texture. I love Jessica Drossin’s textures; they are affordable and beautiful but I know there are several good ones out there. If you don’t have any and aren’t sure if they will be worth it for you, try downloading a free sample. The free ones I’ll use in today’s tutorial can be found on Jessica Drossin’s blog under the Freebies tab.
Ready? Let’s edit!
Step 1- Basic Edit
Before I apply textures I like to get my photo “up to par”. This one needs some contrast and overall brightening. Let’s do a Levels adjustment. I always work with the Adjustment panel, rather than going into the Image menu. Why? Because it creates a layer for me that I can mask off or turn down if I need to. On the right hand side, find the tab that says “Adjustments”. Don’t see it? Click on “Window” up along the top and select Adjustments. An Adjustment box will pop up; drag it over to the work space panel to make it stick there. Now that we have it open, click the second box on the top row (next to the black and white sun) to adjust levels. I slide the left and middle triangles toward each other, little by little, until I like how the image looks. Once in a while I move the right triangle but not often; it can blow your highlights quickly.
Like it? Great. Flatten image.
Step 2 – Open Texture File
This is how I use textures. Open your free texture. I’m starting with Autumn 2 free. If you’re not browsing in Mini Bridge, do it! See the little folder with Mb in it? It is next to your workspace panels. If you hover over it, it turns orange. Go ahead, click it. Spend a little time navigating through Mini Bridge until you find the folder your textures are in. It’s useful to use Mini Bridge because when you are working on a batch of photos and saving them, you can still jump to the texture folder when you need to. Otherwise you are constantly moving through folders while editing, which can be tedious.
In this screen shot you can see how I have Mini Bridge Open, and I have the first texture I’ll be using, Autumn 2-Free. Find this or whatever texture you’re using and double-click it. It will open, and we will make it smooth.
Step 3 – Smoothing the Texture
Go to Filter> Blur> Gaussian blur.
I set the radius to 60. Click OK. This gives the texture a wonderful, creamy look. On this particular texture there is a noticeable dark spot in the middle of all the light. Using my brush tool and the color picker, I pick a color from the light area that I liked and brushed it over the dark spot at about 40-70 % opacity until it looked how I wanted. I do this because I place the lightest part of the textures over my subjects’ faces, and I don’t want dark spots on their skin. Save your new creamy texture as something creative like “Autumn 2 free smooth” and close it.
Step 4-Adding Texture to Your Photo
Your new smooth texture shows up in Mini Bridge just above or below the original. Click once on the smooth texture and drag it right over the top of your photo. This is where Mini Bridge is so brilliant! See the giant “X” over your texture? This lets you know your texture is ready to be resized without having to do anything tedious like Edit>Transform or CTRL+T. (I know, I’m kinda lazy like that. Hey, every little shortcut helps.)
Drag the little squares on the outer corners of the “X” to reposition the texture over your photo. Because my subject is in the far left of the photo, I positioned the texture with the lightest area over his face. Double click or hit enter to set it.
Step 5- Using Blending Modes
In the Layers panel over in your workflow, you will find a little drop-down box where you can change the Blending Mode of the texture. I always start with the mode Soft Light. Also, while you’re right there, create a layer mask by clicking on the little rectangle with a circle inside. So handy for later.
Step 6- Get creative!
Now that you have one texture layer in Soft light, let’s duplicate this layer (right click the layer in your layers pallet and—you guessed it—click Duplicate Layer.) Change this layer blending mode to Multiply, just for fun. See how it makes it a lot darker? This is why layer masks are so great. I use my brush tool to mask off the darkness of his face, while leaving some depth in the background. Try it again! Duplicate this layer and change the blending mode to Overlay. This really pops the color in your photo and the texture. At this point, I have three layers of the “Autumn 2 Free Smooth” texture, all with layer masks, different blending modes, and varying degrees of masking. Of course you don’t have to do it like I did. It’s all up to your TASTE.
Step 7- More Texture
Let’s add the other free texture, the Autumn 3 Free. (Like I usually do, I repeated steps to smooth it out, then drag it from Mini Bridge.) It’s nice, it adds some warmth! I do end up masking most of it off his face though, to maintain natural skin tone.
At this point, I’m pretty happy with how it looks in regards to depth, color, etc. Now I want to add finishing touches. I sharpened his eyes using Pioneer Woman’s free “Sharpen This” action, and did another Levels Adjustment for more pop. Flatten image, and this is ready to go!
Cheers, and happy editing!
Now it’s your turn!
Join us in our free Photography Community tomorrow for Fix-it Friday. At that time you will be able to download a high-res version of Ambers’s gorgeous photo, edit it in your own style and textures, and share your results with the other members in our forum. Not a member of our I Heart Faces Community? Be sure to join today!
Would you like to be considered as an upcoming Featured Photographer in our “Before & After” photo editing series? Our schedule is filling up very quickly so please contact us ASAP. We only consider those who include samples of their current editing and writing style and links to their blog/website. We love to feature members of our community whenever possible!