Create an Realistic Dark Ocean Text Effect in Photoshop

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In this tutorial, I will show you the procedures I took to create an Realistic Dark Ocean text effect in Photoshop, which is inspired by one of the ocean photos my aunt showed me from Mykonos, Greece.

We will be exploring some layer blending options, various tools and filters. I will also show you the way I use to add extra lighting contrast to the image.

Below is a preview of the final image:

Step 1

Firstly we will need a nice font, I used this font from, however you’re free to use any font you like.

Once you chose the font, create a new document in photoshop, size doesn’ really matter here. I chose 800x400px because that’s where my comfort zone is.

Fill the background with Black and save the document as “Ocean Text”.

Step 2

Use the type tool to type some texts onto it.This will automatically create a new layer on top of the background layer.

If you choose the 800x400px canvas size in step 1, it’s a good idea to choose larger size font here. However, you can always adjust the size of the font by holding down the CTRL + T together, then drag the corner of the text to alter the size. (You may also hold down SHIFT key while dragging, this will keep the dimension radio of the text).

See image below for the position I place my text:

After placing your text, name this layer as “Text”.

Step 3

We will now add some lighting and contrast for the text. Hold down your CTRL key and left-click on the “Text” layer, this will select the entire “Text” layer:

Create a new layer called “shade”, fill it with black and go to Filter > Render > Cloud to render some cloud (use white as foreground colour and black as background colour).

Step 4

Now we can futher edit the lightness of the text. Go to Image > Mode > Lab Colour to change the image mode to LAB Colour, then go to channels palette and choose the lightness channel. See below images for details:

Lab Mode:


Then go to Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen and use the following settings:

Optional: you may use smart sharpen a few time to further adjust the effect.

Here is the text effect so far:

Step 5

Change to image mode back to “RGB Color” by going to image > mode > RGB color. If you’re prompted to flatten the image, choose “Don’t flatten”.

Create a new layer called “Ocean Colour” on top of every other layer, set its layer blending option to “Color dodge”.

use a big brush and a ocean-blue colour, gently brush over the text, you may use the dodge, burn and sponge tool to adjust the lighting constrast. Detail setting see below:

Brush colour

Dodge tool settings:

Burn tool settings:

Here is the effect so far:

Step 6

Now can add some more ocean effect to the text. Create a new layer called “Cloud”, and on the newly-created layer, use the Lasso Tool to select the outer of the text , fill it with black colour, then go to Filter > Render > Difference Cloud (Use the previous dark blue colour as foreground colour, black as background colour).

Your image should be similar to below:

Create a layer on top of the “cloud” layer and call it “fiber”, right-click the layer and choose “Create clipping mask” and make it a clipping mask of “Cloud” layer. Fill this layer with black colour.

Go to Filter > render > fiber and use the following setting:

Then use motion blur on the “Fiber” layer, details see below:

After that, go to Filter > Distort > Ocean Ripple to create some ocean ripples, details see below:

You should now have the following image:

Step 7

Now we can move the “fiber” and “cloud” layer below the “Ocean Text” layer.  Change the blending options of “Ocean Text” according to the following screenshots:

Step 8

Right-click on the “Ocean Colour”, select “Create Clipping Mask” and make it a clipping mask to the “shade” layer.

Duplicate the “Cloud” layer once and put it on top of every other layer, change its blending style option to “overlay”.

Now you will have the following image:

Step 9

Now save your document as a JPEG file, then load it back into Photoshop, duplicate the background, and change the blending option as following:

Then go to Filters > Distort > Ocean Ripple and apply the following settings:

Apply this filter a couple of times, then you will have the following result:

That’s it for this tutorial! You can use your own creativity and innovation to add whatever effect you want to have.

Here is my final result for this tutorial:

Hope you enjoy this tutorial 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

  • Good Tutorial! It was chosen for the home page of
    Please submit all of your future quality tutorials in there.

  • Photoshop Tutorials Blog

    Great tutorial! I also linked it from my blog! Two thumbs up!

  • Persada

    I lost this tutorial in step 3. “Create a new layer called “shade”, fill it with black and go to Filter > Render > Cloud ” << made my ‘Shade’ layer fill with Cloud, and not showing any text.

  • byba

    great tutorial!! no comment

  • hi persada, make sure you keep the text selected, then create a new layer and fill with black and render cloud. You might have to adjust the layer blending option a bit.
    Hope this helps. Cheers

  • Hi byba, thanks for no comment! :)

  • Lily

    Beautiful text effect! Very clear up until step six. >< When step six comes it presents a problem. You can’t render a cloud difference with nothing in the layer, what’re we suppose to put in the layer to render the cloud difference? Also, some of the text is visible under the cloud difference, and I have no idea how you managed that. I couldn’t finish the tutorial after that.. Lol.. But other than that it really is a beautiful text effect. I believe the rest is probably clear if you can get step six correct. XD

  • Chris

    Are you missing any steps? I followed this thing word for word and ended up with something completely different. For instance on step 6, you say to use to lasso tool, which layer should be selected when doing that? Because you just told us to create a new layer and we can’t do clouds on an empty layer.

    Or creating the clipping mask, what does that do? I can’t choose render fibers or anything because it’s also an empty layer.

    This tut just didn’t make any sense.

  • Hi Lily and Chris, thank you for your comment and feedback!

    With step 6, i missed the following instructions:: you create a new layer first, then on the newly created layer, use the lasso tool to select the outer part of the text, fill the selection with black colour, after that you can render the different cloud.

    The same algorithm applies for rendering fiber.

    With clipping mask, you can google “clipping mask photoshop” and there are plenty of article explaining what it does.

    Hope this info helps. Cheers~

  • myriadmagus

    dude .. step6 doesnt work .. it says selected area is empty :(

  • myriadmagus

    sorry didnt read comments .. got it thanks alotttt
    awesome tuts

  • kiran varma

    its very good to learn

  • Miawz

    Srzly when i try this and follow the exact step by step it wont let me make it like this…

  • hi Miawz~
    it’s normal that sometimes the effect won’t turn out to be exactly the same. The purpose of the tutorials to show how you can utilise the tools in Photoshop to achieve different effects.

  • Annie

    Hi James,

    In step 6 I can´t figure out how you get the different clouds to go out over the lasso-tools mark. Are you useing modify and expand tools?

  • hi annie~ no i didn’t use any expand tool at all, basically I just use lasso tool (with 15-20px feather) and make a selection like what’s on the image. then fill it with black and render difference cloud.
    Hope this helps

  • Ducky

    Wow, i go to do this tutorial with colour “Red” , i think it will result in a bloody grunge text =D

  • Sandhu arts

    like ocean this is too great thanx for it.

  • no problem mate :)

  • Nice effect, thanks for sharing. Added to

  • prince kenichira

    thank you for your idea

  • admin

    No problem prince :)

  • matthew

    ok, after adding clouds, we’re supposed to change the mode to Lab color, right? In mine before I can change to lab color, it asks me if i should flatten the image first or not.. where did i go wrong?

  • Hi matthew, if asked whether to flatten the image, always choose not to flatten.
    Hope this helps~

  • thank you for this tutorial

  • Hello webmaster, I’ve been looking for a site like yours since last Sunday. The last place I searched (should be the first) was in Google, using the keywords “tutorials”. Anyway, it was worth the search because I really like this website and your post regarding Create an Realistic Dark Ocean Text Effect in Photoshop looks very interesting for me. Definitely Stumbled!

  • James

    Thanks very much reece!
    and thank you for your comment gorge!

  • wat

    Very interesting article, I will wait for continuation

  • Thanks :)

  • Great article, thanx for information :)

  • Thanks, very interesting

  • рукОДелие

    Thanks :)

    oo / /
    (_, / _ /
    _/ _ _/ >
    /_ /подарки _

  • Thanks, very interesting

  • Very interesting article, I will wait for continuation

  • searchi

    Thanks, very interesting

  • Nice post.Thanks.

  • Rebecca

    Hey this is so interesting, but I’m having a bit of a problem with Step 6, whenever I do the Difference Cloud it just covers my letters, I can’t see the ones that are inside the selection, I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, but I know there is something not working right. Do you have any suggestions??
    Thanks, and GREAT tutorial! this is amazing! :)


  • Rebecca

    lol I knew this would happen, I was reading through the comments and found the answer I needed, I got it to work now, lol
    Anyway, thanks for the tutorial! way awesome! I’m trying it with a jungle green, we’ll see how that turns out.

  • Hi Rebecca~ glad you find the answer! good luck with your jungle green :)

    And thanks guys for your comments! cheers~

  • Yasya1984

    Very interesting article, I will wait for continuation

  • Rebecca

    Hey again, uh…I’m still a bit confused about part 6 —> “Create a layer on top of the “cloud” layer and call it “fiber”, right-click the layer and choose “Create clipping mask” and make it a clipping mask of “Cloud” layer. Fill this layer with black colour.”
    So I created a new layer and called if ‘Fiber’ like you said, then the only selection with anything to do with a ‘clipping mask’ was called “Merge Clipping mask” so I click that, but if I fill it with black color the other color disappears…what am I doing wrong??
    Sorry to be so confused :P I’m pretty new to Photoshop (my version is Elements 7) but this is such an awesome idea and I would love to figure it out! :)
    Thanks again.

  • Hey Rebecca, Ok after creating the fiber layer, you right-click the layer and there should be an option called “create clipping mask”. There may be a difference in your version though, I’m not entirely sure.

    You might be able to get around this step. Try changing the layer blending option of the “fiber” layer to soft light or overlay, and render the fiber afterwards.

    If you still have trouble, I can email you the psd file.

  • Well, very interesting article … thanks

  • Great article, thanx for information :)

  • Don’t worry Ann, tutorial can provide a guideline and inspiration, but the end effect won’t be exactly the same.

    If you have difficulty in rendering cloud, you should first practice that.

    Here is a link you may find useful in cloud rendering:

  • Ann

    Hi James it’s me again. Unfortunately I am pretty frustated when I ended up with a different result after I tried this Ocean Text Effect tutorial.Huhuhu.It looks like just a text with an ocean blue color without any visible cloudy effects and so on.Maybe because it’s something to do with my version.Mine is PS Cs2 but yours is PS Cs3.Am I right?I’ve never been successful after trying out some of your great tutorials.:(What should I do James?

  • Belut

    I had problem with step 6,can u explaint it to me why the cloud cover my letter,and it din’t work like you show on the tutorial…I already do it step by step….went i come to step 6 i still got the problem…..i hope u will tell me what i did wrong…..

  • Hi Belut, did you create a new layer? and if yes, did you use lasso tool to draw a select and fill it with black colour?

    Also try to apply the difference cloud filter a few times and see what result that brings you. The cloud rendering can be a bit tricky sometimes, and the effect will be exactly 100% the same as on the tutorial.

    Hope this helps:)

  • Belut

    Ok thanks James i will try it…anything i will comments back……Thanks against for the info….Hope it will work…..

  • PerryLeros

    Hi all, i got stuck at step 6 also… cloud covered my text… but i found what i was doing wrong..

    I didn’t set feather option to 15-20 in the lasso tool option (default is 0).

    Hope i helped.

  • Belut

    Thank PerryLeros…for the Info…

  • Wow, very nice… Thanks!

  • Great article, thanx for information :)

  • Nice technique. Pretty good tutorial and the final output looks really cool. Very interesting, I’m guessing inspiration for this was a very deep ocean, because of the shade of blue used. Thanks for sharing this! Keep up the good work!

  • PsFreak

    Little problem:

    Create a layer on top of the “cloud” layer and call it “fiber”, right-click the layer and choose “Create clipping mask” and make it a clipping mask of “Cloud” layer. Fill this layer with black colour.

    Go to Filter > render > fiber and use the following setting:

    If i do this as you asked, my background isn’t transparent anymore like in the image below. Can you help me?

  • good technique but i think its not really readable to other people…

  • shabeer

    it tooooooooooooo good

  • SooChin

    Hi James, it’s a great texteffect, unfortunately I just couldn’t get the effect of step 4 (to lighten the text further, and to get that sharp edge). I wonder if it’s possible to get the PSD from you? I am new in Photoshop, using CS3. Thanks.

  • Сегодня меня лишили примии. Ой.. кризиз на дворе.. хоть у вас черпнул слегка позитива. Спасибо !

  • None

    still in step 3? am using mac so whn i select the text then i can not add new layers plus i cant view any change on the text ?

    anw your lesson is AWESOME thank you very much

  • Pseudodreams

    Can you email the PD file as I am having many problems.

  • James

    Okay so I’m sitting here tearing my hair out on how to do this tut. I’m on step 3 and I have no earthly idea what I’m doing wrong. I Ctrl+click the “Text” layer in my Layers list, then click the “Create New Layer” button at the bottom of the screen, and it creates a completely new layer. I fill it with black, render the clouds, and all it does is covers everything up with clouds.

    What the heck am I doing wrong?!

    BTW, using CS4.

  • Patrick

    I did EXACTLY what you said (multiple, multiple times) and it looks nothing like yours (Im not doubting you, just frustrated)
    anyway.. step six -i seem to be having the same problem as a lot of people… The “cloud” covers the text totally.. can you walk through step six and give every tiny tiny detail .. because I honestly don’t know what im doing wrong..

  • James

    @Patrick: Really sorry about this late reply, just saw your comment. So with Step Six, you create a new layer first, then on the newly created layer, use the lasso tool to make a selection with the outer portion of the text layer, fill the selection with black colour, after that you can render the different cloud.

    Hope this info helps. I also sent an email to your email address.

  • micheal

    Dear webmaster;
    after trying a few times…i have some problem at step six….when i reach the distort filter for the ocean riple.
    i cannot get exactly the effect…
    what;s the problem with my ocean ripple filter…??? any suggestion???

  • Quileutte

    i like your post….

    very nice tutorial
    it will help on projects that im doing…

    keep on sharing…

    i will keep you posted! :)

  • anon

    hey james, after the motion blur why did your cloud brighten. (they’re glowing)

  • fozzy

    i gave up. the dirctions were not clear. mine was dark and his was bright. he did things thatt he left out. it was a good piece of work too bad no one else can do it.

  • Sandi

    I always have problem with step 6 and I can not solv problem… can you send me the psd file?? xDD

  • Ollie

    I was inspired by the effect. It simply looked awesome. I did give this link to my graphic designer from LogoDesignStation as a reference to how I wanted my business card to look like. Surprisingly, the design came out better than expected! It was really good all thanks to you! Even my friends were impressed…

  • thefacker

    I am stuck at step 5..T_T

  • Alfonso

    Hi all….
    first of all Thank you admin to teach us how to make that great font…

    I need help. I am blocked at step 6 where it says:

    Create a layer on top of the “cloud” layer and call it “fiber”, right-click the layer and choose “Create clipping mask” and make it a clipping mask of “Cloud” layer. Fill this layer with black colour.

    Go to Filter > render > fiber and use the following setting:

    After create the Fiber layer, i cannot select anything cause it says no pixel selected….if i ctrl+left mouse on clouds and then create a new layer called fiber and fill the lasso space with black i anyway cant find in filters those tools you show….
    Can it be my PShop version 7 that is different?

    please help me out… ty


  • LacyTippersSassy

    wow. this tutorial was NOT easy. i used it for an assignment, and this probably took over a week to finish cuz i kept restarting…and getting stuck. anyway. it turned out ok i guess. not as nice as yours but alright. :P thanks for the tutorial ^_^

  • andywestlife


  • andywestlife

    nice work man

  • Hhoopp121

    nice tutorial but like the others im stuck at step 6 i cant make the effect shown on your sample… 

    hope you could help me 

    or anyone there who tried this tutorial and have done it …

    need help pls…

    tnx in advance …

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