Before and after processing with texture overlays …

An edit that emphasises the alien.

This is my desktop image at the moment and viewing it up large is quite mesmerising. 
The close-up view of the dandelion seed head, with its spokes, ridges, and follicles, reminded me of machine parts or a ‘space ship’. I processed the image to emphasise the machine-like quality of the seed head, and then added textures to create a retro futuristic science-fiction mood … hence the title.

Lightroom Processing

First the RAW image was converted to black and white in Lightroom, and the contrast was exaggerated to emphasise the structure of the seed head and the giger-esque texture on the spokes (B&W Image).

Photoshop Texture Recipe

In Photoshop, the particle of debris among the seeds was removed using the clone tool.

Then the black and white image was layered multiple times with two textures, using a variety of layer blending modes. I use this technique quite often because playing with textures in different blend modes can alter the feel of an image dramatically with each layer.

This recipe assumes a level of familiarity with applying textures in layers and using blend modes in Photoshop. If you’re not familiar with the processes involved, please check out my tutorials.


Two versatile and useful textures, Left to Right:
Etched – a silvery subtly scratched aluminium texture that I use quite often, especially when I want to create a grunge or retro sci-fi mood in an image.
Worker Beads – a texture of pale green glass beads and reflected bokeh bubbles. As the name suggests, this is a texture I use often: it’s easy, reliable, and carries it’s own weight.
(to view the textures at a larger size, click on the thumbnails below)


  1. B&W Image: Normal 100%
  2. Etched: Hard Light 20%
  3. Worker Beads: Soft Light 25%
  4. Etched: Multiply 10%
  5. WorkerBeads: Soft Light 25%
Etched: Screen 10%
WorkerBeads: Soft Light 25% > Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical (to spread the bokeh circles more evenly over the image)
  8. B&W Image: Soft Light 30%
  9. B&W Image: Screen 20%
  10. WorkerBeads: Soft Light 25%> Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical
  11. B&W Image: Hard Light 19%
  12. B&W Image: Soft Light 20%
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