Anything Photoshop or Photography

How to Create an Overlay Out of a Texture

This technique is something I do a lot since so many of the beautiful textures out there have really nice borders or frames. Often the border would look great without all the extra texture effects and colors, and it is nice to be able to change the color easily by using a Color Fill Layer or a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer clipped to the overlay. So here is the way I create a nice png overlay from any texture. If I use someone else’s texture, I make sure they are credited with the effect – they did all the work to create it. The image above uses Shadowhouse Creations Heavenly Vintage Texture Lavender – he has several different colors of just this one texture and all his textures are free downloads. I have touched on this technique in some of my previous blogs linked at the end of this blog, if you want more ideas on how to use overlays

So here is the workflow:

1. Open any texture up in Photoshop that seems like a good candidate for the effect you want. I usually duplicate the texture layer and turn the Background layer off (click on the eyeball and it disappears) in case I mess up the selection. Be sure top layer is now highlighted in the Layers Panel.

2. The area to be kept needs to be selected. Usually I go to Select -> Color Range and in the drop-down Select field, choose Highlights. If this is too over-the-top, go back to Sampled Colors and click and/or drag on colors to select. Remember the white is selected in the Preview Pane. If it is easier to drag in areas you do not want selected, check the Invert box to get the correct areas selected. Enter.

3. With selection active add a layer mask – is what the basic overlay will look like. Add either an image or a colorful layer underneath to see what the results really look like. With a soft black brush set at a low opacity, paint out any areas you don’t like in the layer mask. I find using a very large soft brush (500 px) set to 12% opacity works good on the inside so you do not take too much of the effect out at once, but gently build up a clear central area. Or if you want just a little texture in middle, use a low opacity brush and paint out just a little bit of the texture. You can always use brushes with edges to paint in the mask to keep a grungy rough edge feel.

4. Next step is to right click inside the Layer Mask and select Apply Layer Mask. I usually duplicate the layer in Step 3 and turn off the Eyeball. Then Apply Layer Mask on the duplicate layer so if I don’t like the way it looks, it can be changed easily.
Above is a screenshot of the Photoshop file – the Scripts action can be run on the top layer. The bottom two layer’s eyeballs need to be turned off in this screenshot before doing to Step 5.

5. It is time to just save this layer as a .png file. Turn off all layers (click on any open eyeballs) in Layer Panel except this one. Go to File -> Scripts -> Export Layers to Files and select File Type: PNG-24. Set a Destination for your file and give your file a name. You can always rename it later as it adds some strange naming convention. The rest of the settings are fine. Click Run. See screenshot of Export Layers to Files Dialog Box as it should look when you run it below. It takes a minute or so to get the new file, but once it is done, you are returned to Photoshop with no changes made to your original image. I now usually save the psd file in case I want to do something different with the same texture later. Note: if you forget to turn off all the eyeballs, you will get files for each layer – not the end of the world, just delete the extra layer files.
6. Now go to the destination folder you listed and there is your file. It can be added as an overlay to any image. Just use Free Transform (CTRL+T) to stretch it out to fit your image. Try flipping it, changing the blend mode, lowering the opacity, and/or adding a layer mask for final frame. Totally wonderful!

I did a Digital Lady Syd Tidbits Blog Pretty in Pink! with Topaz Clarity on how the top image was processed before I added it to the the background. The actual background that is behind the image was created by just using a nice solid color background layer. Next the image was brought in and the edges were lightly painted out on a layer mask so the edges of the image blended into the image.  A New Layer was added behind the image and a brush I created called Montage Brush Tool grunge1 was used to spread a pretty design over the background in two sampled colors. The Overlay was added next and a Color Fill Layer was clipped to the overlay using color #462b2d. (Here are the brush settings if you would like them – I know it is hard to get really cool effect brushes and this one works really nice on background. Brush Tip Shape: Size 464 px and Spacing 25%; Scattering: Scatter 321% Control Off, Count 1, and Count Jitter 0% Control Off; Color Dynamics: Check Apply Per Tip, Foreground/Background Jitter 48% Control Pen Pressure, Hue Jitter 9%, Saturation Jitter 35%, Brightness Jitter 0%, and Purity 0%; and check Smoothing. Colors used were light blue Foreground: R169/G200/B209 and pink Background: R244/G190/B205, but you can sample any colors from image for this. It was then saved as a Brush Tool preset to use again – best way to save your brushes. And don’t forget to go to the Preset Manager and save down as a set so if Photoshop crashes, you don’t lose it.)
…..Here is the same texture but this time, instead of the center being somewhat clear, it contains that soft dreamy effect applied throughout. These beautiful flowers are Dalmatian Purple Foxglove and I love the water drops on them!

To get this soft overlay effect, before performing Step 2, a Color Overlay (double click on layer outside thumbnail to bring up the Blending Options Dialog) was set to Blend Mode Normal, white color, and Opacity of 29%. This lightens evenly across the whole texture. The layer was duplicated and by right-clicking on the layer and choosing Rasterize, the layer style was applied to the layer. Step 3 was done and below is the Color Command Dialog as it was used on this texture.
Once OK is clicked, CTRL+J to put the active selection on its own layer. You now have a fairly decent lighten texture that could be converted to an overlay at this stage. For me it was too sterile looking. The layer was duplicated (and all other layers turned off) and by right clicking and selecting Convert to Smart Object, a Gaussian Blur filter was applied using a Radius setting of 180.3 and a Noise Filter using a Noise setting of 8. Since it is a Smart Object, you can go back and adjust those amounts if it looks bad over your test image layer. Once it looks good, Step 5 above can actually be run on the Smart Object – I duplicated and rasterized mine so I have a final in the PSD copy. You now have a different look with the same texture! Below is the how the layers stacked up for the soft effect overlay. Even the test lace image looks good with the overlay!
The flower image actually used Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Countryside preset – my favorite Adjust preset – then Kim Klassen‘s canvas grunge texture set to Soft Light blend mode at 100% layer opacity. A layer mask was added and the flowers for the main focus in the image were lightly painted back. Next the Shadowhouse Creations Lavender Texture overlay we created above was added at 66% layer opacity and a layer mask was created to lend focus to the main flowers. That was it! Beautiful soft result!

This is really a simple process and I hope you will give it a try. There are lots of different ways you can adjust the textures before you turn them into overlays. Try changing blend modes of the textures first or adjusting the Blend If sliders it the texture layer styles. It can turn your favorite textures into an even more useful resource……Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Create Personal Overlays for Your Images
How To Make Frames or Borders
Displacing an Overlay
Using a Couple of My Textures

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18 responses

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