Create a Spectacular Grass Text Effect in Photoshop
Final Product What You’ll Be Creating
This tutorial is made up of three parts—the background, the text
itself, and some final extra effects. So first of all we’re going to
make a background. To do this we create a new document in Photoshop. I
made mine 1920 x 1200 because I want this image to sit on my laptop
We start by drawing a Radial Gradient with the Gradient Tool (G)
going from a light yellow-green (#adbf41) to a mid-range green
(#328a26). I wonder if I’ve ever written a tutorial that doesn’t start
with a radial gradient.
Now for this image we want to create a really textured background,
faintly resembling paper. So the first thing we need is … a paper
Happily you can grab some really awesome grungy paper textures from Bittbox and they are nice and large too, which is good because this is a huge canvas.
So I can’t remember which texture I used first, but grab one,
desaturate it (Ctrl+Shift+U) and stretch it over the top to fit the
Now we set the layer to Overlay and 70% Opacity to blend the texture with our nice green background.
Now to get a really distressed look, I then copied this layer, spun
it around 180′ and set it to 20%. Then I brought in a few more layers of
paper texture (using different textures, mostly from Bittbox) and set
them all to faint overlays, one on top of the other.
This was partly for the extra distress, but also because I realised
that the textures looked a bit grainy and not small and sharp. So by
combining extra textures and then fading it all back, I can get a nicer,
sharper overall look.
Anyhow as you can see in the screenshot there are six layers here.
Don’t forget if you are a Plus member you can download the PSD file for
this tutorial and take a look in there yourself!
Now I duplicated the original background gradient, placed the
duplicate layer above all the textures and set it to 40% Opacity—this
tones back the texture so it’s not quite so grungy!
Now we create a new layer over the top and using a large, soft, black
brush, add some black to the edges. It’s worth toning back the opacity
to about 30% and Overlay. You can then duplicate the layer and run a
heavy Gaussian Blur over it (set to about 32px). That way the edges
really soften out.
OK, we now have a nice background!
OK, we are now ready to make some grass text. To do that, we’re going
to need some nice pretty grass to cut. After a lot of searching, I
finally found this lovely photo on Flickr of grass.
So download the image at full-size and copy it on to your canvas.
Next we need some type. So select a font you want to cut out with. I
chose Swiss 924BT, which is fat and condensed type. I thought it looked
nice and grand. And I’ve written the text “EARTH”. That’s because I’m
making five of these wallpapers—earth, water, fire, air, spirit … it’s
like that cartoon I used to watch as a kid, Captain Planet!
Anyways, so just set your text out in white and set it to Overlay and
like 50% Opacity. This layer won’t actually show in the end, it’s just a
OK, so here’s the text on top of the grass we got earlier.
Now a bit of planning! To make text out of grass, it’s not going to
be enough just to stencil out the grass. Rather we need it to look all
rough, with bits of grass sticking out the edges. To do that, we’re
going to use the letter shapes as a rough guide and then trace roughly
around them and periodically jut out to trace around blades of grass.
I’ll warn you now, it’s very tiresome!
OK, so here we are tracing. You should use the Pen Tool (P) and
frankly, if you’re not handy with it before you start, you will be by
Notice how in the parts where my path juts out, it sort of follows
individual blades of grass. That way when you have the final cut-out
they will look like pieces of grass sticking out.
When you’ve finished your path, it’s best to save it in the Paths
Palette. You can do this by switching to that palette and then clicking
the little down arrow and choosing Save Path. That way if you need the
path again later, you can grab it.
Anyhow, double-click the path to get the selection and go back to
your grass layer. Duplicate the grass layer so you still have more grass
for the other letters, then invert your selection (Ctrl+Shift+I) and
cut away the excess grass. In the screenshot I’ve faded back the
duplicate grass layer so you can see the cut out “E” part.
OK, so here we have our “E” on the final bakcground. As you can see,
it looks only slightly better than if we’d just used the letter to
stencil out the grass without bothering to trace. But that’s OK, what it
needs is a bit more depth. After all, if that letter was really sitting
there, we should see some shadow and sides to it.
First of all though, we’ll add some layer styling to give it a bit more of a three dimensional look. The styles are shown below.
Here’s the first set of layer styles…
Now duplicate that layer, then clear the layer style off the
duplicate, so we can add some more styles. This time add the styles
Here’s the second set of layer styles… (Note that it’s 51% Opacity so it’ll blend in with the previous layer)
So this was all just experimental, and it kinda looks OK, but
obviously has a long way to go. Now we’ll add some shadow. For that
we’ll use a technique that I demonstrated in a previous tutorial, Using Light and Shade to Bring Text to Life
The idea is to make a three dimensional look. So Ctrl-click the grass
layer and then in a new layer below, fill it with black. Then press the
down arrow once and the right arrow once and fill it again, then repeat
over and over until you get an effect like that shown. I think that was
about 15 steps of filling.
Now we run a Filter > Blur > Motion Blur on our shadow with a
45′ angle and a distance of about 30. Then set the text to a low opacity
of about 50%. You should have something that looks like the screenshot
Now move the shadow layer down and to the right and magic happens!
All of a sudden it looks like the letter is casting a shadow. Pretty
Now I duplicated this layer three times. Each time I erased a bit of
it away so that as the shadow is closer to the text it gets darker. I
set these layers to Multiply.
So this text is looking pretty cool, but for that extra bit of depth
we should add some bits of grass in the background/shadow area. Rather
than cutting out more grass, we can just use this current letter
transformed about so that it’s not obvious that we’re hacking it
So as you can see below I created a few pieces of grass. They are just cut up bits of our main letter.
Now by moving those pieces into the shadow areas, we can make it look
like there is grass sticking out and it’s a real 3D object made from
Because these new grass bits are in shadow, you might want to use the Burn Tool (O) to darken them appropriately.
So yay, one letter down … four to go! Good thing we didn’t choose a long word like erm I don’t know … laborious!
Using the exact same technique … here is the A;
and the R and T … you get the picture.
And finally, the whole word! The only extra thing I did here was to
move the letters apart a little. Each letter is in its own Layer Group
which makes moving it around much easier.
Now nice as it’s looking, our text is a little lonely and monotonous.
So in this last section we’ll add a few more elements to the design.
Note we don’t want to overdo it, though, because I want this to be a
desktop background, so space it is important (for all my icons!).
So first up, let’s add some extra text. Here I’ve placed a nice quote
about the earth and unity taken from the Baha’i faith (that’s my
religion!). I love quotes, because it means we get three parts to
decorate—the quote, the quotation marks and the source.
The text is in a variation of Swiss which is thinner, but still
condensed. Using multiple fonts from the same family (heavy, light, etc)
is a good, safe bet for keeping your type looking coherent.
So here I’ve set the quote to Overlay and 50%, then duplicated the
text and set it to Screen and 50%. Then I’ve added quotation marks in
the same Swiss font, but made them extra large and a bright shade of
green. Finally, the source of the quote is in teeny letters and centered
vertically. And, of course, the whole quote has been measured out so
it’s exactly the length of the main “EARTH” text.
Next we’ll add a bit of a highlight to the scene. To do this, create a
new layer above all the rest, and using the Gradient Tool (G), draw a
gradient of white -> transparent towards the top left. Then set this
layer to Soft Light and 50%. This will turn it into a nice subtle bit of
Now we’ll add two eye-catching elements to offset all the green.
These will be a brilliant blue butterfly and a little red ladybug. I
used the excellent everystockphoto Web site that searches a ton of free stock Web sites for you to find two awesome images to use: Ladybug | Butterfly
Placing the images is pretty easy. First the butterfly. We just open
up the image in Photoshop, use the Magic Wand Tool to select all the
white area, then go to Select > Modify > Expand and expand the
selection by 1px to make sure we’ve got it all. Then press Ctrl+Shift+I
to invert the selection and copy the butterfly over to our main canvas.
The ladybug I selected needs to be cut out of it’s image. To do that I
used the Pen Tool (P) and traced around the little guy and then just
cut him out that way.
So here are our two extras. As you can see, the lady bug looks a bit
weird actually because I did a quick’n’dirty job of cutting him out. But
that’s OK because he’s going to be tiny so you won’t be able to see the
So paste them in and then shrink them down and place them
appropriately. It’s best if they aren’t close together, because that way
they’ll balance each other.
I added a drop shadow to each. With the ladybug it’s a very close
shadow because he’s small and walking on the grass. With the butterfly, I
set the distance to about 10px because he’s hovering in the air and
therefore the shadow lands a little ways away.