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  • Incredibly Realistic Burnt Parchment in Photoshop

    Posted by Tyler Bramer in Photoshop Tutorials on August 11th, 2008

    Imitating a physical object from scratch might seem very difficult, but we’re going to do just that in this tutorial – in a way that’s

    pretty easy to follow! We’ll create a piece of burnt parchment that looks incredibly real!

    What We’re Making

    This tutorial will show you how to create a decayed burnt piece of parchment like the example shown below.

  • Step 1 – Setting Up the Parchment

    Open a new document 500x600px. Create a new group (Layer > New > Group) and label it Parchment. Create a new layer and

    place it inside the group. Place guides horizontally and vertically centered in the document. Make a selection 400x490px using the

    rectangular marquee tool and fill it using the color #e9dbba.

  • Groups and Guides

    When a layer is placed inside a group it will become tabbed to the right, this way you know it is in the group!

    To center the guides, select the entire document (Ctrl+A) and contract it by any amount (Select > Modify > Contract). Enable your

    rulers (Ctrl+R) and drag guides out until they snap in the center of the selection.

    Step 2 – Dirtying the Parchment

    In order to continue with this tutorial, you’re going to need some Grunge Brushes. Grunge brushes can be used to imitate dirt and

    decay. To learn how to install brushes, read the tutorial.

    On a new layer inside your Parchment group, use a dark brown color like #735c27 to dirty the parchment. Don’t overdue it!

  • Then create another new layer and use a lighter brown color like #ab8e4a to create some more dirt.

  • Step 3 – Adding Texture and Color

    Create a new layer and fill it with a dark brown color like #5f470d. Then set the blending mode of the layer to Vivid Light and set

    the opacity to 30%. This will help give our parchment a nice brown weathered color.

  • Now we need some paper texture. There are some great ones in the 99 Free Textures post here on Tutorial9. I chose the Old Aged

    Paper (Parchment) Texture. By placing it on a new layer, resizing it (Ctrl+T), desaturating it (Ctrl+Shift+U), and setting the

    layer to multiply, I can give my parchment a more realistic look.

  • Step 4 – Creating the Edges

    Right now, all of our layers are placed inside of the Parchment group. This will allow us to easily mask all of the layers to the

    parchment using just one group mask.

    Using the Polygonal Lasso Tool, make a selection around the inside of the parchment that will give it jagged edges. Then apply the

    selection as a group mask. To do this, click on the Parchment group icon, then click the Add Layer Mask at the bottom of the layer



  • Step 5 – Creating the Outer Crisp

    In order to get the burnt effect, we need to create a dark outer edge around the parchment. To do this, use a really dark brown color

    like #211a0a and hard small brushes around 3-5px to create an effect like below.


  • Step 6 – Burning the Edges

    To make the burn look more realistic we need to have a transition from the dirty parchment to the burnt edges.

    Duplicate (Right Click > Duplicate Layer) the layer containing your crispy dark edge. Then apply a Gaussian Blur (Filter > Blur >

    Gaussian Blur) of 2. Set the layer to overlay, and make a selection of the layer mask set on the Parchment group. Then apply the

    same layer mask to your current layer. Repeat the process with larger and larger amounts of Gaussian Blur until you get an effect

    like the one below.

  • Step 7 – Adding Text

    Add some nice cursive script inside of your parchment. Lower the Fill of any text layer to 60%, and give it the following layer effect.

    Lowering the fill will cause the text to look worn into the paper, and the stroke adds a fade off burnt look around the edges of the text.

    To add the RSS image, I simply placed it inside the parchment and changed the layer mode to multiply.

  • Step 8 – Changing the Background

    Let’s add a nice background to the scene. I decided to use a nice wooden floor.

  • Step 9 – Adding a Shadow

    To add a shadow simply create a new layer underneath your Parchment group, make a selection of the Parchment group mask, fill

    it with black, and give it a Gaussian Blur (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur) of 10-15.

  • Step 10 – Adding Effect

    Create a new layer above all your old layers. Go to Image > Apply Image so that the layer is filled with a merged version of what

    was showing. Then go to Filter > Render > Lighting Effects and apply a lighting effect like the one shown below.

    On a new layer, create a gradient like the one below using pink #b02db9 and blue #1f7bc9. Then change the layer mode to Overlay

    and lower the opacity to a level you like.


  • Experiment, Redesign, and Be Creative

    I can’t stress enough how putting a little extra work into your designs can improve them drastically.


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