100% Photoshop

Fundamentals: Creating Wood Textures in Photoshop

Adapted from 100% Photoshop: Create Stunning Illustrations Without Using Any Photographs (Focal Press)

By Steve Caplin

There are many different ways to create convincing wood. This is one of my favorites – it’s relatively easy to make, and the result is a strongly grained wood that can be tinted and contrasted to suit a wide variety of purposes.

The Base Texture

1 - Start with a plain brown layer. I’m showing a close-up of the layer here, so we can see the texture; work at any size you like.

2 - Add some noise using Filter > Noise > Gaussian Noise22. Add enough Monochromatic Noise for a strong effect.

3 - With the same brown as the foreground color, and white as the background color, run Filter > Render > Clouds18. Use Edit > Fade Clouds and reduce the opacity to 25%.

4 - For a more natural texture, use Filter > Blur > Motion Blur23 and apply a vertical blur of around 12 pixels. This creates the base upon which we’ll work.

Adding the Grain Effect

5 - Use Filter > Distort > Wave to make the wood grain. The settings I used are shown above. Experiment with the Wavelength settings and Randomize button, and keep trying it out until you get a decent grain effect.

You may find it takes a few tries at this filter to get good results; you should end up with something like this.

Knots and Whorls

6 - We could just stop at the end of the previous step – it’s a fairly convincing pinelike texture. But let’s take it a step further, and make something closer to mahogany, with a finer, more twisted grain.
Use Filter > Liquify to open this window. There are several tools we can use to distort the image: I’d recommend using Forward Warp, Twirl and Bloat, as shown above.

Drag within the image area, using a fairly large brush, and you should find it possible to create a convincing-looking wood texture with just a little effort. If it all goes wrong, simply Cancel and start the process again.

Strengthen the Texture

The texture we’ve created so far may look a little washed-out – so let’s beef it up. Duplicate the texture layer, and desaturate using Command-Shift-U/Control-Shift-U

Change the mode of the desaturated layer from Normal to Hard Light11, which allows us to see through it. Lower the layer’s opacity until the effect doesn’t look too strong. Here, I’ve also stretched the new texture vertically by about 10%, which makes for a more natural appearance.

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Printed with permission from Focal Press, a division of Elsevier. Copyright 2010. "100% Photoshop: Create Stunning Illustrations Without Using Any Photographs" by Steve Caplin. For more information on this title and other similar books, please visit focalpress.com.