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

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

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

Step 3: 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

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

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

3 People Made This Project!


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27 Discussions


7 years ago on Introduction

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

wood grain.png

Question 7 months ago on Step 4

awesome tut, one question tho, for some reason, when i use the shear filter with a pic that looks like yours after the "cloud" filter. is turns the whole thing into a stringy looking imagine with gaps between the pattern instead of the solid pattern like yours. what gives? followed all steps to the letter, using PS CS5


3 years ago

Thanks. This helped a lot.


Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

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


9 years ago on Introduction

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.


9 years ago on Introduction

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?

1 reply

Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

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


Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

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


10 years ago on Step 5

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


10 years ago on Introduction

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

1 reply