Join Tim Grey for an in-depth discussion in this video Blending an image into a texture, part of Photoshop: Creating Composites (2012).
Generally speaking composite image is going to include at least one layer mask as we blend elements from multiple images. But sometimes you can create a composite image with a very interesting effect without using a layer mask at all. Let's take a look at an example, I have a couple of photos here that are already included as layers in this document. There is a brick wall layer underneath and an American flag layer up above and what I want to do is essentially make the flag look like it's painted onto the wall. So, I'll bring the texture of the wall into the flag and blend that flag into the image. And I'm going to use the displacement map for that purpose. I'm going to start off by creating the displacement map itself and so, I'll create a copy of this image.
I'll chose Image > Duplicate from the menu. I'll just go ahead and click OK to accept the name for that duplicate image. It just has the word copy appended to the existing file name. I can then turn off the American Flag layer so that I have only the brick wall here because that's what I'll be using for my displacement map and then I'll choose Image > Mode > Grayscale. This is not the best way to create a black and white image but, here I'm just using the grayscale version in order to create a displacement map. Photoshop asks me if I want to merge the layers, and that's perfectly fine. I'll click Merge and then it's asking, if I'm sure that I'd want to discard the color information.
And I'll choose to Discard. I also want to exaggerate the textures here, to exaggerate the contrast. And so I'll choose, Image > Adjustments and then Levels. And I'll drag the black point in order to bit, to get more darkness in those shadows. And I'll drag the white point in order to swell. And in the process, of course increase. Increasing overall contrast. I'll then click OK. And then I''ll choose Filter > Blur, followed by Gaussian Blur, in order to smooth out some of these transitions. I don't need much of a blur. I just wanted to sort of smooth out the contrast.
Adjust a little bit have things blend, just a little bit more. So I'll go ahead and click the OK button. And now I have the image that's ready to use as a displacement map. So, I'll choose File, and then Save As. And then save this image as a PhotoShop document, and I'll just call this Brick Wall Displacement Map. I'll go ahead and click Save to save that image. I'll leave the Maximize Compatibility turned on just in case I ever use this image in Lightroom, for example. And so now I have my Displacement Map ready to use. I can go ahead and close that image, and now I'm back to my original with the two layers.
I am going to apply a filter to the American Flag layer, but I want to do so on a way that allows me to come back and work flexibility. And so I am going to apply smart filter and therefore I need to convert this layer to a small object. So I go to Filter menu and choose Convert for Smart filters and click OK to accept. And now my American Flag layer is a smart object, you can see the smart object icon at the bottom right of the thumbnail. Next I'll go to the Filter menu and choose Distort and then Displace and that will bring up the Displace dialog. You'll notice that we don't see any change whatsoever in the image. And that's because we're going to need to use the displacement map that we just saved in order to define the way this image should be distorted. And so I simply am going to click OK with the defaults of ten for horizontal and vertical scale, and the Stretch to Fit option and the Repeat Edge Pixels option selected.
So I'll go ahead and click OK, and then I'll navigate to the location where I saved my displacement map and then I'll choose that Displacement Map file and click Open. You can see now, that the image has been distorted and you might be able to recognize some of the textures based on the wall itself. But we're not actually seeing the bricks and that's because the Brick layer is still hidden behind our American flag layer. But I can blend his layer into the back ground by using a Blend mode. I'll go ahead and change the Blend mode for this layer to Multiply and now you can see that the white areas are essentially blank.
The red and the blue areas however have darkened and reddened the brick wall, but we still have that texture showing through. So it looks like there's been paint placed over with just a little bit of transparency. And you can also see that that Displacement Map has altered the texture of the American fag image so that it roughly matches up with the texture of the underlying brick wall. You'll notice here for example that we have the brick bulging out and dropping down and he American flag now sees to curve along that line. So we have an image that is blended into the back ground, into a different image matching up in terms of overall texture.
This technique of course can be a lot of fun, there are all sorts of ways you might have implemented and it allows us to blend a composite dimension without the need for a layer mask.
- Composite concepts
- Creating automatic composites
- Image compositing
- Refining layer masks
- Matching images
- Adding effects to composites
- Using layer groups