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Tutorial: iDC Textures v2

By Joe Farace

The use of texture screens is nothing new for portraiture and has been around for more than seventy years. In the traditional darkroom, a texture screen is a piece of film that has a texture printed on it and is placed over photographic paper or sandwiched with the negative during exposure. In the digital darkroom, you can accomplish this effect using Photoshop layers, but in a busy studio where productivity is as important as creativity, there’s an easier way.

IDC Photography offers a set of Photoshop actions and a plug-in that not only makes the job painless but lets you be creative, too. iDC Textures v1 Actions is set of 16 art textures that add interesting surface effects to your photographs, producing a layered Photoshop file for further processing. Included in the package are also seven workflow actions called Hollywood Glam, Silent Movie B&W, ShowBiz Snap, Faded Technicolor, Colortone and Uninhibited Resize.

Textures v2 is a Photoshop-compatible plug-in that includes 18 different textures and requires Adobe Photoshop CS3 or CS4. The interface provides a visual reference thumbnail for each texture. All you have to do is click on the one you want to apply, position it for the best effect, and brush away texture where you don’t want it.

While it works just as well with location shots, I found Textures v2 to be a wonderful tool for adding life to boring backgrounds. This will be useful for photographers on a budget to add a little panache to seamless paper or generic muslin. Let me show you how.

Step 1: I made the original portrait using an inexpensive generic gray muslin background. I opened the image in Adobe Photoshop and did some slight retouching. 

©Joe Farace

Step 2: I selected iDC Textures v2 from Photoshop’s Filter menu, which displays an interface giving you access to two groups of nine textures. Select a texture that fits the subject and the mood you want to create in your final image. I selected Cracked Stucco for this portrait.


Step 3: The texture files are large and will need to be repositioned and resized (or not) depending on the look you want to create. Use your mouse to move it or shift-drag the selection handles to resize.

Step 4: After resizing, click the Enter key and you’ll see a dialog box with instructions on how to finish the image. iDC suggests using a Brush opacity of 20-40%, and the plug-in has already selected the tool and proper color (black). Painting on the top (texture) layer allows the bottom (background) layer to show through and you can change Brush attributes such as size, opacity, and hardness to affect the final look.

Tip: Use a big soft brush, varying its opacity, and finished effects can be produced in seconds!

Step 5: Here’s a look at what the texture layer looks like with the subject painted out. Notice also that I have lowered the opacity level on the overall texture to 90% allowing some of the muslin background to bleed through the texture making it look more like a real background.

Step 6: After a few touch ups to make sure that not too much (I think a little is OK, but it’s up to you) texture bleeds through onto the subject, I’m finished changing that drab muslin into something much more interesting.

Using both volumes of Textures provides almost endless possibilities in stamping out blah backgrounds in your own studio. The good news productivity-wise is that it takes less time to apply a texture this way than it took you to read this article.

iDC Textures v2 are available for $129.

For a limited time, readers can get a special price of $99.
Use Promotion Code: PPATEXv2.
Offer ends April 17, 2009.