Rubber Stamp Text Effect Photoshop Tutorial

stamp effect in Adobe Photoshop

 Screenshot

This tutorial will show you how to apply a stamp effect to text or an image with Photoshop. In this case, we'll mimic a rubber stamp, but this effect can also be used to create a grunge or distressed effect on text or graphics.

The screenshots you see below might not be exactly how you see these steps in your version of Photoshop since we're using Photoshop CC 2015, but the tutorial should be compatible with other versions of Photoshop — and even Paint.NET, too — and the steps adaptable if not identical.

  1. To begin, create a new document with a white background at the desired size and resolution.

    Navigate to the File > New menu item and choose the new document size you want, and then press OK to build it.

    The new document dialog box is open
     Screenshot
  2. Press the letter T on your keyboard to open the Type tool. Add text using a heavy font. We're using Bodoni 72 Oldstyle Bold

    Make it fairly large (100 pts in this image) and type in uppercase. You can keep the color as black.

    A kerning value of -75 is shown in the Character panel
     Screenshot

    If with your particular font, you don't like the tight spacing between the letters, you can easily fix it through the Character panel. Access that via the Window > Character menu item, or click its icon in the options bar for the text tool.

    Click between the letters whose spacing you want to adjust, and then from the Character panel, set the kerning value to a larger or smaller number to increase or decrease character spacing.

    You can also highlight the letters and adjust the tracking value.

  3. Reposition the text. If you want the text a little taller or shorter, without adjusting the width, use the Ctrl+T or Command+T shortcut to put an edit box around the text. Click and drag the small box at the top of the boundary line to stretch the text to the size you want.

    Press Enter to confirm the adjustment.

    The word stamp is elongated using the Move Tool
     Screenshot

    You can also use this time to reposition the text on the canvas, something you can do with the Move tool (V shortcut).

  4. Add a rounded rectangle. A stamp looks best with a rounded box around it, so use the U key to select the shape tool. Once it's selected, right-click the tool from the Tools menu, and choose Rounded Rectangle Tool from that small menu.

    Use these settings to the tool's properties at the top of Photoshop:

    • Radius: 30 (make this appropriate for your document size)
    • Fill: None (the grey box with the red line through it)
    • Stroke: Black

    Draw the rectangle a bit larger than your text so it surrounds it with some space on all the sides.

    The rounded Rectangle tool and the Properties panel for the rectangle are shown
     Screenshot

    If it's not perfect, switch to the Move tool (V) with the rectangle layer selected, and drag it where you need it. You can even adjust the rectangle's spacing from the stamp letters with Ctrl+T or Command+T.

  5. Add a stroke to the rectangle. Move the layer with the rectangle on it to be under the text layer by dragging it from the Layers palette.

    With the rectangle layer selected, right-click it and choose Blending Options..., and use these settings in the Stroke section:

    • Size: 12
    • Position: Outside
    • Fill Type: Color
    • Fill Color: White
    The Shape properties and layers panel show the changes to the rectangle and the reordering of the layers
     Screenshot
  6. Align layers and convert to smart object. Select both the shape and text layer from the Layers palette, activate the Move tool (V), and click the buttons to align vertical centers and horizontal centers (these options are at the top of Photoshop after you activate the Move tool).

    With both layers still selected, right-click one of them in the Layers palette and choose Convert to Smart Object. This will combine the layers but leave them editable in case you want to change your text later on.

    The text and shape are converted to a Smart Object
  7. Choose a pattern from the Artist Surfaces set.

    1. In the Layers palette, click the Create new fill or adjustment layer button. It's the one that looks like a circle at the very bottom of the Layers palette.
    2. Pick Pattern... from that menu.
    3. In the pattern fill dialog, click the thumbnail on the left to get the palette to pop out. In that menu, click the small icon at the top right and choose Artist Surfaces to open that pattern set.
    4. Choose Washed Watercolor Paper for the fill pattern. You can hover your mouse over each of them until you find the right one.
    5. Now click OK in the "Pattern Fill" dialog box.

    If you're asked whether Photoshop should replace the current pattern with the ones from the Artist Surfaces set, click OK or Append.

    The Wash Water Colour pattern is chosen as the Pattern Fill
     Screenshot
  8. Add a posterize adjustment. From the Adjustments panel (Window > Adjustments), add a Posterize adjustment.

    Set the levels to about 6. This reduces the number of unique colors in the image to 6, giving the pattern a much grainier appearance.

    The Posterize Adjustment layer and the Posterize panel are shown
     Screenshot
  9. Make a Magic Wand selection and add a Layer Mask. Using the Magic Wand tool, (W), click on the most predominant gray color in this layer.

    If you haven't got enough of the grey selected, deselect and change the "Sample Size" value from the top of Photoshop. For this example, we used Point Sample. 

    With the selection still made, go into the Layers palette and hide the pattern fill layer and the posterize adjustment layer. We only needed them to make this selection.

    After hiding those layers, make the layer with your stamp graphic the active layer by selecting it. Click the Add layer mask button (the box with a circle in it) from the bottom of the Layers palette.

    The mask is applied to the Smart Object in the Layers panel
     Screenshot

    So long as the selection was still made when you clicked that button, the graphic should look distressed and much more like a stamp.

  10. Apply a Color Overlay style. Your stamp graphic is starting to take on a grungy appearance, but we still need to change the color and grunge it up even more. This is done with layer styles.

    Right-click a blank area on the stamp layer in the Layers palette, like to the right of its name. Go to Blending Options... and then choose Color Overlay from that screen, and apply these settings:

    • Blend Mode: Vivid Light
    • Color: Select the color box next to the "Blend Mode" line and use the follow RGB values to create a faded red look: R255 G60 B60
    • Opacity: 100%
    The Color Overlay layer Style dialog box is shown
     Screenshot
  11. Add an inner Glow style. If the edges of your stamp are too sharp for a good rubber stamped look, you can apply an inner glow to soften it up. Open Blending Options... again from the layer if you're not there already.

    These are the settings we used, just make sure the color of the glow matches what will ultimately be your background color (white in our example):

    • Blend Mode: Screen
    • Opacity: 50%
    • Noise: 50%
    • Technique: Softer
    • Source: Edge
    • Choke: 0%
    • Size: 3 px
    • The quality section can be left at the default values

    If you toggle the checkbox for Inner Glow, you can see how subtle this addition is, but it's definitely effective for the overall stamp look.

    Click OK on the "Layer Style" window to close the dialog box.

    The Inner Glow Layer Style dialog box is shown
     Screenshot
  12. Add a background and skew the stamp. Now we just need to apply a few quick finishing touches.

    Add a pattern fill layer just below the stamp graphic. We used the "Gold Parchment" pattern from the Color Paper set of default patterns. Set the blend mode on the stamp layer to Vivid Light so it will blend better with the new background. Finally, switch to the Move tool and move the cursor just outside one of the corner handles, and rotate the layer slightly. Rubber stamp effects are rarely applied in perfect alignment.

    The Vivid Light blend mode is applied to the Stamp layer and the Stamp Layer is slightly rotated
     Screenshot

    If you choose a different background, you may need to adjust the color of the inner glow effect. Instead of white, try picking up the predominant color in your background.

    One thing we noticed after completing the rubber stamp, and you can see it in the image here, is that there is a distinct repeating pattern to the grunge mask we used. This is because we used a repeating pattern for the texture to create the mask. The next step describes a quick way to get rid of the repeating pattern if you see it in your stamp and want to remove it.

  13. Rotate the layer mask. We can rotate the layer mask to disguise the repeating pattern in the effect.

    1. In the Layers palette, click the chain between the thumbnail for the stamp graphic and the layer mask to unlink the mask from the layer.
    2. Click on the layer mask thumbnail.
    3. Press Ctrl+T or Command+T to enter free transform mode.
    4. Rotate, and/or even enlarge, the mask until the repeating pattern is less obvious.
    The Layer mask is rotated
     Screenshot
  14. You're done. You've used layer masks and learned how to use the rubber stamp text effect.

The great thing about layer masks is that they allow us to make edits later on in our projects without having to undo steps we've already completed or having to somehow know, several steps back, that we'd see this effect in the end.