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How to Create a Piped Icing Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

This tutorial will show you how to create a brush tip and use it with the Mixer Brush Tool in Adobe Photoshop to create a piped icing text effect. Let's get started!

This text effect was inspired by the many Layer Styles available on GraphicRiver.

Tutorial Assets

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

1. How to Create a Mixer Brush Tip

Step 1

We will start with a slightly large document and downsize it later when we finish creating the effect, so that it's easier to work with the details.

Create a new 1500 x 1500 px document, pick the Ellipse Tool, choose the Shape option in the Options bar, and click anywhere in the document to get the Create Ellipse box.

Set the Width value to 12 and the Height to 35, and click OK.

Create Ellipse

Step 2

Double-click the ellipse layer to apply a Gradient Overlay effect with these settings:

  • Check the Dither box
  • Angle: 0
  • Click the Gradient box to create the gradient
Gradient Overlay

To create the Gradient, you’ll need to click below the gradient bar to add Color Stops, and when you click each Color Stop, you can change its Color and Location values. Here are the Color Stop values used from left to right:

Color - Location

  • #c8bcb4 - 0%
  • #e7ded8 - 25%
  • #fffcf8 - 50%
  • #dacfc7 - 75%
  • #e9e1db - 100%
Gradient Fill

Step 3

Duplicate the styled ellipse layer and hide it, and right-click the copy to choose Rasterize Layer Style.

Rasterize Layer Style

Step 4

Duplicate the rasterized layer, and press Command-T to enter Free Transform Mode.

Press-hold the Option key and click-drag the reference point to the bottom center point of the bounding box.

Free Transform Mode

Step 5

Next, you're going to rotate the ellipse based on how many points you want the brush tip to have, keeping in mind that fewer points create a looser outcome, while more points give a fuller result.

To know the Angle value you want to use, simply divide 360 by the number of points you want your tip to have. For example, we want the tip in this tutorial to have 14 points, so 360/14 gives us 25.7, which we'll enter in the Angle field in the Options bar.

Hit the Return key to commit the changes and get out of Free Transform Mode.

Rotate the Ellipse

Step 6

Press the Shift-Option-Command-T keys repeatedly to duplicate the ellipse with the transformation, until you finish creating the tip shape.

Then, select all the ellipse layers and press Command-E to merge them in one layer, and rename the merged layer to Brush Tip.

You can hide/show the Brush Tip layer as needed throughout the tutorial.

Brush Tip

2. How to Create a Work Path

Step 1

Create the text using the font Marketing Script, change the Size to 550 pt, and if you're using more than one line of text, change the Leading value to 500.

Create the Text

Step 2

Pick the Pen Tool and choose the Path option in the Options bar. To create the path, click to add anchor points, and click-drag to create curves.

Create work paths for the main text letters only—any dots or accents we'll add later on.

Create the Work Path

Step 3

While you're creating the path, you can press-hold the Command key to temporarily adjust the anchor points and their direction lines and points. Another way to do that would be by using the Direct Selection Tool (A) instead.

When you finish creating a work path, Command-click anywhere outside it.

Adjust the Work Path

Step 4

In the Paths panel, double-click the Work Path tab and enter a name for your path to save it.

Save Work Path

3. How to Use the Mixer Brush Tool

Step 1

Pick the Mixer Brush Tool (click and hold the standard Brush Tool to reveal it), and use these settings in the Options bar:

  • Click the Load the brush after each stroke icon.
  • Click the Clean the brush after each stroke icon.
  • Choose the dry, Heavy Load preset from the Useful mixer brush combinations list.
  • Wet: 0%
  • Load: 100%
  • Flow: 50%
  • Stroke Smoothing: 100%
  • Uncheck the Sample All Layers box.

After that, select the Brush Tip layer, and change the Mixer Brush Tool's tip Size to one that covers the tip you created, which is around 70 px here.

Place the Mixer Brush Tool's tip exactly on top of the tip you created, press-hold the Option key, and click once to load the tip into the brush.

Load the Brush Tip

Step 2

Hide the text layer, create a new layer on top of all layers and name it Text Stroke, and hit the Return key to stroke the path with the loaded brush tip.

Stroke the Work Path

Step 3

You can then manually add any extra lines or strokes where needed.

Add Additional Parts

Step 4

To add the text ends and dots, create a new layer and name it Stroke Ends.

Stroke Ends Layer

Step 5

Open the Brush Settings panel, and under the Shape Dynamics tab, change the Size Jitter Control to Fade, and set its value to 20.

Shape Dynamics

Step 6

Place the brush tip on top of one of the letters' ends, making sure to place it as precisely as possible over it, and click-drag to create the stroke's end.

Create the Stroke Ends

Step 7

This might take a couple of tries to perfect, but you can also transform the tips to have more control over the outcome.

To do so, use the Lasso Tool to select the stroke end you want to transform, press Command-T to enter Free Transform Mode, and move, rotate, and resize the ends as needed.

Transform the Ends

Step 8

Use the same brush tip to click-drag to add the dots as well. You can add as many different layers for the dots and ends as needed.

Once you're done, click the Add layer mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, pick the Brush Tool, set the Foreground Color to Black, and use a tip with a Hardness value you like to erase any unwanted parts.

Erase Unwanted Areas

Step 9

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

Clip the Levels layer to the Stroke Ends layer, and change its Output Levels Shadows value to 35.

You can add any other adjustment layers or use any other values to enhance the ends and blend them better with the original text stroke. You can also paint over any parts you don't want the adjustment layer to affect using its layer mask.


4. How to Add Color and Texture

Step 1

Place the layers used to create the piped icing effect in a group and name it Text.

Text Group

Step 2

Double-click the Text group to apply Color Overlay effects with these settings:

  • Color: #ecd9c0
  • Blend Mode: Overlay
Color Overlay

Step 3

  • Color: #f8748d
  • Blend Mode: Linear Burn

Keep in mind that you can choose any other colors you like for your text.

Color Overlay

Step 4

Duplicate the Text group and right-click the copy to choose Merge Group.

Rename the merged layer to Details, right-click it, and choose Convert to Smart Object.

Merge Group

Step 5

Go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation, and change the Saturation value to -100.


Step 6

Go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Artistic > Plastic Wrap, and use these settings:

  • Highlight Strength: 11
  • Detail: 15
  • Smoothness: 5
Plastic Wrap

Step 7

Go to Image > Adjustments > Levels, and change the Gamma value to 0.75.


Step 8

Change the Details layer's Blend Mode to Soft Light and its Opacity to 35%.

Layer Properties

5. How to Add Shadows and Highlights

Step 1

Create a new layer on top of all layers, name it Dodge & Burn, and go to Edit > Fill.

Set the Contents to 50% Gray and click OK.

Dodge  Burn Layer

Step 2

Change the Dodge & Burn layer's Blend Mode to Soft Light.

Layer Properties

Step 3

Command-click the Details layer's thumbnail to load a selection, and click the Add layer mask icon.

Add Layer Mask

Step 4

What you need to do next is use the Dodge and Burn Tools to brighten and darken areas of the text, in order to create a more 3D feel.

Change the brush tip's Size and Hardness values depending on the result you want.

The most important parts to darken are the overlapping ones, but you can sure take your time to work on any other areas you feel need brightening or darkening as well.

Brighten and Darken

6. How to Add Sprinkles

Step 1

Pick the Brush Tool and open the Brush Settings panel.

Choose a hard round tip and use these settings:

Brush Tip Shape

Brush Tip Shape

Shape Dynamics

Shape Dynamics



Color Dynamics

Color Dynamics

Step 2

Set the Foreground Color to #f1a595 and the Background Color to #fef200, create a new layer below the Dodge & Burn layer, and click-drag slightly over the text to add colorful sprinkles.

Add Sprinkles

7. How to Style Sprinkles

Double-click the Sprinkles layer to apply the following layer style:

Step 1

Add a Bevel and Emboss with these settings:

  • Size: 1
  • Gloss Contour: Cone
  • Check the Anti-aliased box
  • Highlight Mode: Soft Light
  • Shadow Mode:
    • Opacity: 21%
Bevel and Emboss

Step 2

Add a Contour with these settings:

  • Contour: Ring - Double
  • Check the Anti-aliased box.

Step 3

Add a Color Overlay with these settings:

  • Color: #f8f7f2
  • Blend Mode: Overlay
Color Overlay

Step 4

Add a Drop Shadow with these settings:

  • Blend Mode: Color Burn
  • Color: #626262
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Distance: 2
  • Size: 7
Drop Shadow

This will style the sprinkles.

Styled Sprinkles

8. How to Make Final Adjustments

Step 1

Add a Solid Color fill layer on top of the Background layer using the Color #fdfdfb.

Solid Color

Step 2

Add a Gradient fill layer on top of the Solid Color layer, and use a Transparent to Fill Color gradient fill using the Colors #ffeeee to the left and #ffd7dd to the right.

Change the Style to Radial and the Scale to 200, and change the layer's Blend Mode to Multiply and its Opacity to 25%.


Step 3

Create a new layer on top of all layers, name it High Pass, and press the Shift-Option-Command-E keys to create a stamp.

Convert the layer to a Smart Object and change its Blend Mode to Soft Light.

High Pass Layer

Step 4

Go to Filter > Other > High Pass, and change the Radius to 1.

High Pass

Step 5

Create another new layer on top of all layers and name it Noise.

Fill the layer with 50% Gray, convert it to a Smart Object, and change its Blend Mode to Soft Light.

Noise Layer

Step 6

Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise, change the Amount to 5 and the Distribution to Gaussian, and uncheck the Monochromatic box.

Noise Filter

Step 7

Finally, you can save an image of the final result, open it, and go to Image > Image Size to downsize it as you like.

Image Size

Congratulations! You're Done

In this tutorial, we created a brush tip as well as a text-based work path, and we used the Mixer Brush Tool to stroke the path with the tip to create the piped icing effect.

Then, we added the ends and dots, styled the result to add color, and used filters to add texture and details.

After that, we dodged and burned the text to add more depth, and modified a brush tip to add sprinkles.

Finally, we added some final adjustments to finish off the effect.

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

Final Result
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