Firstly, thank you for taking the time to look at my question.

So, I'd love to know how to achieve this effect (pic below). As you'll see it looks as though the ink is sitting on the brown paper and the ink hasn't totally covered it.

Thank you so much for your time and response.

enter image description here

2 Answers 2


There are quite a few ways you could do this. I'd probably do it this way:

  1. Duplicate the background texture
  2. Copy it to clipboard
    • Select > All or Cmd+A
    • Edit > Copy or Cmd+C
  3. Create an empty Layer mask. Layer > Layer mask > Reveal all.
  4. Alt+Left click the Layer mask thumbnail
    • This lets you see what's inside the Layer mask, which is just white at the moment )
  5. Edit > Paste or Cmd+V
  6. You can Alt+Left click the Layer mask thumbnail again to get back to normal.
  7. Make sure you have the Layer mask thumbnail selected and do Image > Adjustments > Levels... or Cmd+L
    • You'll want to bring the upper black arrow to the right for as long as you still have some graininess going on and then continue to do fine adjustment. Perhaps pull it back a bit and/or adjust the grey and white arrow if needed. This all highly depends on your original texture.

Here's a gif of the process.

Couple things to note:

  • It may be a good idea to blur the black area slightly, to simulate ink getting absorbed by the paper. Just enough, so that the edge doesn't look super sharp.
  • Don't use black, use dark grey.
  • Also, depending on how hard you need to push the levels, you might end up with very sharp grainy spots, which may not be ideal. In that case you can blur the mask slightly as well.

enter image description here

  • Joonas - you are officially my most favourite person on the interweb.
    – EFL_76
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 16:44
  • thank you for taking time out of your life to help me out. your instructions and gif (especially the gif!) are bang on. Thank you!
    – EFL_76
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 16:51
  • @EFL_76 No problem.
    – Joonas
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 18:10

Place your art on a layer above a layer containing your paper image. Adjust blending modes and opacity to your liking.

  • thank you - thank you - thank you. I'm off to have a go. I'll post up my results.
    – EFL_76
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 12:39
  • you guys are just awesome.
    – EFL_76
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 12:40

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