Get creative with Displacement Maps
This cool Photoshop effect lets you conform an image to an underlying texture
Posted on Tuesday, June 20th, 2017
Back in the late ’80s, I took a three- or four-day class in Photoshop. At the time, Photoshop didn’t have layers, since we were still using version 2.5. Even then, the course covered a technique using Displacement Maps. Sounds complicated? Not really.
In general, you just need a textured background of some type, such as a wrinkled paper, wall or something similar to start with. A copy of that layer is converted to black and white and saved as a separate file as a .PSD (Photoshop Document). A new layer is added to the original image. The new layer can be a photo, a line of text or a graphic. When the top layer is selected and the Displace filter is applied, the software shifts pixels on that layer to appear to conform to the underlying texture layer. The effect isn’t immediately apparent, but once the layer’s opacity and/or blend mode is adjusted, the results are usually visible and amazing!
So, yes, this can be considered an advanced technique. Give it a try on a few test projects, and you’ll likely see it’s not that difficult. Besides this article, you can do a search on the Internet for “Photoshop Displacement Map” and find a lot of video clips and additional tutorials on the subject. Seeing a project executed as a video in real time can be helpful.