5 Useful Little Photoshop Tricks to Add Extra Elegance For Your Design

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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!

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!


  • My name is James and I have been using Photoshop since version 5.0 (long time ago!). PSD Vault is my spare time hobby and I write majority of the Photoshop tutorials and articles here. I hope you enjoy my blog, and feel free to leave a comment or contact me if you have any questions.

  • Show Comments

  • Rachelsuen

    wow~~quite useful ~~

  • awesome tutorial! keep up the wonderful and useful content

  • Thanks a lot ! Great !

  • Claudy

    Thanks a lot!!!

  • BagshiK

    Thanks, it’s very useful =) !

  • Angela

    These tutorials are so awesome…thanks so much…God Bless…

  • WOW!!! u just saved my life =))

  • James

    @everyone: no problem, glad they’re useful to you!

  • Latest trick is ROCK!

  • Gizmodose

    James, i think something went wring here, i can’t see any images.

    For example http://www.psdvault.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/5-rect-500×399.jpg leads to a 404 page

  • cj

    i agree with Gizmodose…

    nice tutorial, and it would be best if we can see the images :-)

    thanks for the nice tutorials

  • James

    @Gizmodose @cj: weird… I don’t have any problem viewing the images. But to be sure, I have re-uploaded that specific image and it should be working now.

  • Your site is such A good tutor , which made me think out of books..

  • I especiallly like the idea of warping the cloud! I’ve used other effects on clouds many, many times but hadn’t thought of that – nice!

  • Glenn Van Bogaert

    Wow, some great tricks that I definatly would use in my next designs

  • Really nice and useful. Thanks

  • parkair


  • Nice tutorial. Very easy and well defined. Thanks for sharing this nice post. Really awesome to learn these tricks.

  • Great tips, I didn’t know number 4 and 5, thanks!

  • Thanks for this tuts! We need more of these tips :)

  • thanks for this! :)

  • Saher

    Thanx for this gr8 tips :)

  • Gosh, great trick. That last thing, 3D and warp, really remind me of how stupid i am using photoshop.

  • Vesone

    Very nice tutorial, I’m going to try some of these techniques later on today.

    Especially the one with the font.

    Keep up the great content

  • vikerweb

    Useful tricks!. Thanks!.

  • datshay

    Hay its great yaar…….

  • spondita

    thanks a lot! :)

  • Teresa

    thanks, it’s pretty useful.


    AWESOME TUTOR! I really like some things like this. Thank you!

  • Grateful reader

    Does it matter what photoshop you have?? -____-” because i don’t seem to have the warp thing D: putting that aside thank you :D you are every good are writing simple and understandable tutorials ^___^

  • msn

    AWESOME TUTOR! I really like some things like this. Thank you! msn thanks

  • Eoin

    Thanks for this tutorial about using the cloud render effect.. For some reason add reason I don’t have a wrap option on my Photoshop cs4, but while trying compensate I ended up creating a meteorite… Yeah, I know.. Nothing like what you were showing lol

    So, I decided to create a little tutorial of my own over at my blog on how to create a meteorite, but have to give you thanks because I never would have thought of it if I didn’t come across this blog first.

    So here goes….. Thank You! :)

  • JB

    Thanks! Great tips!

  • MAt

    Muy bueno me encanto
    muy utiles todos los tutoriales

  • Great tips! I’ll be trying them out very soon!

  • Snow

    Good stuff :D

  • mike

    very good.thanks

  • Akki

    man thats awsome

  • only commenting because its cool

  • popoly

    love it so usefull thanksssss

  • alhneen

    thats great really great thnks

  • Rahidy2k

    its great so helpful tnx……..

  • ROhit

    Awesome tutorials !!
    im really a beginner in photoshop! a real noob . .

    guess that gonna change!!

    thnx :)

  • lee

    thanks a lot…….beautifful


    pls send me psd file with photoshop tricks & tips with psd file format


    salim sayyed

  • not so imprtant

    hi pal its tooo use full and u may upload some videos or video links at end they may be very use full to us bro

  • it’s really useful…………..thanx

  • Royal Web Design

    Really Great 5 Useful Photoshop Design Article. Really Good one. Photoshop is one of the most important tools for graphics & web designing.


  • nice tutorial guys,, thanks :D

  • The Last See

    Nice and these tricks help very much

  • Musc

    many thanks for the excellent & handy tips :)

  • Piotr Plachta

    I guess i will stay longer on your website ;) cheers !

  • Crabcakes

    Another set of useful tips for beginners. Thank you very much!

  • Jeu prizee

    It’s not my first time to pay a quick visit this web site, i am
    visiting this web page dailly and take nice information from
    here every day.

  • Lucas

    Hey, thank you for this tutorial. Some things I knew and some other are so simple and just so helpful.
    Greets from Hamburg :)

  • Hey would you mind letting me know which
    web host you’re using? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 different browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot faster then most.
    Can you suggest a good hosting provider at a honest price?
    Thanks a lot, I appreciate it!

  • Oz


  • This site definitely has all of the information and facts I needed concerning this
    subject and didn’t know who to ask.

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