How To Create Distressed Text in Photoshop

April 26, 2023

In love with grunge style? Master the distressed text effect, which is fundamental and the most popular visual technique.

What does distortion mean to you? Searching for an answer, you'll find yourself playing the Word Association game. Glitch, futurism, vintage print, visual noise, distressed photocopies — whatever you say, you'll be close to the truth. So instead of beating about the bush, we'll show you how you can approach distortion with your typography and convey any effect you need.

This tutorial will be the first step on your long path of exploring distortion. The choice wasn't accidental: you'll master the distressed effect, which is fundamental and the most popular visual technique. Indeed, it brings the perfect grunge texture to the letters and shows you the infinite possibilities for experiments.

Tutorial Assets

Here are the files you will need to approach prism photography (without even getting out your camera) and create an authentic prism effect:


Creating Distressed Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 1— Open Photoshop and create a new document with the Size set to 3000x2000 px.
Step 2 — Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Color Fill and use the color code #e9dec4.
Step 3 — Create two lines of text using the provided fonts and then add two rectangle shapes. If you want to "distress" a different font, feel free to do so!
Step 4 — Put all the text and the shape layer into a New Group. After that, Right Click > Convert to Smart Object.
Step 5 — Click Filter > Distort > Ripple and set the Amount to about 60-70% and the Size to Medium.
Step 6 — Add a Median filter with the Radius set to 4.
Step 7 — Open the texture you've downloaded beforehand. Convert it to a Smart Object and add a Black and White Filter using the Shift-Control-Alt-B keys combination.
Step 8 — After that add Brightness/Contrast and set it to 70 and 100.
Step 9 — Save this file as DisplacementMap.PSD.
Step 10 — Select your Smart Object in the layers panel and then go to Filter > Distort > Displacement Map. Set the Horizontal and Vertical Scales to 10. Then press OK and select DisplacementMap.PSD which you’ve created before.
Step 11 — Place the PNG texture from the assets folder, Double Click on the layer, and select Color Overlay. After that, apply the same color code as before (#e9dec4).
Step 12 — Keep working on the distressed look! Place the JPEG texture above all the layers and apply a Black and White Filter.
Step 13 — Hit Control-I to Invert the colors. Then add the Brightness/Contrast filter set to 25/100.
Step 14 — Change the Blending Mode of the layer to Exclusion.
Step 15 — Go to Layer > New Adjustments Layer > Brightness/Contrast and set it to 20/30.
Step 16 — We're almost there! For the final step, let's add the Levels Adjustment layer and play with the settings until you like the outcome. The final image might look slightly grunge or badly distressed — it's entirely up to you!
That’s it! You’ve successfully created a distressed text effect, and I hope it was simple! Like our previous Photoshop tutorials, this one gives the basics and provides unlimited space for creativity and experiments. For instance, you can play with settings, fonts, and textures to create unique effects that vary in intensity, noise, and grade of distress.

Video Tutorial

If typographic distortion inspires you and you want to add more to your texts and logos, you can have an entire toolkit. The Displaced Distortion Text Effects provides 8 high-quality text effects and 8 displacement maps to expand the boundaries of the boring reality (and boring typography, too). Ripples, sandy noise, smudged print ink, and other types of visual distress are at your service!

This improvised quintessence of typographic dynamics is wrapped into PSD format for super intuitive use and breathtaking result. But don't let our preview images limit your creativity! Use the text effects any way you like: implement them into your magazine editorials, photos, or posters; design something vogue or, on the contrary, underground.

Displaced Distortion Text Effects

Prepare to explore all sides of the grunge style! You will have 8 high-quality text effects and 8 displacement maps to experiment with.

Printed Mess Text & Logo Effects

"Copy," "Paste," "Edit," and all the stuff! Our artistic play resulted in 12 effects for texts and logos. So many variations to try!

Smudged Gloomy Photoshop Kit

No need to jump over your head to create a hypnotizing artwork. Sometimes it’s just a well-chosen Photoshop effect that can do it for you.

written by

Ivan Gromov

Ivan is a Photoshop tutor and stock graphic designer who loves to create textures, templates, and all kinds of effects and tools for Adobe Photoshop. Be sure to check all his exclusive tutorials for Pixelbuddha!