In today’s tutorial you will learn the basics of using fine art textures in your photography work.

If you’re wondering exactly what a fine art texture is, then it is essentially a flat image file (usually a .jpg), which can be used as an overlay to your photographic or design work. For example, if you were looking to make a photo look worn and aged, then you could overlay a worn/aged texture file, and achieve the desired look in seconds.

Using textures in your photography work certainly isn’t vital, but when done right, can add a lovely grungy feel to your work.

Ok, are you ready to explore the world of texture design?

In today’s lesson, I’ll be showing you how some basic texture application can transform a regular photograph into a lovely vintage outcome:

Fine Art Textures

Step 1:

Start by downloading this lovely shot of a flower. Open up the image within Photoshop, and prepare to add to your textures.

Of course we encourage you to try these techniques on your own photography work, but for the purposes of this tutorial, this is a great starting image.

Fine Art Textures

Step 2:

Throughout this tutorial we’ll be working with some gorgeous textures from 2 Lil Owls. You can explore Denise’s world class textures in our marketplace, including The Ultimate Texture and Photography Kit.

If you’re wondering what makes a good texture, then it generally falls into a few categories:

  • Looking incredibly sharp, even at high resolutions (much as good photography should).
  • Looking generally beautiful and artistic. The best textures often can stand alone as works of art.
  • Plenty of lovely details and visual flourishes. These really add a lot to your work when used as an overlay.

Denise, the owner at 2 Lil Owls has mastered the art of texture creation, and often will combine up to 50 surfaces to create her wonderful texture designs. She’ll travel all over photographing interesting surfaces, such as abandoned warehouses and rusty train stations. The results are breath-taking!

NOTE: This tutorial uses textures from a previous 2 Lil Owls texture bundle. However, any of Denise’s wonderful textures should work well for this tutorial process.

Start by pasting in the texture ‘Ancient Times 2’, taken from our current massive texture deal, positioning it to fill your canvas like so. This texture will automatically be pasted onto a new layer in Photoshop.

Fine Art Textures

In your Photoshop layer palette, you’ll see some options for this new layer. Change the ‘layer blend mode’ from ‘normal’ to ‘overlay’, and reduce the opacity from 100% to 60%.

Fine Art Textures

This creates a lovely overlay effect, where the original photo shows through clearly, but many of the details and colour tints from the texture are combined with it:

Fine Art Textures

Step 3:

Now paste in a new texture ‘Burnished 3’, and resize it to fit your canvas perfectly:

Fine Art Textures

Change this new texture layer’s blend mode from ‘normal’ to ‘overlay’ too, and reduce it’s opacity to 20%. Again, this just applies an extra layer of detail and colour tinting for this image:

Fine Art Textures

Step 4:

As you can see by now, texturing work can be very simple, but easily let you create beautiful results.

Typically you can experiment with layering up multiple textures, and with each texture see which layer blend mode and overlay setting produces the best results. It’s really about having fun, and using trial and error to achieve a beautiful result.

The great thing about textures is that your original photo will generally just contain one layer. By layering multiple textures you’re essentially adding dozens, if not hundreds of surfaces over your original photo, but doing it in a way that lets the detail of the original photo show through clearly, all while adding the detail of these overlays to your end composition.

Now, we’re going to paste in another texture ‘Cosmos 14’ onto a new layer.

Fine Art Textures

Change this layer’s blend mode to ‘overlay’ and reduce it’s opacity to 40%:

Fine Art Textures

Step 5:

As you can see by now, ‘overlay’ is my favourite Photoshop blend mode, although of course there are many others that work well, including soft light, hard light, screen, multiply and more!

Next, we’re going to paste in ‘Heirloom 1’ as a new layer, again, resizing it to fit out canvas:

Fine Art Textures

Change this layer’s blend mode to ‘overlay’ (you guessed it!) and reduce it’s opacity to 25%.

Fine Art Textures

Again, remember that texturing is about not going over the top. You don’t want your image to appear totally fake and overdone, so it’s a good idea to generally scale back the opacities of your textures to something more subtle, and then build them up over time.

Step 6:

Paste in ‘Fire Cracker 5’. The cool tones of this texture should compliment our photo well.

Fine Art Textures

Change this texture layer’s blend mode to ‘soft light’ and reduce it’s opacity to 40%.

Fine Art Textures

Step 7:

Paste in this ‘Forgotten 2’ texture, fitting it nicely to your canvas.

Fine Art Textures

Change this layer’s blend mode to ‘hard light’ and reduce it’s opacity to 25%.

Fine Art Textures

Step 8:

Now drop in the final texture, ‘Frenzy 2’ :

Fine Art Textures

Change this layer’s blend mode to ‘soft light’ and drop the opacity to 25%.

Fine Art Textures

Step 9:

Select all of the layers in your layers palette, including your original photo background layer.

Once all of the layers are selected, right click on any one of them, and select ‘duplicate layers’.

Fine Art Textures

Once you’ve clicked to ‘duplicate layers’ you’ll see all of your duplicated layers copied above the original layers.

They will all be selected automatically, so right click on them and select ‘merge layers’.

Fine Art Textures

This will merge these duplicate layers into a single layer. Rename this layer ‘sharpen’:

Fine Art Textures

Step 10:

With your ‘sharpen’ layer selected, go to the filter menu, and then other > high pass.

Select a radius of 1.0 pixels. Your image will go a strange shade of grey, but not to worry, this all part of the process!

Fine Art Textures

You’ll see some of the finer details and edges of your photo showing through. This high-pass technique is used to give you lots of sharpening control over your images.

Now, set this layer’s blend mode to ‘overlay’. This will hide all of the neutral grey colour, and only let the sharper edges show through. This gives your photo a subtle, but effective sharpen.

We do this, as applying textures will lose a little of the sharpness of your original photo. This is a great way to bring back that crisp look.

Fine Art Textures

Step 11:

Finally, we want to add a vignette effect, in order to frame our photo, as draw attention towards the centre.

Create a new layer called ‘vignette’, and fill your canvas with any colour (I chose red):

Fine Art Textures

Now right click on this layer within your layer’s palette and choose ‘blending options’. Within this menu select ‘inner glow’.

Apply the settings shown below, to apply a nice black inner glow:

Fine Art Textures

Here’s the result of this glow, against our red background:

Fine Art Textures

Now, with this ‘vignette’ layer selected, reduce the layer ‘fill’ opacity to 0%. You’ll see that the main layer opacity is kept at 100%, but the fill opacity, directly beneath it is reduced to 0%.

The effect of this is that the red fill is hidden, but the black inner glow is still visible:

Fine Art Textures

Now, reduce the main layer opacity from 100% to 10%. This will make your inner glow vignette much more subtle. However, it does help to draw the eye into the centre of your piece, and give more precedence to the subject.


And here’s our final textured design:

Fine Art Textures

I really hope that this tutorial opened your eyes to some of the potential of fine art textures for your photography work.

Remember, these textures are only a tiny sample taken from our current deal, bringing you guys 310 all new fine art textures from 2 Lil Owls, for a massive 93% discount!

Click here to check out the full texture collection and claim your 93% discount.