Photography Tutorial: Using Overlay Textures to Enhance Your Photos (Plus a Free Texture Download!)
Overlay textures are awesome tools that have the power to enhance your photos; taking them from boring to beautiful in just a few clicks.
Scans of old paper, fabric and handwritten notes are among the most common overlay textures. With the help of image editing software programs like Photoshop Elements, using overlay textures during the photo editing process opens up a window of creative image-enhancing possibilities. Layered over your own image, an overlay texture’s effect is adjusted via blend modes and opacity; giving you complete control over the effect that each layer has on the others.
The end result is a beautiful image.
Using overlay textures to enhance your photos is easier than you’d think. Step-by-step, I’ll walk you through the process of creating the warm, subtle effect in the following image using Photoshop Elements and two of my favorite overlay textures from Life-n-Reflection.
You’ll find that using overlay textures to enhance your photos is fun and easy.
Using Overlay Textures to Enhance Your Photos
Open your original photo and overlay texture files in Photoshop Elements.
Drag the overlay texture file onto your original image to add it as a layer. (I’m using Life-n-Reflection’s Woodlands Overlay 3 from the Woodlands Overlay Collection.) Re-size the overlay texture layer so it completely covers your image. To do this, highlight the Woodlands Overlay 3 layer in the layers palette and stretch or shrink it until it covers your entire image and hit “enter.”
Step 3 isn’t nearly as long or as complicated as it seems. Simply use as many overlay textures as you’d like in order to achieve the effect you’re looking for, then proceed to the next step.
Let the fun begin! Adjust the blend mode of your overlay texture layer in the layer palette. (Blend modes determine how layers are blended into each other and affect the overall look and feel of your image.) Get creative, experiment with different blend modes and adjust opacity levels until you’ve achieved a desirable effect.
I used the “linear burn” blend mode on the Woodlands Overlay 3 layer and lowered the opacity to 50%. (The linear burn blend mode decreases brightness to darken the base color of your photo and reflects the blend color.)
The overall effect was lovely and warm, but I wanted more depth so I added another overlay texture layer. Woodlands Overlay 4 from the Woodlands Overlay Collection worked perfectly.
I adjusted the blend mode of the Woodlands Overlay 4 layer to “overlay”, but it was far too bright for my liking. (The overlay blend mode multiplies light colors and screens dark colors.)
I lowered the opacity level on the Woodlands Overlay 4 layer to 50% to give my image a subtle, warm, romantic feel.
I’m a big fan of less-is-more when enhancing images with overlay textures so I decided to stop at this point. As you begin to work with overlays and textures, play around with different blend modes, opacity levels and multiple layers in order to get a feel for what you like or don’t like. Develop your own personal image enhancing style.
Once you’ve finished editing the individual layers, select “flatten image” from the layers menu and save your image. (Flattening your image discards any unused layers, merges visible layers into the background and reduces the file size.)
The final result is a lovely photo that has a warm and romantic tone. The effects are subtle and simple, but beautiful nonetheless.
(Mouse-over to compare before and after images.)
Overlays and textures are powerful tools; enhancing your photos and taking them from boring to beautiful in a matter of minutes. The process of using overlay textures to enhance your photos is simple, but the results are amazing.
Do you use overlays or textures to enhance your photos? What are some of your favorite resources for great textures and overlays?
Exclusive Free Texture Download!
Life-n-Reflection is one of my favorite resources for gorgeous and affordable textures and overlays. Kristy, owner of Life-n-Reflection, is offering a FREE texture download to readers of Live and Love Out Loud! Simply click on the image below for your FREE texture download. It’s that easy!
*Disclosure: Thank you to Life-n-Reflection for sponsoring my overlay texture tutorial and for providing me with the gorgeous overlay textures as well. I genuinely love Life-n-Reflection and have been a long time customer as well. All opinions are mine.Pin It