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How to Create a Quick Burnt Wood Text Effect in Adobe InDesign

This post is part of a series called Text Effects in Adobe InDesign.
How to Create a Quick 3D Botanical Letter Effect in Adobe InDesign
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

This effect adds rustic charm to any typography, is quick and easy to create, and is a great way of mocking up logos or signage. We’ll use Adobe InDesign’s Effects window to develop depth, highlighting and shadowing.

Have 15 minutes? What are you waiting for!

If you're on the hunt for more great fonts to use in your text effects, head on over to Envato Elements to browse a huge range of display typefaces.

What You’ll Need to Create Your Text Effect

As well as access to Adobe InDesign, you’ll also need to download the following image and font files:

1. How to Set Up the Wooden Backdrop for Your Effect

Step 1

Open up InDesign and go to File > New > Document. You can set up your page to any size, but here I’ve set it up as Landscape A3. When you’re ready, click Create

Expand the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and double-click on Layer 1 to rename it as Background.

Create three new layers above this, in this order—Smudge, Type, and finally Highlight at the top. 

Then lock all layers except Background.

background layer

Step 2

Working on Background, use the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) to create an image frame across the whole page.

File > Place, navigate to the wood texture image you downloaded earlier, and Open, allowing it to fill the whole frame. 

wood texture

Step 3

Lock the Background layer and unlock the Type layer. 

Expand the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches), and choose New Color Swatch from the panel’s drop-down menu. 

Set the CMYK levels to C=71 M=79 Y=66 K=92, and click Add and then OK

Repeat to create three more CMYK swatches:

  • C=26 M=75 Y=89 K=21
  • C=8 M=46 Y=42 K=1
  • C=43 M=65 Y=48 K=48
swatch options

Step 4

Choose New Gradient Swatch from the Swatches panel’s menu. 

new gradient swatch

Name the swatch Burn Gradient and set the Type to Radial

Click on the left-hand stop on the Gradient Ramp, and choose your new dark swatch, C=71 M=79 Y=66 K=92, for this. 

Set the right-hand stop to your pale swatch, C=8 M=46 Y=42 K=1. Then click on the ramp to add a central, third stop, setting this to C=26 M=75 Y=89 K=21.

new gradient swatch

2. How to Create Your Burn Effect

Step 1

Still working on the Type layer, use the Type Tool (T) to create a text frame centrally on the page. Type in some text and set the Font to Douglas-Calgury Block.

font douglas calgury

Here, I’ve also added text frames above and below this central text frame.

text frames

I also add a framing circle around the typography using the Ellipse Tool (L), and increase the Weight of the circle’s stroke to 23 pt from the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke). 

stroke weight

Step 2

When you’ve finished formatting your typography, Right-Click > Group all of the elements together. 

group elements

Edit > Copy and Edit > Paste the group, moving the copy over onto the pasteboard. 

pasted group

Step 3

To format your effect you may find it easier to Right-Click > Ungroup the original type elements sitting on the page. 

Select each text frame individually and apply the Burn Gradient swatch as the Font Color of each. 

font color burn gradient

Also apply the Burn Gradient to any other elements, like the circle shape here.

burn gradient applied

You can use the Gradient panel (Window > Color > Gradient) to adjust the gradient on each text frame individually. Try shifting the Angle, reversing the gradient or moving the gradient stops on the ramp at the bottom, to create a deep, dark gradient effect on each text frame. 

radial gradient

Step 4

Select all the text frames and shapes and go to Object > Effects > Transparency. Set the Mode to Multiply and bring the Opacity down to 90%. 

multiply mode

Step 5

Click on Inner Shadow in the Effects window’s left-hand menu. 

Click on the colored square next to the Mode menu, and from here change the Effect Color to C=71 M=79 Y=66 K=92, and click OK.

Back in the Inner Shadow menu, set the Distance to 1 mm, Size to 3 mm, Choke to 25%, and Noise to around 15%. 

inner shadow

Step 6

Click on Outer Glow in the Effects window’s menu. Adjust the Mode to Normal and Opacity to about 90%. 

Change the Effect Color to C=26 M=75 Y=89 K=21.

With the Technique set to Softer, increase the Size to 5 mm, Noise to 25%, and Spread to around 45%

outer glow

Step 7

Finally, click on Inner Glow in the left-hand menu. Switch the Mode to Normal, Opacity to about 85%, and switch the Effect Color to C=8 M=46 Y=42 K=1.

Set the Technique to Softer, Source to Edge, Size to 2 mm, and Noise to around 25%. 

inner glow

Then click OK to exit the Effects window.

effects window exit

Step 8

Select the grouped elements which you moved over to the pasteboard earlier. Move this over on top of the elements sitting on the wooden background, placed slightly to the right, as shown below. 

In the Layers panel, expand the Type layer by clicking on the arrow to the left of the Type name. Drag the <group> element down onto the Create New Layer button at the bottom of the panel, to duplicate it.

Then unlock the Smudge layer, and drag one of the two <group> elements down, dropping it onto the Smudge layer. Then you can lock the Type layer.

Working on the <group> now sat on the Smudge layer, apply the Burn Gradient swatch to each element of this copy of the typography. Use the Gradient panel (Window > Color > Gradient), as before, to adjust the angle and position of the gradient on each section of the type. 

gradient swatch

With the <group> selected, go to Object > Effects > Transparency. Set the Mode to Soft Light and click OK.

soft light
effect so far

Step 9

Expand the Smudge layer and drag the <group> element down onto the Create New Layer button, to duplicate the <group>.

copied group

Unlock the top layer, Highlight, and drag one of the <group> elements up onto this layer. 

group in layer

Lock the Smudge layer, working on Highlight.

Select the group of type elements on this page and shift its position slightly to the left. Then go to Object > Effects > Transparency. Set the Mode to Screen and click OK

screen mode

Your Finished Text Effect

Your burnt wood text effect is finished—awesome job!

final wood effect

You can now incorporate your text effect into other InDesign work, or go to File > Export to create a JPG, PNG, or PDF version of your effect. 

A great way to give a twist on a text effect is to use a different typeface style. You can find a huge range of awesome fonts to use in your text effects over on Envato Elements.

Looking for more quick InDesign text effects? Make sure to check these out:

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