How do you add realistic-looking textured paper effects to your digital photos?
When you want textured prints, you buy textured art paper. Simple, right? Unfortunately it doesn’t always provide the solution you’re looking for. What if you want to create an aged, "distressed" look? And what if your picture’s going to be displayed on-screen rather than printed out?
This is why it’s much easier to cheat and create this textured effect digitally. You can do this by combining two images – one of the textured background you want to use, and one of the photo itself.
BEFORE: You could print your photo on expensive textured art paper...
AFTER: …Or you could create the textured effect digitally using blend modes.
The difficulty lies in getting them to merge convincingly, and that’s where Photoshop’s blend modes come in. The trick lies in finding the right blend mode for the job, and that depends on the images themselves. Multiply mode is effective because it simply adds the pixels from the two layers together, but it does produce a net darkening effect which you’ll need to counteract with some further adjustments. Overlay mode can work well too, though this tends to increase contrast, and you may need to adjust the opacity. The blend mode used for the images in our walkthrough is Linear Burn, which produces a dense, stark-toned result that suits the subject matter and the color of the textured background.
Your first instinct might be to place the texture layer on the background and the image layer on top. But in this instance we’ve done it the other way round since the blend modes often work more effectively when the texture layer is on top.
Adding a texture effect is one thing, but making it look realistic is another, especially if you leave a border around the picture; the straight edges of your digital image don’t look right against the textured effect of the background. That’s why the Displace filter is included for the final two steps. Using the texture file itself, it’s possible to "roughen" the image to match the texture exactly.