Textures with onOne Software — Steve Dreyer
Photography provides an expressive way to share passion and interest in the people, places and everyday scenes and objects experienced on a daily basis. For the fine art photographer it is that passion that drives and oftentimes motivates us to experiment with a variety of techniques – whether they are done with film, digital in-camera or in post-processing.
Comments from visitors to my recent gallery exhibits in Cold Spring, New York and in New York City provided some insight into how people often react to textured images made in the digital darkroom. It was interesting to see people intently staring (wondering?) at the photographs and then asking how they were created. Some were surprised that they were photographs, realizing that they could not likely come directly from a camera to a print on the wall without some form of adjustment.
Applying textures to images can draw the viewer’s eye into a scene that might otherwise look like a snapshot. After all, how many photos of the Empire State or Flatiron Building in New York City have been taken with an iPhone? These of course have their place, especially as an unedited documentary, but if you want to convey your personal vision or emotional reaction to a place, textures just might be one effect that can enhance your images and draw the viewer in.
There are many ways to digitally apply textures to your images. These include using Adobe Photoshop alone, plugins that work with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, and standalone programs, among others. I have used all of these methods, but find onOne Software’s Perfect Photo Suite to be especially well suited to the task.
While this article is about applying texturizing techniques using onOne’s software, it is important to acknowledge that it’s the photographer’s artistic vision that’s paramount to making an interesting image. The technique can be used, but the selection of the textures and approach to applying them is up to the photographer who creates the final result. I am a big proponent of previsualization in the field, and this applies to texturizing photos as well. It’s very helpful if you can see where textures might be applied while looking through the viewfinder.
An effective general approach to texturizing images includes the following steps:
- Select a suitable photograph (my examples are of New York City buildings).
- Decide where the effect will be applied, possibly based on your pre-visualization when pressing the shutter (skies only, certain parts of an image, whole image, etc.).
- Select one or more textures that will give you the desired effect (design, color or black and white, subtlety, intensity, etc.).
- Open the original image as a layer and do some preliminary editing (cropping, eliminating unwanted elements, etc.).
- Open the texture image or images as additional layers.
- Blend the layers using blending modes (multiply, overlay, soft light, etc.).
- Paint in, and/or mask out the texture as you see fit.
If you are proficient in Photoshop, you can do all of the above there. However, onOne’s Perfect Photo Suite can help you create a repeatable and easy-to-use workflow that can result in more time to shoot the images in the field and less time in post-processing.
Using onOne’s Perfect Photo Suite
A great thing about the onOne solution is that it can be used with just about any workflow that you already use. For example, it can be used as a standalone product, as an extension to Photoshop and as a complete solution with Lightroom. I use it in a few different ways.
Figures 1 and 2 (below) show the before and after images using techniques described in this article.
Open a photo in the catalog, do initial raw processing, and while still in Lightroom use a variety of the onOne components by clicking on File-Plugin Extras. Using onOne in this way effectively adds a layering capability to Lightroom, especially if you don’t use Photoshop with Lightroom. See Figure 3.
Open a photo (directly in Photoshop or initially in Bridge or Camera Raw) and do some editing. Then, open the onOne component of your choice (eg. Effects) by clicking on File-Automate (Figure 4). When you apply the changes made in onOne, it returns the edited photo to Photoshop as a layer that you can edit further (including going back to other onOne modules).
Open onOne, access a photo in your file system, and use any or all components of the Suite. For example, you might open a file in the “Browse” module, do some editing in the Layers and/or Effects module, apply a texture, and then use the Perfect Resize module to upsize the image if you have already cropped it to a smaller size than the desired result. All of these modules are readily available in the menu on the upper right of the onOne interface and you can easily switch back and forth between them. See figure 5.
The next example shows a technique that I use when I don’t need many presets or the special effects available in Perfect Effects and want to concentrate on Layers. If you want to edit your photos in Photoshop and then add textures and other effects, onOne’s Perfect Effects works really well too.
Step 1: Open onOne from Lightroom or the standalone program.
Step 2: Browse to open a photo, click on Layers, and then on the Add as a Layer option (Figure 6).
Step 3: Apply a few edits in Perfect Layers (in this case I had already deleted the blue sky to a white background), opened the User Extras-Textures link on the left and found the texture I wanted to add to the photo. I dragged it over the photo, clicked on Add as Layer, resized it by clicking on the Transform Tool in the Toolbar and then on the Fill button – which made the texture fill the frame and cover the whole photo.
Step 4: I dragged the original photo layer in the layers palette above the texture layer so I could paint the texture into the sky using a brush in the Toolbar (Figure 7). If you select the Perfect Brush checkbox it helps you get you cleanly around the edges of the areas where you don’t want the texture (in my case the buildings).
Note that I could have left the texture layer above the photo, changed the blend mode on it to something like Multiply and then used the brush to paint the texture away from the buildings. This is personal choice, as either method will produce good results.
Also, when using the brush, you can switch between the “paint-in” and “paint-out” options to really customize the look of the blending.
Step 5: I often add more textures as layers and use the opacity and blending modes on the right to adjust the effect. As you mouse over the blending modes you see the effect in real-time (a very nice feature of onOne programs).
Step 6: When I’m done and if I’ve cropped the photo and need to upsize it for a particular print size, I go to the Perfect Resize component in the onOne menu bar and select the desired output size (or you can use standard sizes).
Step 7: All that’s left is to save the file and print, email or upload it to the web.
Acquiring Texture Files
Note that texture files can be purchased online at very reasonable costs (some for $1 each!) or you can create your own photos of textures that appear on buildings, floors, skies, rusted metal, etc. You can then import them from your file system into the onOne directory so they can easily be accessed and dragged onto your photos.
To do so, bring the texture files into a folder on your computer, open the onOne program, go to File-Manage-Extras in the onOne menu, click on the Texture link and then Import (figure 8). Locate the folder that has the texture files, select them to import, possibly name the category and then close. The textures will then be available in a number of onOne’s modules, including both Perfect Layers and Perfect Effects.
There are many ways to add textures to photographs to create interesting and unique images to suit your style. Textures can be effective in making dreamy landscapes, painterly still lifes, backgrounds for portraits and skies as backdrops to architecture. The following were all created using the methods mentioned in this article. Additional images may be viewed in the “UrbanScapes” portfolio at www.stevedreyer.com.
The onOne Perfect Photo Suite is an effective, easy-to-use solution that will give you more time in the field to take the photographs that you want to stylize in post-processing.
The onOne website (http://www.on1.com/) has some really good tutorials and videos on these and other techniques. So I’d recommend going there to see many more options for using their software.
Steve Dreyer is a New York-based photographer, educator and writer specializing in fine art color and black & white images. His work, which includes landscapes, street photography and portraits, has appeared in numerous art exhibits. Steve also delivers workshops and creates eBooks on a variety of photography topics, including composition, digital workflow and post-processing software. www.stevedreyer.com and https://www.facebook.com/SteveDreyerPhotography