Before And After Texture Tutorial: Botanical Iris

Using a photograph of an iris, a texture, a vintage paper, a vintage French overlay, a Photoshop brush, and a butterfly element to create a decorative botanical image.

This is a glimpse into my workflow rather than a step-by-step guide. It is intermediate – advanced level and assumes you have basic Photoshop or Elements skills and a basic understanding of using textures.

Before and After texture tutorial

The Final Image

Digging through boxes in a French Brocante (antique/junk shop) I came across a delightful French school boy’s notebook on Botany. (Cahier de Botanique = Botany Notebook.) An overlay made from the pages made a perfect backdrop for an iris from my garden. Note the drawing of the iris leaves and roots (rhizome)! A texture with edge interest, a vintage paper and a butterfly illustration complete this whimsical, botanical-inspired image.

Final textured image

The Elements

The 6 Elements used for this image:

  1. Photograph: Studio photo of an iris by Leslie Nicole. (Moi!)
  2. Texture: Hard Wash texture in Les Textures II collection.
  3. Vintage Paper: The back of a vintage studio photo. (Not yet available.)
  4. Digital Overlay: from the Cahier de Botanique Overlay collection. Taken from a vintage French notebook on botany.
  5. Butterfly Element: from the Bees N Butterflies collection. Layered files designed to blend with textures.
  6. Photoshop Brush Stamp: Cahier de Botanique Brushes. Details from the French botanical notebook.

Elements used for botanical image.

The Photograph

I took the iris photograph in my studio back in 2010. The background is just a piece of colored art paper. I used to use colored backgrounds a lot because a certain color can sometimes work better than white to separate the flower from the background. I do this less now because the colored background can be limiting when using textures. If your texture is in the same tones as the background, however, it can work quite nicely.

  • Photograph: © 2010, Leslie Nicole
  • Camera: Canon 40D
  • Lens: Canon 60mm macro
  • Settings: ISO 100, f/11, .5 sec.
  • Tripod, mirror lock-up, shutter release cable.
  • Natural light — windows and skylight.
  • Flash Fill – bounced into an umbrella.
  • Post-Processing: Topaz Labs* Clarity filter – Macro / Macro II setting & Flower II.
    The Clarity filter is my Go-To filter for my photographs. I love, love, love it. I’ve gone pretty strong on this image because I wanted it to look more like a drawing/illustration. It’s also paired with pretty strong elements, so I needed it to hold its own. I normally wouldn’t go quite this strong in . Also, I didn’t really need to apply a second filter. I could have just increased the settings for the Macro II preset, but real workflows aren’t always ideal!

Topaz Labs Filters is an affiliate link. I get a small commission from any sales resulting from a click from this site (at no extra cost to you.) I really do love these filters. Nearly all of my own images use one of these filters. Thank you for supporting the site!

Iris photograph with Topaz Clarity filter

This is a bit stronger than I usually go as I wanted the feeling of an illustration.

The Photoshop Layer Panel

The Photoshop layer panel is the best peek at my process I can give you. I’ve written the details on each layer.

Notes: The notes are written from the bottom layer up – as that was my workflow.

  • The Texture: The blue channel was slightly shifted towards purple for the texture to match the flower better. It’s a tiny shift, but harmonizes better.
  • The Vintage Paper: I used the vintage paper over the texture and blended it in. This was to lighten and mellow the center area of the Hard Wash texture which has quite a bit of personality.
  • Hue / Saturation: I desaturated the yellows for the texture and paper.
  • The Overlay: The botanical overlay is colored with a clipping mask. (See a tutorial for clipping masks and get an action.)
  • The Photograph: This is one of the very rare times that I have completely masked the flower and placed it on top of the texture. Usually I place the texture over the flower and lightly brush away some of the texture in the layer mask. I used the magic wand to select the iris and then used Refine Edge in Photoshop to finish the selection. Additional editing of the layer mask was required to bring back areas of the “beard” and “husk” areas that got lost. I’ve used two layers for the iris because the stem was going too dark and contrasty, so the mask reveals the stem of a version below that is lighter and less contrast. See additional processing notes in the photograph section above.
  • The Photoshop Brush Stamp: This is colored with a clipping mask. I could have just colored the brush when I stamped it, but I prefer stamping in 100% black and then coloring with a clipping mask as it’s easier to change colors.
  • The Butterfly Element: The Bees n Butterflies files are stacked layers. The bottom layer is set to the blend mode Multiply and the top layer is set to Normal with a layer mask. I find this is the best way to get a good balance of blending while maintaining the vibrancy of the original.

This is one of the very rare times that I have completely masked the flower and placed it on top of the texture.

Photoshop layer panel for the textured botanical image

Final Thoughts

This tutorial isn’t meant to be a step by step guide, but rather a very clear glimpse into my workflow with explanations for my choices. I try to be very thorough, but let me know if there are areas that are confusing. Thanks!


Elements used in this tutorial.

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4 Responses to Before And After Texture Tutorial: Botanical Iris

  1. Kate May 13, 2015 at 11:37 pm #

    This is terrific. Seeing your work flow and thinking about the choices
    You made is a huge help as I made different choices. Where we made
    Different choices the outcomes are very different. I placed the texture over
    The flower, i really like the crispness of your flower. You have offered me another
    Way to use the texture that I, seriously, would never thought of. Thanks, I am
    Most appreciative. Kate

    • Leslie Nicole May 15, 2015 at 1:18 pm #

      Thanks, Kate! I usually put the texture over the flower as well. This was an exception. 🙂

  2. Deborah May 15, 2015 at 5:22 pm #

    Thank you for your great tutorials. i appreciate everything you do for your fellow photographers!!

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