Texture is one of those things that you have to feel — or in the case of images, see.
Combining textures with regular photos is one of the more creative ways to give an ethereal quality to photographs. Use the right texture and a common photo becomes “ghostly”. Use another and you can add extra drama to a portrait that you wanted to junk.
Are the photos you take frustratingly one-dimensional? That’s where Photoshop comes in. Add a layer of texture and voila – you can almost fool the eye into seeing some depth.
Using Textures in Photoshop
Textures are used in everything from graphic design to web design, from poster art to architectural visualizations, from 3D animations to computer games. It’s the lifeblood of modern graphics.
Photoshop isn’t the only tool for playing around with textures and patterns. You can use GIMP, a simpler tool like PicMonkey, or any other tool that supports features like effects, overlays, blending, transparency, etc. But nothing gets you the same mileage as Adobe Photoshop.
Here’s a simple video from SLR Lounge which explains just one of the processes for manipulating a photo with textures in Adobe Photoshop:
Where to Find Photoshop Textures
Like all things beautiful, using the right texture to enhance a photo is a matter of aesthetics. The right one adds depth and realism. The wrong one can take it to an ugly extreme. So, the first trick is to find the right texture for the project you have open in Photoshop.
And as everyone likes freebies, here are some of the best texture related resources you can go to.
The name says it. The site is a sharing gallery for Photoshop brushes. Thanks to the community it has also become a place to contribute other Photoshop resources – textures included. Brusheezy receives more than 1.2 million visitors a month, proving how useful it is for designers.
The texture gallery is strong with an option for sorting by Photoshop version. Some are bunched into texture packs that can be downloaded with a premium subscription, but there is enough for the user who just wants to download royalty-free textures.
A collection of good quality textures categorized into Metal, Wall, Wood, Grunge, Concrete, Textile, Nature, and Colors. Ignore the faulty English in the descriptions and give the collections a look over. The textures are hosted on Flickr, and that’s where a click takes you for its download.
Conditions of Use: Textures come with a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
This is a texture download site that won’t get any brownie points for design, but does grab a few for the sheer variety on display – from abstract to X-rays — and the no-frills way they are organized. There’s also a small tutorials section with a few explanatory articles on texture tips and tricks.
The user gallery is one of the best examples of creative applications of textures. Use them for free in 2D or 3D computer graphics, movies, printed media, computer games and 3D models. Pay a visit.
Conditions of Use: As explained on their license page, the use of textures is non-exclusive, royalty-free, and you have the right to modify them for the uses permitted under the clauses described.
Texture Lovers is an archive of some of the best free textures from around the web. Categories covered include the usual material-based texture themes as well as light, fire, and smoke. The textures available here are free to use in commercial and personal work and you don’t have to worry about attribution.
The site features 62 single texture files so far and 136 texture packs. A Texture Inspiration gallery shows you the real-world applications of textures in web design, digital art, and illustration. A whole section on Texture Tutorials is for those of you who get inspired.
Conditions of Use: The textures are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. Giving credit is optional.
I must say I like the categories on this site. You get hi-resolution texture files based on ash, electronic, glass, minerals, roads, roofing, tracks and marks, among many others. The main categories are further divided. For example, if you are looking for “concrete” textures, you can drill down to “bare”, “damaged paint”, “tiles”, and “leaking” sub-types.
There is a distinct difference between textures and patterns even though the terms are sometimes swapped. Patterns are repeating tiles of graphical elements while textures are complete images. Some textures can be patterns but not all of them.
The minimalistic textures at Subtle Patterns are curated by Atle Mo, an interaction designer and concept developer from Norway. He likes to keep things simple and that’s why most of the 400 available patterns are “subtle”. All patterns are free for personal and commercial use.
Conditions of Use: The files are covered under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.
The About page doesn’t say much but the 793 files across 22 categories promises a lot. The majority of the files are textures with some stock photos thrown in for artists. Textures come in Metal, Concrete, Wood, Tree, Grass, Ground, Plant, Miscellaneous, Rock, Water, Brick, and Sand.
Conditions of Use: Use of these textures is free for personal or commercial products.
I found some of the more unique Photoshop textures on this German site. There is no categorization, so you have to sift through the 23 pages one by one. Textures are supported by other resources like Photoshop brushes, icon textures, patterns, headers etc.
Conditions of Use: I am assuming textures are free to use because I couldn’t find explicit licensing information on the site. If using commercially, you do so at your own risk.
Loads of high-resolution textures are available in neat categories. The library stocks 2,700 textures in unique categories like Asphalt, Graffiti, Cardboard, and Tape. Downloads are available in medium, large, and full size. Full size is nearly 4000 pixels by 2500 pixels.
Conditions of Use: All of the textures are free to use in any kind of computer graphics, games, printed material, movies, website design, and 3D models. Redistribution of images is not allowed. Credit links are not required but appreciated. The site enforces a limit of one download at a time. The site prohibits simultaneous downloads of multiple images.
It was the 624 stone and brick textures that attracted me to this site. I dove into sub-groups like “damaged”, “medieval”, “mixed”, “pavement”, “wall”, and “modern”. The collection of high-resolution textures is enormous, and as you can see from the screenshot above, each major type is divided into smaller sub-groups.
Conditions of Use: All textures are free for personal and commercial use.
Still Looking for Photoshop Textures?
But why not create some textures yourself? Here are three standout articles for you to consider:
- Visual Design: Using Texture in Photography
- Techniques For Creating Custom Textures In Photoshop
- 3 Simple Photoshop Tips to Create Better Textures
Now, it’s your turn to tell us the place for textures in your Photoshop workflow. What are the interesting photos or designs you have created with textures in Photoshop? And of course, where did you find the textures you liked?