Say you have an image of a wall or an old, creased piece of paper and you want to add text on that background. How can you make the texture of the background come through the new text in Photoshop so it will look like the text is actually on the background rather than above it?


This is what I quickly cooked up:

enter image description here

To accomplish this:

  1. Type your text in a bold font type. color black
  2. Set the Fill to 20% (important, set fill to 20%... not opacity)

Now it shines through. If you want to give it an offset, do this:

  1. Double click on your text layer in the layer box.
  2. Set the Drop Shadow to white, blending mode to normal, opacity 50%, size 2, distance 2
  3. set the Inner Shadow to black, size 4, distance 4, and the opacity to about 60%

Now the text is pressed in the wall.


Or if you mean this:

enter image description here

  1. Type your text
  2. Set the blending mode of it to Soft Light or Overlay.
  3. Duplicate the layer and you get the result above
  4. Play around with the colors
  • Thanks @Luuk. Neat, but not quite what I'm looking for (sorry if not clear above). In the case of the wall, I'm looking for an effect of the text being painted on the wall, not set in to the wall. – Korneel Bouman Sep 1 '11 at 14:54
  • Do you maybe have an example... if so i will make it for you, so you can see how to do it – Luuk Sep 1 '11 at 14:57
  • I think i know what you mean now, i uploaded another example... just tell me if this is what you need. – Luuk Sep 1 '11 at 15:12
  • Cool, yeah the second is close - will play around some more (that was pretty much what I arrived at after trying some of the things in horatio's answer) – Korneel Bouman Sep 1 '11 at 15:29

Adding to what Luuk and Horatio suggest:

If you want the lettering to look like it is on a rough surface (i.e., you want it to conform to the surface texture, at least somewhat), you would use the Displacement filter (Filter > Distort > Displace). This takes a bit of prep, but it's not arduous.

  • Look at the RGB channels for your background texture, and pick one that has good contrast.

  • Target that channel, then use Image > Calculations to create a new document using just that channel as Source. (It doesn't matter what Blend Mode you use, because it's going into a new document.)

  • Save the new document as MyCoolDisplacementMap.psd (or whatever name you like).

  • Back in the main document, add your text, and make it a Smart Object.

  • Run Filter > Distort > Displace. Accept the defaults in the first dialog, and in the second, choose the file you saved earlier.

What you have just done is displace the text pixels in a way that corresponds to the grayscale values in the displacement map. If it's too much, too little, or the direction is wrong, just undo and rerun the filter. Adjust the settings in the first dialog until you get the result you're looking for.

Used in conjunction with the techniques Luuk and Horation describe, you can get a very realistic rendering of the text.


One way is to simply set the opacity of the text layer to something less than 100%.

Another way is to use a layer blend mode other than normal such as overlay or multiply (possibly in conjunction with an opacity adjustment).

Another way might be to make a copy of the background layer, desaturate the colors so it is greyscale, and then threshold it so you have some portion of the texture. Overlay this on top of the text layer, possibly with a layer/group mask so only the text is affected.

  • thanks! tried one and two and they both affect the color which is undesirable. Playing with two I found if I duplicate the text layer I get the color and the texture. Will try three as well. – Korneel Bouman Sep 1 '11 at 15:36
  • I believe cs5 has some 3d mesh capabilities. What you are doing might be achieved or enhanced using a depth map (?) and some subtle lighting. The problem with the ideas I gave you is that the text doesn't conform to the changing facets and surfaces of the underlying texture. – horatio Sep 1 '11 at 15:53

I found this tutorial extremely helpful:


Although when I followed the steps, I found that my original art work (in this case a colour logo) was far too light. So I started by duplicating the logo layer. On the bottom logo layer I chose "Multiply". Then I just reduced the opacity on the top logo layer until I was happy with the result and the amount of texture showing though.

Play around with Multiply, Color Burn and Linear Burn. I found those ones the most effective.

Hope this helps :)

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