I got a variant of that question a couple days ago about the bird piece that I posted, but since I get other questions about my texture use I thought it’d probably be helpful to just make a post on one of the ways I add texture digitally! (the other way I add texture is adding texture scans on top of my piece, using layer modes)
For that bird piece in particular I used a lot of textured brushes that I got from BittBox (you can download a bunch of free packs of brushes that look like paint splatters, brush strokes, watercolor blobs, paper scraps, etc). I like using the brushes as stamps, essentially, stamping and erasing different textures across my piece.
So voila, here’s a walkthrough about how I use clipping masks, brushes as stamps, and the rotate feature in photoshop to add texture:
1. Okay, here’s a simple setup in photoshop— I have the bird shapes I drew in one layer, and the black lines I drew on top of them in another layer.
2. I made a new layer on top of my bird shapes layer and below my lines layer, where I’m going to put texture. I right-clicked the new layer and selected “Create Clipping Mask”
3. This is what the layer box looks like when you create a clipping mask! The clipping mask layer ‘clips’ onto whatever layer is beneath it (in this case, my bird shapes). You’ll see the benefits of this in the next few steps.
4. My clipping mask layer is selected, and I’m ‘stamping’ a brush in that layer. As you can see, the texture only shows up in the areas occupied by the bird shapes. The clipping mask masks out all the transparent areas of the layer it is clipped to.
5. I’m still working in the clipping mask layer, using additional brushes to stamp more texture onto the birds. (this is where it becomes helpful to have a big library of brushes/textures!)
6. Okay, I’ve got all the texture I want at this point. The nice thing about clipping masks is that they’re not permanent— you can release them at any point and they will become a normal layer again. Just so you can see what this looks like, I’m right-clicking on the texture layer and selecting ‘Release Clipping Mask’.
7. This is what the texture layer looks like when it isn’t clipped to the bird shapes layer!
8. But no worries, you can always right-click the texture layer again and select “Create Clipping Mask” again, and it will clip to the layer below it again.
9. I want to add some texture to the background so I created a ‘background texture’ layer beneath the bird shapes layer. I have a texture brush that I want to use, but I want to stamp it in another direction than how it’s currently facing. Once I stamped it I could rotate the texture with the free transform tool, but it’s a little more exciting to rotate the canvas instead! Simply press the ‘r’ button on your keyboard and a little compass appears in the center of your image so you can easily rotate your canvas any way and any time you want in Photoshop CS5. (also helpful for drawing lines in difficult directions)
10. Okay, I stamped my brush in the direction I wanted in the background texture layer!
11. And now I’m going to rotate the canvas again and use another texture brush to erase into my stamped texture.
12. Then I rotated back to normal. Tadaaa! Fast, easy digital texture.
Now go out and have some fun with texture brushes and clipping masks!