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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Text Effects

How to Distort Text in Photoshop

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Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

Create distorted letters with this easy tutorial and design the trendiest posters right now.

In this tutorial, we'll be creating a cool music poster by using layer masks and multiple text layers. This easy text distorter technique can be applied to any font and with any image. At the end of this tutorial, you'll find an awesome list of distorted text generator add-ons for Photoshop and Illustrator.

If you're running out of time, be sure to check out Envato Elements for layer styles compatible with Photoshop. You can also find add-ons for glitched out text and distorted fonts. There are plenty of options that can help you save time on your projects, like the doppler effect in Photoshop which inspired this tutorial.

Doppler EffectDoppler EffectDoppler Effect
Doppler Effect

Do you like to learn new skills by watching videos? Then you can watch this new video from the Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel to learn how to distort text in Photoshop:

What You'll Learn in This Distorted Text Effect Tutorial

  • How to set up a Photoshop document
  • How to create margins and layer organization
  • How to use adjustment layers and layer masks
  • How to distort text in Photoshop
  • How to export the file

What You'll Need

You can install the font and download the image or use your own assets.

1. How to Set Up a PSD File Landscape Poster

Step 1

Open Adobe Photoshop and create a New Document. Set the Size to 297 x 210 mm. Set the Resolution to 300 dpi and the Color Mode to CMYK. Click Create.

Set up an Adobe Photoshop fileSet up an Adobe Photoshop fileSet up an Adobe Photoshop file

Step 2

Create Margins by going to View > New Guide Layout. In the New Guide Layout window, check the Margins box and set all the margins to 1 cm. Click OK.

Add margins to the documentAdd margins to the documentAdd margins to the document

2. How to Organize Photoshop Layers

Head over to the Layers panel. Click on Create New Group.

Name one group Background and the other group Foreground.

Add groupsAdd groupsAdd groups

3. How to Create the Poster Background

Step 1

In the Layers panel, click on Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer > Gradient. Click on the Gradient Swatch to change the colors.

Under Gradient Type, set the left color stop to #26169f. Set the right color stop to #da2e34. Click OK.

In the Gradient Fill window, set the Angle to 35. Click OK.

Add a gradient layerAdd a gradient layerAdd a gradient layer

Step 2

Select the Gradient Fill layer on the Layers panel.

Head over to Filter > Stylize > Tiles. In the Warning window, click on Convert to Smart Object. In the Tiles window, set the Number of Tiles to 10. Set the Maximum Offset to 10%. Under Fill Empty Area With: select Background Color. Click OK.

Add a tile effect to the layerAdd a tile effect to the layerAdd a tile effect to the layer

Step 3

Head over to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur. Set the Angle to 50° and the Distance to 222. Click OK.

Add the Motion Blur EffectAdd the Motion Blur EffectAdd the Motion Blur Effect

Step 4

While selecting the gradient layer, press Command-T to Transform. Slightly resize the layer so that it overlaps the edge of the document.

Resize the tilesResize the tilesResize the tiles

Step 5

Head over to the Layers panel, and click on Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer > Solid Color. Double-click on the swatch to change the color. Set the color to #000000.

In the Layers panel, set the Opacity to 30%.

Add a black adjustment layerAdd a black adjustment layerAdd a black adjustment layer

Step 6

Head over to the Layers panel, and click on Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer > Gradient.

In the Gradient Fill window, set the Style to Radial. Click on the swatch of the Gradient Fill window. In the Gradient Editor window, set the Opacity Stop Location (top swatch) to 50%. Set the Color Stop to 25. Click OK.

Collapse the Background group.

Add a radial gradientAdd a radial gradientAdd a radial gradient

4. How to Distort Text in Photoshop

Step 1

Select the Foreground group.

Press T to select the Type Tool and click on the document to add "RHYTHM OF THE NIGHT." In the Options panel, set the Font to DAMNURSE CHRONICAL and the Size to 115 pt.

Place the text in the center of the document.

Add textAdd textAdd text

Step 2

Drag the Cool Millennial Woman image into the Photoshop document.

Press Command-T to Transform. On the Options panel, set the Horizontal and Vertical Scale to 65%.

Set the Y axis to 1500 px.

Add the image to the documentAdd the image to the documentAdd the image to the document

Step 3

In the Layers panel, right-click on the image and select Create Clipping Mask. This will be the main text that will be completely legible.

Create a clipping maskCreate a clipping maskCreate a clipping mask

Step 4

Select the image and the text layer. To select both, click on one, hold Command, and select the next layer. Drag both layers onto the Create New Layer button to Duplicate the layers.

Duplicate the layersDuplicate the layersDuplicate the layers

Step 5

Select the Text Layer and click on the Add Layer Mask button.

Add a layer maskAdd a layer maskAdd a layer mask

Step 6

Press Command-T to Transform and move the layer slightly above the original text. Hold Shift to maintain the same Y position.

Move the text layer above the original textMove the text layer above the original textMove the text layer above the original text

Step 7

Select the Layer Mask thumbnail. Head over to the Tools panel, and select the Gradient Tool (G).

To create the Doppler Effect, use the Gradient Tool to fade the text. Drag from the very top of the text towards the bottom. It can take a few tries, so use Command-Z to Undo until you find the desired effect.

Move the text layerMove the text layerMove the text layer

Step 8

Select the duplicated layers (the ones that now include the Layer Mask), right-click, and select the red tag.

Select the duplicated layers and duplicate them five times, as in Step 4.

Tag the layers with redTag the layers with redTag the layers with red

Step 9

Select the text layer that's at the very top of the Layers panel. Press Command-T to Transform and align the text with the top margin.

Align the top text layer with the top marginAlign the top text layer with the top marginAlign the top text layer with the top margin

Step 10

Select all of the text layers, including the original text. Press Command to select multiple layers. Head over to the Options bar, and click on the Distribute Vertically button.

Distribute verticallyDistribute verticallyDistribute vertically

Step 11

Select the original image and text layer. Duplicate both by dragging the layers onto the New Layer button. Select the two image and text layers that are at the bottom. Right-click and select the green tag.

Duplicate the text and image layers and tag them with greenDuplicate the text and image layers and tag them with greenDuplicate the text and image layers and tag them with green

Step 12

Select the text layer with the green tag and press Command-T to Transform. Drag the text layer under the original text.

Select the text layer and add a Layer Mask.

On the Tools panel, select the Gradient Tool (G). Repeat Step 7, but this time fade the text from the bottom.

Use the gradient toolUse the gradient toolUse the gradient tool

Step 13

Select the green tag layers. Duplicate them five times by dragging the layers onto the New Layer button.

Duplicate the layersDuplicate the layersDuplicate the layers

Step 14

Select the bottom text layer and press Command-T to Transform. Drag the text layer towards the bottom margin.

Select all of the green tagged text layers, including the original text.

Head over to the Options bar, and click on the Distribute Vertically button.

Distribute the elements verticallyDistribute the elements verticallyDistribute the elements vertically

Step 15

Collapse the Foreground layer by clicking on the folder icon.

Select Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer > Brightness and Contrast. Adjust the brightness and contrast until you find the desired result.

Edit the artwork with the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer optionEdit the artwork with the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer optionEdit the artwork with the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer option

5. How to Save the PSD File

Head over to File > Save As and select Format from the dropdown menu.

Save as PSD so you can edit the file in the future. Select JPEG if you plan to print the file. To export a file for Web, head over to File > Export > Save for Web.

Make the necessary adjustments under Image Size. Click Save.

Saving a PSD FileSaving a PSD FileSaving a PSD File

Distorted Text Generators From Envato Elements

If you're short on time, try using a distorted text effect add-on from Envato Elements. They're easy to use, very well organized, and you're just a few clicks away from awesome results.

Doppler Distortion Text Effect (PS)

Doppler Distortion Text EffectDoppler Distortion Text EffectDoppler Distortion Text Effect
Doppler Distortion Text Effect

This is the true Doppler effect for you to apply to your designs with just a few clicks! This distorted text generator is set up with smart layers, and you can choose from four different backgrounds and many gradient maps.

Blurred Graphic Styles (AI)

Blurred Graphic StylesBlurred Graphic StylesBlurred Graphic Styles
Blurred Graphic Styles

Blur vector graphics and create distorted fonts easily with this Adobe Illustrator effect. You can use nine graphic styles that will help you twist, spin, add a Doppler effect, shake, and many more things with this effect!

Poster Studio for Photoshop (PS)

Poster Studio for PhotoshopPoster Studio for PhotoshopPoster Studio for Photoshop
Poster Studio for Photoshop

These fully editable PSD templates can help you mock up your most creative posters. Choose between different poster textures, patterns, and torn paper levels. The pack comes with brushes to make your posters even more realistic.

Liquid Melting Text Effect (PS)

Liquid Melting Text EffectLiquid Melting Text EffectLiquid Melting Text Effect
Liquid Melting Text Effect

Glitched-out text is easy to achieve with this liquid melting text effect. Easily distort fonts with one of these three PSD files. The pack is print-ready, so you can create awesome creative posters.

Urban Text Effect (PSD)

Urban Text EffectUrban Text EffectUrban Text Effect
Urban Text Effect

Use this modern text distorter add-on on social media projects, posters, and flyers. With eight PSD files, you're sure to find and design the most creative projects. Distort text layers, vector shapes, and whole folder groups.

That's It!

In this tutorial, you learned all the essential tools you need to use to create an awesome glitched-out text effect. You learned to set up a Photoshop file, use layer masks and adjustment layers, and maintain proper file organization. With these skills, you'll be able to design creative posters that are trendy and suitable for social media, posters, and branding projects.

If you're interested in more awesome distorted text effects, be sure to check out:

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