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Textures

Q1:How do I create a metallic (steel) look for a background?

A1: Here's one quick way:
1.
Start on a new layer filled with a gradient. Try dragging the Gradient tool (G) using the Copper gradient from the Gradient Picker, and then desaturating the layer (Image>Adjustments>Desaturate).

2.
Use Filter>Noise>Add Noise and add a noise Amount of around 20-30% set to Monochromatic.

3.
Go to Filter>Blur>Motion Blur and add a blur of around 30–50 pixels on an angle.

Try different variations, including creating your own gradients.

Q2:How do I create a stone texture?
A2: Here's a quick way:
1.
Change your Foreground color to the default (press D).

2.
Use the Filter>Render>Clouds.

3.
Use the Filter>Render>Difference Clouds.

4.
Apply the Filter>Stylize>Emboss with an Amount of 500%.

5.
Voila! Stone.

If you like, use Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation and turn on the Colorize checkbox to add color to the stone.

Q3:How do I create a texture that looks like cloth?

A3:
1.
Use Filter>Noise>Add Noise and enter 300% or above for the Amount; choose Gaussian for Distribution; and turn on the Mono-chromatic checkbox.

2.
Use Filter>Blur>Motion Blur with an Angle of 0° and a Distance of 50 pixels.

3.
Repeat the Motion Blur with an Angle of 90° and a Distance of 50 pixels.

4.
Finish by using Filter>Stylize>Emboss—experiment with the Angle but use a Height of 3 pixels and a high Amount (possibly all the way to 500%). Now you can go to Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation, turn on the Colorize checkbox, and add color if you like.

Q4:How do I create a texture that looks like leather?
A4:
1.
Set the colors to their default (press D).

2.
Use Filter>Render>Clouds.

3.
Use Filter>Stylize>Find Edges.

4.
Apply Levels (Command-L [PC: Control-L]) and move the upper black triangle (Input) far over to the right so it lines up with the edge of the histogram.

5.
Use Filter>Stylize>Emboss—experiment with the Angle but use a Height of 3 pixels and a high Amount (possibly all the way to 500%).

6.
To colorize, use Hue/Saturation with the Colorize option checked and play with the settings.

Q5:How do I create a texture that looks like reflected water? I'd like to make a background that looks like light reflected on water. Any ideas?
A5: Here's a method that works well:

1.
Make a Marquee selection smaller than you need (about two-thirds of the finished size).

2.
With the Gradient tool (G), click-and-drag to fill that selection with a gradient made up of two shades of blue (dark and light), which you can create using the Gradient Editor in the Options Bar. (You can drag diagonally, horizontally, etc.; that's up to you.)

3.
Choose the Brush tool (B) with a small, soft edge, press D then X to set white as your Foreground color, and paint four lines (like a number sign [#]).

4.
Use the Filter>Distort>Ripple with Size set to Large and Amount at 400% or higher.

5.
Use Free Transform (Command-T [PC: Control-T]) to adjust the water to the full size you need.

Variations: Try different brush widths, colors, or number of painted lines. Or, paste a small graphic before distorting.

Q6:How do I make a photo look like it is on textured paper?

©ISTOCKPHOTO/JOE GOUGH

A6: There's a great filter for this called Texturizer (Filter>Texture). It lets you choose from a series of textures (or load your own). You can also try different settings to achieve different results. One effective way to use this filter is to add a new layer (by clicking on the Create a New Layer icon in the Layers palette), fill it with 50% gray (Edit>Fill), and apply the Texturizer filter to the layer. Then change the layer blend mode to Overlay, Soft Light, or Screen. This method is great because, unlike applying a filter to the image, you are not actually changing the image itself.
Q7:How do I create line art from a photo?

©ISTOCKPHOTO/JEFFREY MCDONALD

A7: Here's a “classic” approach:
1.
Duplicate the Background layer by pressing Command-J (PC: Control-J).

2.
Desaturate the copy by pressing Command-Shift-U (PC: Control-Shift-U).

3.
Duplicate the desaturated layer, press Command-I (PC: Control-I) to invert the image layer, and change its blend mode to Color Dodge (the image should change to white).

4.
Use Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur (or Motion Blur) and experiment with the settings to get the line art look you want.

Q8:How do I make a starry sky?

©ISTOCKPHOTO/ANDRIY DORIY

A8:
1.
Start with a new layer (click on the Create a New Layer icon) filled with black (Edit>Fill), and then add another layer and fill this one with white or pale yellow. Change the blend mode of the top layer to Dissolve and lower the Opacity to 1–2%.

2.
To randomize the starry sky, click on the Add Layer Mask icon and apply Filter>Render>Clouds to the mask.

3.
To use the starry sky in a photo, go to Select>All and then press Command-Shift-C (PC: Control-Shift-C) to copy your file as merged. Then make a selection in the other photo and use Edit>Paste Into to add in your starry sky, with a layer mask that's created automatically.

Q9:How do I create “glass” type?

©ISTOCKPHOTO/BRIAN KELLY

A9: To create “glassy,” transparent type with a beveled edge, add a Bevel and Emboss layer style (Layer>Layer Style) to any color of type. Then lower the Fill to 0% of the Type layer in the Layers palette, which will make the color “disappear,” leaving text with a beveled edge that's transparent to the photo below.
Q10:How do I create and use a displacement map?
A10: A displacement map is a grayscale image that is usually based on a photo. Say you're trying to make a wood texture follow the contours of a face. Make the “map” by creating a copy of the face (Image>Duplicate), changing it to Grayscale mode (Image>Mode), and then softening the focus slightly with Filter>Noise>Despeckle. Save a copy of this file as your map, ensuring to save it as a PSD file (File>Save As), and close it. Go back to your color image, drag-and-drop the wood texture into the image using the Move tool (V) so it appears on a separate layer, and then use Filter>Distort>Displace. Enter small values in the Displace dialog, click OK, and then in the resulting dialog, choose your saved map as the displacement map. You'll probably have to change the layer blend mode and add a layer mask (so you can paint over any background areas) to finalize the effect.
Q11:How do I create a painting from a photo?

©ISTOCKPHOTO/GEORGE MIGASH

A11: Although the Watercolor filter does a decent job of turning a photo into a painting, you may get better results if you start by duplicating the Background layer (Command-J [PC: Control-J]). Then apply the filter (Filter>Artistic>Watercolor) to the copied layer (you may want to apply the filter a few times by pressing Command-F [PC: Control-F]). Now experiment with the Opacity and/or blend mode of the duplicate layer.


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