How to Use Vector Textures

Tutorial: How to Use Vector Textures in Adobe Illustrator to Distress Your Logo/Design

Photoshop Action: Stamp/Print Effect

Works great on any single color logo, emblem, mark, seal, crest.

Because of the great response to my Aged Type action, I took it a bit further and made a similar effect that could be applied, not only to text, but to your logo to give it an authentic stamp or print effect. I have seen various rubber stamp effects on google and none are all that great. So let me show you why mine is the bees knees.

This is a premium Photoshop action that took some time to perfect. So we’re selling it for the cheap price of $7.  Credit Cards and Paypal accepted.

Download Now – $7


  1. After downloading the action, simply open up the .ATN file and it will automatically load it into your Photoshop Actions panel ready for use! For best results start with a black and white image that’s at least 800-1,000 pixels wide.
  2. In Photoshop, select the layer you want to turn into a stamp and press PLAY on the “Stamp/Print by Go Media” action. It will apply the effect!

Here are some tips:

  • Works best on images at least 800 px wide
  • Works on any logo, text, or even photos!
  • Can also be used as a faux screenprint or letterpress effect
  • Final result is on its own layer.
  • Settings are completely customizable, tweak to your heart’s content
Pro Tip: The action runs automatically once you click it. But if you want to adjust any of the effects/filters as it happens, toggle this dialog box icon so it stops at every step allowing you to get more control over the effects.


Photoshop Stamp Effect

Photoshop Stamp Effect

Photoshop Stamp Effect

Photoshop Stamp Effect

Result is on its own layer

Photoshop Stamp Effect

Even works on photos!

For best results, you might have to adjust the contrast of your source image. And again, the settings are fully adjustable inside the action so you can tweak it to your hearts content!

Download Now – $7

Distress type by hand in Photoshop

There must be something about digital type that we don’t like.

We put a lot of energy into distressing, aging, texturizing, and simulating letterpress techniques with digital type. There are a lot of cool techniques out there. So here I am, sharing yet another one that’s really good for distressing specific parts of letters that are subject to more wear & tear.

We’ll be using Photoshop and digging into layer masks & scatter brushes.

But first, let me show you an example of what we’re trying to achieve.
distressed type

Okay, so a couple of things about the way this type looks that I can’t achieve using regular techniques:

  • The distressing is not even. This is not just noise or a texture overlay.
  • The outlines are not straight. Actual distortion of the letterform edge, from peeling, erosion, ink bleed, or whatever.
  • Certain parts of the letter seem more vulnerable to wear & tear. This makes sense I guess.

Step 1: Prep your type

Create a document, 1000×500 pixels. Fill the background with #22202c. Make a text box, type something clever in #eae7e0, and rasterize the type with applied FX.
If you’re curious, here are my type settings:

Unviers LT Std, 49 light ultra condensed
370 pt
Layer effects: 7px #eae7e0 stroke, from center

Now let’s do some standard pre-grunge type tricks that I learned from Jeff Finley’s Wacom Illustration Video Tutorial. Blur the rasterized text by 1px. Now use smart sharpen with a 0.8px radius and at 140%. Remember these blur and sharpen numbers will depend on the size / resolution of your document.

Now let’s distort the edges of the text a little bit. Go to filter>distort>ripple, and choose a small ripple with a 22% amount. The edges should ever so slightly ripple. Here’s what mine looks like now:

scatter brush type aging

Step 2: Make a grunge scatter brush

grunge type scatter brushThis is the brush we’ll be using to paint away distressing on the type.

Open up your brush panel and check “Shape Dynamics”, “Scattering”, “Noise”, and “Smoothing”. This is gonna be a nasty brush! Push the sliders for Size Jitter (in Shape Dynamics) and Scatter up & down until you get a brush preview similar to the one you see here.

I generally like to keep my main brush very small & soft, usually between 1-4 pixels and 0% hardness.

Hit “D” on your keyboard to reset your foreground & background colors to default black & white. This means your brush will be black, which is what we want.

If you just swipe the brush around a little bit, you’ll see you’re now “painting noise”. Perfect!

Step 3: Paint the type mask with the scatter brush

Make sure your layer mask is selected, and use your brush tool to paint inside this mask. Black pixels hide the rasterized type layer, and white pixels show it. The mask starts out all white.

As you paint in your wear & tear, think about the letters as physical objects. What parts look subject to distressing? Call to mind rusty old street signs and roadside ice cream shacks. Vary the size of your brush between 1 and 5 pixels. Use larger brushes for the edges of the letters. Use a little more distressing in areas that seem especially ‘rippled’.
type grunge
See how the mask I’m painting looks noisy, like the brush preview above?
distressed typed
Just keep painting until you get a degree of distressing that suits you. I tend to prefer very mild distressing. Just enough to get the looker’s subconscious to think “not digital”. Be sure to make each letter different. That’s kind of the whole idea of this approach: more custom than a distressed font.
scatter done

Cool, huh?! Once you do it a few times, this technique isn’t much harder than overlaying a texture – and it looks a lot better to me.

We’re basically done here, but I’ll add in a paper texture to make our image more closely match the “SHHH” image.

scatter final

That’s it! Thanks for reading this quick tip, and let me know if you have ideas to take the technique further.

Distressing Techniques in Adobe Illustrator

Distressing Techniques in Adobe Illustrator

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Simon from Studio Ace of Spade here. Jeff Finley asked me to compile a list of some common distressing techniques as a supplement for his eBook “The Designer’s Guide to the Apparel Industry.” Distressing graphics is a pretty integral part of designing t-shirts. This tutorial will demonstrate three easy to understand and easy to apply techniques for adding a distressed or grunge look to a design using Adobe Illustrator.

Be sure to check out some other tutorials the graphic designers at Go Media have whipped up as well!

Adobe Illustrator Technique #1: The Grunge Brush

For the first technique, we’ll learn how to take advantage of Illustrator’s brush tool and of some of the brushes that come bundled with it. Our subject will be a vector of a blimp I created a few weeks ago and used for one of my Studio’s entries for Signalnoise’s retro poster competition, “Air traveling”.

The Step 1 is easy: open your vector file.


Step 2 is easy as well: make sure your vector object or group is expanded.
To do this, select all (CTRL+A or CMD+A, depending if you are using a Windows or Mac box), then go to the menu “Object” then “Expand”. You might be prompted to select what you want to be expanded. Check all the boxes.

Once this is done, we’ll move to step 3: select the brush tool and get the brush that interests us. Don’t forget to de-select your vector art or else you will apply the brush to it.
Open the brush panel from the left toolbar (or with F5), then click on the menu icon at the lower left corner.

Make your way through the menus to pick the “Artistic – Chalk / Charcoal / Pencil” brush set.

Then pick the first brush and the brush tool.

Step 4
Now, we’ll have to pick a random color that is not used at all in the design element we’re planning to grunge out. The reason for this is because we’ll use the magic wand tool later to select the brush strokes we are about to make, and we don’t want anything else but these brush strokes to be selected. Here I picked a really loud blue (something like #3FE6FF).

Now it’s your call. Play with the brush tool and make a couple brush strokes in order to cover your vector element. In my case, 2 strokes were enough.

Experiment with different thicknesses, placements. You should play with how you position/draw the paths with the brush tool, with the stroke thickness… For instance, I was hesitating between a 2 pt. thickness and a 4 pt. one before settling on 3 pt., because it looked the best. I would also not be afraid of editing the paths afterwards with the direct selection tool (keyboard shortcut: A) to modify their directions.
You want to cover most of your design, but also make sure that you won’t go overkill with it. Also, watch how I tried to leave out of the blimp the big chunks at the top left of the top stroke. These would have been over the top in my opinion, and wouldn’t have looked so realistic.

Quick tip: to quickly toggle the brush stroke on and off,  switch the stroke color to your background color by tapping the X key repeatedly.

Once you’re satisfied with the result, time to move towards step 5.

Here, we’ll expand the brush strokes like that we can merge them with the design using the pathfinder tool. To do so, select your vector object and your brush strokes (I used CTRL/CMD +A since these are the only things I have in my art board).

Then, go again to Object > Expand in order to expand everything.

Step 6: the pathfinder. Now comes the time to merge everything.
Go to the pathfinder (Shift + CTRL/CMD + F9 by default in Ai CS3) and click the merge option. Depending on the complexity of your design, that can take a few seconds.

The 7th and last step is to use the magic wand tool (shortcut: Y) to get rid of the blue we don’t need in our final design.

Click anywhere on the blue strokes to select all of them. Delete (DEL key) and…

… And it’s distressed! Victory?

No. Ai sometimes leaves some transparent elements that need to be cleaned up too. To see them, select everything (CMD/CTRL +A), then use the magic wand once more (Y) to click on one of these left over points. Once they’re all selected, you can delete them.

And here it is, our distressed blimp.

Adobe Illustrator Technique #2: the grunge vector element

The grunge brush technique is easy and convenient (the brush comes with Illustrator), however it might not look very realistic — especially if you have to make the brush really thick, big or to repeat it a lot to cover the design. Real distressing looks more or less random and doesn’t repeat itself.

One of the tricks we have up our sleeve then is to use resources that are specifically made with the distressing purpose in mind. Head over to the Go Media Arsenal and grab some grunge vector resources.

For this one, I’ll use a texture of the Destroy I vector pack (first one of the preview actually). It’s subtle enough, yet you can duplicate it for more intricate effects (as will be demonstrated).

Step 1: Open the files you will need: the blimp vector and the grunge vector. As I explained previously, the grunge vector is from the Go Media Arsenal.

Step 2 is similar to what we did previously with the brush strokes: change the color of the grunge vector to a color that has not been used in the element you want to distress. Again, I choose a bright blue.

Step 3 is where it becomes fun: it’s sizing and placement time. I chose to center the vector, then to size it big enough to cover my vector blimp. But then I realized that the single instance of the texture wasn’t enough distressing for my taste.

So what I did as a 4th step was to copy the texture and then paste it in front (CTRL/CMD +F)

After that, I just had to rotate the top copy a bit to accentuate the grunge feel. I rotated it of 90° for that tutorial, but remember that experimenting is the key and that you should find what suits you.

Step 5: Expand the vector grunge elements (Object > Expand).

Step 6: Merge using the Pathfinder palette.

Step 7: Cleaning out. Like earlier, we are going to delete the grunge vector(s) used to distress the blimp in order to keep just the distressed blimp in the final art.

Here I used the magic wand (Y) to select the blue grunge vectors…

And deleted them selection (DEL)…

Selected the transparent leftovers, deleted.

And there you have it, another distressed, grungy looking, blimp!

Adobe Illustrator Technique #3: using a texture

Like in Photoshop? No, no. We are going to live trace it.

For this distressing last technique in Illustrator, I’ll use one of the free textures from Lost and Taken. The texture I’m going to use is taken from his 20 subtle and simple grunge textures post.

(Don’t grab that one, go grab the high resolution file, it’s going to look much better)

It’s going to be really simple and share a few common steps with the previous techniques. Our experimentation subject is going to be this vintage radio vector I did a few weeks ago as part of another entry to Signalnoise’s retro poster competition.

Step 1: open your file.

Step 2: let’s place (File > Place) that grunge texture in our document. The process is really similar to opening the file.

Now, our 3rd step is to live trace it. It’s going to be easy, as when you place and select the texture, the live trace button appears on the top toolbar of Illustrator. We could use some of the presets, but I believe we can get better results by experimenting with the values a bit. So instead of selecting them, click on Tracing options at the bottom.

I always set Path Fitting, Minimum Area and Corner Angle to 1 when using Live Trace. It’s supposed to give the most details from the object I’m using as an input. I also checked Ignore White since I just want the grunge of the texture to come out. Then I also check the Preview box to see what those settings are producing.

I bumped the Threshold to 160 in order to get a darker texture (more pixels are converted to black). Once you’re happy with the result, click Trace and don’t forget to hit the Expand button.

Then, step 4 is to place, size and change the color.

Step 5: Expanding. It’s crucial to be sure that it’s correctly done, or else it simply won’t merge.

Step 6: Merging.

Step 7: Cleaning up!


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Video Tutorial: The Making of Andrew Jackson Follow Up

Hey guys,
It’s me, Jeff Finley, with a quick video message for everyone thinking about grabbing The Making of Andrew Jackson video tutorial.

You know I still get emails asking about the process & techniques I use to achieve that authentic worn vintage vibe seen on most of the Parachute Journalists posters. I always respond that you can literally watch the techniques develop in real time on the Andrew Jackson video tutorial, which is much better than any description I could write.

Well enough typing, here’s my video message wrapping up The Making of Andrew Jackson Video Tutorial.

band poster

Again, thanks to everyone who has purchased the tutorial. If you have lingering questions about the techniques I used in the video tutorial, ask me in the comments! If you still haven’t picked up this tutorial, I promise that it will beef up your creative toolbox, so check it out.

Aged Type Effect in Photoshop (w/Ps Action)


While working on the poster for DIT Fest last week I managed to create an impressive text effect that I will likely reuse for awhile. It’s very subtle and does not look like a filter. I’m simply adding a slightly aged, worn, or screen-printed look to any typeface. You can even apply this effect to any solid color shape or vector graphic for a hand-made screen-printed look—all done in Photoshop.


  • Create your type as you normally would
  • Rasterize the type
  • Add noise, around 25%. Be sure the check the ‘Monochromatic’ checkbox.
  • Adjust the Input Levels, bring the black level up to about 70
  • Run a very slight Gaussian Blur on your type – like 1 or 2 px
  • Run Smart Sharpen to remove the blur but keep some of the organic distressing / softening that occurs. Like 200% for the amount and about 15 for the radius.
  • Adjust Levels again – bring black up to about 50 and white down to 69.

Or just download the  and never have to remember how to do it again.

If you want to take it further:

Buy our Stamp Effect actionmore info

See example images:


DIY Striped T-Shirt in 3 Easy Steps

Barton Damer gave us permission to repost his handy DIY guide on making a striped t-shirt in your own backyard with just a spray bottle, duct tape, some bleach, and some good ole American ingenuity.

This weekend I had some fun with duct tape and some bleach making this tee shirt design. Check out these 3 easy steps. If you decide to make your own version, come back to this post and leave us a Flickr link to check out a photo of what you did!

Step 1

Use duct tape to mask off your design onto a dark colored tee. I decided to make stripes on a black tee.

Step 2

Spray your t-shirt with a bleach/water mixture. I used 70% bleach and 30% water. Let your shirt dry after you spray it to your liking.

Step 3

Wash and wear your tee. Easy as 1, 2, 3!’

DIY t-shirts in 3 Steps