Photoshop 101: How to Create Unique Texture Without Using Brushes

We've given away lots of stuff here on BittBox, mainly textures and brushes. The truth is, many of the textures are manufactured using recycled images I already have hanging around on my hard drive. I want to share one of my favorite ways to quickly add a little extra to a rather uninteresting texture, without using Photoshop brushes.

Photoshop 101: How to Create Unique Texture Without Using Brushes

Step 1: Starting Image

A good example would be a paper texture, so let's start with something like the image below.

Paper texture

Step 2: Secondary Image

My favorite genre of images for this technique would be nebulas. I like to use nebulas because they are very diverse, unique, and colorful. So pick out a nebula image from around the web and lets get started. This won't take long at all.

Nebulae image

Step 3: Invert the secondary image.

Open your starting image in Photoshop an put the secondary image on the layer above it. Then invert the secondary image by hitting Command/Control + I. You should now have something like this:

Inverting the secondary image

Step 4: Layer Mode

In the Layers panel, change the layer mode of your secondary (inverted) image to “Linear Burn.” Note: this doesn't have to be the layer mode you use, sometimes I go with screen, overlay, or soft light for the most part.

Changing the blend mode

Now you should have something like this:

Image with the two textures combined

Step 5: Opacity

I would say about 99% of the time, I like to adjust the opacity of the secondary image layer to let a little more of the starting (background) texture shine through.

Changing the opacity


And there you have it, a much more interesting texture from 2 simple images, in less than a minute, without using brushes at all. This is one of my favorite, yet simple ways to add a little something extra to mundane textures. I hope you enjoyed the tutorials, and don't forget to play around with the layer modes. It really depends on the secondary image.

Finished custom texture