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Molding Images

If you want to create some cool effects with images and textures in Photoshop, there’s probably a million ways to do it. One thing you can do is take the light and shadows of an image and constrain an image using those. If you’ve never heard of a Displacement map in Photoshop, you’re going to love this. You can take colorful artwork and mold it into a contour or surface easily in Photoshop.

First, we are going to open a texture image, such as a rocky background, but you could use anything- a brick wall, a rough surface anything that you’d like. Then, go to Image>Adjustments> Desaturate. Then, do a save as to save the file as a new document and make sure that it is set as a .psd format. If you don’t set it to a .psd format, the filter we use later won’t recognize it.

Molding Images using the Displacement Map Feature

Then, open the original jpeg image again, and open the image that you want to apply to the texture and drag it over to the texture document. Resize the image to match the size of your texture.

Then, with the graphic layer selected, go to Filter> Distort>Displace. Choose the default option, and a menu will pop up asking you to select a file. Choose the grayscale psd file that we created earlier. It distorts the image to match the contours of the displacement map.

Then, simply switch the blending mode of the layer to overlay. This should look good, but depending on your texture image, you might have to lower the opacity or try a similar blending mode, such as soft light.

Using a displacement map for molding images to a surface.

This is a fairly simple tutorial on how to use displacement maps for molding images into different shapes and surfaces. I’ve seen digital artists mold tree bark to faces, and water into specific shapes. It’s a handy technique for special effects. Did you have any trouble reproducing the effect? If so, say something in the comments section and I’ll try to help you as much as possible.