Change Your Texture Without Changing The Image Below It.

When using Textures with your photographs, it is essential to be able to easily adjust your textures on the fly to suit your image. The easiest way to do this is to use Adjustment Layers in Photoshop or Elements to change the texture’s color, brightness, saturation, etc.

Not sure what Adjustment Layers are? See this tutorial.

Adjustment layers are great, but if you want to only change the texture and not the image below your texture, you need to use a clipping mask on the adjustment layer. Clipping masks constrain an effect of an adjustment to the layer below so that it doesn’t affect all the layers below. Use it to change the color, brightness, etc of your texture without changing the image below the texture. I’ve covered this in previous tutorials, but it’s so important I’m showing it again, plus I’m giving a new tip on how to apply a clipping mask. (Clipping masks can do other things as well, but I’ll cover that another time.)

See more tips on Clipping Masks with This video tutorial.

An Example With A Clipping Mask

In the Rose Image below, I’ll add a Hue / Saturation adjustment layer to change the color and saturation of the texture but not the rose image layer stacked under the texture. Here’s the original image and texture.

Original Rose Image

Original Texture, French Kiss “Deco Verte”

If you just added a Hue / Saturation Adjustment layer over your texture, it would affect both your texture and your image. Here, I’ve changed the color and saturation. See how it has also desaturated the flower?

No clipping mask

No Clipping Mask

In the image below, I used a Clipping Mask to constrain the Hue / Saturation adjustment to the texture only.

With a clipping mask

Hue Saturation Adjustment With a Clipping Mask.

Here’s what the layer panel looks like with the Hue / Saturation adjustment layer clipped to the texture. See the little arrow pointing down on the left in the Hue / Saturation layer? That indicates that it is clipped to the layer below.

layer panel

Layer Panel with adjustment layer clipped to the texture.

An Easy Way To Add A Clipping Mask

When you add an adjustment layer, in the adjustment layer panel is a little icon to make it into a clipping mask. So easy! In the examples below, I’ve shown this feature with an example using a Hue / Saturation adjustment layer.

In Photoshop, when you apply a new layer adjustment, click the icon (indicated with a red arrow) on the layer adjustment panel to clip it to the layer.

Adding a clipping mask in photoshop

Click this icon in Photoshop to make a clipping mask.

In Photoshop Elements 9, when you apply a new layer adjustment, click the icon (indicated with a red arrow) on the layer adjustment panel to clip it to the layer.

Clip button in Elements 9

Use this button in Elements 9


More about Adjustment Layers See this tutorial.

See more tips on Clipping Masks with This video tutorial.

Rose Photograph © Leslie Nicole. Please do not reproduce without permission.

Deco Verte texture French Kiss Texture: Deco VerteFrench Kiss Texture Collection II

  • Blend Mode: Multiply
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Layer Mask: yes


4 Responses to Change Your Texture Without Changing The Image Below It.

  1. Dorothy June 23, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    I have been struggling with trying to understand clipping masks for several weeks now. With this tutorial I FINALLY GET IT. Thank you so much. Not a difficult concept to grasp once you understand. Loved your concise simple directions along with your illustrations. Your tutorials are some of the best out there!

  2. Cherrie February 24, 2012 at 1:05 am #

    Hi Leslie,

    Is there any way to apply one layer mask to multiple layers within a group?


    • Leslie Nicole February 24, 2012 at 7:53 am #

      Yes. If you are using Photoshop, you can group the textures and put the layer mask on the group. I haven’t checked Elements 10 features yet, but in general, Elements is more difficult to use groups. You can also copy the same layer mask to each layer. Just hold down Option (mac) or Alt (PC) while you drag the layer mask-this will drag a copy.

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