Adding Clothing Using Displacement Maps in Photoshop

by Rod Shelley (RodS on Renderosity)

Please Note: This tutorial contains nudity

Well, I never thought I'd ever be writing a tutorial, but I've had a few folks ask me how I created the effects in some of the work in my gallery on Renderosity. Since I have received so much support and encouragement from many of my Rendo friends, I decided this would be a great way to give back a little.

I will start with this tutorial about my techniques for adding clothing to a figure, and how I use a displacement map in Photoshop to add realism to textures, patterns or logos on clothing (as on a T-shirt, for instance). I have used Photoshop 7 for this tutorial. This should work equally well in later versions of Photoshop. I've tried to make this tutorial as clear as possible, but it is assumed the reader is familiar with Photoshop's basic functions. Here we go….

I've rendered this picture (below) of The Girl using Poser 8, and exported it as a PNG file, which makes the background transparent. This helps a lot if you want to put a background image behind your figure. Render your figures large. I rendered this one at 3360 X 2100. This makes it much easier to add those little details. It's also the correct aspect ratio for wide screen wallpaper

Yeah, she's nekkid! We're going to fix that. When you render your figure, think about how you want her lighted in the final image. It helps sometimes to make a quick thumbnail sketch just to work out the lighting. But that's another tutorial. Onward!

I will normally make a copy of the base layer as shown in the next figure. Since the base or background layer is transparent in the background areas, it's not really necessary to do this, but I usually do. It does preserve the original layer in case you need it later.

Give the new layer a name, like 'The Girl,' for instance. Now, we're going to start on her t-shirt. Make a new layer; we'll call it 'guide.' We'll start roughing in her shirt on this layer. We will not put the actual shirt on this layer. Its only purpose is to act as a guide. Think of it as a sheet of tracing paper.

Now, the fun begins. Make sure the 'guide layer is selected. Start roughing in the outlines of her shirt with a small brush size as shown in the next image. Don't worry about making every line perfect, or erasing stray lines. Again, this is just a guide. Similarly, if you don't like what you've done, just clear the layer, and start over. Use CTRL + to zoom in. I find it makes things much easier and more accurate to work LARGE. I've roughed in her bikini bottom as well.

Next, we'll create a new layer for the t-shirt base. We will be using this as the base for the displacement map. We are only concerned with shading at this point, so we'll only use black and white. Refer to the following image.

I use the pen tool to create a mask for her shirt. I find this works better for me than using a layer mask. Using my stylus, I roughly follow the red lines on the guide layer for the outline of her t-shirt. In the image below, I am laying out the trim for her shirt.

In the image below, I have laid out the trim for her shirt and panties using the pen (path) tool. I've selected the PATH tab on the palette on the left, and named it TRIM.

Using the same procedure as above, I've created a path for her shirt and panties. I have saved each path individually as shown on the palette on the left.

With the T-shirt path selected, I click the little arrow on the path palette, and select MAKE SELECTION from the menu. This selects the T-shirt - you'll see the famous 'marching ants.'

I click on the LAYERS tab, and make sure the T-shirt layer is selected. I've changed the forground color to white, and hit ALT-BACKSPACE which fills the selected area with white.

I've reduced the opacity a bit to make it easier to apply the shading in the next steps. Useing the shading on her body as a guide, I begin to apply shading to the shirt.

I've started applying shading. You will notice in this and the next couple of images that I've added several new shading layers. This is probably not really neccessary, but I like to do my shading across several layers. First, it's a good idea in case you louse something up. You just clear the layer and start again with out having to go all the way back to the beginning. Secondly, having several different shading layers gives you an incredible amount of control with your shading. By combining the different layers, adjusting the opacity of each layer seperately, you can get just the right amount of shading. Once you are satisfied, you can merge all the layers. When I'm shading, I usually set the layer to MULTIPLY.

In the image below, all the shading layers have been merged into Layer-1. When merged, the layer property is set to NORMAL - for our purposes here, that's fine.

I've added shading to her panties in the image below.

Now, I'm using the LEVELS to do some final adjustments in the shading.

We will now create the displacement map to use for creating the distortion of the wrinkles on her shirt. Here's how it's done:

1. Select the T-shirt layer. Choose SELECT ALL from the EDIT menu, or hit CTRL-A. Select COPY, or hit CTRL-C. This will copy the T-shirt layer. Don't delete the layer; you'll need it later.

2. Click on the CHANNELS tab. Make a new channel by clicking the NEW CHANNEL icon. Hit CTRL-V or EDIT > PASTE to paste a copy of the T-shirt layer. It will look like the image below. The shirt will be selected at this point. Deselect it. At this point, I usually use the Gaussian Blur to smooth things out just a bit. You don't need much blur; around 1 pixel or so. Once satisfied, hit CTRL-A, then CTRL-C to copy the channel layer.

3. Go to FILE > NEW to create a new image. The image size will already be set from the channel you just copied. Hit CTRL-V to paste the channel layer selcted above into your new image. It will look like the image below. Save this new image as a PSD file. I called mine 'Shirt-Disp.PSD.' Close this new image.

Now the fun begins. Create a new layer for the actual shirt. I called mine 'Shirt-1.' I selected an area larger than her shirt, then used EDIT > FILL to fill the selected area with a lace pattern.

Here's the selection filled with the lace pattern. The lace is blue, but I'll change the color later.

Using EDIT > TRANSFORM, and EDIT > FREE TRANSFORM, I've rotated and distorted the lace pattern to approximate the angle of her chest. Now, it's time to add a little realism.


You'll see a dialog asking for horizontal and vertical displacement values. A good starting point is 3. Accept the default radio button selection, and click OK.

A new dialog will appear asking you to choose a displacement map. I'll choose the Shirt-Disp.PSD file we created earlier. Click OPEN.

Photoshop will apply the displacement map to the texture in the selected layer, in this case the lace image. Doesn't look much different, does it? Just wait... (the distortion is not readily apparent in an image with a lot of detail, such as this lace.)

Now, make sure the SHIRT layer is selected. CRTL-CLICK the T-Shirt BASE Layer to select only the actual shirt. From the Photoshop's menu bar, select SELECTION > INVERT SELECTION to select the area outside the T-shirt. Hit DELETE.

This is what you should be left with. Now, let's make it look real! Grab the T-shirt base layer (the one with the shading), and drag it above the shirt layer. Change the layer mode to OVERLAY.

VIOLA!!! She now has a shirt that looks like it's made with real lace. If you look closely, you'll see how the cloth now looks slightly distorted where it wrinkles. The distortion is not extreme, just enough to look like real wrinkles. The distortion can be increased by using a value greater than 3 in the displacement values dialog.

Using the same procedure, I've applied a displacement to her lace panties. As a finishing touch, I've added trim to her lacy outfit. I used the trim paths I made at the beginning of this tutorial for this.

Since she's wearing red shoes, I went to IMAGE > ADJUSTMENTS > HUE/SATURATION to change the color of her shirt, panties, and trim to match her shoes.

Adding a bit of a background finishes the image. The Girl is now ready to knock your eyes right out of thier sockets.

I hope you found this tutorial useful. If you have any suggestions, comments, or are unclear on any steps, don't hesitate to drop me a sitemail.

Happy Creating!!

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Copyright © 2010, Rod Shelley
Most recent revision Saturday, February 27, 2010