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Download: Displacement Maps for Adobe Photoshop, Series 1

10 gradients for creating wavy fabric effects By Dave Nagel
Displacement maps can be used to create a wide variety of 3D or quasi-3D effects in Adobe Photoshop. The basic idea is that the luminance values of one image are used to define the bending and warping of another image. So, for example, you can use displacement to create crumpled paper, billowing fabric and other types of illusions of depth.

Recently we looked at one such technique: creating a waving flag. (You can read that article by clicking here. This article will provide you with a full description of how to use gradients to create displacement effects.) And I decided that, rather than forcing you try make your own gradients in Photoshop's Gradient Editor, I'd go ahead and supply you with a collection of gradients that can help you create the illusion of depth on fabric, paper, flags and other types of soft objects.

To that end, I present you with the first series of displacement maps for Photoshop: Nagel Series 1.

The displacement maps
This is our first collection of displacement maps for Photoshop. For this set, I've decided to offer up one type of displacement type with 10 variations. All of the displacement objects are gradients. To apply them, you simply create a new document, then choose Layer > New Fill Layer > Gradient. If you have these gradients loaded up, they will be listed among the other gradients that you can choose from.

The advantage of using this method, as opposed to providing you with image-based displacement maps, is that these gradients are resolution-independent. You can use them on any image of ay size or aspect ratio.

The other benefit is that these gradients are fully customizable. Every one of these can be modified simply and easily in Photoshop's Gradient Editor. So you get these 10 gradients, plus any variants you might wish to create for yourself.

The gradients themselves are all grayscale and fairly boring. So rather than showing you screen shots of them, I'll show you screen shots of an object displaced by them. Here's a look at effects created by all 10 of the gradients in this collection.

Nagel Series 1 01

Nagel Series 1 02

Nagel Series 1 03

Nagel Series 1 04

Nagel Series 1 05

Nagel Series 1 06

Nagel Series 1 07

Nagel Series 1 08

Nagel Series 1 09

Nagel Series 1 10

The actual values of the displacement in these images varies. Horizontal displacement is generally at a minimum, since these gradients are applied vertically, (Too much horizontal displacement causes a stretching of the object that doesn't look very pleasant.) Vertical displacement ranged from 10 to 25 in these images.

I should also note that the gradients were used as well to shade the images. A full discussion of this technique can be found by clicking here.

Download and installation
As usual, this week's collection is available free of charge for use in both commercial and non-commercial projects. But I am interested in how these brushes are being used, so please drop me a line at [email protected] with any information you can provide on how you're using them and where I might see examples. These gradients support Photoshop CS and CS2 on Mac OS X and Windows, including Intel-based Mac systems running Photoshop under Rosetta.

To download the gradients (NagelSeries1), follow the download link below.

Download: Nagel Series 1 (4 KB zip archive)

Once you download the file (, decompress it. It will then be called NagelSeries1.grd. Place the decompressed file into your Photoshop gradients directory at /Applications/Adobe Photoshop/Presets/Gradients/.

Once you do that, launch Photoshop so that you can install the new gradients. There are several ways to do this. Probably the most straightforward is to choose Edit > Preset Manager. In the window that pops up, change the preset type to "Gradients," and then click the little flyaway menu. There you'll see NagelSeries1. Select it, and these gradients will be added to your collection.

You can now access these gradients for use with the Gradient tool, the Gradient Overlay layer style and the Gradient Fill layer fill type.

For example, choosing Layer > New Fill Layer > Gradient, you can select any of these gradients in the first dialog that pops up, rather than having to go into the Gradient Editor to edit them yourselves.

If you do want to edit these gradients to create your own variations, simply select one, as in the screen shot above, and then click on the gradient itself in that dialog. This will call up the Gradient Editor, and you can edit away to the depth and breadth of your heart's content.

And remember, if you'd like to find more of our free downloads, you can locate them by clicking on the links below.
If you have any questions, be sure to post them in our Adobe Photoshop forum, which you can access by clicking here.

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Related Keywords:photoshop, adobe photoshop, displacement, displace, maps, free, download, displacement maps, bump maps

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