Create a Rocky Text Effect in Photoshop

Text effects have always been popular in Photoshop. In this tutorial, I will walk you through how to achieve a rocky-looking text effect. I will explore some creative techniques to round out and break up almost any font to create the perfect rock effect.

Here’s what we’ll be creating:

Rock Text

Step 1: Base Text

Start with a blank canvas and use the Text Tool (T) to add any text in any font using black (in this case, I’m using Myriad Pro Bold Condensed).



Step 2: Rounded Text

The edges are too sharp. To round these out, I’m going to have you do something that I normally would never ask of anyone: Flatten your image. This will help us apply the upcoming effects. Once flattened, add the Filter > Noise > Median filter.

Median Filter

At this point, the edges should appear more chiseled. We can still round these out more—use Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur to give the text a small amount of blur.


Next, adjust the Levels (Ctrl+L) until everything looks smooth.


Step 3: Extract

The image is still flattened. We need to extract just the text in order to move forward. To extract the text from the background, go into the Channels Panel and Ctrl-click any of the image thumbnails. This will make a selection of all the white areas.


In the Layers Panel, create a new layer. The selection should still be active. Invert the selection (Ctrl + Shift + I) and fill with black.


Step 4: Background

At this point, we can add a new background for our extracted text. I just made a simple gradient.


Step 5: Mortar

The finished text effect will require us to copy our text layer for a total of two layers—one for the rocks and one for the mortar. Make a copy of the extracted text and hide it for now (we will eventually come back to this layer to make the rocks).

Working on the visible text layer, we can create the mortar. Add two Layer Styles to this layer, a Bevel and Emboss to give the illusion of depth and a Pattern Overlay to provide texture. Use the settings below:

NOTE: Settings may differ depending on the size you create your image.
Adding Mortar Texture

The text should now by textured:

Mortar Text

Step 6: Rocks

Unhide the second text layer. If it is not already at the top of the layer stack, move it there now. To create the illusion of rock chunks, we’ll use the Stained Glass Filter. Go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Texture > Stained Glass (for this filter to work properly, make sure your Foreground Color is set to white). In the Stained Glass dialogue box, the Cell Size and Border Thickness should be exaggerated so your image resembles the following. Also, the Light Intensity should be set to 0.

Stained Glass

Step 7: Rock Forms

Apply the Filter > Noise > Median filter to round out the shapes.

Rounded Rocks

Next, extract just the black rock forms using the Channels panel. To do this, hide all layers except for the rock layer, then go into the Channels panel (just like in Step 3) and Ctrl-Click any of the thumbnails. Invert the selection (Ctrl + Shift + I) and fill with black on a new layer. The old rock layer can be deleted.

Extract Rocks

Your rock layer should now contain just the black rocks. I’ve hid the Mortar layer and revealed the background layer in order to see this better.

Extracted Rocks

Step 8: Paint

On the rock layer, use the Brush Tool to paint in areas of the rocks so that they break the text’s boundaries. Do this for every letter.

Paint in Rocks

The result should appear as follows:


Step 9: Texture

Open the Layer Styles. We’ll add some styles to this layer. We’ll start by adding an Inner Glow. This will give the rocks the illusion of shadows and depth.


Next, add the Pattern Overlay Style. Use the Black Marble pattern to give texture the rocks.


Add the Bevel and Emboss Style next. This will add even more depth to the rocks, making them appear to be sticking our of the mortar.


Lastly, add a Texture element to the the Bevel and Emboss Style. Use the settings below to add depth to the rock texture itself. If you are familiar with bump maps, this is essentially what we are adding.


Step 10: You’re Done

Congratulations, you’re finished! To take the image a little further, you can always add some shadows to make it appear that each letter is standing on a ground plane.


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