I have been seeing these materials, so I would like to know the exact steps how to reproduce something like this.

I've tried to reproduce this creating a mesh of horizontal wavy lines in Illustrator, using Blend/Make option and creating another text layer on top but the result it's pretty far away from the exposed image. Any thoughts?

enter image description here

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    Hi user124853, thanks for your question. Could you tell us what you tried that didn't work? Always good to show some effort, and your chances for a good answer increase. If you have any questions, please see the help center or ping one of us in the Graphic Design Chat once your reputation is sufficient (20). Keep contributing and enjoy the site! – Vincent Mar 3 '16 at 13:46
  • Thank you for your intervention. I've updated the question but actually I'm not so sure if this is the right workflow. – user124853 Mar 3 '16 at 14:25
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    This question might be helpful: How would I recreate this effect of text that seems to flow over a flight of stairs?. Similar effect but with shading – JohnB Mar 3 '16 at 20:34
  • Thanks JohnB but something similar it was what I've tried. Here I guess we are dealing with other technique/other software(?) – user124853 Mar 3 '16 at 20:53
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    Just an update: the original image was a poster for Yale School of Architecture by Jessica Svendsen, created by photographing type printed on fabric. Source: heard from the author herself. – Luciano Oct 28 '16 at 11:51

I suppose if you put some more work in it you can get better results. I spent maybe 10 minutes and got this:

enter image description here

The approach was:

  • type your text. I suggest doing words as separate objects.
  • Apply Object > Envelope Distort > Make with Mesh and in my case just set to 1 row and 6 columns - the number of columns will vary with the amount of "folds" you want.
  • Pull some of the anchor points up and down, adjust the handles to make smooth curves
  • add the shadows: I made rectangles with a dark gradient and set the opacity to "Multiply". Also added an effect "Gaussian Blur". Change the opacity % and the blur amount for smoother / sharper shadows.
  • repeat for the other words.

That's all. Below is my mesh (selected) and the shadow objects (there's only 3, you might need more)

enter image description here


I'm pretty sure the provided effect was done in a 3D software. It will give you the most accurate and best results that way.

However, there are few ways to imitate similar effects in Photoshop. It all depends on how much time you want to spend on creating it.

Things you need:

  • fabric folds image (for raster images) - silk is probably the best in this case as it will give you a smooth finish

Ways to do it (from the most recommended to the least recommended - by me ofc.):

1) Use of 3D software (Maya, 3D max, etc. - Blender is free to use) - best results, very high quality, most control overall.

2) Font + pen tool: This would be my choice if no 3D software is available. And if I had plenty of time to create it. You still have a lot of control over it and you can overexaggerate the effect manually if needed.

Basically, I would put the folds image as my background. Then I would choose my font and put it on top. Scale it to the size you need. Cut into pieces and put in the flat areas where necessary, use the pen tool to create folds. At the end make the entire text into a smart layer. Then move the background layer on top of the text, change it to a clipping mask to apply to the text only (that will give you shadows only on the text). Of course, you can change colours to your liking at any time inside the smart layer

3) Use Filter -> Distort -> Displace: Big pro of this is that it can be very fast. Although, not much control, it all depends on the background image. The results vary from very good to cheap looking (depends on how effective you are with your tools) - not bad tutorial >>HERE<<

4) Use any kind of Warp/transform tools: Not recommended at all. It is possible to do it with multiple warp transforms. However, it would be a very painful thing to do IMO. it would only work if you have a small fold

Hope it helps you

Regards, Tom

  • Thank you for your feed-back +1 for you time and effort; I'm still interested in reading a real approach with print screens and steps that could give a similar result like the above exposed. – user124853 Mar 3 '16 at 20:47
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    I even gave you a link to video tutorial... what else do you need? – Tomasz Golinski Mar 4 '16 at 2:17
  • Hello there, true but I prefer to see a workflow for a 3D scalable vector solution (Illustrator or Cinema 4D(?) Photoshop will produce a bitmap image. Thanks – user124853 Mar 4 '16 at 7:13
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    I doubt you can get such an effect in Illustrator unless you spend a really long time manually drawing and warping the text and then spend even more time on creating the gradients... However, this is a very ineffective way of creating such a thing in illustrator. In Autodesk Maya/3D Max, it's a 5-10 minutes job to create such an effect. And the scaling is not a problem there. It just takes slightly longer to render. All you have to do is create a cloth simulation with a vector text as a texture. Then don't render background, just the text itself. Put into photoshop on a dark background – Tomasz Golinski Mar 4 '16 at 7:18

I think the symbol + 3D Extrude & Bevel technique is used. Here is an awesome tutorial: http://www.graphicmania.net/how-to-create-the-american-flag-in-illustrator/

  • Hi Marçal, could you please explain a bit more what we'll find behind the link you provide and why it answers the question? That way, your answer is still of value in case the link breaks at a later time. Thanks! – Cai Oct 26 '17 at 7:57
  • if you look at how irregular the ripples are you'll see that a simple extrude won't produce the same effect. – Luciano Oct 26 '17 at 9:00

I'm really late here, but this was either created using a 3D environment (most likely) or using a displacement map in Photoshop (Google it for a how-to).

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    Hi Greg! Can you edit your answer to explain how to do a displacement map in Photoshop? "Google it" isn't really an answer, and your post may be flagged for deletion. – Vicki Oct 6 '16 at 0:41

It was done in Cinema 4D. Using a fabric texture you can adjust the waves and gravity, then insert vector typography onto the surface. Extremely simple in 4D, incredibly difficult and time consuming in Adobe CC

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    Except the original image was a poster for Yale School of Architecture by Jessica Svendsen, created by photographing type printed on fabric. I heard from the author herself during a conference. Also OP asks how to do in Illustrator. – Luciano Jan 16 '20 at 12:29

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