The Easiest Way to Add Textures in Photoshop

Adding textures in Photoshop doesn’t need to be a long, complicated process. In fact, it’s a simple case of image manipulation. In this tutorial we’ll be learning how to:

→ import and adjust images
→ using clipping masks and blending options
→ working in a non-destructive way

But what does adding textures to our images do?

Well, illustrations, sketches and post-produced styled images can produce an array of creative outcomes that a normal render wouldn’t be able to do. Textures allow us to provide a sense of materiality, show context and add a layer of interest within our images. Photoshop is a great tool for this because it can perfectly manipulate images meaning that you don’t even need the finished material to begin with – opening up a range of possibilities and chances for exploration.

In this tutorial, we’ll be using a white Sketchup model as the base for our image. You could apply new textures to simple line work, clay renders and even on top of existing photographs – there isn’t any limit! Textures are also great when creating simple digital collages; something that can convey key ideas of your project.

Before We Begin

First of all, let me start by saying if you are working on intricate files with a lot of detail you need to be saving constantly and keeping your layers in order! There have been a countless number of times I’ve kicked myself for merging layers or not naming them. If you need to remind yourself to do a little clean-up every now and then, set a ⏰reminder or alarm on your phone.

Working non-destructively means that you’re not erasing or permanently altering original images. If it does come down to doing so, make sure that you make a copy by hitting Ctrl + J and just hiding it. You never know what could go wrong or if you wanted to change something in the future, you don’t lose the original image.

Similarly, it can be a good idea to keep a 📂 library of resources or assets that you can use regularly. There are some amazing texture libraries and websites out there with free images to download – but you don’t necessarily need them all! I’d suggest starting off with your own or even downloading some from other architecture content creators. My good friend Oliver from Learn Upstairs has some awesome packs you can buy and keep forever.

How to Add Textures

💡 I’ve gone ahead and imported my Sketchup image into Photoshop. If you wanted to add base colours like I’ve done, you’re absolutely welcome to do so. If you want a texture only collage with no linework then you don’t need to add any colour and can use the Sketchup model as a base or guide.

  1. When selecting areas to fill with the Magic Wand Tool (W) you can achieve a seamless fill by expanding the selection by a few pixels so that it selects the area underneath the linework too. Just go to Select > Modify > Expand. Then, make sure that both layers are set to the Multiply blending mode and the linework layer is at the top.

2. Find the kind of texture image you’re looking for. Since this image is more of an illustration and not a realistic render, we can use a digitally-made texture. Alternatively, you could also draw in an element, watercolour or hatch and even use a photograph – it all depends on the style you’re going for.

I love using Architextures for all my collages and sketch images. The website has an easy interface and a whole bunch of options to adjust the image according to your liking. There are even pre-made textures for you to choose from. Here’s the brick texture I’ve downloaded:

3. After importing into Photoshop, you’ll obviously realise that at a reasonable scale, the texture won’t fit both walls. In this case, we need to Duplicate and scale the image accordingly. You can do this by clicking on the image with the Move Tool (V) and with Transform Controls on, click on one of the control points and drag. ❗ Try not to distort the scale of the image by either pressing Shift or making sure the link icon is clicked in the top toolbar.

Now you will need to duplicate the image (Copy / Paste works fine here) and create a large enough image that will cover one side of the wall. Then, select all the layers and Right Click > Merge Layers. Rename this to Brick Texture and create a hidden copy.

4. Now we can distort the image to fit the correct perspective. It’s a little tricky to see the wall and lines behind so you could either move the layer behind the linework or reduce the opacity for the time being.

Then, select the corner control point, Right Click and select Distort. Now you just need to drag the corners to roughly match one of the walls. Don’t worry about going over the edges either, just make sure to cover as much as you can. Now, we can repeat the same process for the other side of the wall.

5. Then, select both layers by holding down Shift and Right Click. Here you have to make sure that both texture layers are on top of our previous colour fill. Click ‘Create Clipping Mask’.

Et voilà! You’ve successfully added in your texture. The best thing about this is that you can always go back to adjust the scale, colour and position of the texture images. I personally like a rough, imperfect look to it.

6. Additional adjustments. In the image below, I’ve lowered the opacity slightly and created a new Layer Mask which I’ve then painted over with the Brush Tool (B) to make some areas appear even fainter. You could layer the image with more textures, paint in some weathered details and repeat the process for the other parts of the image.

You also don’t have to stick to the lines. Think about the surrounding white space and how that could be used to enhance the perspective. If you also wanted to turn off the linework altogether, that’s also an option. The great thing about using Photoshop and working non-destructively is that you can always go back and experiment.

For more awesome tutorials like this one, check out our 🌞 3D Sun Path Diagram or How to Make Maps articles too.

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