Displacement maps and Photoshop displace filter tutorial

How to use the Displace filter and displacement maps in Photoshop CC 2017 2015 CS6 CS5 etc tutorialdisplacement map pose displace filter

PSD files and displacements

The displacement maps are standard PSD files. They can be made from anything, images, type etc but you can also use displacement maps via patterns or textures. You can find our displacement maps on this site for all kinds of work such as create awesome linear effects, scratching, text effects and more


The key thing about the map is that is PSD and it is loaded via the displace filter found in the distort menu of Photoshop and it can be used once or multiple times. It is one of those tools that probably works best when applied multiple times. Once it can look a little limited, apply it again and the magic really happens and even better, apply the magic with the filter combined with other filters such as noise or oil paint and you will see the tool in many new ways.


You can also combine the displacement maps with other resources as well (they are not cast in stone) such as adding addition artworks to the design (perhaps intermixed with effects) such as brush strokes such as the jagged brushes and lattice brushes and symmetry brushes


Displace filter

The Photoshop displacement maps displace filter works well with scripting as you can create scripts with a randomized element, creating effects that match painting. Instead of applying 1, 1 for the scaling, using scripting this can be repeated over and over with subtle changes to the numbers to result in all number of different displacement map end effects.


Displacement maps and scripts

The Photoshop displacement maps can be used with the displace filter to create abstract artwork in seconds. Use the wrap around option and re-apply the displace filter a number of times to displace the image in numerous ways. As mentioned, you can also create a script to randomize this and multiple displacement maps / displace filter can be used to create abstract art as well as painted effects. They also make wonderful brush strokes in Adobe ® Photoshop ®.


Use displacement maps as smart objects

A key thing for me is that the displace filter can be used with Photoshop smart objects and that means instead of just applying the effect and that is that, you can use it but at the same time you can decide that you don't want it or try different settings and so on. You can also combine multiple smart filters with the smart object and also combine those effects with adjustments and layer effects to create a truly awesome effect. You can also bundle the whole thing up in a new smart object and save the result to the CC libraries. You can also combine the displacement maps for use with the Photoshop displace filter with patterns such as swirl patterns and stripe patterns and star patterns but central to the whole thing is the PSD file (unless Adobe change their mind with the filter and allow for multiple other sources such as ones from CC libraries and PNG files as well)


Photoshop displacement maps displace filter examples below


photoshop displacement maps displace filter

The above displacement map applied in Adobe ® Photoshop ® was applied to a rectangle. The displace settings were set to horizontal scale 60 and vertical scale 60 and stretch to fit. The displace filter was applied once using a line themed displacement


small scale displace filter

The above example of a Photoshop displacement maps displace filter uses the same map file (lines) but the scale setting is 4% instead of 60% and the displacement maps is re-applied a number of times. Smaller scale settings result in more subtle displacements


displace filter channel

The displace filter can be used in different channels. By selecting different channels and applying different Photoshop displacement maps with the displace filter, colorful displacement effects can be created (using the same scale setting or not)


displace filter duplicated photoshop

The displacement maps in Adobe ® Photoshop ® can be used as a smart filter. The smart filter displace filter can be modified and duplicated over and over. Use the same or different displacement maps in each of the displace filter applies.


displacement maps smart layer

You can also use layers with the displace filter (shape layers or normal layers) by converting the layer into a smart object via the layer menu or using the smart filter convert option in the filter menu. The Photoshop displacement maps / displace filter can distort the layer (sadly the vector is not distorted - you can't export the distorted work into Illustrator and use the distorted path). The displace filter can be applied once or multiple times to the shape layer in Adobe ® Photoshop ® (see above)


Other tutorials

You can find other tutorials such as how to use custom shapes to create new displacement maps in Photoshop and how to create pattern tiles with custom shapes and how to use Photoshop gradients to create frames / borders


Youtube video tutorials

Youtube video showing the creation of intense lines / oil painting effect in Adobe ® Photoshop ®