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Adding texture

This tutorial will show you a way to easily add texture to your images for a distressed and worn look. I recommend experimenting with different types of textures, like cardboard, folded paper, metal and wood.

The result will be these two images:

If you want to follow this tutorial more closely, download this psd-file (from step 3).

The file might require CS3, but the tutorial itself works with older versions.

  1. First I make a new document (750x225).
  2. Add a new fill layer and choose a nice colour.
  3. I then place an illustrator file I have prepared with my artwork (File > Place...) It will be linked as a smart object. You could also place or paste in your own artwork at this step.
    Tip: Hold down shift when scaling to keep proportions. Also hold down Alt to scale from the middle.
  4. Now we need to prepare the texture. For this example I download this free texture from and open it in Photoshop. Crop off the text at the bottom.
  5. Next I remove the colour by desaturating the image. (Depending on your texture and intentions you could try skipping this step)
  6. Next we need to increase the contrast to bring out the texture. To do this I add a curves adjustment layer:
  7. Then adjust the contrast until happy. I chose to simply move the black and white point closer together like in the image. Make white the dominant color for this example.
  8. We now have our texture. Select all (command-a / ctrl-a / Select>All)
  9. Next choose Edit>Copy Merged (command-shift-c / ctrl-shift-c).
  10. Now we go back to the artwork and choose Edit>Paste (command-v / ctrl-v).
  11. The new texture is too big, so we will have to scale it down. To allow us to scale it up/down without loosing quality, right-click (ctrl-click on a mac without proper mouse) on the layer and choose "convert to Smart Object".
  12. With a selection tool or something similar, right-click the image and choose "Free Transform".
    You can also choose it from the Edit menu or by pressing ctrl-t/command-t.
  13. Scale down to cover the artwork. Remember to hold down shift when scaling to keep proportions!
    If you can't see the transform handles zoom out using command-/ctrl- (and command+/ctrl+ to zoom in).

Now it is time to choose what effect you want; stained or flaked paint (or both).


  1. To get the "dirty" look shown at the before the tutorial hold down the alt-key and click between the layers. You will see the mouse pointer change. You can also go to Layer>Create Clipping Mask (with the top layer selected).
  2. To blend it with the artwork set blending mode to multiply, and lower the opacity a little. VoilĂ !

Flaked paint

  1. Ok, we're back at the step where we're done scaling down the texture.
  2. To do make the effect we must turn the texture into a layer mask. Unfortunately you can't use a smart object as a mask (yet) so we will have to rasterize it. There are two ways of effectively turning a black/white image into a mask, in this example we will use a quick and dirty method.
  3. Choose Select>Color Range...
  4. Click a pure white spot in the image (or black if that is your dominating colour). Set Fuzziness to max (200). Ok.
  5. The area you want to retain is now selected. Hide the dirt layer, and select the logo layer.
  6. In the layers palette click "Add Layer Mask". This will create a mask based on the selection. VoilĂ ! You could also try to invert the mask and see if that provides a better result.

Alternate method

It is possible to use pre-made brushes to "paint" the texture into the layers and masks. This is useful if you need to use the same texture often or on a lot of elements. You can create your own brushes from the black and white image in step 6 or by downloading free "grunge" and texture brushes from the web. Beware that free online brushes are often inadequate resolution for 300 dpi (print) work.

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Please contact me if you see any mistakes or have questions.