Photoshop: Adding texture layers to photos
Adding a texture layer to an image is a relatively easy way to enhance an image where there are large tonal areas that are even. That bit of texture can just be the bit of sweetening to make the photo more eye-catching. Of course, the way the texture layer is added, can be subtle or very noticeable. Your choice.
I felt this dramatic photo of Claudia, taken in the studio, could use an extra bit of juice. There are different ways of doing this. Again, your choice. Here is how I (sometimes) add textures to photos:
The roll-over image shows the before / after versions. The “Before” image only had a few skin blemishes removed. Very minor retouching. I brightened her face a little bit and enhanced the highlight in her hair a bit.
Using the History Brush (at 10% opacity in Screen Mode), is my usual quick way of lightening parts of an image.
Then I added the texture layers in Photoshop, by dragging the texture image onto the main photograph. Resize the texture images to fit the main photo’s size.
In this example, I added two textures. I also changed their opacity levels, as well as the Blending modes. Again, there is no specific recipe. Your choice.
As you can see in the two screen captures, there is a layer mask for both the texture layers. You don’t have to be super-specific when erasing the areas where you don’t want the texture to appear. (You don’t want texture splotches on your subject.) A few quick sweeps with the Eraser tool should do it. But the overall technique is quite straight-forward: add textures by dragging them onto your main photo, and adjust them until they are to your liking.
About the lighting used during this photo session
I love using the gridded Profoto 1’x6 strip-box (B&H / Amazon) in the studio to add dramatic light. It has come up several times in previous articles on Tangents, for example: this photo shoot with Olive: Changing the background color with gels
More than that, I can vary the interplay between light and shade, by how I swing the softbox around, or rotate it. I often do this while shooting so that I continuously get light & shade that varies. This behind-the-scenes photo was taken by Claudia, to illustrate exactly what it is I do with the gridded stripbox. (It is on caster wheels, so it easily moves around with just a light push and pull on the edge.)
Camera gear (or equivalents), and lighting gear used
The light was from a single Profoto D1 studio flash (500 Ws) (B&H / Amazon), with a Profoto 1’x6’ gridded strip-box (B&H / Amazon). I love how I can scallop the light, and either have some of the light fall on the wall … or not. The long shape of the softbox, as well as the grid on the softbox, create a unique light fall-off – giving soft, but dramatic light.
- 1/125 @ f/9 @ 100 ISO
- Nikon D810
- Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E VR /equivalent Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II
- Profoto D1 studio flash (500 Ws) (B&H / Amazon)
- Profoto 1’x6’ gridded strip-box (B&H / Amazon) with a Profoto 50 degree soft-grid
Two more examples (with minimal retouching):
- Changing the background color with gels (model: Olive)
- Portrait lighting setup – Chiaroscuro (model: Frankie)
- Lingerie photo session – lighting, light & textures (model: Melanie)
- Using a big gridded strip-box / soft-box (model: Anita DeBauch)
- NJ photography studio rental
- Studio Photography Workshops
- More articles on Studio lighting and Photography
- Model Mayhem portfolio – Claudia
Studio lighting workshop
If you are interested in learning more about studio lighting, including lighting for headshots, I offer workshops on studio lighting. The workshops will be held at my studio space in NJ, and it has a wide range of studio lighting gear to play with!