How to Add Texture to a Photo
My sister Katie was the photographer for Nick and Carrie’s wedding on July 12th. Tim and I were assistant photographers and the editors. I took a break from my regular editing to have a little bit of fun with textures. This post will give you full color instructions if you want to try it yourself! There are probably many other ways, but this is what I do. You can see more wedding pictures, and a slide-show in my post Nick and Carrie’s Wedding.
Step 1: choose a photo. I chose to use this portrait that I took of the beautiful bride. Here, it has already been through a little bit of editing.
Step 2: find a texture that you think goes well with the photo. A great place to look is flickr , a photo sharing network. Just make sure the texture has a creative commons license that allows you to use it. I chose a texture called “Wine” from flickr user Stewart .
I do my photo editing with the free program GIMP, because I’m not rich enough to buy photoshop. From what I hear (I’ve never used photoshop), they have many similar functions and features. I just know that it does what I want and I haven’t even scratched the surface of what you can do with it.
Step 3: Open your picture. I always make a copy of the background, by clicking on the button highlighted in blue. Then, I make the original background invisible, by clicking on the eye next to it, highlighted in pink. This lets me go back to my original picture whenever I like.
Step 4: Open the texture that you want to use.
Step 5: Once it’s open, Go to Edit (highlighted in blue) and choose “copy.”
Step 6: Paste the texture into the original picture. Notice the portion highlighted in blue. It says there is a “floating selection.” Click on the button to add a new layer (highlighted in pink). This will make the pasted texture a new layer.
Step 7: Choose the “Scale tool” from your tool icons in the main GIMP window. It looks like the icon highlighted in green. You can grab corners to stretch the layers, and grab the center of the layer (where the circle and plus-sign are) to move it.
I scaled it larger and moved it around until it covered the entire original picture.
Step 8: Add a layer mask to the texture layer. Do this by right-clicking on the layer and choosing “add layer mask.”
When this window pops up, click “add.” You want the layer to be white (full opacity).
Step 9: Select the gradient, or blend, tool (highlighted in blue). Before using it, make sure you select the layer mask as the layer that you want to work on. The selected layer will have a white border around it.
Using the gradient tool on the layer mask is essentially creating a window to see through the layer. Where it’s black, you can see through. Where it’s white, you can’t. I use a gradient to make the transition smooth.
Click where you want the gradient to be darkest, or where you want the original picture to show through the clearest. Drag it, creating the line that you see across the picture, to where you want the gradient to end. I didn’t want the texture to cover Carrie’s face, so I started where I thought her face would be. (You can decrease the opacity- highlighted in pink- of the texture layer if you want to see what’s underneath it. If I did that, I wouldn’t have had to guess where Carrie’s face was because I would’ve seen it through the texture.) If you want the texture to cover the entire picture, you can skip adding the gradient. You’ll notice the option of changing the “offset” of the gradient with a slider. That refers to the size of the darkest area before it fades out to white. The larger the number, the bigger your darkest area will be before it fades.
Here is the result:
You can experiment with the mode of the layer to get the look you want. Here are a couple examples:
Select the texture layer and set it on Burn (highlighted in green)
Select the texture layer ad set it on Dodge (highlighted in green)
You can try any mode that creates the look you’re going for. I chose to leave the mode on dodge for this picture. When I took a closer look, I realized that I didn’t like the look of the texture on Carrie’s arm.
There are a few different ways to change this. Remember that black on the layer mask creates a “window” to see through the layer. With this in mind, I used the free select tool (highlighted in blue) to select Carrie’s arm. I wanted the edges to feather with a radius of about 20. (highlighted in green). The higher the radius, the more gradual the feather. Make sure you have the layer mask selected, or you will be changing another layer. I can’t tell you how many times I do something and realize that I was working on the wrong layer.
I decided to use the gradient tool again. I did the same thing we did to the entire picture earlier, but this time it just applies to her arm.
It looked better, but there was still too much texture for me. I decided to “clean up” the rest by using the paint tool (highlighted in blue). I chose to use a fuzzy circle (highlighted in pink) at the biggest size available (highlighted in green). If I wanted the texture to show less, I painted over the layer mask with black. If I wanted the texture to show through more, I painted over the layer mask with white.
Here is the final product:
Here they are side-by-side:
(If you have a better, faster, or easier way of doing this, don’t hesitate to share!)