Rubber Stamp Text Effect Photoshop Tutorial

Use Photoshop to make words that look inked on

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 you can also use this effect to create a grunge or distressed effect on text or graphics.

These instructions apply to Photoshop CC 2015 and later. Some commands and menu items may be different in other versions.

How to Create a Rubber Stamp Effect in Photoshop

  1. 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 in Photoshop
  2. Press the letter T on your keyboard to open the Type tool. Add text using a heavy font, like Bodoni 72 Oldstyle Bold

    Make it fairly large (100 pts in this image), and type in uppercase. If with your particular font, you don't like the tight spacing between the letters, open the Character window 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.

    A screenshot of Photoshop with the Character menu highlighted
  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.

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

    The word stamp is elongated using the Move Tool
  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.

    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 (Windows) or Command+T (on a Mac).

    A screenshot of Photoshop with the Rounded Rectangle Tool highlighted
  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
    A screenshot of Photoshop with the layers properties highlighted
  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 command 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. 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. Pick Pattern... from that menu.

    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.

    A screenshot of Photoshop with the Create New Fill Layer button highlighted
  8. Choose Washed Watercolor Paper for the fill pattern. You can hover your mouse over each of them until you find the right one.

    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.

    A screenshot of Photoshop with the Washed Watercolor Paper pattern highlighted
  9. From the Adjustments panel (Window > Adjustments), add a Posterize adjustment.

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

    A screenshot of Photoshop with the Posterize option highlighted
  10. 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 don't get enough of the grey selected, deselect (Cntrl/Cmd-D) and change the Sample Size value from the top of Photoshop.

    Hide the pattern fill layer and the posterize adjustment layer. 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.

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

    A screenshot of Photoshop with the Add Layer Mask button highlighted
  11. Right-click a blank area on the stamp layer in the Layers palette. 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
  12. If the edges of your stamp are too sharp for a good rubber stamped look, 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

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

    The Inner Glow Layer Style dialog box is shown
  13. Add a pattern fill layer just below the stamp graphic. 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.

    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.

    The Vivid Light blend mode is applied to the Stamp layer and the Stamp Layer is slightly rotated
  14. You may notice some regularity in the texture around your stamp if you used a repeating pattern for the texture to create the mask. 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 the mask until the repeating pattern is less obvious.
    The Layer mask is rotated
  15. 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.

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