I love textures. I used to employ them all the time in my design work, but I often forget about using them in my photography. Texture Blend Thursday on Google+ is a great reminder however. ;)
Creating texture overlays for your images is easier than you might think, particularly if you use Lightroom. Once you’ve done all your initial adjustments to your photo and have it looking they way you want, hit Cmd/Ctrl E on your keyboard (or go to Edit > Edit in Photoshop in the application’s main menu). This will open the image in Photoshop. It also tells Lightroom that you’re about to edit a new version of this image (in PSD format), creates a connection for that image and displays it next to the original.
Now switch over to Photoshop. Hit File > Open (Cmd/Ctrl O) and browse your hard drive for the file you intend to use. The texture will open in a new tab, which you can then drag over to the tab with your original image. However, there’s an easier way. I created a Photoshop action which streamlines this process a bit. It’s free to download and includes a couple brief tips on usage for you absolute beginners. :)
Once you’ve placed your image, you’ll need to stretch it to fit. Opt/Alt + Shift will stretch the image from the center outward while also maintaining the image proportions. I’ve found this to be the most effective way of applying textures so they don’t get super pixelated. Hit Enter to commit the change.
Now there’s a couple things you can do. First, you can adjust the opacity of the texture layer. My action automatically sets it to 30% so the original image isn’t overwhelmed by the overlay. Second, you can play with the Blend Modes (recommended) to see how they change the effect of a given texture. Usually I stick with the Multiply and Overlay modes, but there are several others that work well, depending on the color values of your original image and texture.
Finally, you can use a mask (automatically created if you use my action) to show or hide the texture from specific areas of your image. Click the mask icon (the little white square in the Layers panel), be sure your color swatches are set to black and white (D will quickly reset this), and select any standard brush (B).
Now start painting on the texture layer. You can use X on your keyboard to toggle between black and white if you make a mistake or change your mind (remember black conceals, white reveals). You can also adjust the softness and size of your brush to achieve better blends.
That’s it! When you’re satisfied, simply hit Cmd S to save. The changes will be visible in Lightroom where you can print, export or further tune the image.
By the way, there are a ton of textures across the net, but Allur has some really good hi-res collections freely available. I recommend you check them out if you’re interested in doing more of this kind of work. The texture I used for this image came from the Library Book Collection.