Tuesday, June 30

CoffeeShop Photoshop/PSE Tutorial: Using the Displace Filter to Blend Images to Any Background!

I am so excited about this tutorial that I am posting today. Until recently the displace filter in Photoshop/PSE was a complete mystery to me but now I wouldn't live without it.  This technique is so valuable because you can add images, text, logos, signs, basically anything to any surface and make it look like it blends in perfectly.  Imagine the possibilities in your portrait work!

This method is very easy.  I am putting together an action set for this editing technique that will create the displacement map and apply it to your image.  This action set will be posted in the next day or two, but until then I want to walk you through the technique. 

You can add anything to any surface. Make your own custom graffiti wall for your portraits!  In the sample above I added the butterfly to the brick wall. I used these images (brick wall, butterfly) for this example. Amazing, right?

It works equally well on metal surfaces.  I used these images (flag, metal wall) for this example.

I am also working on a special action kit (this will include heart designs, actions, and full instructions) for "carving" initials or images in trees and wood.  I plan to have it finished by next week.  Now you don't have to deface public property or trees ;-), you can do it digitally!

This is a perfect way to personalize engagement, wedding, and couple portraits. I have wanted to know how to realistically add this effect for years and never found a really good tutorial that worked in both Photoshop and PSE.  So I spent hours playing and decided to write my own and include actions to make it easy for all of us.  Note: This beautiful engagement image was from B.liss Photography.

Now on to today's tutorial for Photoshop and PSE.

CoffeeShop Tutorial: Using the Displace Filter to Blend Layers:

I used free images in this post from Pixabay (wall with ivy,  Las Vegas sign). You can download them to edit along with me if you want.  :-)

1. Create Displacement Map:  Open the image you are going to use for your background.

2.  Desaturate the image.

3.  Use a levels or curves adjustment to increase the contrast. You want this image to be high contrast as we are going to apply it as our displacement map to make our new layer blend in so that it looks like it was on the original background.

4. Save this B&W high contrast image as a psd file. I save it with the same name as the original file, but you can rename it Displace Map or something similar if you want. Then revert the wood/ivy background back to its original color version.

5. Adding the Las Vegas Sign: Open the image you are going to add on top of your background. This can be a logo, text, image, sign, etc. If needed, use your favorite extraction tool to extract the image you are going to add to your background. If you add a text layer make sure to rasterize it before going to the next step.

6. I resized the sign to fit.  Feel free to use the transform tools to adjust your own image if you need to distort or warp it to make it fit realistically.

7.  Add Texture: Make two copies of your Background layer (Ctrl-J).

8. Drag these on top, desaturate them, and group them both with the sign.  Then put them in overlay or soft light blending mode.  This adds additional texture.  Turn on one or both layers depending on your image.

This already looks pretty nice, but I am going to add the displace filter to make the sign look like it is painted on the wood.

9.  Click on the sign layer to select it and go to Filter,  Distort, Displace.

10. These are the original settings. I use these setting first and adjust it later if needed.  Lower resolution images need lower settings (say 4, 4).  It is usually best to start lower and apply the filter a few times. Don't worry about the other settings since we are using the original image as our displace filter so it will fit perfectly.

11. As you can see, the filter made the sign look wrapped around the wood  planks and painted on.

12.  If you want to add more of this effect, just reapply the filter.  If you want to reduce it and you are using Photoshop; go to Edit, Fade and adjust the slider down.  If you are in PSE and find the effect too strong; go to Edit, Step Backwards and reapply using lower settings (such as 5, 5) instead of 10, 10.

13.  Adjust Color and Contrast: As a final step I added a hue/saturation layer above the sign and under the B&W background layers.  In this case I wanted the sign to look a bit more weathered so I lowered the Saturation and raised the Lightness a bit.

I hope you are as excited about this technique as I am!  Please check back in a few days and I will post the actions to create the displacement map and to actually apply them to your own images.  Then I will have a complete set of actions/design elements/tutorial for carving initials/text into wood. I am really excited about posting that set and just need to get it all finalized.

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop PSE/Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures.

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.

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  1. Ooooh! I LOVE THIS! I can't wait to try out your techniques, Rita. Thank you for always figuring it out and sharing with all of us!

  2. Agree - I have the perfect idea for this when your action is published. Thanks for another great PS action, Rita! BTW, how is that kitty doing at your Mom's? What a sweet story.


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