*DIY day! Using apps to create textures, plus free texture files.

The title just about says it all.  There are a multitude of free and cheap apps for smart phones nowadays and they can be more useful than just uploading dozens of pictures of your late night goings on directly to facebook.  Read on for downloadable freebies, suggested apps and a little instruction on how to best utilize these tools to come up with fun final images in photoshop…

There are many places to purchase high resolution textures.  There are even many sites that share free textures.  There is something fun to doing a bit of this yourself, knowing you are creating your final image from the ground up.  I feel weird calling my phone a, well phone.  It is pretty amazing at doing just about everything it does with the exception of being a phone.  That is neither here nor there I guess, but these “smart phones” have a lot to offer to the creative imager.

I used a few different apps on my iphone to build a quick, simple texture library (mostly shots of walls, the floor, etc).  I then uploaded these new textures to my photo library on the computer and used them in photoshop as texture layers.  Many of the apps allow you to shoot images and then add these filtered effects after the fact, and for many may be all you need.  I wanted to take it a step further and use these images as textures in Photoshop though, so here was my process.

First, the apps used (I use an iphone, but I’m sure these are also available for android users)

Tadaa – probably the best suited for this type of use, great filters and it’s free!

Luminance – More a quick photo editor, but can add some cool color casts and looks to your pictures (or textures). $.99

Hipstamatic – I made fun of this app, until I used it.  Pricy at $1.99, but a fun way to use different combos of film, lenses and flashes to gain different looks in an oldschool square format.

PerfectPhoto – I use the free version, but there’s also a $.99 version.  I think it probably gets rid of the really annoying ads.

Sketch Agent – Again, I use the free version and there’s a $1.99 “pro” version.  Instantly changes your image to either a sketch or watercolor painting.

Live Fx Lite – Another free app that offers a variety of effects like vignetting and blur control.


I’m sure there are tons of other apps that would be useful when building up your own library of stock textures.  If you know of, or use any, let us know!

Next, what to take pictures of?  For textures, less is more for me.  I have gotten the most use of textures I’ve taken of concrete, wood, sand, cracked paint, etc.  Anything that can provide, well, texture without taking too much away from your image.

To apply a texture as a layer in Photoshop, the easiest way is to simply drag your texture onto the image you’re working on.  If the sizing doesn’t match up, press “Command (Control-PC) + T” to open the free transform command and drag the corner handles out to match the size of the background layer, or rotate the layer to match your image.  To commit the change, hit Return/Enter and you’re good.  Now, it will seem that you’ve just magically hidden your image with your texture.  On the new texture layer in your layers palate (most likely on the right hand side of your screen) click the drop down menu for the blend mode and change it to “Overlay” to start.  This should immediately change the look of your image.  You can change the blend mode for varying effect, and I tend to add a mask to the texture layer and paint out the texture in areas I want more of the image layer below to come back through.  Simple as that!

All of these took me all of about 30 seconds to take while at work.  One is of my desk, a couple of the floor and a handful of the wall.  Here are some of the textures I’ve created and used for this post.  Click on them to view them at 100% and feel free to grab them, download them, use them, abuse them for anything you’d like.  


So, while you are out and about with phone in hand or pocket, look for fun, cool textures that you can quickly grab a shot of to use later on.


Happy shooting!



4 thoughts on “*DIY day! Using apps to create textures, plus free texture files.

    • Thanks Andree! Just found another free one too, it’s “Camera Awesome” from Smugmug. Gotta love a platform that offers so many tools, so easily accessible… Now if only we could convince the major camera manufacturers to support applications in the same way 🙂 That would be fun.


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