How to Create Displacement Maps using Photoshop Shapes Tutorial

How to create displacements using Photoshop custom shapes tutorial

Photoshop shapes / Basics

Open a new document. You can then apply the vector artwork / Photoshop shapes as a fill or layer (once or multiple times), flatten and save the document as a PSD and then use the PSD in texturizer filter / glass filter / displacement. You can use any number of Photoshop custom shapes and you can find them on the web as well as many on this site via the Photoshop shapes section (see the link above) and you can always create your own unique ones for your projects to create your own unique dispacement maps



Create displacement maps

The displacement tiles are PSD format files. The presets can be applied to any document and the result can be saved as a PSD. The key thing is to avoid the seams of the document. The vector presets can be applied once or multiple times to fill the tile. You can combine multiple different presets and perhaps combine with opacity as well as layer effects (if the presets are added as a layer) along with opacity. You can also combine the presets with smart filters if you turn the artworks into smart objects via the layer menu. Below, the artwork has been added as a single preset as a layer and a shadow has been added via the layer effects and then saved as a PSD file, the result can then be used in a variety of filters.


source vector with shadow effect


Original source image below before any displacements added




Displace filter

The image below has had two different displace filters (found in the distort menu) added with the tile option and repeat edge pixels and a set of 20% and 20% with a 40% and 40% displace. The filter can be added multiple times using the shape derived image or perhaps a different one (in the case below it is the same image)




Sadly, the displace filter has to be one of the most powerful filters around but with the least visual preview so the actual results can only be seen once you have clicked the ok. I find it amazing that there is still no preview in 2015. It would be a great addition if the shapes could be a source via the filter itself like the blur filter as the presets along with brushes and patterns could be a perfect source material for all kinds of shifts of pixels in PS (Painter has had something similar since about 1990 with its own tools)


Glass filter

Below, the glass filter found in the filter gallery. This tool has a preview and you can also combine multiple filter effects and vary the PSD file used. You can set the scale and distortion and smoothness of the PSD file generated by the Photoshop shapes. You can also apply the effect more than once as in the picture below as well as set different scalings. There are a few other filters that can use the source material such as texturizer




You can also combine the distortions with other effects such as oil paint to really add a smooth touch the glass effect.




Displacements and scaling

One frustrating feature of some of the filters is that the scaling stops at 50% or 250% but using a vector does mean you can get around that limitation by creating a smaller or very large displacement map. A single vector artwork can be used to create many different wonderful and odd distortions. Perfect for a Picasso look perhaps.




Offset filter

If you want to create slightly more interesting than a very basic tile, you can also combine the vectors using the offset filter found in the filter menu. If the document for the PSD file is set to 600 x 600 in size then set the horizontal and vertical settings to -300 and 300. You can also set the wrap option. Below a more complex PSD has been created using the offset along with opacity set to 50% to create more subtle distortions




Jarring tiles / displacements in Photoshop

The above all describe seamless tiles but you can always add the vector artworks over the edge of any tile. You can also apply effects such as blurs / distortions etc and these will create a disjointed tile. You can use this to create intense distressed images. Below, you can see the slight jarring cutoffs to the distortion creating lines in the glass.




Related items

You can find the artworks used here in Space Alien Custom Shapes for PS and PS Elements


Video tutorials

Tutorial on the subject [Youtube]