A question of Texture

Yesterday I talked about modifying an image to meet specific needs.  This is what we ended up with.  An image that is useful to show a client as a draft and possibly only needs a little work.

Problem is the image is not finished enough(for me)… It lacks texture and in general could just use some more work.  However as mentioned in my last post, it is passable, it will give the client a good idea, and if they like it you can put in the extra time to make it perfect.

In some cases you have to play it safe.  Say you have spent 25 minutes on a banner image (Which is roughly how much time I spent) it is done enough to show, but you decide to put another 25 minutes into the project.  Then you meet with the client and hear them tell you about how much they hates sailing, boats, and sunsets.

That isn’t the case here.  I essentially have free reign to design whatever I think is going to be needed, I am developing 10-20 themes for my clients, clients to use.  My first 30 or so quick headers were reviewed, I picked the 15 I cared about and wanted to work on, and moved to the next step.

Well kinda…. first I am gonna refine all the headers images(or banners) I did photo-manipulation too.  This brings us back to the sail boats at sunset, arguably one of my favorites, and one of the ones that needs the most little tweaks.  With just a bit more cloning and painting I get to here:

Now honestly I could call it done, I tweaked it just enough to get rid of what I thought were the two big glaring issues.. but I have come this far so I can afford the extra 20 minutes to do a bit more.  I am gonna specifically target two areas and then deal with texturing.

Blending, PhotoshopThe clouds on the left are a bit of an eye sore.  They don’t look bad, but I also don’t really want to call that much attention to that area of the banner.  The other big area is the fade to the left of the smaller boats sail.

There are a few ways to deal with the first issue, since the concept and image are already approved, but not set in stone.  So I can really do whatever I want, in this case I am gonna cut in a new second boat, move it a bit, and clone the background back together.

You can see the image as I cut it and bring it in, I want to move it back a bit more, and I want to stretch it to fit the background.  You can see where the old image still “peaks” out, this is something I will have to fix once the image is flattened.

You can also see with this example how different the original color values are from my finished piece.  I often jump in and out of Hue/Saturation, Levels, and Curves as I work to get the image’s color where I want it.  From here I adjusted what I wanted, and then cut a bit more of the original photo into the piece.

Make a mess, then clean it upI made a mess, the image no longer looks anywhere closed to finished, in fact it looks like I just started!!  It’s okay, now I get to refine by cleaning it up, and since I made all the important decisions yesterday I already have a direction that I am gonna move in.

After some work, a few more cuts and a lot of smearing/painting here we are:

The smear tool is your friend when cloning and blending, it allows you to really get in and cover up the areas that are not blending easily.  There are a few issues with the smear tool however.  The biggest is texturing, as you can see above some of the banner now looks too smooth, the grain of the original photo is missing in a few areas.

Another issue with the smear tool is that it is too easy to over smear, so always make sure you are saving often and incrementally, and looking at the whole piece every few moves, crtl-alt-z only gets you so far.

marque selectionsHere are the areas I think are too smooth and need to have texture re-introduced, thankfully there is an easy way to add a bunch of grain all at once.

 Filter > Noise > Add Noise, when that windows comes up we are going to have to make a few changes before we move any further.

Filter Power!Time to use “FILTER POWER!”.  Once this menu comes up it is important to change a few things right off the bat.  First choose Gaussian distribution, this gives the noise, or grain in this case, a more “natural” and random look.

By default Noise in Photoshop is very colorful, this is not what we want, so next step is to check Monochromatic, removing the colors that aren’t already in the image.

At this point you may want to turn on the preview so you can see what it will look like once applied.  Lastly you can either enter your own percent value or play with the sliders to get a feel for what you want to do.  In my case, I set the amount to 5% and then only applied it to the marque areas.

Closer and CloserThere are still a few issues, for one the clouds don’t look organic enough, and some of the textures look to repeated, so I will do one last Filter > Noise > Add Noise.  This time however I will do it to the entire piece, to give it a unifying element.  As well as going back to the clone tool to touch up anything it seems I missed.

And here we are.. ready to ship.

Boats at Sunset


5 thoughts on “A question of Texture

    • It can be, although it is not always the “funnest” thing to do when you are working for a client. However on the same hand it is all practice for me 😀

      I am a pretty big texture guy, now if I can only work it into my paintings just a little more….

  1. You should post the “before” next to the “after” for better comparison.
    Untrained eyes (such as mine) can’t tell much difference without the comparison.

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