Few things can give a photograph a kick the way textures can. I use them all the time, and thought I would share some of my favorite tips.
1. When working with textures remember that you can control the outcome completely. You can decide on the mood, the effect, the strength, the palette. Here is your chance to make your photography highly personal and unique. When experimenting with textures it's almost impossible to get two identical end results which add a lot of flavor to your photos.
2. Experiment! The more you experiment the more you will discover little "secrets" that fit your personal style. Also dare to go out of the safe zone and try some more things. While something might not look much to the eye at first, it doesn't mean that it won't later.
3. Blend modes are your number 1 friend here. There's nothing in photoshop that can make your playing easier and more fun than them. You are going to discover quickly what kind of treatment generally tends to work better on what images. And as always, do not get too caught up in "rules", try different things!
4. Use multiple textures. Don't just use one, play with tons of them! Remember that you can lower your opacity and therefor strength on each one, and you can also duplicate them and change them to your hearts content, there's no limits! Try duplicate one layer and put it on a different blend mode above the other one. Try adding a different looking texture to the mix, sometimes very different textures work magic together.
5. Customize your textures. Remember that you can change them just like you ca change ANY layer, you can twist them, bend them, rotate them, color them, add filters and effects to them, play with contrast and light. You can even add vignettes, sharpen and blur!
6. Play with color. In between your textures add color layers where you pick out your own color and blends, the easy way to do this is to simply create a new layer and fill it with any color you like. Then you experiment with the blend modes.
7. You can drag and change positions of your textures and color, this can sometimes make a world of difference. You can also go back and try different settings, change opacity and blend modes, change tone of a color layer and so on.
8. Try using multiple layers on very low opacities. They will blend beautifully together and with your photograph,.
9. You control the strength! If you want a subtle result you can use softer blend modes with softer strengths, but do not let this limit you! You can still play with multiple layers and still create a subtle and harmonic effect.
10. Create a mood. If you for example have a stormy landscape image it might look wonderful with a bit of a grungy feeling. Look for scratchy and bold textures, preferably in earthy darker tones (or change them that way). You can even add a little bit of a contrast with a layer or a color,
11. Get to know your blend modes. Get familiar with the effect they give your pictures, what part of your textures they highlights. They are placed in "sections" for easier finding, the darker ones are lumped together, just like the lighter ones are. My favorite section is that one of "overlay modes" that blend beautifully with most textures and add a little spice and contrast. This section includes overlay, soft light and hard light.
12. Sharpen your picture in the end! Textures can sometimes "dust up" your photo so it is often a good idea to add back some details this way.
13. After merging your layers into a complete picture you can add some extra treatments. For example you can fine tune the colors and lightness.
14. Don't forget that in every layer you can add a mask and gain even more control over your textures. This way you can add the effect where you want it and also remove it in places it doesn't look too good.
15. There's tons of resources online where you can find royalty-free textures to use. Even here on dreamstime! Just remember to read the rules!
16. You can easily make your own textures. Anything can be made into one actually, you can take a picture of a stone wall close up and then spice it up in photoshop and just like that you have your very own texture!
17. Have fun!!!