Guide on creating textures

This is the first guide of the texture series, where I will give you a few tips and tricks how to easily and simply create your own textures and achieve some wonderful effects for your art photographs.

But first a small intro about how I started to use textures in my work. It was around 8 years ago when I became involved in photography, I was a member of a photography website, where I met some great artists. Emil Schildt was one who inspired me immediately with his wonderful work – it is, in fact,  incredibly beautiful. He works with an analog camera and processes his photos using dark room techniques, he uses vintage techniques as well. One particular of them I found very interesting, it’s called “Kill Your Darlings” and is achieved by destroying the negative. I also wanted to get the same result, but I had no possibility to work in a darkroom, I used  – already back then! – a digital camera, so I thought I would try it in Photoshop.

I would also like to mention that my love for those textures and scratches comes from my vision of our world. We all have some imperfections, little scars, we are not those glamorous blurred beauties we see everyday on the pages of different magazines. I hated that plastic look of digital photos. That’s why I decided to bring them into another light using textures, this is not just a philosophy but a mere vision and an attempt to breathe life into otherwise unreal and plastic digital photos.

I never work with any plug-ins or custom brushes, all my textures are hand made and applied in a simplest way in a post-processing program to the main photograph. It is very important to me that the process does not evolve mainly into digital post-processing but has a touch of handwork in it.

“Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask “how,” while others of a more curious nature will ask “why.” Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information.” , said Man Ray and I totally agree with him. I believe that using different techniques or adding textures is not enough, or shouldn’t be the main focus of the work.  Textures should serve merely as instrument to add some mood to the image.

So now to the actual textures guide. Today I’d like to show you how to create simple yet very widely applicable and beautiful watercolor textures.  All you need is a blank piece of paper and watercolor. Apply it on paper with a piece of wadding to get this kind of an effect:

In addition, there is another way of making fancier and deeper watercolor textures with scratches.

Take a blank piece of paper and paint it with some – preferably – light color of your choice, for example with yellow with various brush strokes, as shown in this picture and leave some spare space around to get some kind of a frame, of course more or less evenly situated.

After the watercolor has dried up , take a regular candle and apply some wax on paper. Put another color above the wax, some contrast color, for example red, as shown here:

When this layer is also dry take a needle and make scratches on the surface, this is the creative part where you have to obviously try various techniques to achieve the result that suits your images best. In the end, you should get something like this:

Note how you can regulate how the yellow layer is visible through the scratches, this also adds some sort of a 3D effect to the whole texture.

Hope this gives many of you some inspiration to try out different textures! In the next posts I will go through the simple ways to combine the textures with your images in Photoshop – or any other digital post-processing software, for that matter.