Photoshop Friday 2007 #7 - Instructions

We had a great chat last night! It is so much fun giving a little sneak peek of the week’s technique in a live setting. I know it can get a little crazy and crowded in there, but it is still a lot of fun! Thanks everyone who came! :D

If you couldn’t make it, (say, you had a life or something, or you live in Europe, or you just plain didn’t wanna), here are the instructions to make a great overlay from almost any patterned paper.

I think this technique works best with text papers - the texture of the words and letters really shines through. But it should work with any densely-patterned paper. I’ve tried it with both text and polka-dot papers with very nice effect.

Here again is the layout we’ll be making:



Alright! Here we go!

Creating Patterned Paper Overlays


First, we’ll need to set up the background.

  1. Create a new blank layout, 12x12, 300 dpi, RGB color, white background.
  2. Open a background paper of any kind. I used a gorgeous red paper from Andrea Victoria’s Lychee Martini kit.
  3. Open any photo.

    So here’s my layout before I made any further changes:

    Click for Larger

    4. Open your text patterned paper and drag it onto your layout. The text paper should be the top layer in the stack.

Adjustments to the Paper 

Now, as you can see, the paper is totally opaque, obscuring everything beneath it. We need to make some adjustments so that only the text portion shows through, and the background of this paper is hidden.

  1. Remove all the color from the paper.

In PSE, go to Enhance > Adjust Color > Remove Color.


In PS, go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate.

Click for Larger

Now you have a greyscale version of your patterned paper.

2. Now here is the key thing. Most text papers come with darker text on a lighter background. What we want is WHITE text. If your greyscale image happens to have the text in white, you can skip this step. Otherwise, we need to switch the darks and lights.

In PSE, go to Filter > Adjustments > Invert.


In PS, go to Image > Adjustments > Invert

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3. Now your text should be white (or nearly white), and your background should be black. To enhance the difference, let’s boost the contrast somewhat.

In PSE, go to Enhance > Adjust Lighting > Brightness/Contrast


In PS, go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast

4. Slide the Contrast slider to the right until you get mostly blacks and whites. The more contrast you add, the more of your paper will show up in the final version, and the “grungier” your overlay will appear. For my text paper, I chose a contrast of +45. Click OK.

Click for Larger

The Step of Utter Coolness 

Now for the Step of Utter Coolness.

To make the magic happen, target your text paper in the Layers palette. At the top of the Layers palette, set the blending mode to Screen. All of the black in your layer is hidden, showing just the white text.

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De-Texting the Photo Subject 

One last step. We need to get rid of the pattern over the faces of our photo subjects. Last night in the chat, before I explained this last step, someone night said, “What about the face?” And yes indeed. We can’t have text covering up faces.

  1. Select your Elliptical Marquee tool (or alternatively, your Lasso tool - which is the one I used).
  2. In the Options bar at the top of your screen, set the Feather to something really large, like 100.
  3. Draw a circle (or draw a rough shape with your lasso tool) over the portion of the subject that you’d like de-texted. :)
  4. Hit Delete.

Alternative De-Texting Method

If you are using Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3, I recommend using a layer mask instead, so your editing is non-destructive. That goes like this:

  1. Target your text paper.
  2. Choose the Add Layer Mask button at the bottom of your screen.
  3. Type “d”, and then type “x” to turn your foreground to black and your background to white.
  4. Select the Gradient tool.  In the Options bar, click the the radial (circle) gradient button.
  5. Target the layer mask (the white rectangle) in the Layers palette.
  6. Click on your subject’s face and drag a selection outward. This creates a smooth gradient from your starting point to your ending point. 

Here is my final layout (at full size so you can see the details), after adding a few embellishments, my title, and my journaling:

Click for Larger

Jessica Sprague27 Comments