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Use a Tattoo Font to Add a Realistic Tattoo to a Photo in Photoshop

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

A tattoo font is the easiest way to create a stylish tattoo in no time. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to add a realistic tattoo in Photoshop using a tattoo font. We're going to add some text effects to the font, warp it, and apply photo effects of texture and shine. The process is fast and can be used for all skin colors.

You can also follow us over on our Envato Tuts+ YouTube Channel, where you'll find useful tutorials like this:

Use a Tattoo Font to Add a Realistic Tattoo to a Photo in Photoshop

Step 1

Open your photo (I used this one). Use the Type Tool (T) to add the text of the tattoo. Change the font to a tattoo font (for example RockSands), center the text, and resize it. The text should be wider than the area you're putting it on.

tattoo font text

Step 2

With text selected, click Create Warped Text. Pick the style that fits the shape and perspective of the body part you're working on.

warp text

Step 3

Let's accentuate the perspective some more. When the letters turn away from us, they get tighter. Select the text and open the Character panel. Select the first three letters and reduce their width to 75%. Lower the distance between them by 10.

change letters distance

Select the first two letters and make the effect even stronger.

make text tighter

Finally, select the first letter and add an even more dramatic change to it.

warp text realistically

Adjust the other side the same way, keeping in mind that here the angle isn't that sharp.

how to warp text without rasterizing

Step 4

Reposition and rescale the text if necessary with the Free Transform Tool (Control-T). Right-click and select Rasterize Type.

scale the text

Step 5

Duplicate (Control-J) the background layer and drag it to the top. Go to Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen and strengthen the texture with it. Go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate, then Image > Adjustments > Levels. Deepen the contrast by dragging the left and white markers towards the center.  Don't go too far—we need the texture of the skin.

sharpen skin texture
increase contrast

Step 6

Copy this image and save it as a separate file. Name it Map.

create displace map

Step 7

Hide this layer and go back to the text layer. Go to Filter > Distort > Displace. Click OK and select the Map file. After the distortion is applied, decide if it's too strong or too weak. If needed, undo and repeat, this time adjusting the values accordingly.

use displace filter
displacement texture

Step 8

Group the text (Control-G). Add a Layer Mask to the group. Paint with black to remove the parts that go outside of the body.

add layer mask
clean up the edge

Step 9

Duplicate the background layer and drag it over the group. Sharpen it with the Smart Sharpen filter. Hold Alt and click the line between the layers to clip it to the group below.

add skin texture
clip the layer

Step 10

Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment to make the tattoo dark blue. Change its Blend Mode to Darken.

add hue saturation adjustment
colorize the skin

Step 11

Show the upper layer and clip it as well. Change its Blend Mode to Screen. Double-click this layer. In the Blend If section, hold Alt and drag the upper black marker to the right. This way, you'll remove the effect from the shadowed part of the skin. Hold Alt to split the marker for a more gradual effect. Lower the Opacity for a more realistic shine.

remove dark effect
add shine to skin
create relistic shine tattoo

Step 12

Double-click the text (not the group!) to access its Layer Style panel. Add a Drop Shadow to simulate some gentle blowout.

add blowout to tattoo
tattoo blowout effect

Step 13

If you want to make this effect more visible, you can also add an Outer Glow. Adjust its intensity with Opacity, Size, and Noise.

add glow to text
photoshop text effects

Step 14

If you want to add this photo effect to darker skin, apply the same process. In most cases it will look all right, but sometimes you'll have to adjust the color of the tattoo or the opacity of the blowout.

dark skin tattoo

Discover More Awesome Tattoo Lettering Fonts

Good job! Now you know how to use a cursive tattoo font to add a realistic tattoo to a photo in Photoshop. If you want to check out more different fonts for tattoos, like tattoo fonts cursive and elegant, or learn more about tattoo design, try these tutorials:

10 Best Tattoo Fonts From Envato Elements

Now that you've learned how to add a realistic tattoo in Photoshop using a tattoo font, let me share with you a selection of some of the best tattoo fonts from Envato Elements.

This is our subscription-based marketplace where you can download as many cool tattoo ink fonts as you need, and many more creative graphic assets, for a low monthly fee.

Get the best tattoo fonts in Envato Elements
You can get more than 8,000 tattoo fonts in Envato Elements for a low monthly subscription!

Our libraries feature various different fonts for tattoos, such as typewriter fonts for tattoos and Arabic tattoo fonts. We've got the classics covered as well: hundreds of tattoo script fonts and cursive tattoo font alphabets. Check out these propositions:

1. Brooklyn Tattoo Script Font (OTF, TTF, WOFF)

Brooklyn Tattoo Script Font

If you're looking for classic tattoo lettering fonts, this one is for you. Brooklyn is a cursive tattoo font inspired by tattoo parlors. It features bold curves and fat-to-thin brush strokes. The cursive tattoo font alphabet also includes more than 75 bonus glyphs! 

2. Strong West Retro Tattoo Script Font (OTF, TTF)

Strong West Retro Tattoo Script Font

Interested in different fonts for tattoos? Strong West is one of the coolest tattoo lettering fonts because it features a retro style. You can also use it as a tattoo number font.

3. Samir Arabic Tattoo Font (OTF, TTF, WOFF)

Samir Arabic Tattoo Font

Arabic tattoo fonts are so eye-catching. Just take a look at cursive and elegant tattoo fonts like this one. This Arabic tattoo font can be used for any of your projects and includes the basic Latin A-Z characters and numbers, which makes it another great option for tattoo number fonts.

4. Black Angela Tattoo Script Font (OTF, TTF)

Black Angela Tattoo Script Font

Black Angela is a classic, cursive tattoo font inspired by tattoo lettering fonts. It comes with OpenType features and can be used for logotypes, badges, tattoo artists, tattoo ink font merchandise, and more. Overall, a tattoo font that's cursive and elegant.

5. Perfect Thoughts Typewriter Font Tattoo (OTF, TTF)

Perfect Thoughts Typewriter Font Tattoo

Different fonts for tattoos are a great alternative, like this typewriter font tattoo pack that includes not one, but three fonts! One is a real tattoo ink font with stamp marks. The second is a straighter and more serious typewriter font tattoo, and the third features a funky, irregular baseline font.

6. Didone Room Tattoo Number Font (OTF, TTF)

Didone Room Tattoo Number Font

The artist was inspired by a hand-painted hotel room number plate from Vienna to create fantastic tattoo number fonts. This non-alphabetic serif font focuses on numerical and currency symbols. No doubt, this makes it a unique tattoo ink font.

7. Incognito Tattoo Lettering Font (TTF, OTF)

Incognito Tattoo Font

This blackletter tattoo script font is best if you're working on Gothic or tribal tattoo themed designs. Definitely a classic tattoo ink font.

8. Milestone Tattoo Script Font (TTF, OTF)

Milestone Script

This cursive tattoo font is perfect for lovers of classic tattoo lettering fonts. This cursive tattoo font alphabet also has many OpenType features: contextual alternates, swashes, ligatures, stylistic alternates, ordinals, and fractions.

9. American Traditional Tattoo Lettering Font (TTF, OTF)

American Traditional Tattoo Font

Looking for the best tattoo fonts with traditional designs? Look no further than this traditional tattoo ink font: a hand-drawn font in two weights, inspired by the traditional tattoo style of America.

10. Flathead Typeface Tattoo Lettering Vintage Font (TTF, OTF)

Flathead Typeface

One of the best tattoo fonts with vintage style. The tattoo font is inspired by American Western culture and tattoos, and is perfect to use in vintage-themed designs.


I hope you've enjoyed my tutorial on how to create a realistic tattoo using a tattoo font in Adobe Photoshop, and the selection of the best tattoo ink fonts from Envato Elements. Remember to explore our Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel, where you'll find many cool Photoshop projects.

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