Wrapping objects with Displacement Maps Photoshop Tutorial

Displacement maps see like such strange and difficult animals until you learn to tame them. In this long overdue tutorial, I will teach you what you need to know about displacement maps in plain English, so that you can take advantage of the stunning effects that can only be created by using these maps.

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Wrapping objects with Displacement Maps Photoshop Tutorial

This is the technique that will wrap your art around objects and (seemingly) magically make it hug every contour.

Step 1

rock texture

Begin with a texture, you must be in RGB mode. I have another tutorial under textures that shows you how to create this rock surface. You can also just download it if you wish.

Download rock texture here

Step 2

Click on the Channels palette and click on each channel until you find the one with the most contrast (dark to light). In this case it is the Red channel.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 11.28.20 AM

Step 3

We need to make a new document out of the channel.

Either right click/Control+click on the channel area of the channels palette, or click on the top right arrow to open the drop down menu. Choose “duplicate channel.”

Under destination>document, choose new.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 11.33.41 AM

Click ok

Step 4

 You will now have a new document. This will become our displacement map. Apply a 0.7 Gaussian blur (Filter>blur>Gaussian blur) to lower the sharp detail a bit. This will make for a smoother image in the end.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 11.31.13 AM

Step 5

Save the document as a .psd, I called it displacementMap.psd, any name will work, just remember it and the location. I put mine on the desktop.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 11.34.07 AM

We have now created our displacement map for use later on.

Step 6

 On our original document, click on the “RGB” to restore the default channel display.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 11.35.48 AM

Step 7

Open the layers panel and add your artwork or text on a new layer. This is the content that you want to warp. Make sure you have everything you want to warp on one layer. If you have text, rasterize it now. (Right click on the layer palette next to the name and choose “rasterize layer” from the pop up menu.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 11.38.16 AM

Step 8

Now lets apply the displacement map…

Filter>Distort>Displace

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 11.38.45 AM

Step 9

 Use the settings shown here when the Displace palette opens.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 11.39.13 AM

Click ok

Step 10

 You will now see a browser asking you to choose a displacement map. Navigate to the desktop and load the image we created at the beginning of this tutorial.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 11.39.54 AM

Click open

Step 11

 You will now see your artwork distort to hug the texture of the rock.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 11.40.41 AM

Lets jazz it up a bit.

Step 12

 Choose Overlay mode to add some realistic blending.

Duplicate the distorted layer to add a bit more strength to the effect. I dropped the opacity of the top layer to 30 to tone it down a bit.

Here is the result on the blending mode.

See how the color blends in with the texture.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 11.41.30 AM

Step 13

Here is exactly the same image but with a variation. I added an inner shadow layer style to the top layer

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 11.42.19 AM

I hope you had fun with this tutorial and learned a lot.

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Colin Smith

Colin Smith

Colin Smith is founder of the #1 PhotoshopCAFE online community which has received over 30 million visitors. Colin has Authored/Coauthored 18 books. He has won numerous awards including 3 Guru awards. He’s been nominated for the Photoshop Hall of Fame twice. Colin is a regular columnist for Photoshop User Magazine. He’s been featured in almost every major imaging magazine, and is in high demand as a speaker at major industry events including Flash Forward and WPPI . He consults such companies as ABC Disney, Apple and Adobe

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Colin Smith

About Colin Smith

Colin Smith is founder of the #1 PhotoshopCAFE online community which has received over 30 million visitors. Colin has Authored/Coauthored 18 books. He has won numerous awards including 3 Guru awards. He’s been nominated for the Photoshop Hall of Fame twice. Colin is a regular columnist for Photoshop User Magazine. He’s been featured in almost every major imaging magazine, and is in high demand as a speaker at major industry events including Flash Forward and WPPI . He consults such companies as ABC Disney, Apple and Adobe

  • Peter Frohmann

    It is a nice tutorial. What was the font name that you used

    • http://www.photoshopcafe.com/ Colin Smith

      The font is Eurostile Extended Bold