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Recently I have been focusing on providing some simple, beginner-leveled Photoshop tutorials here on psdvault.com, aiming to helping Photoshop starters to learn some basic, but useful things towards their design. After all, I do get lots of emails from beginners wanting to learn from the basics.

Therefore, I made a few mini Photoshop tutorials and compiled them into one, big tutorial with some tricks I learnt and discovered in the past.

In this post, I will show you 5 Useful Little Photoshop Tricks to Bring Out That bit of Extra Elegance for Your Design. I think those techniques would be quite useful for a Photoshop beginner, as they give you a good starting and/or finishing point for whatever things you design. Once you learn those skills, you can apply them to a wide range of occasions. Have a try!

Video Tutorial

Check out this video tutorial below on PSD Vault Youtube Channel for extra info:

The topics I will be focusing on in the post include:

  1. Give Your Text A Bit More Depth
  2. The Light From the Top (Highlight Specific Area)
  3. Clever Use of Motion Blur
  4. The Cloud and Warp Tool
  5. Distort Your Way into 3D

Give Your Text A Bit More Depth

Here is the problem – You typed some text onto the canvas, but somehow it looks just boring, like this text below:

(Font: Myriad Pro)

text depth original

Here is how you can easily add some more depth and lighting contrast to the text itself – on the text layer, apply the following layer blending options:

Drop Shadow

1 drop shadow

Inner Shadow

1 inner shadow

Bevel and Emboss

1 bevel


1 contour

Gradient Overlay

1 gradient overlay

And here is the effect after those blending options applied:

1 effect

You can see just by adding those very simple layer blending options, you can make you text looks more attractive and contains more lighting depths.

The Light From the Top (Highlight Specific Area)

If you want to bring out some more extra elegance for the text above, you can add some light from the top.

To do this, simply create a new layer on top of the text layer, keep the blending mode as “Normal”, grab a big soft round brush with White colour, do a single click on the position as shown below:

2 click

And you will have the following effect: (can reduce the layer opacity to around 80% if you think the light is too bright)

2 effect

This method can be used widely in lots of different occasions, for anything you want to highlight.

Clever Use of Motion Blur

Sometimes you see a display like this:

3 sample

and you wonder how this nice shadow is created. Well, simple!

Basically you grab a soft round brush with a dark colour, do a single-click on a spot:

3 click

Go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur and apply the following settings:

3 motion blur

Hit Ctrl + F several times to re-apply motion blur several times, then use the free transform tool (Ctrl + T) to reduce the height if necessary. You will have the following effect:

3 free trans

That’s it! If you want to make a dark shadow, just use a darker brush in the beginning.

The Cloud and Warp Tool

Have you ever thought of combining the cloud rendering filter and the Warp Tool together? If not, have a try with those two now, you will be surprised what effect that brings you.

The steps are quite simple: create a new document with black background, use the Lasso Tool with a 50px feather and draw a circle, render some cloud inside it by going to it Filter > Render > Cloud: (with White as Foreground colour, Black as Background colour)

4 cloud

Then Hit Ctrl + T and bring up the Free Transform Tool, right-click on the cloud and choose “Warp”:

4 select warp

Then expriement! Use the warp tool to tweak the cloud into whatever shape you like:

4 warp

Here is my effect after the warping:

4 effect

Try out different angles, you will get lots of different effect as a result.

Distort Your Way into 3D

This is a really quick way of making a 3D look with the Distort option available in the Free Transform Tool.

So create a new document with White background and make some rectangular shape filled with different colour on it: (The size of the rectangular shapes are roughly half of the height the canvas)

5 rect

Duplicate this shape layer, drag the duplicated shapes beneath the original shapes, resize it to fit the canvas:

5 drag

On the duplicated layer, right-click and choose “Distort”:

5 distort

Hold down the “Shift” key, click and drag both bottom corner of the shape until you reach the following effect:

5 after dist

For Lighting Contrast, simply add a new layer with blending mode set to “Color Burn”, grab a soft round brush with a dark colour and paint over the desired area:

5 brush

That’s all for this tutorial! Hope you enjoy it and find those little tricks useful and inspirational! Cheers and have a great day!

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