Remove areas of texture selectively in Photoshop

There are several ways to selectively remove areas of unwanted texture if the texture covers (or detracts from) the subject of an image. In this tutorial, I show how to remove texture using two simple, quick & effective methods in Photoshop: a Layer Mask, or a Gaussian Blur Filter. The choice of method depends on the effects I want to achieve.

Method A: On a Layer mask brush away the texture

Sometimes I want to remove or reduce the effects of a texture layer so I apply a layer mask, & then use a brush to remove the texture as desired.
This method is quick & easy & removes the texture in a non-destructive way that can be reversed.

1. Add a Layer Mask

At the bottom of the layers panel, click on the ‘Add layer mask’ icon (a dark rectangle with white circle in it).
LayerMask - 1. Add a Layer Mask

This adds a mask to the texture layer. The default colour of the layer mask is white, which allows the texture layer to be visible.
The colour of the mask can be changed using Edit > Fill & selecting an option from the menu. A black mask hides the texture layer; a 50% grey mask reduces the opacity of the texture layer to 50%.

2. Select a Brush Tool

On the left of the Photoshop workspace, click on the Brush Tool icon to activate it. Adjust the brush to suit the job: you can change the size, opacity & colour of the brush.
A brush at 100% opacity removes 100% of the texture. To reduce the effects of the brush, reduce its opacity. On a white mask, use a black brush; on a black mask, use a white brush.

LayerMask - 2. Select a Brush

3. Activate the layer mask

Click on the layer mask to activate it.
Then use the Brush Tool to paint over the area of the image where you want the texture removed.
LayerMask - 3. Brush on the Mask

Using a brush on a Layer Mask not only removes the texture, it also removes the colour of the texture, & the effects of the texture layer blend mode (e.g., Soft Light or Screen). On some images, this is exactly what’s needed, but on other images it can look strange to remove the colour of the texture. That’s when it’s better to use the method outlined below.

Method B: Smooth out the texture using a Gaussian Blur Filter

A Gaussian Blur Filter is a quick & easy method to smooth out a texture while keeping the colour of the texture & the effects of the texture layer blend mode. Depending on the version of Photoshop, the texture layer may need to be ‘rasterized’ to make it editable before applying a filter. In Photoshop CS5 there is no need to ‘rasterize’ the layer: Photoshop automatically applies a ‘Smart Filter’, which means the effects are completely reversible.

1. Activate a selection tool

On the left of the Photoshop workspace, click on a selection tool icon, e.g., the Lasso Tool. Your curser will be replaced with a lasso.

2. Select the area of texture to be smoothed

With the Lasso Tool, trace around an area of texture where the filter will be applied. A dotted outline will appear around the selected area.

Filter - 1. Lasso Tool select area to be smoothed

3. Select the Gaussian Blur Filter

Go to Filter (in the Photoshop top menu bar); from the drop down menu select Blur; from the drop down menu, select Gaussian Blur.
Filter 2. Gaussian Blur

4. Adjust the amount of blur

Adjust the amount of blur (level of smoothness) by moving the slider to the left or right. The higher the number, the smoother the effect. 
The preview panel provides a close-up view of the blur effect.

Filter 3. Adjust the amount of blur

5. Photoshop CS5 Smart Filter

In Photoshop CS5, there is no need to rasterize the texture layer before editing. A smart filter is added to the texture layer & the edit occurs on the smart filter.
Filter 4. Photoshop CS5 Smart Filter


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