Feb 10, 2015

How to Use Displacement Maps in Photoshop

You will need two elements for this technique:

  1. Logo or some sort of design
  2. Image to place the design on

To start, Transform your Logo onto the image. You can hold Cntl/Cmd + T, right click, and select Warp to really hone in on the correct Angles and perspective. Next, go to Channels and find the one that has the most Contrast (this is often the blue). Then, right click on that Channel. Select New under the Document Menu. Title it appropriately and hit OK. Now, go to File -> Save As, and save it as a PSD. This document is now your displacement map.

Back to the original image we go! Select RGB in the Channels tab so that all of them are selected. Now, go back to the layer tab. While on your logo layer, go to Filter -> Distort -> Displace. Set the horizontal and vertical Scale to 10. It will ask you to load your displacement map, which is the other document that we just saved out. It will automatically start to integrate the Texture into the Logo!

Amazing quick tip: If you press the logo above the layers next to the word “Lock,” anything you do will ONLY affect the pixels on that layer. You can think of it as a mask for your Logo! This is called Locking the Transparency. 

Feel free to play around! Try filling the logo with a Color and then experimenting with Blend Modes. In this case, we chose to use Overlay.

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  • user image

    I use these every day for work but I use them for graphics on a t shirt. The way you set the map up for that is desaturate, do a levels adjustment to get high contrast. I’ll add a gaussian to smooth out any hard edges. That way when the graphic is mapped to the shirt it flows over the wrinkles with the edges staying clean. Adjusting the horizontal and vertical makes the graphic pull more to the shadows. Negative numbers make them pull away.

  • user image

    I agree, Aaron…..priceless photograph. Reminds me of my grandmother when she was alive. I enjoy all of your tutorials. Thanks!

  • user image
    Chuck Martin

    I would like a tutorial showing how to create a black background for a photograph THROUGH MY CAMERA’ S ADJUSTMENTS (APERTURE, ETC.)

    If this has been done already could you e-mail me a copy. I LOVE WHAT YOU’ RE DOING FOR ALL OF US.

  • user image
    Ray Grace

    Hi Aaron
    Another excellent and logically presented tutorial.
    Since you are always asking if there is anything that we would like to see, could you do something with the Pen tool for me? I have been trying to create a path around an object to separate it from the background. For instance, take the letter Q or any other letter with a centre area. I want to make a path around the outside that can then be turned into a selection but I want another path around the inside to remove that as well. So the object (Q) stands on its own. I can’t figure that one out. I want to use the pen tool for a smooth selection but is there a way to add a second path to the first to complete the process in one action or do I have to do the outside and then the inside as separate actions?

  • user image

    in this video sites logo on cap,
      how do you keep a selection (logo) without a white background. (like the logo in this video) so logo no background, only selection without white background

    I can not only save a selection, it is always stored with white achtergrong.

    can you help me

    Greetings (sorry for my english)


    • user image
      Corey Schweikert

      Easy way is just open your logo, use the background eraser tool, get rid of all the white. Then Save it as either a TIFF or a PNG, Or some other file where the image is not compressed. 🙂

  • user image

    what can be done when you cut a picture and place it into a different picture and now the light or contrast is way off from one another? I’ve tried brightness and contrast but never could get them to look the same. The older lady in the middle with the blue dress is the one that was brought in from another picture.

  • user image
    Nishant Ratnakar

    When I try to load the displacement map after Filter->Distort-> Displace, it fails with a message saying “Could not continue. Displacement maps must be 8 bits/pixel”

    I am following the steps as per the video. Any idea why would it be? My source file is a TIFF file. And the displacement map I create from blur channels is saved as psd file as per your tutorial.

    • user image

      I’ve attached an image. I hope this helps you or anyone else, if you already haven’t already figured it out 🙂

    • user image

      I’m getting the same message as Nishant, what is the solution to this error?

  • user image

    hi aron.
    I am going to try this technique on a selfie, to convert it to a white face clown.
    I will send you results if I can find how to.

  • user image

    so why should the values in the displace filters be set to 10? what do they mean?

  • user image

    Just learned this technique watching this video. Here’s a photo I took of my girlfriend. I added a die antwoord logo because she is a huge fan. I did two layers for the logo. First one was set to screen with a little guassian blur to smooth the edges of the displaced image. Second layer I set to overlay to make it have a more natural contrast. I also adjusted the opacity on both layers. I love the results! Thank you so much phlearn! I’m excited about purchasing the Pro tutorials!