When you install Creative Cloud you will notice a couple of extra folders appear on the desktop with the flypaper textures in there. These are some sample textures that come with Photoshop, and I thought it would be nice to look at a couple of ways you could use these textures together with blend modes to add a few simple but nice effects to an image.

I have started out by loading in an image taken from VisualHunt.com (link at the end) along with a number of the flypaper textures from the folder. If you want a nice easy way to load these all as layers within the same composition, try doing it from Bridge.  Just open up Bridge and navigate to the folder containing your images. Now select the images you wish to load into layers and from the Tools menu go down to Photoshop and then select Load Files into Photoshop Layers. Back over in Photoshop you should see a single document open now, and over in the layers panel there are a number of layers loaded in. These are all the images you selected in Bridge a few minutes ago.

adobe bridge open as layers in photoshop

To start with you might want to reposition the main photo and crop the image a bit on the right so everything fits nicely onto the canvas.  Having done that we can now start to play with the layers.  First of all we are going to hide everything except the main photo, so to do this we simply hold the Alt key down while clicking on the eye (show/hide icon) next to the layer we want to show.  By holding the Alt key down we have now hidden the other layers.  You should now see something like this, albeit your layers might be in a different order:

hiding all but one layer in photoshop

To make life a little easier I am going to get rid of some of the textures I don’t want at this point, keeping just the 3 that I want to work with, along with the main image.  This means I only have to look at 4 layers now, which is a little quicker when I need to see what I am doing at a glance.

I am now going to reorder the layers and put the main image to the bottom, and I am ready to start applying blend modes, layer masks and opacity to the layers to get creative. On the main document window you will now see only the top layer as shown below, since this is sitting on top of everything else.

reorder the layers in Photoshop

Having got the layers in the right order I am now going to have a play with the blend modes to see what impact they have.  Blend modes basically control how two layers interact with each other, so for example if I set the top layer to a blend mode of Hue the result will be the bottom layer with the hue taken from the top layer. I won’t fill this blog up with extensive details on blend modes, but if you want to find out more about them there is a useful description of each Photoshop Blend Mode on the Adobe user guide.

In this case I have applied blend modes to the top 3 layers of Darken, Linear Burn and Hardlight respectively, and the results look like the following. In this instance I didn’t choose these blend modes precisely, but rather selected the layer and worked my way down them with the keyboard arrows until I felt it gave me the look I was aiming for.  That’s not to say I won’t sometimes go straight to a specific blend mode for a reason, but sometimes it’s nice to just have a play and see how it turns out.

The result with these blend modes applied is as follows:

applying blend modes in photoshop

I now want to take control a bit more of where the texture is applied and reduce it on the main focus area of the person. In order to see what I am doing, I have temporarily hidden the two bottom textures and will apply a mask to the top texture by selecting that layer and clicking on the mask icon at the bottom of the layers panel. The mask is initially white, but I am then able to take a soft dark grey brush and paint onto the mask (make sure you have the mask selected first) with the brush, the result is a grey area on mask in the shape of the person, which means the top layer is to a large degree hidden in that area of the image.  The image now looks as follows:

using a mask to reduce effect in photoshop

Having now got my mask looking how I want, I will re-enable the other two texture layers and duplicate the mask onto them by simply holding the Alt key down while dragging and dropping the mask onto those layers.  The result looks as follows:

duplicate mask across layers

More examples

The same approach can be used with other textures, sometimes with a blend mode, sometimes just using a degree of opacity.  Below I have used the sariel leather texture and in the layers panel simply set the texture to 65% degree opacity.

creating effects with textures in photoshop

I can then apply a mask again to the texture layer and use a very soft brush to paint on the mask, thereby reducing the effect on the main subject of the image.  The result is shown below:

fine tuning the texture with a mask in photoshop

In this final example I have used the same image, but this time with the Touchstone taster texture. On this one I have applied a blend mode to the texture layer of linear light and again used the mask with a soft brush to reduce the effect on the main subject.

trying different textures in photoshop

Which textures and blend modes you use is of course down to your personal taste as with any design, but this can be a nice quick way to make an image a bit more interesting / noticeable quickly and easily.  Have fun with textures and if you have any nice examples of your own on behance, instagram, etc.. feel free to post links to them in the comments below.

The image used in the above example was sourced from https://visualhunt.com/photo/191693/

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