Rubber Stamp Text Effect Photoshop Tutorial

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Rubber Stamp Text Effect Introduction

The final result of the Tutorial.
Although this tutorial shows a rubber stamp effect on text, the same techniques can be used to create a grunge or distressed effect for text or for graphics.

This tutorial will show you how to apply a stamp effect to text or an image with Photoshop. In this case, we will mimic a rubber stamp, but this effect can also be used to create a grunge or distressed effect on text or graphics.

I'm using Photoshop CC 2015 for my screen shots, but the tutorial should be compatible with older versions of Photoshop.

Photoshop Elements, GIMP, and Paint.NET versions of this tutorial are also available.

Updated by Tom Green

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Create a New Document

The new document dialog box is open.
Start with a document that is the size and resolution you wish to work with.

To begin, create a new document with a white background at the desired size and resolution.

Due to the fact this will be a digital document,  I went with a square pixels for the Pixel aspect Ratio in the Advanced settings.

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Add Text and Adjust Kerning

A kerning value of -75 is shown in the Character panel.
Use the kerning values to to even out the space between the letters.

Add Text using a heavy font. I am using Bodoni 72 Oldstyle Bold. Create your text fairly large – I use 100 points – and type in all caps. You can keep the color as black.

With this particular font, I don't like the tight spacing between the A and the M and the M and the P. We can fix this by bringing up the character panel. You can go to Window > Character, or click its icon in the options bar for the text tool.

Click between the A and M, then go the character panel and set the kerning to 25.

I have the opposite problem betweeen the A and the M.  In this case I used a value of -75 Kerning adds or subtracts the space between letters.

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Reposition the Text

The word stamp is elongasted using the Move Tool.
Use the Move Tool to add a small ditortion to the text and to move it into place.

Now I'd like the text a little taller but the same width, so I am going to switch to the move tool, and drag the top boundary up to stretch the text to make it a bit taller. You can also resize and re-position the text with the move tool at this time.

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Add a Rounded Rectangle

The rounded Rectangle tool and the Properties panel for the rectangle are shown.
Set the Corner Roundness, stroke color and with in the properties panel.

I'd also like to put a rounded rectangle around the text. Select the rounded rectangle from the shape tools fly out. Then Adjust the radius in the properties and set the Fill color to None and the Stroke color to black. I used a radius of 30, but you may need to adjust this if your document size is different from mine.

Draw the rectangle a bit larger than your text so it surrounds it with some space on all the sides.

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Add a Stroke to the Rectangle

The Shape properties and layers panel show the changes to the rectangle and the reordering of the layers.
The Shape properties are rather robust and give you a high degree of control.

Move the Rectangle Layer under the Text layer and let's concentrate on the shape. With the Rectangle selected open the properties and use these settings:

  • Size: 12
  • Position: Inside
  • Fill: White

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Align Layers and Convert to Smart Object

The text and shape are converted to a Smart Object.
Convert the text and shape layers to a Smart Object.

Select both the shape and text layer from the layers palette, then activate the move tool and click the buttons to align vertical centers, and then to align horizontal centers.

Now, with both layers still selected, right click in the layers palette and choose "Convert to Smart Object." This will combine the layers but leave them editable in case you want to change your text later on.

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Add a Pattern Layer

A Patttern Adjustment layer is selected.
Add a Pattern Adjustment layer.

Now go to the layers palette and click the Adjustment Layer button  to create a new Adjustment or Fill layer. and choose t "Pattern…" from the Pop down.

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Choose a Pattern from the Artist Surfaces Set

The Wash Water Colour pattern is chosen as the Pattern Fill.
Click the Gear icon in a pattern thumbnail to open the pattern collection.

In the pattern fill dialog, click the thumbnail to get the palette to pop out, then click the tiny icon at the top and load the "Artist Surfaces" pattern set. Choose the "Washed Watercolor" paper for the fill pattern, and click OK in the Pattern Fill dialog.

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Add a Posertize Adjustment

The Posterize Adjustment layer and the Posterize panel are shown.
Add a Posertize Adjustment.

Open the adjustments panel and add a Posterize adjustment. Set the levels to about 6. This reduces the number of unique colors in the image to 6, giving the pattern a much grainier appearance.

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Make a Magic Wand Selection and Add Layer Mask

The mask is applied to the Smart Object in the Layers panel.
Make a Magic Wand Selection and Add Layer Mask.

Go to the magic wand tool and click on the most predominant gray color in this layer. If you haven't got enough of the grey selected, deselect and change the sample size in the Tool Options. For this example I used Point Sample. In the layers' palette, you can hide the Pattern fill layer, and the Posterize adjustment layer. We only needed them to make this selection.

After hiding those layers, make the layer with your Stamp graphic the active layer, and click the add layer mask button. The graphic now looks more distressed and stamp-like.

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Apply a Color Overlay Style

The Color Overlay layer Style dialog box is shown.
Apply a Color Overlay Style with a Vivid Light Blend Mode.

Now your Stamp graphic will take on a grungy appearance, but we still need to change the color and grunge it up a bit more. We will do this with good old layer styles.

Double click a blank area on this layer for the Layer Style dialog. First, will apply a color overlay with these settings:

  • Blend Mode: Vivid Light
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Color: R 255 G 60 B 60 (faded red)

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Add an Inner Glow Style

The Inner Glow Layer Style dialog box is shown.
Add an Inner Glow Style to soften the edges.

Now the effect is looking pretty good, but I think the edge lines are just too sharp for a rubber stamped look. We can apply and inner glow to soften it up. I used the following settings, but you can adjust to your liking. Just make sure the color of the inner glow matches what will ultimately be your background color. In my example, I used white.

  • Blend Mode: Screen
  • Opacity: 50%
  • Noise: 50%
  • Technique: Softer
  • Source: Edge
  • Choke: 0%
  • Size: 3 px
  • The quality section can be left at the default values.

If you toggle the checkbox for Inner Glow, you can see this addition is subtle but effective. Click OK to the Layer Style dialog.

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Add a Background and Skew the Stamp

The Vivid Light blend mode is applied to the Stamp layer and the Stamp Layer is slightly rotated.
Use blend modfes and rotation to go give it a more natural look.

Now let's just apply some quick finishing touches. Add a Pattern Fill layer just below the stamp graphic. I like the "Gold Parchment" pattern from the Color Paper set of default patterns. Set the blend mode on the stamp layer to Vivid Light so it will blend better with the new background. Finally, switch to move tool, and move the cursor just outside one of the corner handles, and rotate the layer slightly. Rubber stamps are rarely applied in perfect alignment.

Note: If you choose a different background, you may need to adjust the color of the inner glow effect. Instead of white, try picking up the predominant color in your background.

One thing I noticed after complete this tutorial, and you can see it in the image here, is that there is a distinct repeating pattern to the grunge mask we used. This is because we used a repeating pattern for the texture to create the mask. The next page describes a quick way to get rid of the repeating pattern.

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Rotate the Layer Mask

The Layer mask is rotated.
Add a bit of randomness by rotating just the layer mask.

We can rotate the layer mask to disguise the repeating pattern in the effect.

  1. On the layer's palette, click the chain between the thumbnail for the stamp graphic and the layer mask to unlink the mask from the layer.
  2. Click on the layer mask thumbnail.
  3. Press Ctrl-T to enter free transform mode.
  4. Rotate the mask slightly until the repeating pattern is less obvious.

The beauty of layer masks is that it enabled us to correct this mistake without starting over. If we had used an ordinary selection we would have had to rotate it earlier in the process and it would have been permanent. If you didn't catch the problem at the time, you would have had to go back and redo several steps.