Photoshop Seminars
The Design Center, DT&G / Photoshop / tutorials / Debossing & Embossing  

Carve an image into the background

Synopsis: logo needs to look as though it has been lowered into or carved out of the background

Cathy H. from New Mexico, USA, using Photoshop 6 with 9.2 Mac,

How do you deboss or engrave a logo 
into the background? I am trying to create type to  
look as though it was cut into the background. 
Thank you for any help you can give me. 

Photoshop 911 prepared this tutorial for a very, very similar patient, using the "cutout" method of creating the results.

It never ceases to amaze us that if one person asks a specific question, dozens of others will ask the very same question -- from all around the world. So, since we got at least a dozen other inquiries -- asking basically the exact same question, we decided to expand on the previous article and cover lots of similar inquiries like Cathy's.

For this tutorial we'll again select a sample swatch of hand-marbled fabric from the Solace studios. Pretty amazing stuff considering she takes bolts of high-quality silk, then transforms it into the wonderful patterns we see here by applying fabric dyes by hand.

Keep in mind throughout this tutorial that many of the diagrams will be linked to open in pop-up windows. You'll want to make your browser window slightly more narrow to accommodate these diagrams as they pop up. Also keep in mind that the techniques here can be applied to virtually any image, whether it's wood, stone, metal, or even subjective photographs.

Prepare the Type & Style It

Layer Style Since this is an overall 'dark' image, we'll begin with white type. This will also serve to make our small images easier to see and understand. So, we'll set the foreground color to white and key in our type.

For the cut-in effect discussed earlier, you can simply use the Layers Palette and choose Inner Shadow. But then we'll be taking it a lot further.
Click the Layers Styles button at the bottom of the Layers Palette to pull down the menu -- and select...

Layer Styles: Inner Shadow

styles Set: Angle to the desired drop (we selected 114 for upper left) and adjust the depth of the shadow (Distance 3px) and the size of the shadow, 6px. Your settings may be different. We're using a small file size at 72ppi for fast loading on the internet. You'll probably be using a high-resolution file size which may require higher numbers.

In the left-hand Styles List check the "Inner Glow" and then click its name to select it and open the Inner Glow Layer Styles options dialog . Here, we'll introduce a subtle highlight around the opposite sides of the lettering.

First, change the color swatch to black
Change Blending Mode to multiply
Set Opacity to 10 to 20%
Adjust Opacity settings until you see that glow.

Now you have the look of a cut-out, or a "painted" deboss -- which literally means to "sink into the surface" -- but not a true deboss. If you wanted it to look like embossing (emboss is to emboss, boss, stamp -- to raise in a relief) just reverse the shadow settings so the dark shadow is on the bottom and the highlight is on the top.
It looks a little weird at this point, but when we mask it you'll see the transformation.

Select File > Save As... and save a copy of the file.

True Debossing

For a true debossed, or "routed out" look, we'll be needing our fabric to still be visible in the cutouts. To accomplish this we'll need to duplicate our fabric layer and move it under (below / behind) the current layer.

Now select the Type by Cmd/Clicking (Ctrl/Clicking) the TEXT layer. You should see racing ants surrounding all your letters. With that selection active choose Select > Inverse to switch our selection to enclose the background rather than the type.

Layer MaskNow, activate the background layer and click the Layer Mask button to create a mask for the background.

Bevel EmbossWith the selection still active, let's add some Layer Styles to this mask as well. Click the Layer Styles button and choose Bevel & Emboss.

Bevel & Emboss

This gives us the subtle highlight/shadow around the edges of our type. Make the settings match ours -- and adjust them watching your sample until you achieve the look you need. Experiment with color in the 'Highlight' setting to compliment your particular background.

Now, make the type layer active and set its blending mode to Multiply. Presto, you're done.


Remember you can go back and adjust any of the layer styles simply by clicking on their names in the respective layers. You may need to tweak them a bit now that you've made the type Multiply. We had to go back and increase the light and contrast of our highlights to get them to show up.
But the fun's not over yet...

Now, carve it in wood and learn some lessons...


Return to: the Photoshop Department, or the Design Center Main Index


Participate in your Design Center

Lots of fun and information for all... don't forget, any community is only as good as the participation of its members. We invite your tips, tricks, comments, suggestions and camaraderie.
Advertise your products or services among these pages! Call: 540-433-8402 for details.