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

  • 1
    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
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 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
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 14:25
  • 1
    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
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 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
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 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
    Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 11:51

5 Answers 5


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
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 20:47
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    I even gave you a link to video tutorial... what else do you need? Commented Mar 4, 2016 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
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 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 Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 7:18

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 did it in photoshop. photoshop effect. can be much better. photoshop effect Photoshop warp effect Part One. Photoshop warp effect Part Two Photoshop warp effect Part Three. Photoshop warp effect Part Four. Photoshop warp effect Part Five Photoshop warp effect Part Six. Photoshop warp effect Part Seven Photoshop warp effect Part Eight

  • Hi. Welcome to GDSE. While this is interesting, and using Photoshop is a possible solution, we are looking for long answers here. Perhaps consider explaining in brief what you did to achieve it. Thanks.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Aug 8, 2021 at 15:00
  • Can I upload video here? Commented Aug 8, 2021 at 18:15
  • no but you can upload short gif screen captures.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Aug 8, 2021 at 22:54
  • @coreladvanced We avoid anything that can get broken from link rot so stick with text and animated gifs. Also, please don't link to your work in posts or comments as we have strict rules related to spam in posts. You're free to share your work in chat once you have enough reputation points to access.
    – curious
    Commented Aug 8, 2021 at 23:06
  • I tried to upload gif (8 parts) but could not as I am new here and I need reputation of 10 post it. I will post as I reach there. Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 11:53

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
    Commented Oct 26, 2017 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
    Commented Oct 26, 2017 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
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 0:41

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