Create Awesome Abstract Text Effect with Brush Dynamics and Filters in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show you the steps I took to create this really great-looking, abstract style text effect by using custom brushset (which we will be making one of our own) with dynamics, plus adding artistic effect with Photoshop filters. Have a try!

This is an intermediate level tutorial so some steps can be a bit tricky :)

Here is a preview of the final effect: (click to enlarge)


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Ok let’s get started!

Step 1

Create a new document sized  1400px * 650px, fill the background layer with the following gradients:

1 grad

Step 2

Create a new layer on top of the background called “light top”, grab a big soft round brush with a white color, do a single click on the top centre region of the canvas:

2 top

Create another create called “light bottom” and use a similar brush as mentioned above, do a single click on the centre of the canvas, resize and perspective it with free transform tool (Ctrl + T) to produce more depth for it:

2 persp

Here is the effect so far:

2 effect

Step 3

Type some texts on top of all previous layers we created. You can use any font you like but I preferred a big, bold font (download it here):

3 type

On the text layer, apply the following layer blending options:

Drop Shadow

3 drop sha

Bevel and Emboss

3 bevel

Gradient Overlay

3 grad


3 stroke

Here is the effect so far:

3 effect

Optional: to add a bit more depth to the text, make a duplicate this text layer, drop the opacity of the duplicated layer to around 20% and move it to the left of the original text layer a bit:

3 effect 2

Step 4

Now let’s start make a simple brushset. Create a new document with a size of 200px * 200px, leave the background layer as white, and grab the polygon tool and draw a shape as shown below (use the distort option from the free-transform tool to adjust the shape):

The Polygon Tool:

4 poly

Polygon Tool Settings:

4 poly set

Draw the shape:

4 draw

Tip: use the trim tool to get rid of the extra height and width of the canvas.

Important: after drawing the shape, make sure you rastersize this shape layer. and make the background layer tranparent.

4 turn off

Once you finish the aboves, go to Edit > DefineBrush Preset:

4 define

In the box popped up, type a name for this brushset and hit “OK”, you will see the newly created brush appearing in the brush list:

4 brushset

Step 5

Select this newly created brush, apply the following brush dynamics to it:

Shape dynamics

5 shape dyn


5 sca

And tick the “Airbrushing” and “Smoothing” options.

Create a new layer underneath the orginal text layer, draw some random patterns as shown below with this dynamic brush, as shown below: (try adjusting the brush size)

5 paint

Step 6

Now let’s spice up the effect a bit by adding some cloud over the text. So create a new layer called  “cloud”, render some cloud inside it with the cloud filter (set foreground color to a dark grey, and black background colour).

Before you render the cloud, you have to make a selection with the Lasso Tool around the text (with around 20px feather settting), then render the cloud inside the seletion.

You will have the following effect:

6 cloud

Change the blending mode of this cloud layer to “Screen”, you will have the following effect:

6 screen cloud

You can also duplicate, resize this cloud layer and move those duplicated layer around for more effects, as show below:


6 resize cloud


6 duplicate cloud

Step 7

To produce even more depth for the text, here is a quick way to do it: create a new layer just above the original text layer, set the blending mode of this layer to “Vivid Light”, grab a soft brush to paint some color onto it:

7 paint

Add a black and white adjustment layer on top of all layers, adjust the settings accordingly, until you see there is a shadow appearing on the bottom of the text:

7 bw

Here is the effect you’re aiming to achieve: (you can see now because we have a shadow under the text, the overall effect looks deeper and more attractive)

7 effect

Add another color layer on top of the black and white adjustment layer, set the blending mode to “color” and paint some color on it, you will have the following effect:

7 effect 2

Step 8

Now we’re on the best part of this tut – apply the filter effects! Firstly we flatten the image, then duplicate the background layer once and apply the following Reduce Noise filter to the duplicated layer:

8 reduce noise

and you will see the text look much clearer and the overall image looks sharper:

8 after redu

Duplicate this sharpened layer once, and apply the following motion blur settings to it:

8 mo blur setting

You will have the following effect:

8 mo blur

Change the blending mode of this motion blur layer to “Hard Light” and erase the portion shown blow with a big soft brush (we don’t want the whole text to be blurred)

8 erase

Step 9

Go back to the sharpened text layer and make another duplication of it, drag it to the top and apply the reticulation filter to it (Filter > Sketch > Reticulation):


You will see the following effect:

8 ret

Change the blending mode to “color dodge” and erase the edge of the layer off, you will have the following effect:

8 ret change blending mode

Optional: go to site5 such as and find some grungy brushsets, and create a new layer with the blending mode set to “overlay”, paint on it with your choice of grungy brush.

Here is my effect so far:

9 effect

Step 10

We’re almost done! To add some final touches, we can create a new layer on top of all other layers, render some cloud inside it and set the blending mode to “soft light”, you will have the following effect:

10 cloud soft light

I also added a colour balance adjustment layer on top of all layer to finish the effect off:

10 col mid

10 col mid

10 col high

and here is my final effect for this tutorial: (click to enlarge)


Ok that’s it for this tutorial! Just one last word: always try out different layer blending modes and see what effect that bring you! Sometimes you will be surprised to see some real cool effects :)

I hope you enjoy it and find it useful and inspirational!

Until next time, have a nice 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

  • Thomas

    Niiiice effect

  • taryarL

    love this one too
    i like the way u adjust layer blending options
    so cool :)
    i will sent this pic to my friend and he will surely ask me
    ‘GOD ! how heck u done this’ ?
    hee hee
    thank admin !
    u ROCK :)

  • I quite like this, it reminds me of the early days when I started designing, these are the kinds of effects I loved to try out.


  • James Qu

    @ISMBUTT: did you select the duplicated layer first BEFORE you go to the filter gallery? If not do so first.

    Hope this helps :)

  • James Qu

    @Johnny: yeah, it’s all about the experiments :)

  • me

    If i do that cloud thing, my whole screen is on cloud.

    Any solution please?

    Already thanks for the great tutorial!

  • You have a beautiful blog design here, I’ve never heard of the site before but you really do have some amazing posts! I’ll have to come back in the future to check out more of your content, and I look forward to it

  • Hulis

    Awesome tutorial! Nice effects.

  • Really cool! Always love the tips here. The “how did they do that” factor is high

  • Fredde

    really good effect and i really wanna make it, but i got a problem, when i did the cloud layer and render clouds, it cover the whole thing not just the text? :P

  • danica keighran

    hey loving this tutorial thnks ^_^ !
    but haha (this probably is vry silly, and its probably somewhere obvious on the screen or in the menu)
    but where is the brush preset settings found (step 5)?
    would love the help.
    thank you!

  • Mariette

    I got that same problem as Fredde, the cloud filter cover the whole thing not only the text

    ,sorry for bad englishi’m from holland

  • doesnt work

    Followed this step for step. And mine does not come out a thing like that. the basics are there but it ends up looking stupid and nowhere near presentable

  • James Qu

    @Fredde @Mariette: really sorry but I forgot to mention before you render the cloud, you have to make a selection with the Lasso Tool around the text (with around 20px feather settting), then render the cloud inside the seletion.

    Hope this helps!

  • James Qu

    @danica keighra, the settings are under Edit > Define Brush Preset

    Make sure you make the background layer transparent first before you define the brush preset

    Hope this helps!

  • Michel

    wow it’s nice tut to learn good effect in photoshope .. really i love this tut.. thanks

  • its really awesome man u r great
    thanks in advance & happy new year

  • Dylan

    I get all the way to the part where you reticulated, and i can’t click on sketch, it’s grayed out.
    What am i doing wrong?

  • phoenix

    Amm this probably sounds really stupid but i can’t draw the brush shape when i use the polygon tool with the same setting you have it makes a star…… and i can’t transform it into the shape you have.. i’m not very familiar with ps anyway is have ps cs4

  • JD


  • V

    You know. it would have been a lot easier if you labeled specifically how to GET to the black and white adjustment layer, for those who are getting reacquainted with Photoshop.

  • Madras raj

    nice article thanks

  • gagamo

    Good, I like your dising, it’s awesome belive me bro your doing a great jod with photoshop, I’m going to do the same thing your did I hope it will be okay.. thank you

  • photoshoper

    where is that shape dynamics thingy ? sorry im just new in using photoshop :D hehe!

  • photoshoper

    and oh im using adobe photoshop cs4

  • rae

    where to get the black and white adjustment? is it available in CS2??

  • Dwarf

    from step 6 i was totaly fuck up. can you maby try to make a video where you do it all. Help I wanna make i nice but you say a lot of shit i never knew was i photoshop. plzz help me maby whit a better tutorial

  • Dumb Ass

    my result: SPIKES DUMB ASS final.jpg

  • Dumb Ass
  • Zambu

    your tutorials are good, but you did not explain everything, some things were flying me, because, well I’m a rookie, but should explain a little more detail

  • Joey

    This is one of the greatest photoshop tutorials I’ve seen to date!
    I’m okay with photoshop but this is stuff that I’m looking to learn and improve on.
    Thank you so much for putting this up!

  • evi

    absolutely perfect!!! :)

  • you guys are amazing artist..I just use one of the trick and got appreciated by client.thank you very much for sharing your knowledge.smith

  • eonon

    Awesome tutorial! Nice effects.

  • PSDnewbie

    Thank you for your amazing tutorial. It really help me. Keep it up and may God bless you.


  • newbie

    *dont mind my eng*
    “resize and perspective it with free transform tool (Ctrl + T) to produce more depth for it:” i dont get what you mean by Persective it. Prefer you to explain more in depth.

  • Luis Serres

    hey i was makin’ it on cs4 but i dont now ow to make the 5 step some1 can help me plz oh and excellent tutorial ;)

  • traffic ticket dismissal

    Good post indeed. Every informative and easy to learn few things as it explained diagrammatically. Nice tutorial with easy steps. Good post and good hard work. thanks for sharing.

  • Hann

    This tutorial is wicked! The final design looks awesome especially the color combo and the effects put together. I’ve been trying to design a logo somewhat like this for myself (more or less, in essence)… and it was a TOTAL disaster! I didn’t manage to get it looking right. It was a little bit off somehow. Kinda distorted. Finally, I decided to use the professional services of an online logo design site instead ( and got the logo I wanted at an affordable price and fast too, within 24 hours. I did provide this link for reference and inspiration to my designer as I liked how yours look. I’m not going to design a logo without any professional help anytime soon though it’s fun. And enjoyable. Thanks for posting this!

  • surender kabeer

    like ur work niceeeeeeeeeee………………effecttttttttttttttttt

  • DuTcHsOldiErZ

    this is very nice but i can’t makte it :(
    can anyone please make it for me?
    text: DuTcHsOldiErZ

  • astral

    cool tutorial

  • jaymichael

    kinda little hard for beginners.. hope 2 see step by step on a video type… so that i can catch up all the tutorials…

  • question

    i am getting stuck on step 7 my colors when i paint aren’t coming to look like lights or aren’t vibrant like yours

  • david

    i need help on step 7 plz help me out can u give me more information on it?

  • nice tutorial

    thanks MCSE

  • sPuN

    Nice tut but i am getting stuck on the last step

    Do you make 3 colour balance layers oder how do you get the blue outcome at the edges

    i used 3 colour balances and my outcome was not that nice…

  • MDH

    nice tut, it’s really awesome, but i’m stuck at step 8 i really don’t know what’s meant by flatten the image :S is it another way of saying merge som layers together, because i don’t know neither which one of the layers i should do the effects on after step 8

  • Steph

    I cant get my colors to show up on the second black and white adjustment layer. What did I do wrong? :(

  • Very nice post and thank you for letting this information to us.

  • All I can say is thank you…

  • Tom Dean

    Guide 1/10 you need to be more clear and understandable or the newbies won’t be able to do it. Final Image 9/10 it is a pretty cool picture.

  • Hi there James your tut is really awesome but I got stuck at the point when u use ”Filter > Sketch > Reticulation” . The Sketch option is disabled , I can’t choose it :( . Plz if you know something send reply to my email or inbox me on my Facebook , thank you so much!

  • Alex

    Great tutorial, cool and easy.

  • Jamesde

    thanks for the tutorial. Very accommodating for beginners. Some tips are little bit daunting yet worth doing. bodybuilding workouts

  • I really need help on step 7. I did everything it said but my color isn’t showing up when I paint. PLEASE HELP! I really would like to finish this picture.

  • James Qu

    @Breezy: make sure you create a new layer first, then paint on the new layer. You will need to set the blending mode of this new layer to Vivid Light, too.
    Hope this helps

  • Breezy

    It’s not helping. I did the steps exactly….when I try to paint it just paints white, even with the blend mode set to “vivid light”

  • Dine

    Dude u applied gradient ovalay on d text but why is it not shown in pic? REPLY OR I WON’T B ABLE TO MAKE THIS LOL
    this is rrly nice effect

  • James Qu

    @Dine: figure it out yourself, that’s part of the fun :)

  • Nathan

    To help people out. Flatten the image go to >layer >flatten image.
    Also to get to the black and white adjustment layer, click on the adjustment layer section in your layer pallet.
    Most of this stuff is simple to find out and a google search should help with problems, I doubt they want people to be asking the same question over and over. Think. Use Google. Or Learn Photoshop first ;)

  • ali

    very impressive tutorial, mine just looks a bit different. Thanks for the tut :)

  • OzziDubstep

    Thanks for the tut, but i have a problem with the reticulation. It is formed in the gradient (bottom to top) and not in the radial like you have it. Is there something i’m doing wrong?

  • Grate salute to this tutorial, i did it and awesome…
    Thanks a lot…

  • Kruz

    Im struggeling with the same thing as Dine with the gradient not showing in your pic. Have really tried to figure this one out without luck.

    And then there is step 7. When appyling som colors like you did, and then putting the black n white adjustment on it with the same settings you use, and it looks reall ugly. Yes i have made the layer vivid so to speak.

    Otherwise i love your tutorial. it´s awesome.

  • WOW!!!
    It’s really gorgeous…
    I did it. Thanks…

  • need help

    cant make the step 4… plz help.

  • I thinks its very helpful tutorial. Design professional can get benefit from here. Thanks for share such a wonderful tutorial.

  • Carlo
  • Hey! Thank you so much for this fantastic step-by-step explanation. Hats off to people like you. Thank you for taking the time to do all of that.

  • guest

    Shitty step 6 my cloud is opaque. how to do it? maybe video tutorial?

  • you need to change the layer blending mode to “Screen” for the cloud layer.

  • guest

    how about video tutorials?

  • Best ever!

  • Samuel

    It’s a nice effect but tutorial sucks. You skip bunch of things assuming we know how to do those. Some people may be new to this.. You could adjust it for newbies.

  • Kruzikmisa

    I have locked Brushes (STEP 5) WHYYY? :((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((

  • Web Hosting

    ah really nice and colorful effects!

  • Taupo Accommodation

    Nice tutorial with very easy steps :)

  • Shahbaz Ahmed Bhatti

    very very very and nice tutorials
    can u please also make video tutorials so we can easily udnerstand

  • Building Inspections Auckland

    I just love the effect! Very nice!

  • Norelleuon


  • sebas

    Hay pasos que no entiendo muy bien soy principiante en photoshop ojala puedan hacer un video tutorial de este efecto que esta buenisimo


    Okay step 7?????????? fuckin seriously?!!!!?!?!? EASY WAY MY ASS WE ARE NOT PROS IN [email protected]#!$%234

  • Zrbahar

    Ok so I am a newbie on photoshop… can anyone tell me the details of how to do step 2???

  • This was a great tutorial, even though my final result came out totally different. More details would have made it that much easier to do.

  • i cant even do step 1. help.

  • yan

    its amazing, but just one question.. how to have a “cloud effect?”

  • Ylee

    Step 7 was not thorough. It was getting really easy too until Step 7

  • Spike

    please go over step 7 again, it was way too rushed, this is the main step and since i’m struggling to make this look good, my final product is isn’t looking good either. I would massively appreciate it if you went over this step in a bit more detail?

  • Sun

    What’s so difficult about Step 7?
    Just take a brush and paint a few lines below the text with different colors..

  • Eduardo

    I have a problem with step , which is the bevel and emboss > highlight mode, I can’t turn it into screen

  • lodimas

    I was looking for a more smooth finish, which i think i got. More work to do yet, first draft:

  • Harry Richter

    Help with step 4 please

  • asad Irfan

    Awesome. It was just a bit different . The reflection because of grunge brush otherwise it was awesome and almost perfect like yours.

  • Franky aka Cutty Framm

    step 2 the light bottom gives me some trouble i dont know how to lay down the Canvas…. -.-”
    Create another create called “light bottom” and use a similar brush as mentioned above, do a single click on the centre of the canvas, resize and perspective it with free transform tool (Ctrl + T) to produce more depth for it:

  • chris snyder

    same here. i’m trying to create this in cs6 for a project in my class and it’s giving me a lot of trouble.

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