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How to Create a Realistic Woodgrain Texture in Photoshop

written by: Amber Neely•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 4/22/2012

Ever needed to find a good woodgrain texture for a project? Sure, you could browse the internet for a while and ultimately settle on a shot of real woodgrain which seems strangely out of place in your project, or you could always just create a quick realistic Photoshop woodgrain.

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    This is an Adobe Photoshop Tutorial So you've got to figure out how to get a bit of realistic woodgrain into one of your projects, but you're out of ideas, barring using a stock image of real wood, which seems very unrealistic now that you're looking at it. Trust me, I've been there. Fortunately, there are a few different ways to go about creating a realistic Photoshop woodgrain that doesn't look out of place in a digital project, and this tutorial will discuss my favorite method. This tutorial does assume that the reader has cut their teeth on the basic functions of Photoshop, but it shouldn't be too hard to follow. Still, if you're new, here are a couple other tutorials that can get you ready for this one:

    Photoshop Basics: Select Tool

    Photoshop Basics: Using Layers

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    Noisy Liquid in Motion Method

    "What is the 'Noisy Liquid in Motion Method?'" You're probably asking. Well, yes, I figured you would. In this method, we go ahead and use the noise feature to lay down our high-lights and low-lights for us, and then create a complex Photoshop woodgrain by using the Liquify tool This method pretty much works for larger documents, and larger documents alone. The nice thing, though, is that you can save the woodgrain itself and apply the texture to smaller objects. Here we go.

    Here I'm starting with a basic mahogany brown as my background layer. (HEX: #332119) Immediately after that, press D on your keyboard to set your active colors to black and white.

    Create a new layer, and fill it with black.

    Go to "Filter" and then "Noise" and then "Add Noise" and fill your layer with:

    Amount: 50%

    Distribution: Uniform

    Monochromatic (Check this.)

    Press OK

    Now go to "Filter" and then "Blur" and then "Motion Blur" and use these settings:

    Angle: 0

    Distance: 999

    Press OK

    Use your rectangular marquee tool to select a part of the motion blur that isn't faded from the top to the bottom, like so:

    Right click and select "Layer Via Copy" and then press CTRL+T to bring up free transform. Grab one of the side toggles, and pull your section across your canvas. You'll have something that looks like this:

    (Afterward you can delete your old motion blur layer.)

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    Now that you have the base for your woodgrain, go into "Filter" and then "Liquify." Here is where you're going to employ the use of the Twirl Clockwise Tool (Third button down on the left tool bar) with these settings:

    Brush Size: 120

    Brush Density: 76

    Brush Pressure: 100

    Brush Rate: 80

    Turbulent Jitter: 50

    Now all you have to do is drag your tool across the image from left to right or right to left - whatever you feel like! In fact, mixing it up makes it feel a little more realistic!

    For the gaps at the edge, simply use your Forward Wrap Tool and pull them back to the edges. When you're satisfied with your result, Press OK.

    Now all you have to do is choose what blending mode you're going to use! Here's an example of a few different ones:

    After playing around with it a little bit, here is my finished result: