Written By Steve Patterson
In this Photoshop tutorial, we'll learn how to use the Displace filter and a displacement map to add an interesting texture to a person's face in a photo. The displacement map will allow us to wrap the texture around the shape and contours of the face, rather than having it look like we simply pasted a flat texture on to the photo. Displacement maps were first introduced way back in Photoshop 2.0, so unless you're still using the same version of Photoshop you bought 20 years ago, you should be fine. I'll be using Photoshop CS4 throughout this tutorial, but any recent version will work. To create the texture effect, you'll need two images - the main photo that you want to apply the texture to and a photo to use as the texture itself. Here's the image I'll be applying my texture to:
The original image.
Here's the image I'll be using for my texture, a simple close up of a rock that I snapped outside:
The texture photo.
Here's how it will look after we've mapped the texture on to the man's face:
The final texture map effect.
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Step 1: Select The Channel With The Best Image Contrast
Let's begin with the photo we'll be applying the texture to. Switch over to your Channels panel for a moment. You'll find the Channels panel grouped in with the Layers and Paths panels ("panels" are called "palettes" in earlier versions of Photoshop). Click on the Channels name tab at the top of the group to select it. You'll see three color channels listed - Red, Green, and Blue - along with a composite RGB channel at the top:
The Channels panel (palette) in Photoshop.
To learn more about color channels and the RGB color mode in Photoshop, be sure to check out our full RGB and Color Channels In Photoshop Explained tutorial. We're going to use one of these three channels (Red, Green or Blue) to create our displacement map, which will then be used to map our texture to the contours of the person's face. We need to select the channel that will give us the highest amount of image contrast, since the more contrast we have, the better the results we'll achieve with our displacement map. Click on each individual channel (Red, Green, then Blue) in the Channels panel. Here, I'm clicking on the Red channel to select it. The currently selected channel will appear highlighted in blue:
Select individual channels by clicking on them in the Channels panel. As you click on each channel, you'll see a black and white version of the photo appear in the document window. Each channel will give us a different black and white version depending on how prominent that color is in the photo. We need to pick the channel that gives us the best image contrast in the person's face. Here's what each of my three channels looks like, with Red on the left, Green in the middle and Blue on the right:
Each color channel (Red, Green, Blue) gives us a different black and white version of the image. Typically when dealing with skin tones, the Red channel will be too bright and washed out to use as a displacement map (since skin always contains lots of red), so you'll usually end up choosing either the Green or Blue channels. In my case here, the Blue channel is much too dark, so it's out. The Red channel actually contains more detail that I'd normally expect, but I think the Green channel contains the greatest amount of contrast, with some bright highlights and dark shadows, so I'm going to use the Green channel for my displacement map. Step 2: Duplicate The Channel
Once you've determined which channel you're going to use for your displacement map, make sure you have it selected in the Channels panel. I'm using the Green channel, so I'll click on it to select it:
Click on the channel you'll be using for your displacement map. Then click on the menu icon in...
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