Saturday, February 1, 2014

Add Texture to Your Photos

Here is another little trick to make you photos more interesting. How to add texture to certain parts of a photograph, using the GIMP. This short tutorial is not supposed to demonstrate any particular interesting picture, although one might think the result is kinda artsy.

Well, lets see what we got. A slightly overdone HDR shot of a beach, with some strange coloring going on in the sky. The sky indicates that during post-processing, the program ran out of color space.
Have a look:
Beach HDR, out of color space!
This shot is hard to fix. Re-doing the post-processing seems the only option. But, what if you don't have the RAW-files?

Let's try to get some artistic element to the rescue... adding texture!
This will be the texture to add, a photograph of a wall:
Pretty boring white wall...
So, I decided to take a photo of a brick wall which has been painted white, great.

Lets quickly compare the 2 images. The image of the beach in relatively dark in the lower left corner, while the image of the wall is brightest in the same region. Or, in other words, the upper right of the brick wall's image is darker than the lower left. In a way, those images are complementary.
Actually, I am not making use of this, but this will be explained later.

In the GIMP, I opened the image of the beach, as you would do normally anyways. Than, I used "Open as Layers..." to load the image of the wall.
Now, the only thing you will be able to see is the image of the wall, since this is now the first layer. By default options this layer is in mode "Normal" with an opacity of 100%.

Click on the layer that represents the wall. This should cause a white frame around the layer's icon. Now select the mode to the option "Multiply".
The intermediate result will look like this:
Like projecting a slide on a white wall...
If you are after an effect like projecting a slide on a wall, this is what you may want to do!
Note that the left and right lower corners of the image have a similar brightness; this is due to the opposing gradients of the original frames.

Let's give a further "creative" touch and change the effect of the wall.
With a layer mask, on the wall, one can add a gradient, which will fade out (or in) the contribution of the textured frame.
In this example, I use a black gradient from below. Having the following effect on the texture frame:
wall w/ gradient

After having applied the gradient to the texture frame, the left-right difference on the lower third is gone, and so is the nice compensating effect...

This results in a slightly different final image:
final result

Mind you, this is not supposed to be fine art. This technique of adding texture, as you might see, is clearly able to distract from the deficiencies, i.e. lack of color space, of the original photo.


  1. Original and at least remarkable !

  2. Ron, it is not about the photography, it is about the technique ;-)