Design a Skin-Textured Typography Scene in Photoshop


Click the preview image to see the final result in full size.

Tutorial Resources

Step 1: Create a New Document in Photoshop

Let’s start by creating a new document in Photoshop. Since I want to create a graphic that can be used as a desktop wallpaper, my document’s size is rather large, 1920×1200 pixels — but you are free to choose the size of your canvas to best suit your needs and preferences.

Step 2: Create a Radial Gradient to the Background

Apply a radial gradient to the Background layer using the Layer Style dialog window; double-click on the layer to access the window. From the Layer Style dialog window, select "Gradient Overlay" and add a gradient with the Style option set to Radial, and the gradient going from a light red (#e45f5f) to a darker red (#7a2424).

Create a Radial Gradient to the Background

With the Layer Style window still open, you can move the center of the gradient by simply clicking and dragging over the canvas. Notice that if the Layer Style dialog window is closed, you won’t be able to move the gradient. I’ve moved the center of the radial gradient to the top left of the canvas.

Create a Radial Gradient to the Background

Step 3: Add a Texture to the Background

I love to "dirty up" the backgrounds of my compositions a little bit using grunge and paper textures. So let’s download a texture from my Scratched Metallic textures set (the free sample will work fine) and paste it into our document. Alternatively, feel free to experiment with textures of your own, or check out the Freebies section here on Design Instruct.

Press Ctrl/Cmd + T to activate Free Transform mode and scale down the size of the texture to fit our canvas.

Add a Texture to the Background

Set the layer’s Blend Mode to Overlay and reduce its Opacity to 20%.

Add a Texture to the Background

At this point, I think the focal point of the composition needs more light. So create a new layer and move it between the Background layer and the texture layer. Grab the Brush Tool (B) and set it up so that you have a large, soft, white brush with Hardness at 0%. Then, just click once on the canvas to create a round brush stroke. Reduce the Opacity of the layer in case you think the light effect is too strong.

Add a Texture to the Background

Step 4: Adding the Text

We can now add the text. It’s essential to choose a good font. The idea is to work with a skin texture, so a round, bold font is what we need to obtain for an awesome and high-impact composition. After surfing through many font directories like, I’ve found a free font called Doughboy that is perfect for our graphic. If you want to use that font, download it and install it.

With your chosen font, write something onto the center of the canvas using the Horizontal Type Tool (T). Make the font size fairly large because it is the main element of our piece. The word I wrote was simply the word "Skin."

Adding the Text

The first thing we have to modify is the text’s color, so right-click on the text layer in the Layers Panel and select Blending Options from the menu that appears.

In the Layer Style dialog window, add a pink linear color gradient going from #ab6e6e to #d19494.

Adding the Text

Secondly, add a soft drop shadow (color should be #3f0202).

Adding the Text

Step 5: Adding the Skin Texture to the Text

The process of applying the texture to the text is very simple and can be used to apply any kind of texture to any kind of text. The technique I will share with you is based on the concept of light and shadow distribution.

Let’s start by downloading the texture and pasting it into the canvas.

Adding the Skin Texture to the Text

Resize it and locate the texture above the letter "S". We will work on one letter at a time. Take in mind that if you resize the texture, you will add finer details to each letter.

Adding the Skin Texture to the Text

By setting the texture layer’s Blend Mode to Overlay, you can preview how the texture will affect the letter.

Adding the Skin Texture to the Text

To mask out the extra parts of the texture, Ctrl/Cmd + click on the text layer to select around it, and afterwards, add a layer mask onto the texture layer by pressing the Add layer mask button in the Layers Panel.

Adding the Skin Texture to the Text

Step 6: Create the 3D Effect on the Type

To create the illusion of perspective so that the text will have depth, we won’t be using 3D software. We will only rely on two powerful Photoshop tools: the Burn Tool and the Dodge Tool (O) to manually paint the illusion of depth.

The Burn Tool is used to darken areas of objects on the canvas. The Dodge Tool does the opposite; it lightens up areas that you apply it to. They both work like brushes and in fact, you are free to use the brush library with them.

We will start using the Burn Tool to darken the edges of the letter. Dark edges give the idea of depth. Gently paint over the areas indicated by the red arrows using a large, soft brush with the Exposure at around 50%.

Create the 3D Effect on the Type

Reduce the brush size and increase the Exposure. Paint over the edges again, and you’ll see that, this time, the effect will be more visible. By varying our strokes and options, we will be able to create realistic highlights.

Create the 3D Effect on the Type

Continue using the Burn Tool until you’re satisfied with the result. Here is what I ended up with:

Create the 3D Effect on the Type

To give the letter even more depth, switch to the Dodge Tool and paint over the center of the letter (indicated with red arrows below).

Create the 3D Effect on the Type

Step 7: Apply the Texture to All the Letters

Use the same method we used in Step 5 and Step 6 to add textures to other letters, as well as to give them depth by using the Dodge Tool and the Burn Tool.

Apply the Texture to All the Letters

Step 8: Split Up the Letter "i"

At this point of the process of designing this piece, I had an idea: these letters look like food. In particular, the letter "i" makes me think of a small salami — Hey, I’m Italian, and food is a big part of our culture!

So what I wanted to do was cut the letter "i" to make it look like it is split open. There’s a complication to doing this, though: each letter is a combination of 2 layers, the text + the texture. To divide a letter in two parts, we have to create a single layer for that letter.

Let’s do that now. First, hide the visibility of all the texture layers (for the moment) so we can focus our attention on the text layer.

Rasterize the text layer by right-clicking on it in the Layers Panel and then choosing Rasterize Layer from the menu that appears.

Grab the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) and select the "i".

Split Up the Letter "i"

Press Ctrl/Cmd + J so you duplicate only the "i" on a new layer of its own.

Next, we will remove the letter "i" from the original text layer. Again, select the letter "i" (or go to Select > Reselect), switch to the text layer and press Delete. What you should obtain at the end is a layer containing the letters "s", "k", "n" and a separate layer containing the letter "i".

You can now make all the texture layers visible again.

Select both the "i" layer and its texture layer in the Layers Panel and then merge them into one layer (Ctrl/Cmd + E).

Split Up the Letter "i"

Use the Pen Tool (P) in Paths mode to create a path that includes the top part of the letter "i".

Split Up the Letter "i"

Press Ctrl/Cmd + Enter to convert the path you just made into a selection.

Split Up the Letter "i"

Make sure to have the "i" layer as the active layer in the Layers Panel. Use the Move Tool (V) to move the selection up, separating the upper and lower portion of the letter.

Also, if you press Ctrl/Cmd + T (Free Transform mode), you can rotate the selected area slightly to the right so that it looks like it has just been sliced. If you want to rotate the bottom part, the method will be the same.

Split Up the Letter "i"

Step 9: Fill the Insides of the Letter "i" with Meat

To support the idea of depth, we need to fill the bottom part of letter "i". To do so, download this image of a piece of steak and open it in Photoshop.

With the help of the Pen Tool, make a selection on top of the steak (shown below).

Split Up the Letter "i"

Copy and paste the selection in the main canvas. Use Free Transform (Ctrl/Cmd + T) to rotate and resize the meat to match the dimensions of the letter.

Fill the Insides of the Letter "i" with Meat

Step 10: Accent the Piece with a Fork and Knife

We can add even more details to the scene. I’d like to add a fork and knife element to the piece to reinforce the idea of the letter "i" being sliced open. Download this image containing a fork and a knife. Use the Pen Tool (P) to extract the cutlery from their background and then place them in our main document.

Since both the fork and the knife are too flat, duplicate the layers and set the duplicated layer’s Blend Mode to Overlay in order to increase their colors’ contrast. After doing this, remember to merge each original layer with the duplicated ones because we have to move and rotate the 2 objects, and it’s more comfortable to work with only 2 layers.

Step 11: Modify the Fork

Place the fork at the bottom of the first letter using the Move Tool (V). We want to modify the fork to create the impression that it is poking the first letter ("S"). So add a layer mask to the fork layer, grab a round, black brush with the Hardness at 100% and mask out the upper part of the points of the fork.

Modify the Fork

Next, select the layer with the letter "S" on it in the Layers Panel. Grab the Burn Tool (O) from the Tools Panel and use it to darken the small areas where the fork should be poking into the letter. This way, we create the idea that the points of the fork is poking into the inside of the letter.

Modify the Fork

Step 12: Increase the Contrast of the Composition

The last step is to increase the contrast of the entire composition. There are several ways to obtain this result, but what I will illustrate in this tutorial is the use of a Gradient Map adjustment layer to boost the contrast. To create this adjustment layer, go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map. Set up the Gradient Map adjustment layer so that the gradient is going from white to black. Move this layer on top of all the other layers and, finally, set the Blend Mode of the layer to Overlay and Opacity to 20%.

Increase the Contrast of the Composition

Tutorial Summary

Finito! We’ve finished! We created a text effect that involves superimposing a texture onto it, and then refined our work using the Burn Tool and Dodge Tool. We performed a couple of photomanipulation techniques, including slicing up a letter into two pieces and filling the insides with some meat, as well as making it look like as though the first letter is being punctured by a fork.

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. I recommend experimenting with your own textures and fonts to create your very own textured, 3D type. (And if you do, don’t be afraid to leave a link showing your work in the comments below.)

Download Source Files

  • Hannibal Lecter eat your heart out…. LITERALLY πŸ˜‰

  • Francheska

    awesomee tut! im more of an illustrator person but you explained things very well here & i got through it smoothly & it taught me alott!!(: thanks!

  • Jordon Allen

    Very creative. I like it.

  • Aljosa Ilic

    Just can’t get same effects with dodge and burn, but i guess that means i need to practice a lot :)))…and can’t use this font on PC, so…the result is just not the same…and your picture quality is far better with the same textures and materials used. Great tutorial, nicely explained step by step…i’m new to the Ps, and i’m literary learning everything through your tutorials,big thanks. Hope one day i’l get pro :))) thanx again!

  • Thanks guys for your appreciations πŸ˜‰

  • Ahaha yeah my psychologist didn’t approve this tutorial

  • Hi Aljosa,

    Just try again and again. The important thing is not to re-produce the same effect of the tutorial, but to learn some useful techniques. Try using different font and different textures (i.e. snake’s skin), I’m sure you’ll obtain nice results!

  • Aljosa, I was going to basically say what Sebastiano said. And to add to it, take his experience as an inspiration. Sebastiano is self-taught, mostly from following online tutorials. Now, he’s become a successful designer as well as entrepreneur (with WeGraphics). You never know, some day, just like Sebastiano, you’ll give back to our community by writing your own tutorials!


    the Doughboy font is empty or not working so please post other link from where we can download it please

  • Ricardo

    Nice tutorial!
    The final result its amazing!

  • simen

    anyone who knows how to instal afm font type ??

  • King Ellie

    Great work,I’ve learned a lot,Thx.

  • saurabh kumar

    very nice tutorial final output is very impressive

  • Israa

    hey there,
    gr8 tutorial , i just have this problem , i can’t continue this step: “To mask out the extra parts of the texture, Ctrl/Cmd + click on the text layer to select around it, and afterwards, add a layer mask onto the texture layer by pressing the Add layer mask button in the Layers Panel”

    would u explain it again please.


  • winsy

    hello it’s a cool tutorial but i don’t understand one part.
    “To mask out the extra parts of the texture, Ctrl/Cmd + click on the text layer to select around it, and afterwards, add a layer mask onto the texture layer by pressing the Add layer mask button in the Layers Pane?”
    I tried reading it over and over again but I still don’t get it. could you please explain it to me please.

  • So what you want to do is create a selection around the text by Ctrl/Cmd + clicking on the layer’s thumbnail in the layers panel. You know that this has been successful when you see dashed lines that outline the text. Then click the Add layer mask button at the bottom of the layers panel, which will add a layer mask only on the selected area.

  • winsy

    hi I got it already. But i’m not sure if it works on other versions of photoshop. I use cs4. anyway, What he means is that at the bottom right hand side, you ctrl + double click on the text panel and then , like jacob said, you’ll see dotted lines surrounding all letters. now you’ll just simply click on the layer for the first letter once ( that’s if you’re doing letter by letter) . Ok now , the layer mask option would be available. to find the layer mask option, move your cursor to the top and under the “layer” tab you’ll see “layer mask”. And under the “layer mask” you’ll need to click on reveal selection. and there you have it:)

  • hina

    Nice tutorial! BUT burn tool and dodge tool… very difficult.

  • Guillermo

    Gracias campion por este tutorial,
    muy original, muy llamativo.

  • Amit

    Brilliant job. Thought I didn’t like the texture, I appreciate your hard work and your prespective.

    Good job.

  • edmund

    step 5:To mask out the extra parts of the texture, Ctrl/Cmd + click on the text layer to select around it, and afterwards, add a layer mask onto the texture layer by pressing the Add layer mask button in the Layers Panel

    i can’t do tat..somebody help =(

  • Rachel

    Just wanted to say thank you for an easy and direct tutorial! This is the first one I’ve managed to complete as any other one I’ve tried seems to be missing something within them. This is also the first work I’ve done on Photoshop seeing all my experience is with Corel! Thanks again!

  • jesica

    gracias por el post! queda increible!! =)

  • Jordana

    Amazing effect!

  • very very cool, thanks for this

  • Grezza

    Can u get Doughboy For Windows? I need it For Windows

  • Amazing result, a lot of fun, clearly explained as usual, and I love the fact that the techniques can be applied across many different fonts, textures, images, and ideas. Thank you!!

  • partha s

    mind blowing…tut.
    thanks bro.

  • Akeisa L

    Doughboy for Windows please?

  • Patrick Tohill

    Do you have to rasterize the texture for the burn and dodge tools to work? If not then I’m doing something wrong.

  • kenneth

    i have it on my pc.. dont remember where i got it from, just mail me on [Email removed for privacy] and i can send it to u

  • zinou

    when I finished I felt hungry……….

  • Adam
  • Dan Ramos

    La fuente “doughboy” de esa pagina no le sirven el windows!!, porque el formato no es “.ttf”. Yo hice mi diseΓ±o con una fuente parecida que se llama “babycakes”. Quedo asi!

  • This comment, according to Google Translate:

    The source “doughboy” of that page does not serve the windows!, Because the format is not. “Ttf”. I made my layout with a similar source called “babycakes.” I look like that!

  • Anwar CGAre

    that was great…

  • Kim

    This font makes me laugh. Now I just need to find a reason to use it πŸ™‚

  • Kyle E.

    once u have it selected, instead of the normal layer mask, you click reveal selected….do it 2 the layer with the skin texture
    hope i helped

  • Kyle E.

    Burn tool not working? please help. working on Win. Vista if that matters. thanks.

  • m.d

    I reached this conclusion that I do not know anything about Photoshop

  • Great piece of work… Great job!
    Thank you for share.

  • good job…

  • pedrustacio

    Thank you very good tutorial, I changed things, but the result is awsome

  • That’s great that you tweaked the tutorial! Feel free to show us your version of the final result by either uploading it to the Design Instruct Flickr pool or using an image sharing service like imgur!


    hey im hari kishore
    ure tutorial was awesome
    i learnt many things from ure tutorial

    $$$$$$$$$$$$ THANK YOU $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  • it is very nice tute

  • gangsta

    the font wont work…

  • victor

    i cant do that step :S

  • JC Parmley

    To which step are you referring to, and I can try to help πŸ™‚

  • Ria

    EPIC tutorial! Writing just to say a big thank you that you took the time to make tis tutorial and help strangers evolve!!! Thanks!!! πŸ™‚

  • Eric

    Sebastiano! Your a dead set legend! There area COUNTLESS amounts of PS tutorials – if you can call them that….most of them are “look at me and what I can do on Photoshop” tutorials and don’t explain SQUAT. Your tutorial above was fantastic and the instructions were brilliant. The first PS tutorial I completed and actually had FUN while doing it. Kudos my good man!


  • hi! I want to this tutorial’s files because I want to try. I want to download. Please help me sir.

  • attaiya

    realy nice 1, superb

  • Alon

    Hi I select the Text Layer and then when I go to the layers panel I try add a Layer mask but it will not let me πŸ™

  • John

    Please help me how to do the text sow the skintexture only is on the text! ItΒ΄s not working!

  • Hiya, thanks for putting this up, I really enjoyed it. especially as it was very funny using meat in there.

  • Eli

    I really enjoyed it, this tutorial is great !!!

  • mikene

    It’s not working for me. When I CTRL+click on the layer’s thumbnail, it just deselects it.

  • mikene

    I forgot to mention that I am using CS5. I just found a solution, holding “V” before pressing CTRL solves the problem.

  • Emi

    Como se hace?

  • Gary Bartlett

    Wanted to say thanks for the tut. I am a new user to photoshop. Always wanted to learn. Great job. Mine turned out great. Had a few bugs, but with a little practice it work out great for a first timer. Thanks again for putting this out for people to learn.

  • Raymond

    Im totally new to photoshop and i cant seem to change the “gradient going from a light red (#e45f5f) to a darker red (#7a2424)”

    Can anyone help me with this??


  • llonguen

    Thank you very much for the tutorial, great Results!!! here my version, and some other ideas, check them out!!

  • Rozy

    Very good tutorial, grazie mille ! My work :

  • Rozy, you did a very awesome job!

  • ‘Biodun

    I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this! I love this!

  • Newbie

    Hi! I read the forum on how to select layers and remove excess image on cs5 for mac. I tried your steps in ctrl+cmd+click or ctrl+click has marching ants on the letter but it doesnt work. πŸ™ I’m trying to follow this tutorial to teach myself how to use PS. Now the 4th step says that I must layer the letter so that when i overlap it with a picture the texture only goes to the letter and no excess outside of it. I tried hovering the mouse on the layer (lower right side) box with letter then command+click. Running border surrounds the letter but when i put the picture above it and add distort noise and opacity it works on the letter but the picture is still a square. I cant get rid of the excess picture. BTW i have only been using cs5 orfor 2 days. Haven’t used PS before. Please help!!!

  • awesome tutorial! thanks!

  • Nazmul

    tutorial is really nice, Thanks for tutorial.

  • Hubert Cumberdale

    Someone please help me.

  • SAM

    no bud wtf bud dont be stupif bud

  • karimunjawa

    nice idea, well explanation and very detail easy to follow.