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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Text Effects

How to Create a Retro, Colorful, Halftone Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:MediumLanguages:
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

This tutorial will show you how to use Photoshop's layer styles, filters, and actions, with a couple of adjustment layers and texture overlays, to create a bright, colourful, retro, halftone 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 Simple Line Pattern

Step 1

Create a new 1 x 3 px document, and use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to create a 1 x 1 px selection at the bottom of the document.

Rectangular Marquee ToolRectangular Marquee ToolRectangular Marquee Tool

Step 2

Make sure the Background is transparent, fill the selection with the Color #bcbcbc, and press Command-D to deselect.

Go to Edit > Define Pattern, change the Name to Lines, and click OK.

Define PatternDefine PatternDefine Pattern

2. How to Create Background and Text Layers

Step 1

Create a new 1000 x 735 px document, click the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, choose Solid Color, and set the fill Color to #030608.

Solid ColorSolid ColorSolid Color

Step 2

Create the text in All Caps using the font Komikazoom. Change the Size to 300, the Tracking to 50, and the Horizontal scale to 95%.

Create the TextCreate the TextCreate the Text

3. How to Create Shape Layers and Adjust Their Attributes

Step 1

Rename the text layer to Text, duplicate it, and change the copy's name to Halftone.

Duplicate the Text LayerDuplicate the Text LayerDuplicate the Text Layer

Step 2

Duplicate the Halftone layer, rename the copy to Stroke 1, and right-click the Stroke 1 layer to choose Convert to Shape.

Convert to ShapeConvert to ShapeConvert to Shape

Step 3

Pick the Direct Selection Tool (A), and in the Options bar, change the Fill to None, the Stroke Color to #b6b6b6, and the Size to 5. Click the Set shape stroke type icon to change the Alignment to Outside.

Shape AttributesShape AttributesShape Attributes

Step 4

Duplicate the Stroke 1 layer twice, and rename the first copy to Stroke 2 and the second to Extrusion Stroke.

Create Copy LayersCreate Copy LayersCreate Copy Layers

Step 5

Hide all the copy text layers, but keep the original (Text) layer visible to work with each one separately.

Make sure to make each layer visible before working with it throughout the tutorial.

Hide the LayersHide the LayersHide the Layers

4. How to Apply Gradient Overlay Effects

Step 1

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

  • Check the Dither box.
  • Use the Spectrum gradient fill.
Gradient OverlayGradient OverlayGradient Overlay

This part determines the base coloring of the text effect, so you can choose other fills if you like as well.

Gradient FillGradient FillGradient Fill

Step 2

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

  • Check the Dither box.
  • Use the Black to White gradient fill.
Gradient OverlayGradient OverlayGradient Overlay

Step 3

Right-click the styled Halftone layer and choose Convert to Smart Object.

Convert to Smart ObjectConvert to Smart ObjectConvert to Smart Object

5. How to Create a Halftone Effect

Step 1

With the Halftone layer selected, go to Filter > Pixelate > Color Halftone.

Change the Max. Radius to 8 and all the Screen Angles (Degrees) Channel values to 90, and click OK.

Color HalftoneColor HalftoneColor Halftone

Step 2

Go to Filter > Blur > Surface Blur, and change the Radius to 2 and the Threshold to 255.

Surface BlurSurface BlurSurface Blur

Step 3

Change the Halftone layer's Blend Mode to Subtract. This will create the halftone effect.

Blend ModeBlend ModeBlend Mode

6. How to Style Stroke Layers

Step 1

Double-click the Stroke 1 layer to apply Gradient Overlay effects with these settings:

  • Check the Dither box.
  • Blend Mode: Hard Light.
  • Use the Grey Fan F10 - angled gradient fill.
Gradient OverlayGradient OverlayGradient Overlay

Step 2

Add another Gradient Overlay effect instance with these settings:

  • Check the Dither box.
  • Use the Yellow, Magenta, Teal gradient fill.

Make sure this effect instance is below the previous one.

Gradient OverlayGradient OverlayGradient Overlay

This will style the first stroke layer.

Styled Stroke 1Styled Stroke 1Styled Stroke 1

Double-click the Stroke 2 layer to apply the following layer style:

Step 3

Add a Stroke with these settings:

  • Size: 250
  • Position: Outside
  • Blend Mode: Vivid Light
  • Check the Overprint box
  • Opacity: 65%
  • Fill Type: Pattern
  • Pattern: Lines
  • Scale: 75%
StrokeStrokeStroke

Step 4

Add a Drop Shadow with these settings:

  • Blend Mode: Hard Light
  • Color: #ff9b19
  • Opacity: 70%
  • Distance: 0
  • Size: 75
  • Noise: 5
Drop ShadowDrop ShadowDrop Shadow

Step 5

Add another Drop Shadow effect instance with these settings:

  • Blend Mode: Hard Light
  • Color: #ff1919
  • Opacity: 25%
  • Distance: 0
  • Size: 150
  • Noise: 5
Drop ShadowDrop ShadowDrop Shadow

Step 6

Add one more Drop Shadow effect instance with these settings:

  • Blend Mode: Hard Light
  • Color: #e719ff
  • Opacity: 55%
  • Distance: 0
  • Size: 250
  • Noise: 5
Drop ShadowDrop ShadowDrop Shadow

Step 7

Change the Stroke 2 layer's Fill value to 0%.

Styled Stroke 2Styled Stroke 2Styled Stroke 2

7. How to Style an Extrusion Stroke

Double-click the Extrusion Stroke layer to apply the following layer style:

Step 1

Add a Bevel and Emboss with these settings:

  • Technique: Chisel Hard
  • Size: 0
  • Uncheck the Use Global Light box
  • Angle: -30
  • Altitude: 16
  • Check the Anti-aliased box
  • Highlight Mode: Vivid Light
    • Opacity: 75%
  • Shadow Mode: Color Burn
    • Opacity: 50%
Bevel and EmbossBevel and EmbossBevel and Emboss

Step 2

Add a Gradient Overlay effect with these settings:

  • Check the Dither box.
  • Use the Yellow, Violet, Red, Teal gradient fill.
Gradient OverlayGradient OverlayGradient Overlay

Step 3

Move the Extrusion Stroke layer below the Text layer.

Change Layer OrderChange Layer OrderChange Layer Order

Step 4

Duplicate the Extrusion Stroke layer and make it invisible, rename the copy to 1, and right-click it to choose Rasterize Layer Style.

Then, place both layers in a group with the name Extrusion.

Rasterize Layer StyleRasterize Layer StyleRasterize Layer Style

8. How to Record an Extrusion Action

Step 1

Open the Actions panel (under the Window menu).

Click the Create new set icon at the bottom of the panel, enter Extrusion in the Name field, and click OK.

Create New SetCreate New SetCreate New Set

Step 2

Click the Create new action icon at the bottom of the panel, enter Action in the Name field, and click Record.

Create New ActionCreate New ActionCreate New Action

Step 3

Duplicate the 1 layer.

You should see all the steps recorded and added to the Action you're creating.

Action RecordingAction RecordingAction Recording

Step 4

Press Command-T to enter Free Transform Mode, and change both the Width and Height values in the Options bar to 99%.

Hit the Return key to commit the changes.

Free TransformFree TransformFree Transform

Step 5

Go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation, and change the Hue to 15 and the Lightness to -10.

HueSaturationHueSaturationHueSaturation

Step 6

Click the Stop recording icon at the bottom of the Actions panel.

Stop RecordingStop RecordingStop Recording

9. How to Create an Extrusion

Step 1

Select the 1 copy layer, and play the Action you've just recorded around 16 more times, or until you get an extrusion depth you like.

Play the ActionPlay the ActionPlay the Action

Step 2

Select all the layers in the Extrusion group, and go to Layer > Arrange > Reverse.

This will place the last copy layer at the bottom and bring the first to the top.

Reverse Layer OrderReverse Layer OrderReverse Layer Order

10. How to Add Motion Blur

Step 1

Create a new layer on top of all layers, name it Blur, press the Option-Command-Shift-E keys to create a stamp, and convert the layer into a Smart Object.

Blur LayerBlur LayerBlur Layer

Step 2

Go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur, and set the Angle to 90 and the Distance to 30.

Motion BlurMotion BlurMotion Blur

Step 3

Place the Blur layer on top of the Solid Color layer, and change its Blend Mode to Lighten and its Opacity to 50%.

Layer SettingsLayer SettingsLayer Settings

11. How to Add Global Adjustments

Step 1

Add a Color Lookup adjustment layer on top of all layers, choose the TensionGreen table from the 3DLUT File menu, and change the layer's Opacity to 80%.

Color LookupColor LookupColor Lookup

Step 2

Add a Levels layer on top of all layers, and change the Output Levels Shadows value to 20.

LevelsLevelsLevels

12. How to Add Texture Overlays

Step 1

Place the Cement09-byGhostlyPixels.png image from the Cement Grit Textures pack on top of the Solid Color layer, resize it as needed, and change its layer's Opacity to 70%.

Add a Texture OverlayAdd a Texture OverlayAdd a Texture Overlay

Step 2

Place the 15.jpg image from the Snow with black bg folder in the Snow Overlays pack on top of the Stroke 2 layer, resize it as needed, and change its layer's Blend Mode to Screen and its Opacity to 30%.

Add a Texture OverlayAdd a Texture OverlayAdd a Texture Overlay

Step 3

Place the Folded Paper 14.jpg image from the 20 Folded Paper Textures pack on top of all layers, resize it as needed, and change its layer's Blend Mode to Soft Light and its Opacity to 20%.

Add a Texture OverlayAdd a Texture OverlayAdd a Texture Overlay

Step 4

Go to Image > Adjustments > Levels, and change the Input Levels Shadows value to 20 and the Output Levels Highlights value to 230.

LevelsLevelsLevels

13. How to Add Noise Overlay

Step 1

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

Change the Contents to 50% Gray and click OK.

Fill With GrayFill With GrayFill With Gray

Step 2

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

Noise LayerNoise LayerNoise Layer

Step 3

Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise, change the Amount to 12 and the Distribution to Uniform, and check the Monochromatic box.

Noise FilterNoise FilterNoise Filter

Congratulations! You're Done

In this tutorial, we created a couple of text and shape layers and adjusted their attributes to create the different parts of the text.

Then, we used layer styles and filters to create the main colorful halftone effect. After that, we recorded and played an action to create the extrusion.

Finally, we added a bunch of adjustment layers and texture overlays to finish off the effect.

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

Final ResultFinal ResultFinal Result

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