So, I see these two posters on Pinterest and I was really wondering about how such vaporous, grainy looks were achieved. I thought maybe scanning then working on the scan in Photoshop ? I have no idea. If anyone could help me do the same aesthetic, it would be lovely.

Thank you really much!

enter image description here

  • Why would you want to? It looks terrible and it’s virtually illegible (“je ne vois pas [bleh??] ce que tu veux dire”?). Edit: Ah, bien, of course. Still. Bloody hard to read. Commented Mar 14, 2021 at 22:26
  • Perhaps the Liquify filter, plus a bit of smudging/blurring.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 0:00
  • 6
    .... displacement map ....
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 0:29
  • 1
    @JanusBahsJacquet I think this is the ironic point of this piece and you stepped into it with both feet and your eyes open ^^'
    – Vincent
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 18:38
  • 1
    er... some of us have no idea what it's supposed to say :) you multi-lingual users.. you.... i don't know what you mean :D
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 19:18

1 Answer 1


Due to the subtle blurs and fading opacity it is highly doubtful this was created in Illustrator.
It's most likely a Photoshop project. I only mention this due to the question tags. Trying to pull off such an image in Illustrator would be a lesson in frustration more than anything. It could possibly be done via gradient meshes, opacity masks, etc.. but I'd not want to tackle that project unless I was being paid very well for it.

Text can be easily distorted by using the Displacement Map feature within Photoshop.

Displacement maps distort one layer based upon a greyscale "map". The map is essentially a greyscale image which is used as a sort of topography for distortion, white areas are seen as "high" and black areas are seen as "low". Grey area are transition regions between the two.

Essentially, you'd set the text up straight, create a greyscale image for the map, then use Filter > Distort > Displace to distort the text with the map...

enter image description here

It can take considerable effort to create a displacement map which distorts in a manner you want.

In the particular sample in the question, chances are high that there was some additional processing after using the Displace filter, such as reducing opacity, blurring, and other filters used such as the Maximum/Minimum filters.

There are hundreds of online tutorials if you merely search for "Photoshop Displacement Map". Here are just a few top hits...

I have no affiliation with any of the links. They are merely added here for ease.

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