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How to Create Displacement Maps using Photoshop Shapes Tutorial

how to create displacement maps using shapes

How to create displacement maps / distortions using Photoshop custom shapes tutorial

  1. Open a new document.

  2. You can then apply the vector artwork / Photoshop shapes as a fill or layer (once or multiple times),

  3. flatten

  4. save the document as a PSD

  5. 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 - you can see all our CSH Photoshop custom shape designs for Photoshop and elements and you can always create your own unique ones for your projects to create your own unique dispacement maps.


The key thing is that the displacement map for Photoshop is PSD. Other applications also have their own displacement maps systems and they often use other file types or all file types or perhaps a native format.


Sadly, the displace filter etc has not been Visibly at least) updated for quite a while and it is one of those filters that really could do with some serious updating (would love to see the filter allow for different sources such as brushes and custom shapes etc as a source as well as Photoshop patterns)

How to create amazing displacement map PSD files using shapes such as adding opacity and layer effects into the mix

source vector with shadow effectThe 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 Photoshop custom shapes can be applied once or multiple times to fill the tile.


You can combine multiple different custom shapes 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.


Right, 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.

How to apply the displacements with filters in Photoshop such as glass filter effect found in the filters section

subtle displacement effect with file from custom shapeThe PSD displacement map can now be applied once or multiple times using a number of filters in Photoshop. On the left, the glass filter has been applied with the PSD displacement.

  1. select filter

  2. browse for the displacement file created using the custom shapes

  3. set the scaling etc

  4. apply.

How to use the offset filter to create even more amazing displacement maps with custom shapes in Photoshop

offset filter to create seamless tile displacement with shapesIf you want to create slightly more interesting than a very basic tile (and the result will be a seamless tile)

  1. Apply the shapes using the pixel option

  2. change color (different grays)

  3. filter menu and offset filter 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.

  4. You can also set the wrap option.

  5. add more Photoshop custom shapes

  6. Use offset again

  7. save as a PSD file

How to create jarring or shattered displacement maps (non seamless effects) in Photoshop using custom shapes

jarred tiles photoshop shapes and displacementsThe 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. On the right you can see a design that can be used in the displacement map filters (glass etc).


The resulting displacement will have jarred lines or breaks in the displacement in most cases

Related items

1. how to use fragments or parts of a custom vector shape in Photoshop

2. how to use custom shapes with RGB color channels in Photoshop

3. how to add glow effects to custom shapes in Photoshop

4. how to load multiple shapes in seconds in Photoshop tutorial

Other resources

1. Space Alien Photoshop Custom Shapes

2. spiral Photoshop custom shapes

3. curled and scroll custom shapes

4. saw blade / sharp edge custom shapes

5. displacement maps / distortions / textures for Photoshop, psp etc here

Youtube Video tutorials

Tutorial on the subject [Youtube]