Home  >  Tutorials  >   PSP 9 Tutorials  >
Using a Displacement Map
E-mail this tutorial to a friend Email to a Friend

Using a Displacement Map
Created by: Brian


This tutorial will show a method of making one image adapt to the surface shape of another image. You could put a tattoo on an arm, a logo on a T-shirt, or find a piece of newspaper left on a sandy beach. The instructions can be adapted to many situations and with the variety of options that can be chosen, you can finish up with very different images. The choice is yours.

We need to create a map from the rippled sandy beach image and apply this to the piece of newspaper to change the shape and then improve the highlights and shadows.

Download File  Download File
The download file on the left contains the images that are used in this tutorial. Just unzip them and open them in PSP 9.
Open Image

Image A

Image B

Open the two images from your download file:

  • Image A (ripples.jpg) is the background image that shows shape such as folds, ripples, waves and contours, like a bottle or body.
  • Image B (newspaper.jpg) is the image to be applied, e.g. flowers, tattoos and materials, and which will assume the surface shape of the underlying Image A.

What we need to create first:

  • Image C – the "map" which will distort Image B to the shape of the surface of Image A. For this project, this will be a high-contrast, black and white copy of Image A but it can be virtually any image showing adequate contrast.

Save Image

To make the Displacement Map image, duplicate Image A (Window || Duplicate or Shift+D) and work on the copy:

Go to Adjust || Hue and Saturation || Colorize:
– Hue = 0
– Saturation = 0

Now go to Adjust || Brightness and Contrast || Clarify:
– Strength of effect = 5

Repeat the Clarify effect 4-5 times (the easiest and quickest way to do this is to press Ctrl+Y five times).

Save this image as Image C – the "map".

Deform Tool     Warp Brush Tool

Duplicate Image A once again (Window || Duplicate or Shift+D) and close the original image.

Copy Image B (Edit || Copy or Ctrl+C) and paste it as a new layer ('Raster 1') onto the copy of Image A: Click on Image A to make it the active image and go to Edit || Paste || Paste As New Layer (Ctrl+L).

Using the Deform tool, adjust the size, rotate and position Image B on Image A. Using the Warp brush with a large brush size, gently distort some of the straight paper edges.

Save this as Image D.


Check that you have Image C open in PSP and that Image D is open with the layer containing Image B – 'Raster 1', the newspaper – as the active layer.

Now go to Effects || Distortion Effects || Displacement Map. My settings were:
– Displacement Map = Image C (the "map" image)
– Stretch map to fit image = selected
– Blur = 50
– 2D offsets = selected
– Intensity = 15
– Rotation = 30
– Edge mode = Transparent

Click on OK. The other options are not necessary for this project.

We now have the completed Image D, save it.


Magic Wand Tool

Still working on this Image D, copy Image C (Edit || Copy or Ctrl+C), paste it twice as a new layer onto Image D (Edit || Paste || Paste As New Layer or Ctrl+L) and rename the layers 'E' and 'F'.

With layer 'E' active, set the layer blend mode to "Multiply" and initially reduce the layer opacity to about 20.

With layer 'F' active, set the layer blend mode to "Dodge" and also reduce the layer opacity to about 20.

With layer 'Raster 1' active, use the Magic Wand tool with
– Match mode = RGB Value or Opacity
– Tolerance = 0
Click in the opaque area outside the image that is on 'Raster 1' (i.e. outside the newspaper). The marquee will surround the image that is being applied to the surface.


Activate layer 'E' and press the Delete key.
Activate layer 'F' and press the Delete key.

This leaves the copies of C – the map image – only covering the newspaper image on 'Raster 1'.

Deselect (Selections || Select None or Ctrl+D) and adjust the layer opacities of 'E' and 'F' (I had an opacity of 34 on layer 'E' and of 12 on layer 'F').

Save as Image G which shows the final image with the applied image assuming the surface shape and with accentuated highlights and shadows.

Apply this method to decorate any contoured surface. The possibilities are endless.
Download File 2  Download File 2
In case you became addicted to this new effect of PSP 9 and wish to continue playing around with it – here are some more images for you to play with! :-))