Tutorial: Textures & Layers

A few of the visitors to the blog have asked about how I create my pieces. It is flattering because I do not consider myself an expert. In the process of getting myself to a limited level of proficiency to assist students in the classroom I came up with some simple methods of improving images and media projects. This was important, because I found that in reality many students had limited experience with imaging software; teachers often worked from the assumption that the students knew more because the teachers themselves had a very limited background computer.

( If you are looking for tips on improving your photography composition or familiarize yourself with photography terms check out my page, Reading A Photograph, on my Media Literacy blog.)

As I improved my skills and combined it with my interest in photography, I began trying to figure out how others created certain effects. Free plug-ins were a great help, especially in the classroom and for students with limited resources at home.

 If you are looking for free textures, check out ShadowHouse Creations. If you want to a very effective way to modify your photographs in colour/B&W get virtual Photographer from OptikVerve Labs.

One thing I realized, based on online tips and information I picked up from my son, was that it is a lot easier to create textures based on scans and macro photos of interesting surfaces. I started building up a collection of texture images that could be used directly or modified/combined in different ways.

Example:Three Power Towers


The original photograph was taken on a very overcast day from a hotel window.  This is what it became when I finished.

These are the steps taken to go from the original to the final image.

Step 1 Create a copy of the original image. Work from the copy. ( I am using Paint Shop Pro. This process and plug-ins can be used with other imaging software, such as Photoshop Elements. )

Step 2 Create a duplicate layer. Make the second layer invisible and then select layer one.


Step 3  I used virtual Photographer plug-in to modify this layer. When you open the plug-in it works in a new window.

I used clipper colour setting. ……… This is the result.

As you can see this is very good just as it is. This plug-in is very useful and effective.

Step 4 Select layer 2 and make visible. I used virtual Photographer plug-in to modify this layer. I used the B & W chalky setting .

Step 5 I then blended the layers together. I adjusted the top chalky layer to Hard Light and moved the opacity down till I was satisfied with the result – opacity 81.

Step 6 I then added a texture layer that I created, old paper 7.

I set this texture layer to Hard Light and kept the opacity at 100.

I did not care for the hardness of the texture so I used Gaussian blur at a strength of 13.

Step 7  Unfortunately the object in the lower left corner comes out too dark. I chose to crop the image to take part of the corner out. This was not entirely satisfactory.

Step 8 I selected a portion of the texture layer and feathered the edge. I copied this selection and turned the copy into a new layer. I positioned the selection over the lower left corner and set the layer for Hard Light and an opacity of 100. I then used Gaussian blur at a strength of 36.

The process is complete and all four layers are blended into the image.

None of these setting are carved in stone. Each image is different. Sometimes you start going in one direction and discover a surprise along the way. It is the process and the practise that is most important. For all I know, there may be an easier way of doing this. I hope this was helpful/entertaining.


10 thoughts on “Tutorial: Textures & Layers

  1. leecleland

    The first time I read this article at the beginning of the year (2013) I couldn’t make sense of it 😦
    Now I’ve been playing a little bit with textures and understand Photoshop/Elements better I find it very useful to see how someone else uses layers and textures. The use of Gaussian Blur was new to me as was the feathering of the texture layer. Very helpful, thank you.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.