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

Step 1

 dm-1This is the technique that will wrap your art around objects and (seemingly) magically make it hug every contour

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 here.

Step 2

dm-2Click 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.

Step 3

 dm-5We 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.

Click ok

Step 4

 dm-6You 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.

Step 5

dm-7Save the document as a .psd, Any name will work, just remember it and the location. I put mine on the desktop.

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

Step 6

  dm-8On our original document, click on the “RGB” to restore the default channel display.

Step 7

dm-9Open the layers palette 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.

Step 8

dm-11Now lets apply the displacement map…

Filter>Distort>Displace

Step 9

 dm-12Use the settings shown here when the Displace palette opens.

Click ok

Step 10

 dm-13You 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.

Click open

Step 11

 dm-14You will now see your artwork distort to hug the texture of the rock.

Lets jazz it up a bit.

Step 12

 dm-15Choose Overlay mode to add some realistic blending.

Duplicate the distorted layer to add a bit more strength to the effect.

Step 13

dm-16Here is the result on the blending mode.

See how the color blends in with the texture.

Step 14

dm-17Here is exactly the same image but with a variation.

I added an inner shadow layer style to the top layer and dropped the opacity of the second layer to 30%

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

See you at the cafe

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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