Learn how to quickly create a paper texture in Photoshop.

Elisabeth Morningstar

Paper Texture Photoshop Tutorial

In this tutorial, we are going to make a realistic paper texture from scratch in Adobe Photoshop.

Let’s start by creating a new document in Photoshop. Go to File > New to open the new document dialog box. Let’s assume we are creating this paper texture to be the background of a pamphlet project. Make sure the width and height are set to be inches, and input “11.25” for the width and “8.75” for the height. This size includes the bleed for a basic, 8.5x11 pamphlet. The resolution should be set for 300 pixels/inch for print. Normally, CMYK color would be suggested for print, but not all Photoshop filters work in CMYK mode. Because of this, keep the color mode in RGB for now, and the final step will convert the color to CMYK for use in print.

Step 1: The first step is to fill the background with a color for your texture. Usually a light tan or beige color is best since you can easily tweak this color later if desired. Choose a foreground color by clicking the top square in the Color Picker tool at the bottom of the left-hand toolbar. Once the dialog box opens, pick a light tan color and click OK. (I chose the CMYK color: C14, M18, Y41, K0). Now fill the background layer by using the paint bucket tool or by going to Edit > Fill.

Step 2: Now create a new layer above this background layer. Change the foreground and background colors to a slightly lighter and darker hue of your original color. You can change the background color by clicking the second square in the toolbar. (I used C6 M12 Y32 K0 for the foreground and C23 M25 Y48 K0 for the background.)

Step 3: Select the new layer if it is not automatically selected. Then, go to Filter > Render > Clouds. This will add a nice light texture to your paper. Unlike most filters, this will not have a dialog box for options, as it just uses the foreground and background colors automatically.

Step 4: Now open Filter > Artistic > Palette Knife and change the stroke size to 40, the stroke detail to 3, and the softness to 0. Click OK.

Step 5: Paper is usually not completely smooth, so go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise and set the amount to 10%. Be sure to select “Uniform” and “Monochromatic” as well. Click "OK."

Step 6: Now in your layers palette, change the option in the drop down box to “Multiply” and the opacity to 50%.

Step 7: We will now redo most of the above steps. Remember to first create a new layer, and then use a darker set of foreground (20/16/35/0) and background (28/28/51/0) colors for the clouds effect. Use the same settings as before for the palette knife effect. Skip the noise step.

Step 8: You can use “Texturizer” to create a rougher paper look. To do this, go to Filter > Texture > Texturizer and choose the different settings for the look desired. Choose "Canvas" for the texture and set scaling to 200%, the relief to 3, and the light to “Bottom Right.” Click "OK."

Step 9: Now in your layers palette, change the option in the drop down box to “Overlay” and the opacity to 50%.

Step 10: You can also easily modify the color of the paper by going to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation. The hue and saturation sliders will adjust the color. To make the texture more or less pronounced, adjust the lightness slider. For this example, I used a hue of 40, saturation of 25, and a lightness of 0. I also selected “Colorize.”

Of course, many more changes can be made to your paper texture by using any of the effects within “Filter” and Image > Adjustments. Play around to your heart’s content and have fun!

When you’re happy with your texture, the final step is to convert your file to CMYK so that it is ready to use for print (Bear in mind that this step will flatten your file, so make sure you save a copy with the layers still intact for editing later!). Go to Edit > Convert to Profile. If it’s available, choose "Coated GRACoL 2006" from the dropdown list. This is the best profile for use with printing with PrintPlace.com.

Now you can use your new paper texture as the background of any pamphlet printing design for a look that is completely you.

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