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Photoshop Tutorial

Displacement Maps

Skill level: Intermediate

Duration: 5 minutes
Requirements: Photoshop version 5 or higher

Stage 01.
Start by opening the file satin.bmp

Click on the Channels tab and click on

the channels red, green or blue until
you find the one with the most
contrast (the greatest variation from
white to black).

For this image it happens to be red.

Stage 02.
Right click on the red channel and
select Duplicate Channel.

In the dialog that appears, type

map in the As and Name fields

Next to Document, select

Stage 03.
A new image will appear. We will be
using this as our Displacement Map.

To smooth the final output, let’s blur it

slightly. Go to the Filter menu and
select Blur, Gaussian Blur, and give it a
value of 0.7 Click OK. Now save this
image anywhere to your hard drive (to
your desktop perhaps) and name it
map. Once saved, close the image.

Stage 04.
In the Channels tab, click on RGB to
show all the colours and then click the
Layers tab.

Now grab the Type tool, click on the

image and start typing. Large, bold
fonts will work best for this tutorial.

Make sure your text fills most of the

width of the image area. Click the
Move tool to apply your type.

Stage 05.
In the Layers pallets you will notice a
new layer which has the same name as
the text you just typed. We need to
rasterise this layer.

Right click on the layer and select

Rasterise Layer.

(Tip: When text is rasterised, you can

not edit it again without back tracking
in the history.)
Stage 06.
Now for the fun stuff. Go to the Filter menu
and select Distort, and then Displace.

You will see this dialog appear. Leave all the

values as default and clock OK.

You will then be prompted to open a file.

Browse to the file you saved earlier (which is
named map) and click Open.

Stage 07.
The displacement map has now been applied to the

Note that the text is now displaced in a manner that

it appears to be wrapping with the curves of the
satin sheet.

To complete the illusion, change the layer mode of

the text layer (named Mike in my case) and select

Stage 08.
Now drop the opacity down to about
70 (try different values for your own
desired effect).

If your final image looks something

like this, then pat yourself on the

You can use this method to apply

displacement maps to just about
anything. Here are a few examples…

Rust Planet

Leopard spots Original Guy Image

I used these 3 different images (small versions and original guy shown
above) to make the displacement maps for the 3 different images on the
following page…
This tutorial was produced by Michael Ott