How To Create a Retro Text Effect in Photoshop

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Prefer watching tutorials? Check out the above video from my Youtube channel.



I love retro text effects. How ’bout you? Awesome!

Then you’re in the right place because today I’m going to show you how to create a Retro text effect in Photoshop. There’s a lot of techniques and patterns throughout this design. No worries, I’ll guide you step-by-step in this Photoshop text effect tutorial.

Guess what? You’re going to learn how to create not one, not two, but three custom patterns! And, of course, I’ll show you how to save and apply your patterns.

That’s not all, though. Part of this retro design requires a 3D like text effect. You’ll learn that too. Oh, and so much more!

Ready to discover how much fun it is to create retro text effects? Excellent, let’s do it!

Table of Contents

Note: the (above) video tutorial was created with Photoshop beginners in mind. The following step-by-step instructions are for more experienced users.

Step 1: New Document + Text

create new document

Go to File > New to create a new document for your Photoshop design. Let’s set the dimensions as follows; 1920 x 1080 @ 300ppi.

For the Background Contents, I’m using the following for a retro orange color; #a84428.

Our retro design requires some text! With your Text Tool (T) selected, change the font type to ChunkFive. The style should be Roman, the size is 90, and the color will be #333333.

In all caps, type out the word RETRO. For this retro effect to turn out the way we want it to, we’ll need to increase the letters’ spacing. This is known as Tracking.

Locate your Character panel (Windows > Character) and increase the icon labeled, “Set the tracking for the selected characters.” Increase the amount to 175.

To center your text, first hit the Escape key to deactivate the text tool. Then, grab your Move Tool (V). Don’t forget to select both the text layer and Background layer (Ctrl & click each).

In the tool options, you’ll find the alignment tools. Find and click the two icons labeled; Align horizontal center + Align vertical center.

Pro Tip:

In the design world, we have two words that reference spacing in the text; Kerning + Tracking. Both refer to spacing. However, each targets a different portion of your words.

Tracking refers to the loosening or tightening of a selected block of text. Kerning is the process of adding or subtracting space between specific pairs of letters.

Step 2: Insert Image + Style

add text and tracking

Download this texture and drag it over your Photoshop interface. Once you release, the file will be added as a new layer. Let’s fill up our canvas with the texture.

Grab a side or corner of the Free Transform tool (blue outline), hold down your Alt or Option key, and drag it out. Once it fills your canvas, hit Enter, or Return.

Make sure this layer is below the text layer and rename it Texture. To style the texture, lower the Opacity to around 15% and set the Blending Mode to Screen.

Step 3: Create 2 Custom Patterns

add image texture

It’s time to create two custom patterns for your retro text effect. Create a new Photoshop document with the following settings; 250 x 250 + white. Our first pattern will be a simple square.

Pattern 1

Locate your Rectangle Shape Tool (U) and set the fill to #333333. Next, click anywhere on your canvas and type in 50px for the Width and Height. Align the square in the center of the canvas.

For this pattern, we do not want a solid white background! Instead, it should be transparent. So, turn off the Background layer by clicking to the left of the layer.

To save your new pattern, Edit > Define Pattern. Name the pattern “Dots” and click, OK. Congrats, you just created your first pattern!

Pattern 2

create custom shape

Our next pattern will consist of a diagonal line. Which will be constructed from the current square. First, lets’ change the color of the shape by changing the fill color to; #b9a68b.

Now, Duplicate this shape layer four times with Command or Ctrl + J. Reposition each square from bottom left to top right, creating the diagonal line. Define the pattern as you did previously.

Step 4: Apply the First Pattern

apply first pattern

Our first pattern will be applied to the Background layer. However, we can’t use it since that layer is locked. To unlock it, double click on the layer, give it a new name and click OK. This unlocks the layer!

To apply a pattern, double click on the layer again to bring up the Layer Style window. In the left panel, select “Pattern Overlay.”

Next, select your pattern from the “Pattern” setting. You’ll see a large square image to the right of it. Click on it and locate the “Dots” pattern you created.

I’ve updated the settings as follows; Blending Mode is “Hard Light,” Opacity is at 25%, and Scale is 15%.

Step 5: Style Your Retro Text

add layer style

Now it’s time to style our retro text and add a third custom pattern. First, duplicate the text layer with Command or Ctrl + J and rename it to RETRO Pattern + Style. Then, right-click on this layer and select Convert to Smart Object.

Bring up the Layer Style window again for this layer and add a Stroke. My settings are;

Next, let’s add an Inner Shadow;

Now, let’s add another custom pattern! Go to; Filter > Pixelate > Color Halftone. We’re going to apply this effect three times, with different settings.

Color Halftone 1

Color Halftone 2

Color Halftone 3

Lastly, I’d like to increase the pattern’s retro feel by changing the Blend Mode to “Exclusion.”

Step 6: Create a 3D Long Shadow

add 3d pattern

Our last step for this retro text effect is creating a 3D Long Shadow and some other finishing touches.

First, duplicate your Retro text layer again and rename it Retro Shadow. Make sure to convert it to a Smart Object. The next step is to rotate the text at a 45-degree angle with your Free Transform Tool (Command or Ctrl + T).

Hold down your Shift key and drag your mouse down. This will rotate the text in 15-degree intervals. Once you’re at 45-degrees, hit Enter or Return.

Duplicate the Layer 50 Times!

To create the 3D effect, we’ll have to duplicate this layer 25 – 50 times. Plus, move each new layer down 1px. That sounds like a lot of work! Not if you know a shortcut that I’m going to share.

Hold down your Alt or Option key and press your down arrow key. As you continue holding down those keys, new layers will continually be created. Oh, and they will move down 1px per new layer.

Watch your Layers panel as you do this. You’ll see “copy” plus a number appended to the layer name with each new layer. This shows you how many new layers are being created.

Create 25 – 50 layers. The more you create, the thicker the 3D effect. For this design, I made 40 copies. Now, we have to merge all these layers together.

Click the top layer, hold down your Shift key, and click on the last layer. Right-click and select “Merge Layers.” Next, rotate the layer to minus 45-degrees. Then, move the shadow’s left edge to align with the left edge of your Retro text.

Step 7: Apply Your Custom Diagonal Line + Style

Bring up the Layer Style window again and add your diagonal line pattern. Here are the settings I’m using;

Let’s also add a Stroke; color = #333333, Size 5px, Outside, Opacity 100%.

One more drop shadow! I’d recommend watching the video tutorial (above) at 15:30.

Now What?

Congratulations on finishing patterns and retro text effect! Now, I’d like to see your finished retro text design!

Here’s how; join our private Facebook group to share your artwork. It’s a fantastic place to share, learn, and improve your Photoshop skills.

Ready to up your Photoshop skills even further? If so, discover all my premium Photoshop tutorials and or my free Photoshop tutorials.

Discover many more Photoshop text effect tutorials via this playlist! Oh, and check this out… 17 free Photoshop alternatives!

One of my most asked questions about deselecting is here!

Like this article? If so, please share!

A 30-year photography pro with a desire to help you achieve your creative vision! Facebook | Youtube

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