Sunday, 20 February 2011

Digital Scrapbooking – Texture Overlays

Last night I was on someone's blog (see below) and she’s got various freebies to download, including some texture overlays, but rather than downloading these, I thought I'd try creating some myself. Whenever we go anywhere I'm always snapping away with the camera, and my hubby is always amused at the sort of things I take photos of – walls, pavements, different surfaces... I love textures and always photograph them, so I've got quite a library of them now. I opened one in my photo editor (Serif PhotoPlus – this software does 90% of what PhotoPlus does, but at a fraction of the cost) and increased the canvas size to make it the standard scrapbooking size of 12 x 12 in. and copied and pasted bits of the image to fill the space, to keep the pattern the same size. I then opened the channel mixer, and desaturated the image so it was greyscale, making sure it had good contrast – some adjustment was needed with the levels control. Then into the filters menu, where I chose Emboss, and adjusted the angle so it looked embossed rather than debossed (i.e. sticking out rather than sticking in!). I then exported it as an image saved on my hard drive. Into CraftArtist, where I put a nice plain-ish background in, and added this image on top. Using the Blending Mode, I chose Overlay. Hey presto! The two images are fused together, and the background has a nice texture on it!! I discovered you do need to use a background with a bit of colour, or the texture doesn’t show up.

This is the original photograph of a typical Norfolk chequerboard flintstone wall I photographed at Castle Acre Priory.

Norfolk Flint Wall 1 

Here it is desaturated and embossed – this is what I saved as the texture overlay:

Norfolk Flint Wall 1

And here it is combined with a background.

CraftArtist BG 1 with Norfolk Flint Wall Texture Overlay

Lovely effect, isn’t it! Here’s another one using a photo of some decorative stonework at Waddesdon Manor.

Waddesdon Carved Stonework

For this one, I made two texture overlays. You can change the angle of the simulated light source, and this gives a completely different effect.

Waddesdon Carved Stonework

CraftArtist BG 3 with Waddesdon Carved Stonework Texture Overlay 1

Waddesdon Carved Stonework 2

CraftArtist BG 3 with Waddesdon Carved Stonework Texture Overlay 2

This shows a bit more clearly on the next example. Here is the original photograph, of some crazed porcelain.

Cracked Porcelain

Just as you can produce either an embossed or a debossed effect with a Cuttlebug machine, depending on which side of the card you use, you can produce these effects by altering the angle of the virtual light source in the embossing effects tool in the photo editor. This is the embossed effect, i.e. the texture is raised:

Cracked Porcelain - Embossed

CraftArtist BG 2 with Cracked Porcelain Embossed Texture Overlay

and here is the debossed effect, with the lines appearing to sink below the surface.

Cracked Porcelain - Debossed

CraftArtist BG 2 with Cracked Porcelain Debossed Texture Overlay

This one, with a slightly different background, could be made to look like leather.

My final example is of some Chinese calligraphy. My apologies to any readers of Chinese – I have had to do a bit of cloning to get the image to fill the new canvas size, and I did this randomly to cover up the joins, and as a result the characters are not all in the right places! However, this is purely for decorative effect and will be used as a background for images and text, so it probably won’t be noticeable in use.

Chinese Calligraphy Background - Large Script

Chinese Calligraphy - Large Script

CraftArtist BG 1 with Chinese Calligraphy Texture Overlay

I have deliberately chosen fairly plain, neutral-coloured backgrounds for these examples, to show you how the principle works. However, you can experiment using different coloured backgrounds, and ones with an existing texture, and even using more than one texture overlay – the patterns combine to give some interesting results. For instance, if you have a striped texture, you can overlay it the second time at right angles to the first, and end up with a checked effect, but it goes a lot further than that. Actually the possibilities are endless.

I have created a couple of layouts using these backgrounds, which I may incorporate into a photo book of our holidays one day. This is the “title” page for Castle Acre Priory in Norfolk, and you can see how I have used the chequerboard flint wall as a texture overlay background, and put the images and text on top. I am grateful to Iris ( not only for giving me the idea of trying these texture overlays, but also for some lovely free downloads that you can get if you subscribe to her blog, including the frames on this layout, which have a gorgeous mediaeval look which is in keeping with the ruined abbey.

Castle Acre Priory

Here’s another example of a layout I did, using the texture overlay process. This is made up of photos taken at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, and again, the gilt frame came from Iris – I wanted to reflect some of the opulence inside the house.

Waddesdon Manor

One day I shall get round to making all my holiday photos up into layouts.

I am very thrilled to have discovered this new technique, which I think will be very useful, and a good way to create an unusual background for a project, using elements from the same theme. You can also create backgrounds and textures unique to you.


  1. Shoshi, my wife and I are into digital scrapbooking. We are trying to slow down a little in our retirement to really get involved with the new computer programs we have. Blessings to you. Lloyd

  2. These are stunning Shoshi, Love them all.
    You are so clever, Love the textures and the layouts made with them.
    You know what you are going to have to do now don't you designer Shoshi
    Email me those stunning overlays, Please
    Pretty Please

  3. Nice work, Shoshi! Keep on having FUN! Iris (aka Trulytango)


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