Is there a way to use Photoshop or Illustrator to superimpose a photo on a terrycloth texture?

I would like to create a mock-up of a closeup image of a beach towel on which has been printed a photographic image.

  • 1
    Google "Photoshop Displacement Map tutorials". That feature may be what you're looking for.
    – DLev
    Oct 25, 2016 at 17:23

3 Answers 3


Playing with the blending modes is a quick easy way to accomplish what you're looking for. But truly, using the displacement map filter makes the final image look much more realistic (especially if the textured garment you would like to use is not perfectly flat and has some wrinkles). Here is an example of what I'm talking about. The first image used for the design to be printed on the towel was a vector American flag. The next image was the towel texture background I used for the displacement map in Photoshop. The third image is the final product of the flag appearing as it was printed on a towel. This whole process took me less than five minutes in Photoshop.

Photoshop displacement map example

Getting started with displacement maps in Photoshop.

  1. First thing I always do is create A new document at 300 dpi resolution and I set my canvas size to what ever the project calls for. For this project I just opened the vector flag image in Photoshop and used that as the starting point for my canvas size.

  2. Next I found a textured towel image on the net and opened that image in a new window in Photoshop. At this point I now have the flag image and the textured towel image opened as two separate windows in Photoshop.

  3. Now in your layers palette, in the textured towel document, right click on the towel layer and select “Duplicate Layer”. It will open up a dialog box asking where you want to make the duplicate. Choose to create the duplicate in the document containing the flag. Switch over to your flag document and make sure that new towel layer has been created. If your flag document contains two layers (one layer will be the flag and the other layer will be the towel), then just go ahead and Close out the towel document window.

  4. Because I wanted the flag to appear as large as the towel, I had to select the towel layer and manually transform (scale it up) the towel Image to be as large as the flag.

  5. Whenever possible I try not to destructively edit my images so the first thing I do now is select both layers in the layers palette while holding the shift key so both layers will be highlighted, and right click and choose “New Group From Layers”. This creates a folder group with the towel and flag layers inside. I usually name this group “Originals” in case I drastically mess up somewhere along the line. I can always go back to my originals. Now that we have this new “Originals” group in the layers palette, right click on that “Originals” group folder and choose “Duplicate Group”. This new duplicated group will be the files I am editing. Now just toggle the visibility off on your original group.

  6. Previously I mentioned trying not to destructively edit my images. If we convert our flag layer and towel layer both into smart objects, we can non destructively add filters or effects to these layers which can be removed at anytime. To do this, All we need to do is right-click on the flag layer and choose “Convert To Smart Object” and do the same with the towel layer.

  7. Now it's time for the fun stuff. So we want to make the flag look like it's printed on the towel? What we need to do is make a “Displacement Map” file. This will be the file that has the texture or objects that will be used to distort and displace the flag image. Displacement map images need to be converted to grayscale and saved as only a PSD file. To do this, just double-click on the smart object towel layer in the layers palette. This will open up the towel in a new window. Select the towel layer in the layers palette then at the bottom of the layers palette window, click the New Adjustment Layer icon and choose Black-And-White. Now close that document and save it when the dialog window pops open and asking if you want to save it. This will bring you back to your original document with both flag and towel layers. Now double-click the smart object flag layer in your layers palette. This now opens up the flag smart object in a new window. Make sure the flag layer is selected in the layers palette and go to menu item Filter/Convert For Smart Filters. Making sure you're layer is still selected in the layers palette, go to menu item Filter/Blur/Gaussian Blur and give it just enough to blur so that there are no crispy hard edges in the image. Remember though, this is a Smart Object with Smart Filters so we can always go back and adjust the blur settings at any time. Next make sure the flag layer is selected in the layers palette and go to menu item Filter/Distort/Displace and in that dialog window set your horizontal scale to 10 and your vertical scale to 10 and select Stretch To Fit option and Wrap Around option. After this just closeout that document window and choose to save the file. This again brings us back to the original document with the flag and the towel layers.

  8. Making sure the towel layer is above the flag layer in the layers palette, select the towel layer, Choose “Linear Burn” in the blend modes drop-down list and drop your opacity down to 65%. Play around with different blending modes and opacities to achieve the look you are hoping for.

  • 1
    Hi wch1zpink, thanks for your answer and welcome to GDSE. Although your result is very good, you don't really tell us how you got to it. Could you clarify what techniques you used, how you applied them and why they are the right tool for the job. We like answers that educate here, more than just a tutorial that says 'do this'. Thanks for your time and effort and keep contributing!
    – PieBie
    Nov 7, 2016 at 8:10
  • Sure thing... I will hop on that right now and will post again shortly
    – wch1zpink
    Nov 7, 2016 at 8:13

"You could:

  1. find a terry cloth texture online (white would be best)
  2. make it your bottom layer in photoshop under your photo
  3. turn your photo into a "multiply" layer using the layers palette, under "normal" there is a bunch of options.

That usually gets pretty close, but you can play with the other settings in the palette to see what works best for you.

  • Bless you. Will try this!
    – Eimilie
    Oct 25, 2016 at 17:50

Here's a way to manually create a terry cloth-like texture on your images.

Step 1: Get a beach towel picture

This is optional because you might just want the picture itself to "be the beach towel" and that's fine, but for this example, here's a lovely white beach towel.

Lovely white beach towel

Step 2: Embed the picture you want in a new layer and size it as close as you can to the beach towel.

A rad picture to put on the towel

Step 3: Adjust the picture as need with cropping and transformations to get a better fit. Here, I just used the marquee tool and selected what I wanted to show on the towel, then selected the inverse (ctrl+shift+i) and deleted.

Selected the cute part to go on the towel

Step 4: Duplicate the beach towel image into another layer and place it on top of your image. Like a little sandwich. (please note, in this image I made a plain coloured rectangle and placed that as the top layer. I went back and changed that to the beach towel but neglected to take a new screen cap. Sorry :( )

A copy of the beach towel on top of everything

Step 5: Add noise to make additional texture! While it's true that you can probably just set your new beach towel to overlay and let it be, I like to spice up the noise so that the texture really comes through!

Adding noise

Settings I used to add noise

Step 6: Set your top layer to overlay and lower the opacity a bit until the colors look about right (yes your colors are going to lighten, but if you were to actually print this image on a white beach towel, then your colors will lighten. Unless this is some mega high-quality printing... In any case, I think the lightening here is fairly authentic).

Setting layer to overlay and reducing opacity

Step 8: enjoy your lovely-looking beach towel!

The beach towel

-In case this doesn't give you the effect you're looking for this tutorial can teach you how to make other fabric textures in photoshop.

  • Wow. Thank you for all this! Yes, I am looking for fabric texture to be evident in resulting image.
    – Eimilie
    Oct 25, 2016 at 17:53

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