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How to Create a Realistic Autumn Leaves Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Autumn is such a beautiful season, with its crisp weather and bright colors. This tutorial will show you how to use a couple of leaf images, textures, adjustment layers, and a lighting effect to create a bright autumn leaves text effect. Let's get started!

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:

1. Create the Background

Step 1

Create a new 1600 x 1031 px document, place the Asphalt 02 image on top of the Background layer, rename its layer to Background Texture, and resize it as needed.

Place the Asphalt Texture

Step 2

Double-click the Background Texture layer to apply a Color Overlay effect using these settings:

  • Color: #5f4f31
  • Blend Mode: Multiply
  • Opacity: 50%
Color Overlay

This will darken up the texture and enhance its coloring.

Styled Asphalt Texture

Step 3

Place the SoilMud0041 image on top of the Background Texture layer, resize it as needed, and rename its layer to Background Texture Overlay. Change its Blend Mode to Multiply and its Opacity to 30%.

Background Texture Overlay Settings

2. Create the Text

Create the text in All Caps using the font Archivo Narrow Bold. This will be used just for reference, so change the rest of the settings depending on the text you have.

Here, the Size is 550 pt and the Tracking is 50.

Create the Text

3. Add the Leaves

Step 1

After you pick the leaves you'll be using to create the effect, you'll need to add them to the document.

Make sure to place the leaves (File > Place) instead of duplicating them, and then resize each leaf you place as you like.

Place a Leaf Layer

Step 2

Double-click the leaf layer to apply a Drop Shadow effect using these settings:

  • Color: #3d2d0b
  • Opacity: 35%
  • Distance: 6
  • Size: 3
Drop Shadow

Step 3

This will apply a simple shadow to the leaf. Right-click the leaf layer and choose Copy Layer Style.

Copy Layer Style

Step 4

Place the other leaves, and then right-click their layers and choose Paste Layer Style in order to apply the Drop Shadow effect to all the leaf layers.

Paste Layer Style

4. Duplicate the Leaves

Step 1

Select the Move Tool, and check the Auto Select box in the Options bar.

What you'll need to do next is press and hold the Option key, click and drag the leaf you want to duplicate, and release all.

After you duplicate each leaf, press Command-T to enter the Free Transform Mode, and then resize, rotate, and position the duplicated leaf. 

You can also use the Edit > Transform > Flip options to create more variations.

Repeat that until you cover the whole text with different leaves, and you can scatter a couple around it as well.

Duplicate and Transform the Leaves

Step 2

This process is a bit time-consuming, but as you create more leaves it gets faster.

When you're satisfied with the result you get, group all the leaf layers in a Leaves group, and make the text layer invisible by clicking the eye icon next to it.

Group the Leaf Layers

Step 3

You can also change the order of the leaf layers to get a more dynamic outcome.

Change the Leaf Layers Order

5. Add the Leaves Texture

Step 1

Duplicate the Background Texture Overlay layer, place the copy on top of the Leaves group, and change its layer's Blend Mode to Linear Burn and its Opacity to 5%. This will add subtle texturing to the leaves.

Leaves Texture Overlay

Step 2

Click the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose Hue/Saturation.

Add a HueSaturation Adjustment Layer

Step 3

Change the Saturation value to -10.

Change the Saturation Value

6. Add the Vignette Texture and the Gradient Map

Step 1

Place the Grunge texture 4 on top of all layers, rename its layer to Vignette Texture, resize it as needed, and change its Blend Mode to Multiply.

Add the Grunge Vignette Texture

Step 2

Add another Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, click the Clip to layer icon, and change the Hue value to -37.

Adjust the Hue Value

Step 3

Add a Gradient Map adjustment layer, use the gradient shown below, click the Dither box, and change the layer's Blend Mode to Soft Light and its Opacity to 50%.

Add a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer

7. Create the Smart Object

Step 1

Go to Select > All, then Edit > Copy Merged, and Edit > Paste.

Copy and Paste Merged Layers

Step 2

Place the pasted image on top of all layers, rename its layer to Lighting Effects, and go to Filter > Convert for Smart Filters.

Convert to a Smart Object

8. Apply the Lighting Effects Filter

Step 1

Go to Filter > Render > Lighting Effects, and add a Spot Light.

Adjust the ellipses you have to match the ones below. You need to make the light come from the top left corner to the bottom right one.

Adjust the Light Ellipses

Step 2

Use these settings in the Properties panel to the right:

  • Color: RGB (255, 251, 235)
  • Intensity: 23
  • Hotspot: 60
  • Colorize: RGB (255, 249, 231)
  • Exposure: 0
  • Gloss: -17
  • Metallic: -50
  • Ambience: 19
  • Texture Height (for each channel): 1
Lighting Effects Properties Values

This will add some nice lighting and a bit of detailing to the effect.

Adjusted Lighting

9. Add the Water Overlay Texture

Step 1

Place the Water 02 image on top of all layers, rename its layer to Water Texture, and then change its Blend Mode to Soft Light and its Opacity to 50%.

Add the Water Texture

Step 2

Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer on top of all layers, click the Clip to layer icon, and change the Saturation value to -31.

Add a HueSaturation Adjustment Layer

This will add a nice rainy/wet feel to the final outcome. You can play around with the different textures and settings to get different results.

Final Result

Congratulations! You're Done

In this tutorial, we used a couple of textures and effects to create an asphalt background.

Then we created the reference text, and started adding, duplicating, resizing, rotating, and spreading styled leaves all over it.

After that, we added a couple more texture and adjustment layers, and applied a lighting effects filter to enhance the outcome.

Finally, we added a water texture to make the result look more realistic and autumnal.

Please feel free to leave your comments, suggestions, and outcomes below.

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