From iPhone Photo to Wallpaper Texture: How to Create Faux Textures and Custom Brushes with Photoshop

From professional interior designers to DIY home enthusiasts alike, one thing is certain, wallpaper is making big waves in the world of home decor. One design trend we’re noticing is a budget-friendly approach to tactile walls: faux-textured wallpaper. In this Adobe® Photoshop® tutorial, we’re joined by marketing team member Laurie as she shares one way to create a digital texture that you can apply to create a variety of faux surfaces such as marble, wood grain, grasses, linen or in the case of this instructional, distressed concrete. And while this tutorial is acceptable for advanced beginner to intermediate digital artists, it does require a working knowledge of Photoshop and a basic understanding of seamless repeats. 

From iPhone Photo to Wallpaper Texture: How to Create Faux Textures and Custom Brushes with Photoshop

Since we’ll be sourcing our texture from a photograph, you’ll want to take a high-quality picture of a textured surface to get started. It’s actually a really fun game to play and I ended up snapping photos of so many different things—a brick wall, planks of wood, peeling paint, etcbefore settling on the concrete we’ll reference in this post.

Step 1: Resize your image

Open your texture photo in Photoshop and, depending on your particular design goal, resize your image to either 6, 12 or 24” wide at 150dpi so that your final texture will repeat evenly for use on wallpaper. I like to start large and size down later if needed, so I will be working with a 24” wide file for this tutorial. Length is not important right now.

Tip: Always duplicate your most recent layer before moving onto a new step so you can easily go back a step if needed!

From iPhone Photo to Wallpaper Texture: How to Create Faux Textures and Custom Brushes with Photoshop

Step 2: Threshold

Working from a duplicated layer, we will edit the photo into a black and white image which makes it easier to create a tileable texture. From the Image menu, go to Adjustment > Threshold. Adjust the slider to give you more or less texture. If you want a delicate or subtle texture, you’ll want a lower Threshold level, for something heavier go high. I’ve added examples below to help illustrate.

I like to go through this process multiple times on duplicate layers so I have more than one option to build my texture, which gives me more flexibility in the next step. You can always delete what you don’t need later. And, this is a good reminder to SAVE your work after each step!

From iPhone Photo to Wallpaper Texture: How to Create Faux Textures and Custom Brushes with Photoshop
Adjusting the slider for low, medium or high Threshold levels gives varying degrees of texture

Tip: If you don’t get the results you’re looking for, adjust the contrast of your image before you adjust the Threshold level.

From iPhone Photo to Wallpaper Texture: How to Create Faux Textures and Custom Brushes with Photoshop

Step 3: Crop

I like to get in the habit of cropping my image at this point just in case I’ve shifted my layers around because any pixels hiding off the canvas will interfere with the success of the next step. This is also the time to edit the length of your image if you want to shorten it. For this tutorial, I’m going to keep mine the original length of the source photo.

When you crop your image keep the layers intact (don’t merge them) and stick with the original width—in my case that is 24”. After I crop my concrete photo, my file is 24×18” which is the same thing as 3600 pixels x 2700 pixels. Jot down the pixel dimensions of your photo and keep on hand for the next step. 

In this tutorial, we are creating a seamless repeat texture that can be applied to an entire design, but there may be times you want only certain areas of your artwork to have the texture effect. In those cases, a custom brush may be a better fit. To create a textured brush instead of a repeating textured pattern, go through steps 1-3, then jump to step 6 and instead of Define Pattern, select Edit > Define Brush Preset. You can also try this with a photograph or scan of a shape or texture you created on paper.

From iPhone Photo to Wallpaper Texture: How to Create Faux Textures and Custom Brushes with Photoshop

Step 4: Offset

Now it’s time to work on creating a seamless repeat with the Offset feature. You may have ended up with multiple layers in the Threshold step, and if so we need to group those together, then make a copy to work from.

Select the layers that make up your final texture from step 2. Right-click and then select, Group From Layers. Name your group, then make a copy of that group to work from. (Remember, always make a duplicate for each step in case you need to go back and edit.)

Merge the layers in the copy group then go to Filter > Other > Offset. Once the dialog box opens, you will enter your image pixel dimensions divided by two. For my 3600px x 2700px image, I will enter +1800 on the horizontal slider and +1350 on the vertical slider. Make sure Wrap Around is selected then click ok.

From iPhone Photo to Wallpaper Texture: How to Create Faux Textures and Custom Brushes with Photoshop
Before and after Offset seams

Step 5: Make it Seamless

Next, it’s time to fill in the seams that were created with the Offset filter, being careful not to change the edges of your canvas. You’ll use a combination of Photoshop tools to edit your seams and the method you choose will depend both on what kind of texture you’re creating and your skill level in Photoshop. I like to start with the lasso tool to copy and paste sections of my texture then position them over the seam lines. You could also consider the Clone Stamp tool. This is also a great time to utilize the extra Threshold variants we created in Step 2. 

Carry on and have fun but one thing is non-negotiable: Do yourself a favor and work on layers that you place above the Offset layer so you have the freedom to delete or edit without touching your source layer. 

Step 6: Define Pattern

When your seam lines are no longer obvious and you’re happy with how your texture looks, it’s time to define your pattern.

Select > Color Range. Sample the black texture and slide the Fuzziness gauge all the way to the right (200). Create a new layer and fill your selection in black. This sounds counter-intuitive, but we need the texture on its own layer with a transparent background.

With your newly created layer, select Edit > Define Pattern. Name your pattern. It’s a good idea to be descriptive here in case you need to save new or multiple versions of your pattern. Congrats! You have created your faux texture and are ready to go into test mode.

My pink palm design with and without the faux texture created here

Step 7: Test Your Pattern

To test your defined pattern, create a new file with a larger canvas that is at least double that of your texture image so you can see the repeat. I chose to test my texture pattern on a design I created so I could really see how it works with other design elements.

Tip: When applying a faux texture to a design, be sure that the design file has the same repeat dimensions as your texture pattern file

On a new layer, select Edit > Fill > Pattern > Custom Pattern, then select your newly created texture. This will tile your texture so you can see places you may need to go back and edit. Be sure to zoom in over where the repeat lies to check for pixel lines.

Continue to make edits to your source texture file (as in Step 5) then define and test (Steps 6 and 7) until you are happy. You may decide to resize your texture again or save various sizes of your texture pattern. Once I was happy with the repeat, I saved mine at 24” wide and at 12” wide. 

24″ version
12″ version

Once your textured pattern is complete, you can edit colors and add other elements to your design as you naturally would. Be sure to place other design elements under your texture layer to apply the texture overlay. Layer filters and opacity are also fun to play with!

If you feel comfortable, you can experiment with more complicated images or layer different textures together and apply them to your artwork. I created this palm design using the same method I’ve explained in this tutorial, but by piecing together several images of a small palm plant I have on my desk at work. Then I applied color and added my concrete texture.

We hope this tutorial gets your design wheels spinning as there really are no limits to the types of faux textures you can create using this method. And, if there are other types of design tutorials you’d like to see on the blog, be sure to let us know in the comment box!