Remove Texture From Some of the Photo

Q: I have been trying out textures on some photos, but don't know how to remove the texture from a person's face and just have the texture in the background.

A: That's a great question and it's pretty easy to do with Photoshop Elements. Here are the steps:

Step 1 - Duplicate the Background Layer.
Go up to the Layer menu and choose Duplicate Layer… to make a duplicate of your Background Layer in the Layer's Panel. Or use the keyboard shortcut by pressing Control-J (Mac:Cmd-J).

Step 2 - Apply Your Texture.
Make sure your Duplicate Layer is active by clicking on it in the Layers palette.

Now apply a texture, or make any kind of effect to your image by double-clicking on an effect from the Effects palette. Or go up to the Filters menu and choose an effect from there.

In the image below I went to the Filter menu and chose Texture>Grain…. You can see how it affected the whole Layer. However, notice that the Background Layer is unaffected.


Step 3 - Create a Layer Mask
A Layer Mask will allow you to hide the effect from any part of the Duplicate Layer you choose and let the original photo show through from the Background Layer. In this case you want the face to show through.

Click on the half white/half gray circle icon in the Layers palette to create a new adjustment Layer. You are not going to make an adjustment, you just need to use its Layer Mask. So choose Levels from the Create Adjustment Layer as shown below.


When the Levels Dialog box appears, don't make any adjustments. Just click OK. If your using Version 8 you don't need to click OK, it will automatically create a new Adjustment Layer.

Notice how the Adjustment Layer shows an icon representing Levels and to the right of the icon is a square white box. That white box is the Layer Mask.

You need to do a couple things to have the Layer Mask affect your Duplicate Layer. First it needs to be below the Duplicate Layer. Click and drag the Adjustment Layer below the Duplicate Layer. Don't grab it by the Layer Mask icon, drag it by the part of the Layer that shows the Levels icon.

When you see a double bold line appear between the Background and the Duplicate Layers release the mouse button and the Adjustment Layer will go into place. Now the Levels Adjustment Layer should be between the Background Layer and the Duplicate Layer as shown below.


Next you need to group the Duplicate Layer with the Adjustment Layer. To do that click on the top Layer to make it active. Now press Control-G (Mac:Cmd-G).

When you do that the top Layer will scoot over to the right and a 90° down arrow will appear to the left of it. That indicates that the two Layers are grouped.


Now you can use the Layer Mask to hide part of the Filter effect on your duplicate Layer.

Step 4 - Paint Your Mask To Hide Effect
Click on the Levels Adjustment Layer in the Layers Palette to make it active. Now select the Brush tool from the Toolbox to make it your active tool.

Make sure your Foreground Color (the top square at the bottom of the Toolbox) is black. If it's white press X on your keyboard to switch it to black.

Now move your cursor over the part of your photo where you want to remove the effect and "paint" the effect away.

Use the photo below as a checklist for painting your Layer Mask.


  • Choose a Soft Brush from the Options Bar. The tiny triangle to the right of the brush preview reveals more choices for hardness and size when you click and hold on it.

  • Have the Brush Tool Active in the Toolbox. Make it active by clicking on it.
  • Have the Foreground Color Set To Black. Click on the small overlapping squares at the bottom-left of the large overlapping squares to set the Foreground/Background colors to their default black and white. Then press the X key to switch around the colors until black is in the foreground.

  • Make sure the Levels Layer is Active in the Layers palette by clicking on it. Notice that as you paint with black over your photo it is represented on your Layer Mask.

  • Your Brush Icon is represented by a circle. The size of the circle represents the size of your Brush. You can change the size of your Brush by pressing the left and right bracket keys, located next to the letter P on your keyboard. Your Brush Icon will change size accordingly.

If you accidentally brush away an area you didn't intend to, you can switch your Foreground color to white by pressing the X key. Then repaint over that area again and the texture will be revealed.

Here's a look at the before and after.


I hope this gives you the technique to accomplish what you want.

Feel free to use the link below to post a comment to this page.

Until next time,

Comments for Remove Texture From Some of the Photo

Click here to add your own comments

by: Dawna

Great tutorial - easy to follow! Thank you, appreciate you sharing your knowledge!

by: Hilary

Thank you so much for your clear, step-by-step directions. I can't thank you enough for providing this knowledge out of the goodness of your heart. I have found quite a few tutorial sites to get help with photoshop, but they all want money to help. I really appreciate what you have given me/us, and want you to know that such good karma is now coming your way.

Rick says:
You are very welcome. It's great to hear that people are using and benefiting from my efforts.

I wait with calm anticipation of good karma! Thank you Hilary.

Thanks a million
by: suresh kumar

Thank you for helping us with an easy to understand tutorial that's free of cost. Hats off to you.

by: Anonymous

Just FYI - this is word for word straight from Adobe's site of how to do this. So yes, the tutorial is very nice, but people shouldn't think you did it all...

Thank you for making me aware of this. I put a lot of time into creating my tutorials to make them as clear as I can.

I searched the web and did indeed find this same word for word information. It's not on Adobe's site however, but one that is similar to Adobes.

Here is the URL:

Notice the ".info" at the end. The official Adobe site ends with ".com"

They actually have several pages that they lifted from my site and some from other sites, all word for word. Their purpose appears to get you to buy Adobe software through them. I say this because after you're on the site for a short time an ad box pops up encouraging you to click now to buy.

One difference I would point out between the tutorial on my site and the one on theirs is that they have no photos accompanying the tutorial. Notice in Step 4 of the REMOVE TEXTURE FROM SOME OF THE PHOTO. The line right before the bullet points in Step 4 says: Use the photo below as a checklist...
Well they don't have a photo below like I do on my site.

Now I don't mind having my material shared around the internet. But the proper way to do it is to first ask for permission to recopy and then give credit to the author. Otherwise people can be confused. And like in this case I appear to be a copycat taking full credit. Of course that will naturally leave a bad taste in peoples mouth and I lose credibility even though I put a lot of time into creating the content.

All my content is automatically copyrighted and I am protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
So I will contact the owners of that site and inform them that legally they must remove my content. Hopefully that will be the end of it.

Thank you again for bringing this to my attention and I'm sorry for any confusion it created.

Until next time,

doesn?t work for me
by: timothy

Followed the instructions several times. Nothing works. I can see that the brush is coloring on the levels layers mask but nothing is being painted out of the textured image. Did it several more times to make sure I am following the correct steps but no luck. Have had problems creating and using masks before. Am I doing something completely wrong here, seems so simple of a task. I am in CS4 version 11.0.2.

Hi Timothy,
This Layer Mask technique is for users of Photoshop ELEMENTS (prior to version 9), when you couldn't add a Layer Mask to any Layer in the Layers Panel.

You are not using Elements but CS4 which is the Full version of Photoshop, a different product from the same company, Adobe.

With CS4 you don't need to use the Levels workaround. Just click on the Layer you want to mask to make sure it's the active Layer. Then click on the "add a mask" icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel.

That will add a Layer Mask to that Layer. Click once on the Layer Mask to make sure it is active and then you can paint with black to conceal that Layer and reveal the Layer below.

Good luck!

Setting the record straight
by: James

Hey Rick,

Thanks for clarifying the "who is copying who" issue. Those of us who know your work, would know outright that you were not the culprit.

Guess it would benefit some of the other readers to be more widely read, huh?

Nice work, we appreciate it!


Hi James,
Thank you for your support and kind words. It is very encouraging to know that people are being helped by my site.
Take care,

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