Adding a Texture in Gimp

October 26, 2009

With square corners

What’s the first thing you notice about the above picture? I’m guessing it’s either the colors or the texture. Adding a texture to an image can completely change the way it feels – often making an ordinary photo look a bit more vintage or retro.

Adding a texture in Gimp is actually quite easy to do.

Here’s the image I’m going to use to walk you through how to do this:

Leaf on a picnic table

All I’ve done to the image so far is a crop. To add a texture, you need to find some sort of image to use as a texture. There’s all sorts of ways to create and find textures, but I’m going to start off by giving you one! This should be big enough for your texture needs and you can find it here.

What is it? It’s a tile from a floor in my house.

All you need to do with it is create a second layer on your image that’s the texture. Did you know you can drag and drop from Windows Explorer onto your photo in Gimp and it will create a new layer? Or you can open the image in Gimp and copy and paste it. Just make sure that if you do the copy/paste option that you click the “Create New Layer” icon in order to turn your Floating Selection into an actual layer:

Create New Layer

Once you’ve got your layer on there, you might want to move it around or stretch it. For instance, there’s something that looks like a little worm in the top of the texture that I’d rather not use, and I like the sides of the tile to line up better with the sides of the photo. That is not actually a worm, by the way. I think it’s the stem of a leaf that I tracked into the house. Let’s say that it is, because I do not want to think about there being worms in my house. Blech!

Anyway, after moving my texture layer around, it now looks like this:

The Texture

Now – the magic! Change the Layer blend mode to Overlay… and poof, you have texture on your photo:

Set to Overlay

I’m not satisfied yet, though. With my texture layer selected still, I open up the Levels and start adjusting:

Adjust Levels

This brings out the detail in my texture more:

After adjusting levels

However, now it’s just a bit too much, don’t you think? So I adjust the Opacity of the texture layer down to 60 and get this:

After setting the opacity

Now for fun, to really give it that vintage feel, I run the Vintage Film effect (discussed here) on the photo layer and I end up with this:

Vintage Leaf + Texture

I’ve really been into this vintage thing lately. I’m probably over-doing it. But it’s hard not to with all the pretty fall colors around here.

Where to get Textures

The texture I used in the first photo in this post was from Alexis Miller’s Photography Tips blog. You can also try searching the web – or even just flickr for textures. There’s a group on flickr called Textures for Layers that appears to be full of free textures people can use, but you have to be a member to see the photos, and I’m not member, so I can’t vouch for them.

Or, instead of finding someone else’s image to use as a texture, start looking for your own. The one I posted above, as I mentioned, is my tile floor. I also have a texture from my hardwood floors (they’re original to the house – built in 1927 – and the ones in the kitchen are all water damaged, which might be bad for the floor, but makes for good textures), of my plaster walls, my textured ceilings, my concrete driveway… and this is all just around my house! If you start looking, I promise you’ll start finding things to use as textures.

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Filed under: Photo Editing
  • Great website cool article man...thanks for the great post...continue posting such articles...

  • less

    i cant do it i have the gimp 2.6 and i dont understand how do do the floating selection (pasted layer)

  • brianna kloutse

    you have been really helpful. i thank you. briannack on twitter. briannaclemonskloutse on flickr.

  • theprovidentwoman

    Thanks! I've actually been wondering how to do this!

    Wanted to let you know that I have a giveaway on my site. Just click on the picture of the giveaway on one of the right sidebars.

  • Thanks iffles. That was an interesting post. I tried this out. The result is at

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