Flower Impressions -- Adding a Texture Background

Another way to create an impressionistic flower image is to layer a photograph of a textured surface over an image of a blossom. This technique tends to work best with flower pictures that have a blurred background with little detail of their own.

Flower with added texture background

Start this project by looking for suitable textures in the area where you are photographing the blossoms. This can be stones, grass, rusted metal, concrete walk-ways, any subject matter with an appealing texture. It's helpful if the subject has a flat surface so you can make a photograph which is sharp corner to corner. While subtle texture color is appropriate for this technique, don't worry if there's lots of color in your texture image. It is easy to desaturate it (Windows: Shift + Ctrl + U; Mac: Shift + Cmd + U) before combining the texture with the flower.

In this example, I photographed a flat gray stone in one flower garden and used it with a flower picture from a different garden.

Flat stone for background texture

Flower with blurred background.

Make both images the same size and resolution

Before combining the pictures in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, be sure both images have the same resolution and the same pixel dimensions. If you photograph them with the same camera, don't crop either one before you combine the images. Since the texture will be a subtle background component, if you need to resize one image to match the other, make the texture photo's dimensions and resolution match that of your flower photo. Here's how:
  • Open both images in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.
  • Make the flower image active by clicking in it.
  • Press Ctrl + Alt + I (Mac: Cmd + Option + I) to open the Image Size dialog.
    • Note the image dimensions and resolution. 
    • Then click Cancel since you don't want to make any changes to this photo.
  • Switch to the texture photo and open the Image Size dialog again. 
    • Be sure Constrain Proportions and Resample Image are checked.
    • If necessary change the Resolution to match the flower image.
    • Then change the Pixel Dimensions to match the flower image.
      You only need to change one dimension; the other adjusts automatically to match.

Combine the texture and flower images

Now that the two pictures are the same dimensions and resolution, follow these steps in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements (or any photo editing program that supports layers):
  • Open the flower picture you want to add the texture to.
  • Open the texture image you want to add.
    • Choose Edit>Select All (Ctrl + A, Mac: Cmd + A).
    • Choose Edit>Copy (Ctrl + A, Mac: Cmd + C).
    • Close the texture photo.
  • In the flower image, choose Edit>Paste (Ctrl + V, Mac: Cmd + V).
  • Change the blending mode of the texture layer from Normal to Soft Light.
  • Add a layer mask to the texture. (optional)
    • Click on the top texture layer.
    • Choose Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal All.
    • Click on the mask thumbnail.
    • Choose a soft edge paintbrush.
    • In the Options bar, be sure the Mode is Normal and the Opacity 100%.
    • Set the foreground color to black (type D, then X).
    • Paint over the area you want to remain sharp.
    • Change the size of the brush using the square bracket [ ] keys.
  • Make any adjustments to brightness, contrast, and/or color you wish using adjustment layers (Curves, Hue/Saturation, Vibrance, etc.). (optional)
    As luck would have it, the blossom fell on a smooth part of the rock, so I did not have to hide any texture in this composite.

    If you'd like to learn more fun ways to create flower impressions, join my class at the Lifelong Learning Center in Missoula, Montana, beginning April 4, 2019. Click here to register.