Sign Up Now
Twitter Facebook Flickr Buzz
Social Networks


Forgot Password? Go Join Now
Sign Up for Starter's Pack (Free)
Call (800) 223-8720
Need Web Solutions? Get Free Sample Issue

Inside Photoshop: Search Articles

  Search Library:  
2019 |  2018 |  2017 |  2016 |  2015 |  2014 |  2013 |  2012 |  2011 |  2010 |  2009 |  2008 |  2007 |  2006 |  2005 | 

Stylize your images with this unique batik technique

Added on Thursday 5th of April 2012 03:46 am EST

by Amy Palermo
Adobe Photoshop CS2/CS3/CS4/CS5
Operating Systems:
Macintosh, Microsoft Windows

Creating a traditional batik is an intricate process, requiring specific fabrics, dyes, patience, and time. While most of us don’t have access to these things, we do have access to Photoshop’s many filters. We’ll show you how to create a stylized batik effect in Photoshop from your everyday images that won’t fail to impress.


To show you how to add a batik effect to your images we’ll:

  1. Explain the fundamental batik technique so you’ll understand the look we’re aiming to achieve.
  2. Show you how to set up your document to create the foundation ink layer.
  3. Describe the wax technique and show you how to apply the same look to your image.
  4. Create a crackle effect that mimics the veined appearance of a traditional batik.


Batik is a fabric dyeing technique where wax is first applied as a resist, or masking agent, to preserve the original fabric color. The fabric is dyed, and then the wax is removed. During this process, the wax often cracks, and dye seeps in, creating a veined appearance in those areas. Our Photoshop technique is structurally similar; however, it requires minimal preparation, zero cleanup, and the results are outstanding, as you can see in Figure A.


Begin the technique
To begin, you’ll need an RGB image with some edge definition. If you want to follow along with our example, download from the URL at the beginning of this article, and extract the file Hibiscus.psd.


Note: Some of the steps in this technique include settings for filter dialog boxes, etc. These work rather well with our image, but if you’re using a different image you may have to experiment with different settings to see what gives your image the best results.


Lay the foundation
The first step in traditional Batik is to apply the wax and define the areas of resist. Since we’re working in Photoshop we need to reorder the steps a bit. First, we’ll blur our image to create the illusion of the colored dyes bleeding into one another.


To blur the image:

  1. Launch Photoshop.
  2. Navigate to and open your file.
  3. Duplicate the Background layer to preserve a copy of the original.
  4. Rename the Background copy layer Blurred.
  5. Choose Filter > Blur > Smart Blur.
  6. Enter 50 in the Radius text box and 40 in the Threshold text box.
  7. Choose High from the Quality pop-up menu and click OK.
  8. Select Image > Adjustments > Equalize. This brightens the colors in the image, as shown in Figure B.


Illuminate the edge
Next, we’ll illuminate the edge of our image. This creates a natural highlight, enhancing the wax outlined area that we’ll define in a moment.


To accent the outline:

  1. Duplicate the Blurred layer and rename it Accented Edges.
  2. Choose Filter > Brush Strokes > Accented Edges.
  3. Enter 8 in the Edge Width text box, 50 in the Edge Brightness text box, and 15 in the Smoothness text box.
  4. Click OK.
  5. Choose Image > Adjustments > Equalize.
  6. Set the Layer Blending Mode to Lighten and the Opacity to 40. This illuminates the edge as shown in Figure C.



Define the wax line
The next step in our technique is to define the waxed outline area. In a traditional batik this is the area where we don’t want the dye.


To define the outline:

  1. Select the Blurred layer in the Layers panel.
  2. Duplicate the layer and rename it Wax Line.
  3. Move the Wax Line layer to the top of the Layers panel. Your panel should look like the one in Figure D.
  4. Choose Filter > Stylize > Find Edges. This creates a colored outline effect as you can see in Figure E.
  5. Select Image > Adjustments > Threshold.
  6. Enter 210 in the Threshold Level text box if you’re following along with our example. Otherwise, enter a number from 1 to 255, or adjust the Threshold Level slider until you’re satisfied with the amount of line in your image. A smaller number yields fewer outlines, and a larger number yields more outlines.
  7. Click OK. This creates a black rugged outline as shown in Figure F.


Note: If you want to clean up any stray markings in the Wax Line layer, simply select the Wax Line layer and, with the eraser tool, erase the lines.