photoshop creative

How to combine texture and stock photos in Photoshop, part 1

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
November 29, 2013

Learn how to create amazing patchwork animals by blending stock photos and textures in Photoshop


Some of the original tutorial files are from We have provided a link to these images in the word doc below, but have also compiled a list of free images that we think would be good as substitutes for the following steps.

Download full list of stock images

Blend texture and photos in Photoshop


Cut and paste the head of a frog onto the body of another with the Lasso tool to create a composition you are happy with. There is no need to finely blend the sources together, as this is just a mockup of the creation and none of the initial frog will be visible upon completion.


Use the Pen tool to create shapes around all the segments of the frog’s body. Set your Foreground colour to match one of the segments, Ctrl/right-click and choose Fill Path on a new layer. Continue this for all the segments, creating a new layer for each.


Import the fabric texture onto the canvas directly on top of one of your segment layers. We started with the red section of the right eye for this example. Drop the Opacity of the layer to 50% so you can see your guide underneath, and use the Free Transform (Ctrl/Cmd+T) to set the rough angle of the fabric.


Select Edit>Transform>Warp to transform the texture to fit the contour of the shape. To create the spherical shape of the eye, drag points from the middle of the warped segment and dragged outwards. Pulling nodes from the corners inwards also help to round out the edges.


Ctrl/Cmd-click the thumbnail of the eye’s layer to create a selection of the eye. Then, with the texture layer selected, press Shift+Ctrl/Cmd+I to invert the selection and Ctrl/Cmd+X to isolate the shape on the Texture layer. Set this layer’s blend mode to Overlay and increase the Contrast (Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast) to 56.


Hand paint the shadows and highlights to add depth and realism to the seams between fabric segments. Ctrl/Cmd-click the thumbnail on the shape layer and create a new one above the texture layer with the base shape as your selection. Use a soft black brush at low opacity and paint in strokes of shadows around the edges, then use a white brush to paint a highlight spot in the centre.


We wanted to add a seam across the eye, so we made the seam using the Pen tool and stroked a 3px black line across the surface. Using the Smudge tool with Strength set to 60%, soften the edge by dragging the tool across the contour and spreading it at the ends.


Instead of using stock images, we drew the stitches from scratch. To do this, draw the shapes with the Pen tool and fill it with a light colour (#c6a757). Then shade it the same way as you did for the eye. Add a darker shadow edge at the two ends of the stitch to indicate the thread being embedded into the surface at these points.


Creating the smaller stitches requires a different, albeit similar, technique. Create a selection from the segment you want to apply the stitch to, then choose Select>Modify>Contract and shrink the selection by 3px. On a new layer, apply an inside Stroke (Edit>Stroke) of a light shade at 2px.


Using a hard Eraser tool at 100% Opacity, erase spaces between the stitches to create the appearance of the edge seams. Create a selection from the thread and fill it in black on a new layer below your stitches. Deselect the layer and apply a Gaussian Blur of 2px.


We added a torn portion to the figure for an extra visual. To do so, draw and shade the stitches from Step 8. To fray the edges, select a 2px Smudge tool with a hard edge and Strength set to 80%, then pull out small individual fibres from the ends.