Letterpress Print & Rubber Stamp Effects in Photoshop & Illustrator

Hello everyone Chris here from Spoon Graphics back with another video tutorial I received a couple of emails recently from people who found one of my old tutorials on how to create a letterpress effect useful, so I thought I'd use the topic for this week's video tutorial to update the technique

What we're aiming for is to recreate the cool vintage style stamped effect you often see on logos and typographic elements, which is based on old printing techniques like letterpress or simple rubber stamps The texturing from a lack of ink or the excessive ink bleed was once seen as a flaw in the printing process, but now they're super trendy characteristics that designers love to recreate to distress and age their digital designs Today I'll show you some techniques to produce ink stamp or letterpress style effects in both Photoshop and Illustrator Both apps have their pros and cons; Photoshop is much more powerful when it comes to working with textures, but the results will always be in raster format Whereas in Illustrator we can have our work in 100% vector, but the effect isn't quite as good

Let's start with the Photoshop technique Open up your logo or typographic illustration and apply a Layer Mask so we can non-destructively erase away portions of the design There's two techniques you can use; textures and brushes Let's look at the texture option first: Copy a cool texture from the web, like this spray paint image from Texture Fabrik ALT+click the Layer Mask thumbnail in the Layers panel to modify its contents

Paste in the texture, then go to Edit > Adjustments > Levels and move the sliders inwards to boost contrast Click on an empty area of the canvas to exit out of mask mode Masks work by erasing the black areas of the mask from the design, so you might have to press CMD+I to invert the mask contents to get a better result Alternatively, you use Photoshop Brushes to manually apply the texturing Download and install a set of subtle noise brushes

I'm afraid I can't remember where these specific brushes I'm using are from The brush names don't offer any clues, but you can find some good freebies on the web Dab with the brush in the layer mask to apply an even texture all over the logo Real ink stamps never have clean and crisp edges like our digital, the ink bleeds and distorts the outline We can replicate this is Photoshop with the Ripple filter

First, turn the logo into a Smart Object by right clicking the layer and select Convert to Smart Object This will prevent the Ripple from being applied permanently, so you can alter the settings or remove it altogether should you want to Go to Filter > Distort and select Ripple Change the size to Large, then adjust the percentage to apply a subtle outline distortion 20-25% should do it

The effect is looking good, but there's one extra step that helps achieve that realistic stamped look Adding a black inner glow will fade out the texturing around the edges, but since we've already got a layer mask applied, we need to add this effect on a new layer, otherwise the mask would erase away the glow effect too and it just wouldn't work Duplicate the logo layer, then delete the Layer Mask Move the Fill slider to 0%, then double click the layer to edit the Layer Styles Add an Inner Glow effect and change the settings to Normal, Black, 100% opacity, zero choke then alter the size to generate a subtle outline

That wraps up the letterpress effect in Photoshop, so let's move on to Illustrator and see how a similar effect can be created in vector format You can then choose the one that best suits the project you're working on There's two ways to add the texture in Illustrator; using masks, or permanently with the Pathfinder Let's cover the mask technique first, which is essentially the same process as Photoshop, but with different menu names Open the Transparency panel and click the Make Mask button

Click on the thumbnail on the right to enter into mask mode, which is where you can paste in your textures Now, you could use the same image based textures as you would in Photoshop, but that defeats the purpose of using Illustrator because the texturing effect would be entirely raster pixel based To reap the full benefit of Illustrator's vector nature, use a vector texture like my free vector Dust & Scratches textures pack Paste a texture into the mask and rotate and scale it to cover the artwork You can build up as many layers of texturing as you want to achieve the best result

Make sure the textures are filled with black so they erase the artwork Click the thumbnail on the left to exit out of mask mode to see the full effect We can also apply the equivalent of the Ripple filter to achieve the ink bleed look In Illustrator it's called the Roughen effect, but it's easier to scale up your artwork first because it requires such fine adjustments Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Roughen

Check the Absolute and Smooth options, then adjust the size to something really like small 02mm Alter the detail amount to around a third of the way up the scale to maintain a recognisable outline of your logo design Once you're happy with the result, scale your logo back down in size Because we're dealing with vectors, this scaling up and down doesn't affect the quality whatsoever

If you want to permanently apply a texturing effect, instead of adding the texture to a mask, you could punch out the shapes with the Pathfinder Make sure both your texture and your logo are two separate compound paths, otherwise the Pathfinder can easily get upset and throw up an error Use the shortcut CMD+8, or go to Object > Compound Path > Make while all the elements are selected Place the texture over the logo, then hit the Minus Front option from the Pathfinder panel Sit back while your computer's CPU is overloaded with thousands of vector calculations

The Photoshop version of this technique looks much better, but at least this Illustrator method is 100% vector so you don't have to worry about scaling issues There's one more technique I want to show you that actually works in both Photoshop and Illustrator This one makes use of built in filters and effects, rather than external texture files and it generates a really cool generic stamp effect In a new Photoshop document, make your logo a Smart Object so it can be edited later Apply the ripple effect as described earlier in the video

Go to Image > Adjustments > Levels, then alter the Output levels to give the logo a grey fill Next, add a Stroke layer style using the settings 13px, Normal, Inside and black as the stroke colour Under Filter > Pixelate, select Mezzotint and change the drop down menu to Grainy Dots Next, go to Filter > Filter Gallery Under the Sketch heading, select Stamp, then adjust the settings to 1 for Light/Dark Balance and 4 for Smoothness

The result is a stylized stamp effect without the tiny details of a real texture, which works much better for logos when they're displayed at small sizes Illustrator also has these same filters built in Unfortunately they don't produce the effect in vector format, so when creating your document make sure the Raster Effects option under the Advanced menu is set to 300ppi First, apply the Roughen effect that I explained earlier, then give your logo a grey fill Go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow

Set the colour to black, the mode to Normal, the opacity to 100% then the blur to around 2mm Under the Effect menu, you can find the same Photoshop Filters at the bottom Select Mezzotint from under the Pixelate heading, then select Grainy Dots Head back to Filter > Sketch > Stamp and enter the same settings of 1 for Light/Dark Balance and 4 for Smoothness as in Photoshop We're now at the same stage we were at in Photoshop, except there's one more feature of Illustrator we can make use of

Go to Object > Expand Appearance to apply these effects, then open the Image Trace panel from the Window menu Turn off the Snap Curves to Lines option, turn on Ignore White, reduce the Noise slider to 1 Set the Paths option to 100%, then go to Object > Expand

This cool stamp effect is now 100% vector based and can be scaled to any size This technique benefits from the best of both Photoshop and Illustrator methods It retains that vector goodness, but also looks great too, unlike that first Illustrator masking technique that didn't look quite as good as what was achievable in Photoshop So I hope this bunch of tips helped you out If you enjoyed the video or learned anything new I'd really appreciate some help to spread the word, either a Like on YouTube or a share on Twitter or Facebook would be fantastic

If you want to stick around for more be sure to hit the subscribe button, otherwise thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next one!

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