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Placing artwork on uneven surfaces

You want to place an artwork on a t-shirt, so that it looks believable? To create the necessary distortions you can either use Liquify or Displace. Liquify gives you total control, but it's painfully slow and needs a lot of work. The good thing about Displace is that it does the job for you almost automatically.

The way the displace filter works is very simple. It moves the pixels of your layer around to simulate the uneven surface. You will need a displacement map, that is a psd file. The light and dark areas of this displacement map will determine which pixel moves where.

Let's look at an example. As a first step you need to duplicate the layer you want to put the artwork on. Blur this duplicate layer to create a smooth surface without the texture of the image and save your psd file. This saved file with our blurred layer on top will be our displacement map.

From now on don't save your document until you are finished, otherwise you will overwrite the saved file, that is going to be used as a displacement map. You can switch off the blurred layer and place your artwork as a separate layer in your document. If you have typed up something select Layer/Rasterize/Type from the menu. Rotate and distort your artowork to match its angles and perspective to your image.

Select the Filter/Distort/Displace... and type in Horizontal scale 0% and Vertical scale 12%. You can experiment with these settings later. Select your psd file as your displacement file in the pop-up window. Your artwork is distorted to follow the light and dark areas of your image. Light areas of your displacement map will move the pixels of your artwork up, dark areas will move them down to follow the curves of the textile.

As a last step you need to select Multiply or Overlay as your layer behavior, depending on the colors you used.

Download the psd file.

Commenting on this Blog entry is closed.

Terry Thornhill's picture

ok... Ivan is the favorite person of the day at e-zign!

As more of a designer, It would have never occurred to me to use displacement maps. Thanks for the tip and again for providing the PSD. It really helped to actually pull it up and see what you were describing.

I actually have a project in-house that this technique would cut the design time in half.

Hey, Ivan, where's the tip jar? :)

Ivan's picture

Hey, thanks! You made my day! I'm very happy to be able to provide something useful. :D

The tip jar is on the right and by clicking it, you also tip Google. :)

sPECtre's picture

Well, I have to disagree slightly about Liquify being inadequate: look at and (liquify alert and wave of the future)

But displace indeed rocks!!!

For super duper and twisted info on the topic: (click on displace)

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