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Final Image

As always, this is the final image that we’ll be creating:

Step 1

Create a new document 600X600px. Paste in the following paper texture, resizing it to fit your canvas:

Old Paper Texture.

Step 2

The paper background is looking a little too saturated and intense currently, so I go to image>adjustments>hue/saturation. I reduce the saturation to -55 and increase the brightness to +30.

Step 3

Now leave your main document for a few minutes…

Create a new document (800X800px) and create a new layer. Use a 2px paintbrush (black, hardness: 0%) to paint a winding line going down your canvas. Don’t worry about being too neat, this is a sketchy kind of tutorial!

Step 4

Now with your wavy line object selected, drag up the bottom edge of your transform boundary box to squash your lines. You want to reduce the height of your wavy line from 600px to around 25px.

Step 5

When your wavy line object has been squashed to around 25px high it will become very faint, in fact barely visible. To fix this simply duplicate your layer around 15 times to thicken up the lines. You can see the result of this below.

After duplicating your layers merge them all down so that you have a single layer containing your new bold squashed line.

Step 6

Duplicate your squashed line layer several times, moving each duplicate below the last. You want to start filling your canvas with these sketchy lines. To make the effect more random try rotating some of the objects 180 degrees or flipping them horizontally and vertically.

Repeat these steps until you fill your entire canvas. Make sure that all sketchy lines layers are merged down into a single layer, and then if needed duplicate this layer once more to make the lines bolder, and merge down again to a single layer.

Step 7

Hide your white background layer, making the lines show a transparent background beneath them. Then go to edit>transform>rotate and rotate your sketched lines object about 30 degrees counter-clockwise. You will see some areas of the canvas will not be covered with lines and will just show the background. Use your marquee selection tool to selected an area of lines more than 600px wide and 200px tall and then crop your canvas to this selection.

Then go to edit>define pattern and called your pattern ‘sketchedlinespattern’.

Step 8

Now return to your original document. Create some centralized text over your paper background. I used the wonderful free font Chunk as featured in our recent post:

The Best Free Fonts of All Time.

Step 9

Now in your layers palette reduce the ‘fill’ opacity of your text layer to 0%.

Go to blending options and apply a ‘pattern overlay’, using your ‘sketchylinespattern’ pattern. If you see any strange edges to your pattern then play around with the ‘scale’ settings until things look good.

Step 10

Create a new layer called ‘text shadows’. Option click on your text layer to select only the data on this layer, and then with your selection in place and your ‘textshadows’ layer selection create a series of black-transparent radial gradients covering parts of your text area:

Then reduce this layer’s opacity to 30%.

Step 11

Now the really fun part! Create a new layer called ‘sketch outline’. Then go to image>image size and resize your image to around 3000px wide.

Use your 2px, soft black paintbrush to roughly outline each one of your letters. Feel free to be quite rough at this stage – that’s the whole point!

You can see a couple of actual size letter outlines below:

IMPORTANT: Very importantly we will be using the ‘history’ window which allows us to go back 20 steps in our workflow. For this reason don’t apply your paintbrush tool more than around 15 times to be safe, as you don’t want to find that you can’t undo to your original image size…

Step 12

Now with your sketchy outlines layer selected copy and paste your outline. Then in your history window undo to the step where your image was at it’s original 600px wide, so before you’d applied any of your outline.

Paste in your outline into your ‘sketch outline’ layer that you created before, which should have been empty after undoing your steps.

Then use your transform box to resize the outline to fit nicely around your letters:

Step 13

So there you have the basics of how to create super realistic sketchy text!

However, I want to make the effect extra cool, so I add in some extras…

I want to make my text blue, as I often work in blue biro. I go to my ‘adjustments’ window and apply a ‘color balance’ adjustment layer, tinting everything in my document blue (color settings below):

Step 14

I option+click on my original text layer to select the shape of my text. Then I go to select>modify>expand and expand my selection by 1px. Then I go to select>inverse to select all parts of my canvas EXCEPT my text.

I click on the mask next to my color balance adjustments layer in my layers panel. Then I fill my selection with black using my paintbrush tool. This should mean that your blue adjustment layer only apples to your text shape, not your background!

Step 15

Now download this great ink splatter brush set:

Grunge Ink Splatter Brush Set.

Create a new layer called ‘ink splatters’ behind your main text layer and apply various splatters all over your canvas. Then use a soft eraser to erase areas of your splatters until you’re happy with the result:

Step 16

I want to add a subtle shadow around my text, just to give it a little more depth.

To this I apply an outer glow blending option to my main text layer (mode: overlay, color: black, opacity: 30%, spread: 0%, size: 50px).

Step 17

Paste in this image of a crayon, cutting it out from it’s background using the magic want tool:

Pencil Photo.

The pencil is currently bright blue, which doesn’t match our text at all. To fix this I go to image>adjustments>hue/saturation and up my hue to +20 and reduce my saturation to -90.

Step 18

My pencil is looking far too washed out at the moment, so I go to image>adjustments>levels and enhance the shadows using the settings below:

Step 19

I duplicate my pencil and call the duplicate ‘pencil shadow’. Then I move the duplicate beneath the original pencil layer and apply a black color overlay. I then go to edit>transform>distort and distort my pencil so that it is at a different angel to the original pencil.

Then I apply a 10px strength gaussian blur and reduce the opacity of my shadow layer to 60%. I use a soft, large eraser at around 10% opacity to erase away a little of the shadow that is furthest from the tip of the pencil. Basically you want your shadow to be most intense at the tip of your pencil, and least intense furthest away.

Step 20

To finish off I option+click on my original pencil layer and use my dodge/burn tools to add more depth to the pencil. Then I reduce the saturation of my pencil by a further -40, as the dodging/burning makes the colors more intense.

And We’re Done!

I really hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and would love to hear your feedback!

VIP Download

Download the original .psd file for this tutorial here:


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