Applying a texture to your painting

Texturing a painting helps bring life to your image. Just take a look at your surroundings; There are textures everywhere. With this tutorial, I’m going to show you how I go about texturing paintings. This tutorial is created by George Patsouras.

Texturing a painting helps bring life to your image. Just take a look at your surroundings; There are textures everywhere. With this tutorial, I’m going to show you how I go about texturing paintings. Keep in mind that this is not the only way to do this, but it should be a helpful read.
Step 1
The first thing you need to do is decide what to texture, and take it’s material into account. For this tutorial, I’m going to start with something simple; A wall, for example. The first thing we need to do, before even worrying about textures, is to define the form; The wall should be fully rendered.

Notice the ‘wall’ (or whatever you want to call it at this point) is fully rendered; The light source is defined, and shadows and highlights are present. This is important, as adding texture to something that lacks depth will look flat. Once we are up to this point, we must decide on what type of texture to use. Since this is a wall, I decide to take some snapshots of my own wall with a digital camera. Below are some tips for getting some good ref photos:

Make sure the texture is clearly defined; The image should have a relatively high contrast to help bring out the texture.

Make sure it’s your own reference! You don’t want to have any copyright problems. Using a ref you took not only avoids this problem, but it helps make your work more personal.

Shoot more than 1 ref, possibly at different lightning conditions and decide which one’s the best.

wall render
To the Left is the image I’ll use to add texture to the painting. What we want to do now is make a texture brush using the reference photo. I’ll show you how.
Wall reference picture

Step 2.
Go to
Image >> Adj >> Threshold

This should prompt a box, similar to the one below. What we do now is drag the ‘arrow’, located at the bottom of the box, and move it to where the texture is brought out the most. This will probably take a couple of tries to getting used to.

Photoshop image adjustment – Treshold
Step 3.
We should get the following as seen in the image on the left.
Worth noting is that everything that appears white will be made into a brush shortly, at least in this case.
Result after Treshold
Step 4.
Since the texture we want is in the ‘white’ areas, we want to invert the whole image (everything that’s black will become white, and vice versa). To do this, we go to Image
> Adj > Invert. See the result at the image on the left.
Result after Invert

Step 5.
Now the final step is to make a brush out of this texture. Simply go to: Edit >> Define Brush Preset. This will promp a box (see image below)which allows you to name your brush. It’s worth noting that this will omit the white area and only makes a brush out of the black parts in the image, which is exactly what we want.

Name your brush

Step 6.
Now that we have the brush ready, we must decide on the brush settings. The are many ways to do this. For this brush, I decided to have pen pressure on, opacity set on pen pressure, and a high angle jitter:

Brush settings

Step 7.
Now that we have the brush settings decided, we are ready to apply the texture to the painting. Below is the result of the brush applied to the painting, before and after images.

Before After

Click here to download the brush!

Have fun, and before proceeding, here are a couple more tips on how to use this brush:

Experiment with different color modes: Multiply, Overlay, and Soft Light help bring out the texture. Also experiment with the opacity.

Be careful not to add too much texture to areas that are ‘shadowed’, as this will flatten the image. A general rule is that areas with highlights should have the most texture visible.

Remember you can apply textures to anything; Skin, cloth, backgrounds, everything!

Here are some more examples of textured work. Click image for larger view.

For the skin ‘pores’, I used
a texture brush composed
of several ‘dots’.
Tons of brushes were applied
to bring out texture to the
hair, helmet, and skin.
Brushes made up of tree bark texture was used to bring this image to life.

This tutorial is created by George Patsouras. He is an artist from Greece who’s drawing practically all his life. It is only one year ago that he purchased an art tablet. All his works are now done digitally, primarily in Photoshop (although he might occasionally use Painter as well). His artworks have been featured in several magazines, and currently he create art for several book publishers.

Click here to visit George’s gallery album
Click here to visit his website

NOTE: All images are property of George Patsouras and can’t be copied/ duplicated in any form.

4 thoughts on “Applying a texture to your painting”

  1. Thank you so much for this. It was extremely helpful to me! As of late I’ve been getting tired of my drawings always looking flat looking, but didn’t know how to even use textures to fix this! So, thank you very, very much for this tutorial. I’m so happy to have finally found one that tells me the step-by-step process.

    Best Regards,

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