Introduction: Realistic Wood Grain in Photoshop

Picture of Realistic Wood Grain in Photoshop

I've seen a few guides on here on how to make wood grain but I didn't feel they looked like wood enough. This technique was learned about 5 years ago and I've never forgotten it. Hope you don't too. :)

This technique was made in Photoshop CS2. I tried to make it in The Gimp but I couldn't find the same filters needed. If you can do it in Gimp, I would love to know.

Step 1: Open a Blank Window

Picture of Open a Blank Window

Lets start off by opening a blank window of any size u want. I used 800x600. Then, change the foreground and background color to a dark brown and light brown color.

Step 2: Make a Cloud

Picture of Make a Cloud

Now go to the top menu and select "Filter > Render > Clouds."

Step 3: Add the Grain

Picture of Add the Grain

To give grain, we are going to the top menu again and select "Filter > Distort > Shear." To make it curve just click and hold on the graph, and drag it toward it's edge. Keep doing this until your Zig-zag line is just about similar to mines. (You can more points if you would like)

Step 4: Rinse and Repeat

Picture of Rinse and Repeat

I'll assume that your version of Photoshop has a filter repeat option by pressing "Ctrl + F." Press this combo to add more zig-zag-ness to your image. Keep doing this combo until you are satisfied with the grain.

If you don't have the filter repeat option (unlikely) then repeat step 3 three of four more times.

Step 5: Final Touches

Picture of Final Touches

Now we could just stop at step 4 but I wanna go a little bit further. If you want to change to color of the wood, you could just go to "Image > Adjustments > Levels" and move the three sliders until you get a desired color.

Finally, I want to make the wood seem more "hard." We're just going to "Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask" and add a subtle sharpness to the grain. My settings were: Amount - 79%, Radius - 0.9 pixels, and Threshold - 0 levels.

Well, there's our finished woodgrain. I hoped you liked my 1st Instructable :D


ktabora (author)2011-12-03

Really thanks to compacho for this tutorial. It really helps for my string puppet animation.

YasminB9 made it! (author)2016-08-19

very very nice,thank you for the wonderfull idea ..


JoshuaC70 (author)2015-11-25

Thanks. This helped a lot.

JaedieBuggz made it! (author)2015-08-10

THANKS for this EASY PEASY SIMPLE to follow tutorial!!!!! I tried ONE other one and I couldn't find the filters or ??? that he was talking about! I am working on a business card and need a wood grain for part of it and there aren't any really in the presets! Thanks again!

JW *smiles*

compacho (author)JaedieBuggz2015-08-10

You're welcome :D

Daniel Rydin (author)2015-07-06

Thank you so much!

SilentLime (author)2014-07-25

Thank you for this tutorial. It was very simple to follow and just what I needed.

compacho (author)SilentLime2014-07-25

Glad you enjoyed this. I made this so long ago but it feels great to see someone still find it valuable. Cheers!

Thx4TheAmmo (author)2009-04-27

Nice tutorial, works for making lots of wallpapers

YellowZealot (author)Thx4TheAmmo2011-07-15

How did you do the whole selective lighting deal? That would make a great instructable.

alexw2150 (author)Thx4TheAmmo2011-02-26

That's amazing

Marble of Doom (author)2010-08-23

Really neat, never would have thought of it!

GMZues (author)2009-11-01

Nice tutorial! Very easy to follow, and a beautiful result.
I managed to do it in GIMP with very little effort actualy.
I used the Distorts->Ripple filter (period=108, amplitude=75, threshold=0) and ran it 5 times. (I also used colorize to get right color)
Here's my result.

FlipGuardian (author)2009-09-16

I did it with Gimp. To add the grain instead of "Filter > Distort > Shear." I went to "Filter > Distort > IWarp." Do you mind if I use this as a reference to make an instructional for Gimp?

compacho (author)FlipGuardian2009-09-16

Nice to know it can been done in GIMP easily. Thanks and feel free to reference my guide. It would be my honor :)

the.mk95 (author)2009-07-30

what do you use to make the text look engraved like that?

bloke2022 (author)the.mk952009-08-16

you could also just set the opacity on the text to 85% (or something close)

compacho (author)the.mk952009-08-09

If I remember correctly, its "inside shadows" option from the layer effects button on the bottom of the layer window.

the.mk95 (author)compacho2009-08-11

cool, thanks man i appreciate the help great instructable btw

angelahopkin (author)2009-03-12

I thought you did a great job. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Angela

mrmucox (author)2008-10-07

All these tools are available in GIMP, though not as refined. Filter -> Render -> Clouds -> Render Clouds (though you have to start with a white layer over a medium brown layer and set the mode to overlay after rendering) Filter -> Distort -> Curve Bend (in place of Shear, also you need to set both curves, set one, then click copy, set rotation (90 or 270) and it has NO wrap-around). Filter -> Enhance -> Unsharp Mask

mrmucox (author)mrmucox2008-10-07

And a second attempt:

PKTraceur (author)mrmucox2009-02-27

Banna Wood. Nice, looks cool.

compacho (author)mrmucox2008-10-07

Ahh cool dude. I'm gonna try this now. Thanks.

bwente (author)2008-10-07

Nice tutorial. I have used a very similar technique in the past. I have added an extra step since CS2. Check out the liquify filter. Twirl, Warp, and Pucker are great for adding knots to the wood or making Birdseye Maple.

compacho (author)bwente2008-10-07

Yeah, I've seen other tutorials here that used the twirl and warp to add knots and realism and thought about adding it here, but its not my technique. Glad you liked this though.

n1qaw (author)2008-10-06

I have CS3 and I have added some Actions that were suppose to be top notch for simulated grain. This is MUCH better and it warps REALLY well. Real looking wood furniture is now well within my grasp super

PKM (author)2008-10-06

Short and to the point, but this is actually one of the better photoshop wood grains I've seen. Good instructable- I'll have a look in the GIMP when I get home to see if you can use the same technique.

compacho (author)PKM2008-10-06

Thanks. Glad you liked it. I'm all about trying to condense steps and sentences as much as possible.

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