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Displacement Map Tattoos

Author: Que Arres

Tools Needed

  • DAZ Studio or similar
  • Photoshop 7 or later


If you've ever tried to edit a skin texture to give your figure a tattoo, you've probably realized how difficult it is, especially when you're trying to align seams to match up properly. This tutorial gives you a way to “cheat” using the Displace filter in Photoshop.


Step 1 - Prepare Your Image


First, you need a figure who wants a tattoo. Set up your scene normally and render the image. Also render an image with a plain black background. For the image I used, it is the same, so I only had to render it once. Next, find a tattoo you want to give your figure or draw your own. This was the one I used:


Step 2 - Set Up The Tattoo


Set up the tattoo where you want it to appear on the figure. I decided to change the color of mine so it could be seen well. Set this layer to Multiply, and adjust the opacity to your liking.

Now for the displacement map.

Step 3 - Creating The Displacement Map

This is probably the most involved step, so pay attention. Open up the render with the black background. Go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate (or Shft+Ctrl+U). Next, go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast. Set the values thusly:


Lastly, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Depending on the size of your render, you may need to blur it more or less, but this is the setting I used:


This done, save your image as Displacement.PSD. It is important that it is saved in this format.

Close out of this file and go back to your original picture (the one with the tattoo layer).

Step 4 - Displacing The Tattoo

Now for the fun part. Make sure your tattoo layer is selected. Go to Filter > Distort > Displace. Set the values thusly:


You will then be prompted for the displacement map. Open the file you just created (Displacement.PSD) and apply. This is the result:


Notice how the tattoo now curves around the figures arm? This is what we want. No texture editing required!

Step 5 - Finishing Touches

Finish up your image by erasing the excess tattoo, such as the areas that go off her arm or on her outfit. Merge the layers and you're done!

Here's another example where I used this technique:


I hope you find this tutorial useful!

Step 6 - One Last Thing...

If you use this technique often, you may want to create an Action for the steps for creating the displacement map. It'll make the process go much faster.

That's all for now ^_^.