How to Add a Fine-art Texture in Just 60 Seconds

Matty Graham explains how to use everyday objects, and a little Photoshop, to give your image a fine-art makeover in just a few clicks…


Adding a texture can transform an image

Ever opened up an image you’ve captured into Photoshop and thought it…well, lacks a certain something? It happens to us all as photographers but, don’t worry, as there’s plenty you can try to add a creative twist to a frame. Adding a texture can give your image a new lease of life and completely transform its look, style or meaning. But while adding a texture to your image can sounds a little complicated, the truth is that it takes just a couple of clicks in Photoshop. What’s more, you can use a multitude of images as your textures. Pictures of grass, fences, trees, sandy or rocky beaches – practically anything can be used as a texture and the more unusual and creative, the better! A great idea to build up your stock of textures is to stop and shoot anything that catches your eye when you’re out and about. Even smartphone images can be used as textures to spice up your images so here’s how to master this creative technique…


Our start image shows a great location, but lacks style, a fine-art makeover is needed…

Step one

Convert texture to mono & copy the pixels – Open the image you’d like to use as your texture in Photoshop and then convert it to mono by clicking Shift & Control & U. Select the image by clicking Control & A (Apple & A on a Mac). You’ll see the ‘marching ants’ around the boundary of your image to confirm they have been selected. Next click Control & C (Apple & A on a Mac) to copy all of the pixels. You can now close down your texture image as we don’t need it any longer.


Our texture was a close-up photo of a weather-beaten wooden sign

Step two

Paste your pixels – Open up the image you would like to add the texture too and then click Control & V (or Apple & V on a Mac) to paste the texture pixels. When they appear and new Layer will be created in the Layers panel – if you can’t see this, simply select Window and scroll down to select Layers.


Paste your texture over the image you’d like to transform

Step three

Resize the texture – Head back to the Layers panel and change the Blending Mode from its default Normal setting to Overlay to Soft Light, whichever suits your preference. If the effect is too strong, select the Opacity option in the Layers panel and reduce the Opacity to soften the strength of the texture.


Change the Opacity mode to Overlay or Soft Light

Step four

Brush out areas of detail – If the texture looks great on the majority of the frame, but is obscuring an important focal point, this can be fixed easily. Add a Layer Mask by clicking on the icon in the Layer panel, identified by the ‘circle within a square’ symbol. Select the Brush to and set it to black, then brush out the texture pixels you want to remove. If you make a mistake, change the Brush colour to white and this will replace the pixels.


A Layer Mask will help you reveal detail

Step five

Flatten the image – Once you’re happy with all the adjustments, click Layer>Flatten image and then select File>Save as… and save the file as a JPEG, or a .PSD file if you would like to return later and add some further adjustments.


Bonus tip – Experiment with different textures to create a range of different fine-art looks!


This time a shot of some pebbles was used to create an arty texture