Photoshop tutorial: Create a Photoshop action to add texture overlays
guest post by Adrian, at Five Star Studios
wedding photographer, Mackay, Queensland in Australia
Neil’s post on applying a texture to the background, made me think of the things I do to give photos ‘that special look’ and when I told Neil about it, he kindly invited me to write an article on this topic – adding texture layers to photos. This can be easily applied via an action, outlined step by step further down.
The post by Neil was a texture ‘replacement’ background as opposed to laying a texture on the image itself, a big difference, and that involves a lot of ‘cutting’ out, brushing, etc, which just simply cannot be done via an action unless a lot of ‘Stops’ – read a message (messages on what to do can be built within actions) – and then continue. It’s just not practical with some images.
Remember, we are laying a texture over the image, as opposed to using a texture for replacing the background, so before we start, you need to have some images that you have found or even shot yourself.
Images like rusted metal, old painted peeling doors/walls, rocks, absolutely limitless.
Google ‘textures/patterns’ and there are 1000’s of free images to source.
Also, give them names you can relate to, makes it easier rather than eg: Image1.jpg, Image2.jpg, etc.
The textures we are going to use will first need to be made into Patterns and the beauty of this method also is you only have to build just the one action, but you can apply countless different numbers of texture variations over the image/s by merely changing the ‘Pattern’ itself on the ‘Pattern Adjustment Layer’ built into the action.
Step 1: Creating the ‘Patterns’ needed from the Texture Images:
- a) Open up your texture images you now have sourced into Photoshop.
You can download this texture from this link.
- b) Once you have the images in Photoshop, go to:
The Main Menu Bar – choose Edit, go down to ‘Define Pattern….’ and click that.
You will now get this Dialogue Box – Leave the name the same and just Click OK.
That’s it, nothing else to do. Close that image now.
Repeat for the remainder of the images, Edit/Define Pattern…., click OK, close image. All done.
- c) Once you have done a ‘Defined Pattern…’ on all the images, you can now check them in the Preset Manager, where you can manage what’s in there.
Menu Bar/Edit/Presets/ and choose Preset Manager from the fly-out menu option, then in the Preset Manager’s drop down menu at top, choose ‘Patterns’ and you get this:
Step 2: Creating the action:
- 2. a) Open an Image you want to work on, then open your Action Palette if not already visible. Menu Bar/Window/Actions.
Depending on how your Action Palette was last used (or if used at all) will depend on how it looks.
It may be in ‘Button Mode’ (lots of colored buttons) or you may see lots of grey folders, (out of ‘button mode’) and sub-lines of type, which are all independent actions.
You need to be *out* of Button Mode and see just the grey color & black wording.
To do this, on the Actions Palette at the top on the same line as you see the word ‘Actions’ on the far right side, there is a very tiny triangle with some horizontal lines, (called the Wing Menu – arrowed in snapshot) click that and uncheck ‘Button Mode’ by just clicking it.
You will now see grey folders (called ‘Sets’ where each ‘Set’ can contain lots of actions.
We now want to create a new ‘Set’, then in that Set we will create the action.
Before you start, you can fold up any ‘turned down’ triangles beside any folders so they are all neat and tidy by just clicking on that triangle.
- 2. b) Click back on that same Wing Menu and choose ‘New Set…’, from the fly-out options.
You will now get a dialogue box called New Set, type in a name, eg: Texture Overlay.
Click OK and you will now see the new ‘Set’ called Texture Overlay at the very bottom of the Action Palette.
Each time you create a new set, it comes in at the bottom, but you can move it’s position by click/hold and drag it to where ever you wish.
- 2. c) Back to the Wing Menu, this time choose ‘New Action…’ you get another dialogue box, now just type the same name (Texture Overlay) in, but before you click ‘Record’, you may also want to give a ‘Color’ to the Action Button when you go back to Button Mode, just so you don’t have a truckload of just grey buttons by default, up to you.
Once you have clicked ‘Record’, you will now see your ‘Action Set Folder’ and the actual Action living inside of that Set by the turned down triangle beside the ‘Texture Overlay’ folder at the bottom of action palette.
Also at the very bottom of the Action Palette, you will see the round Red Recording Button light up from it’s normal grey color.
Your action is now ready to be recorded.
Important: Anything you do now while in Photoshop will be recorded, so you need to know what you have done/not done, eg: don’t start recording then think I want another image, and you close, and open another image, that will all be recorded.
So, if you want to do something other than the actual recording steps, click on the Black Square Button to the left of the Red Recording Button, that will stop recording, do whatever you want, then click on the now Black Round Recording Button again, it will turn Red and be ready to start recording again.
NOTE: We are going to do all the steps like in the sample image above, but, you can choose to delete/change opacity of any layers after, and just have the Texture on top of the full color image, up to you, but all the steps are best recorded so that you have the opportunity to change later on, instead of trying to add it in at the end.
- 2. d) Now in Photoshop first make sure you have your Layers Palette open: On Top Menu Bar/Window/Layers.
Once you are set and recording is now underway, go to the bottom of the Layers Palette, and click on the round black & white circle button 3rd from left of the ‘fx’ button (Adjustments Layer – the Black/White circle), then choose ‘Hue/Saturation’.
You should see a ‘Properties’ dialogue box, if not, Menu Bar/Window/Properties – OR – just double click on the tiny Icon you see on the left of that Hue/Saturation Layer in the Layer’s Pallete and you will get it also.
On the Saturation Slider (middle one) drag it back to -65%.
Your image should now be very de-saturated, with only a little color left in it. We really want that at this stage.
- 2. e) Click back on the New Adjustments Layer Icon as above, choose ‘Solid Color’.
You will get a Dialoge Box as below, type in the Color Code a65b03 (arrowed – this can be changed anytime) and Click OK.
Your image now will have a Solid Color over the entire lot, you now need to fix this.
On the Layers Palette at the top you will see on left ‘Normal’ which are the Blend Modes, you need to click the drop down menu in there and choose ‘Color’.
Your image will now have a ‘blended’ sunset/brown wash through it.
One more step, because it would ‘look wrong’ if the whitest whites had a wash through them, we need to bring back slightly any Whites (Highlights), like wedding dresses, white shirts (as in sample image) so we need to change that Layer’s Style Blending Options to bring back up some of the Whites/Highlights on the underlying layer, so they are visible in the overall image.
To do this, you need to double click on a blank area of that ‘Solid Color’ Fill Layer, not on any wording or the Icon, but in a blank area.
Once you have the ‘Layer Style’ dialogue box open, in the middle section at the bottom under ‘Blend If’, leave it on ‘Gray’ then, place your cursor on the ‘Underlying Layer:’ sliding scale, just beside (not on) the tiny double white triangles on the right side (Highlights) hold the Alt Key down and just click.
That will separate the Highlight Markers so you now have 2 white triangles.
Click/hold the inner half triangle (leave the outside one alone) and then drag until you see the amount of 198/255 come up on the left. (see image)
You will see that the color wash will now appear on anything white up to about the ¼ tones of the Highlights. (that 198 value you set being a quarter of the Highlights – just enough to take the edge off of the Color Fill).
- 2. f) Adding the Texture:
Go back to the New Adjustments Layer button, choose ‘Pattern…’, you now get this dialogue box, in the small preview window, click on the down arrow, choose your pattern, one of the ones you created, once that has been chosen, you will more than likely see that the ‘pattern’ now showing over the image may look like it’s starting to repeat itself, depends on the actual image size of the pattern, so to fix that, there is a Scale Slider, click that and merely move the scale up until there are no repeating edges on the pattern and or just for appearance anyway.
Click OK. Your image will now be the full textured pattern over the top of your main image, you need to change the Blend Mode, experiment with Overlay/Soft Light/Hard Light, what ever you like.
You can also change Layer Opacity, image shows 80% but I settled on a subtle 10% in the end.
- 2. g) CLICK THE BLACK SQUARE STOP BUTTON. This will stop the recording and therefore ends the new action.
If you now look at your Actions Palette, you will see all of the steps recorded.
- 2. h) To run the action now, you need to go back to Button Mode, go to the Action Wing Menu, click back on the ‘Button Mode’ it puts a checkmark back on it and brings back the actual buttons.
If you are used to running actions from UN-Button Mode as in clicking on the action, then clicking the Play Action, then of course do that.
Also, you can change the layer’s opacity, it does not have to be 100%, a lot of the time I may change it to anywhere between 10-80%.
If you don’t like the pattern, you can change it, simply double click the Pattern Icon on left of the layer and it will open back up the Pattern Options, just choose another pattern, also play with the Scale slider.
Also, if you have faces in the image, you can still move that pattern layer around on the image anyway, or, it puts a mask onto the layer so you could use a soft black brush to brush out anything over the faces.
Of particular interest also, you can delete the Pattern layer to get a great Sepia/tone image just by itself from the start, I would also leave the Opacity at 100%
That’s it. All finished!
Quick run-down of the technique
- De-Sat image first: De-sat -65% (adjustable)
- Solid Color with a65b03 – 80% (adjustable) opacity
- Pattern ‘very rusted metal’ – Scale 145% – Mode: Overlay – 10% layer opacity. (all adjustable)
- Blend IF: Underlying layer Highlights to 198 on Solid Color Layer only.
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