Textures: When More is More
For the record, I am a texture junkie. I go without a texture about as often I go without a bra (not a lot). For my photography, I think of textures like a chef thinks of spices. You need a lot of fresh ones on hand because each functions differently with a different kind of image. Not all textures are created equally. Some are bold and brassy while others are subtle and delicate. And knowing what to pick to finish off an image is just as important as not substituting cayenne for cinnamon when you’re about to top off an apple pie. Said plainly, good texture implementation can make a good photo great by adding depth, color variation and personality. But a poorly integrated texture can flat-out ruin a good photo.
In my estimation, there are two reasons to not use texture in an image. First, don’t use it if it overshadows the actual photograph. It can be very tempting to do this, particularly when you’re new to the process. When evaluating your image, try taking a step back and ask yourself if you are looking at a gorgeous texture or a gorgeous photo. If the answer is the former, either get rid of it or try to better integrate it. The second reason to dump the texture is if your subjects look cut out of the background by having mismatched tones and abrupt edges.
Common methods of texture integration include erasing the texture over skin tones and playing with the mode (overlay, soft light, screen, etc). Doing these things will help, but often they are only a starting point for getting a texture to enhance, as opposed to merely changing, an image. In my opinion, to successfully integrate a texture, you have to be willing to play with it and customize it to fit each individual photograph. Often adding a texture is only a starting point, as you may want to change the texture’s contrast, saturation and basic hues.
Sometimes I paint directly on top my textures to selectively get rid of texture while keeping the overall color, other times, I change a color texture to grayscale because I don’t want it to affect my overall color space. Sometimes, when I have the texture flattened into the main image, I make overall color changes or apply actions, dodge and burn, or selectively saturate or desaturate. Adding a texture is a way to give your work an extra dimension and have fun in the process because to get a texture to work, often times you have to be willing to play, and sometimes, play a lot.
So that you can play, Jessica has created this FREE texture for MCP Fans. You can see the texture on the right and how it was applied to a photo on the left.
Click here or on the image to download the high res file. ENJOY!
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