Add text on a rough surface in Photoshop

Adding text on an uneven background can be quite challenging, and usually the result is flat and unrealistic. In this lesson you will learn how to use the filter. Displace (Offset) for overlaying text on an uneven surface so that it matches the relief of this surface and looks realistic.

I was inspired to create this effect by the various layer styles available on the Envato Market.

1. Save the displacement map

Open the fabric texture in Photoshop and go File – Save As (File – Save As), write the name of the file Displace Map and save it.

2. Configure the displacement map

Step 1

Click the right button on the background layer and select Convert to Smart Object (Convert to smart object).

Step 2

Move on Image – Adjustments – Hue/ Saturation (Image – Correction – Hue / Saturation) and set the parameter Saturation (Saturation) at -100.

Step 3

Move on Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur) and set Radius (Radius) by 2.

With a high radius value, you will get a smoother and smoother version, with a low one – a clearer and more detailed one.

Step 4

Move on File – Save (File – Save) to save the changes we made to the Displace Map file.

3. Change texture color

Step 1

Open the original fabric texture, activate the tool. Color Replacement Tool (Color swap) and set the foreground color to # d7ba80.

On the top toolbar parameters set Mode (Mode) on Color (Chromaticity), Sampling (Sample) on Contiguous (Adjacent pixels) and Tolerance (Tolerance) at 100%.

We take a very large round hard brush and paint over the texture, trying not to hold twice in one place.

Due to this, we changed the color of the texture.

Step 2

Duplicate the background layer and convert the copy to a smart object.

4. Improving the texture color

Step 1

Double click on the copy of the background layer to apply the layer style. Color Overlay (Color overlay) with the following settings:

  • Color (Color): # fde8bd
  • Blend Mode (Blend Mode): Divide (Separation)

As a result, the texture color became brighter.

Step 2

At the bottom of the layers panel, click on the button. Create new fill or adjustment layer (Create a new fill or adjustment layer) and select Selective Colors (Selective color correction).

Step 3

From the drop down menu Colors (Colors) choose Yellows (Yellow) and customizable:

  • Cyan (Blue): -30
  • Magenta (Magenta): -16
  • Yellow (Yellow): -47
  • Black (Black): -21

Step 4

Next, select from the dropdown menu Blues (Blue) and change the values ​​as shown below:

  • Cyan (Blue): -100
  • Magenta (Magenta): -35
  • Yellow (Yellow): -100
  • Black (Black): -16

This will make the color softer and more muffled. But you can adjust the color at will, depending on the result you want to get.

5. Add text

Step 1

Font Cookie Regular write the text in white and set it Size (Size) at 150 pt.

Step 2

Convert the text layer to a smart object and set it Fill (Fill) to 0.

6. Stylize the text.

Double click on the text layer to apply the following layer styles:

Step 1

Add a layer style Bevel and Emboss (Embossed):

  • Style (Style): Pillow Emboss (Contour stamping)
  • Size (Size): 8
  • Activate Anti-aliased (Smoothing)
  • Highlight mode (Backlight mode): Linear light (Linear light)
  • Color (Color): # 929292
  • Opacity (Opacity): 50%
  • Shadow mode (Shadow mode): Color burn (Blackout basics)
  • Color (Color): # 434343
  • Opacity (Opacity): 27%

Step 2

Add a layer style Color Overlay (Overlay color):

  • Color (Color): # bdadb1
  • Blend Mode (Blend Mode): Linear Burn (Linear dimmer)

Step 3

Add a layer style Drop Shadow (Shadow):

  • Blend Mode (Blend Mode): Linear Burn (Linear dimmer)
  • Color (Color): # 707070
  • Opacity (Opacity): 20%
  • Uncheck the box with Use Global Light (Global coverage)
  • Angle (Angle): 90
  • Distance (Distance): 3
  • Size (Size): 5

As a result, we stylized the text.

As you can see in the picture below, the folds are viewed under the text, but the result still looks too flat and unrealistic. Next we will solve this problem.

7. Apply Blur and Displace Filters

Step 1

Select the smart object with the text and go Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur). Install Radius (Radius) by 1. This will make the effect softer and tidy.

Step 2

Now go Filter – Distort – Displace (Filter – Distortion – Offset). As a result, a dialog box appears.

Horizontal Scale (Horizontal scale) and Vertical Scale (Vertical Scale) is responsible for the intensity of the effect. A high value will create more wavy folds, and a lower one – more neat.

You can play with the settings to achieve the best result. In this lesson we will set the value to 15.

Displacement Map (Curvature scheme) set to Stretch to Fit (Stretch) Undefined Areas (Undefined areas) on Repeat Edge Pixels (Repeat boundary pixels) and click OK.

Step 3

After clicking on the OK button, a window opens in which we find the Displace Map file created at the beginning of the lesson and open it to apply to the text.

Now we see that the text repeats the shape of the fabric and the folds look more realistic.

Step 4

Remember that you can correct the filter settings at any time. Displace (Offset), if double-clicking on it in the list of smart filters and reapply with new values.

8. Adjust the sharpness of the background.

This is an optional step and you can skip it. But if you want a better result, choose a copy of the background layer, then go Filter – Sharpen – Smart Sharpen (Filter – Sharpness – Smart Sharpness) and apply the following parameters:

Keep in mind that the values ​​used in this lesson can vary depending on the size of the image and text, as well as on what kind of result you want to get.


In this tutorial, we created a simple displacement map using fabric texture, adjustment layers, and filters.

Then we set up the color of the texture and create the text.

After that used the filter Displace (Offset) and applied to the text the displacement map to match the folds on the fabric.

And, finally, increased the sharpness of the background.

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