Create Realisitc Wood Texture in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show you a simple, yet extremely effective technique to create a realistic wood texture in Photoshop. This tutorial was written for anyone with a basic understanding of Photoshop. Enjoy!

The Final Image

This is what we will be creating:

Wood Texture: Final Image

How It’s Done:

Step 1: Setting Up the Document

Create a new Photoshop Document (File>New) to be 1500 x 1500px.

Document Setup

Step 2: Adding Background Color

Select a dark brown color and Fill the canvas with it. For this image, I used #5a3222.

Add background

Step 3: Adding a New Layer

Create a new layer and name it ‘Grain’. Before we do anything to this layer, make sure your colors are reset to black and white.

Grain Layer

Step 4: Rendering Clouds

Add some clouds to this layer by going to Filter>Render>Clouds.

Clouds Menu

Your image should resemble the following:


Step 5: Stretching It Out

Transform (Cmd/Ctrl+T) the height of the ‘Grain’ layer by 600%.

Stretch Clouds

Step 6: Blurring It Up

Add a strong Motion Blur (Filter>Blur>Motion Blur) to the ‘Grain’ layer. I used a setting of 236px

Motion Blur Menu

Your image should now look like this:

Motion Blur

Step 7: Posterizing Magic

This next step is what makes this texture possible. Go to Image>Adjustments>Posterize and set it to 25 Levels. You can see that our image has some good separations that we will use to create wood grain.

Posterize Menu


Step 8: Making the Grain

To get the wood grain to show, go to Filter>Stylize>Find Edges.

Find Edges Menu

You’ll notice that we have a pattern that resembles wood grain, but it’s not quite there yet. Let’s darken this layer by adjusting its Levels (Ctrl/Cmd+L) :

Darken Edges

Step 9: Adding Noise

We want to add some texture to the grain (as well as break it up). To do this, go to Filter>Noise>Add Noise and set the Amount to 65%.


Step 10: Blurring the Lines

Next, go to Filter>Blur>Motion Blur and give it the following settings:

Blurred Grain

Step 11: Setting Up for Depth

This next step is optional, but if you want to add some depth to the wood grain, then we need to set it up now. Go ahead and make a copy of the ‘Grain’ layer and rename it to ‘Specularity’ (this will become our specularity map). Position the layer as shown below (you can hide this layer since we wont need it just yet):

Copying Layers

Note: Specularity refers to a specific kind of highlight—usually a very focused spot of light on an object. A Specularity map is just an image that defines where the specular highlights go.

Step 12: Finishing up the Wood

Set the Blending Mode of the ‘Grain’ layer to Multiply. At this point, you have a finished wood texture. However, we can continue from here and add some depth to the wood grain using the ‘Specularity’ layer.

Finished Wood Polished

Step 13: Working with Specularity

Now, let’s start to refine the ‘Specularity’ layer. First, hide the ‘Grain’ layer and make the ‘Specularity’ layer visible

Reversing Layers

Step 14: Refining the Specularity Map

We need to Invert (Ctrl/Cmd+I) the ‘Specularity’ layer. Once this is done, bring up the Levels (Ctrl/Cmd+L) and adjust them as follows (the result will be our specularity map):

Specularity Map

Step 15: Applying the Specularity Map

Change the Blending Mode to ‘Screen’ and set this layer’s Opacity to 10%. Go ahead to unhide the ‘Grain’ layer.

Screen Specularity

Step 16: The Final Adjustment

To fully get the effect of the specularity map, nudge the ‘Specularity’ layer down and right a few pixels. This effect is subtle, but worth it!

Screen Specularity

Step 17: Finishing the Texture

If you want, you can adjust the ‘Background’ layer to change the color of the wood.

Wood Color Option

You’re Finished!

After some final adjustments, the final should resemble the following:

Wood Color Option


Now that you’re done, I hope you can see how easy it is to create custom textures in Photoshop (with very little effort). The trick is to find ways in which filters and effects work off one another to create new effects. I encourage you to experiment with your own combination of effects and see what you can come up with.

This tutorial originally appeared on Tutorial9 on September 7, 2010.

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