Sign In  |  Join Now Become a member to add links and start earning points!

Incredibly Realistic Burnt Parchment in Photoshop

Imitating a physical object from scratch might seem very difficult, but we’re going to do just that in this tutorial – in a way that’s pretty easy to follow! We’ll create a piece of burnt parchment that looks incredibly real!

What We’re Making

This tutorial will show you how to create a decayed burnt piece of parchment like the example shown below.

Step 1 – Setting Up the Parchment

Open a new document 500x600px. Create a new group (Layer > New > Group) and label it Parchment. Create a new layer and place it inside the group. Place guides horizontally and vertically centered in the document. Make a selection 400x490px using the rectangular marquee tool and fill it using the color #e9dbba.

Groups and Guides

When a layer is placed inside a group it will become tabbed to the right, this way you know it is in the group!

To center the guides, select the entire document (Ctrl+A) and contract it by any amount (Select > Modify > Contract). Enable your rulers (Ctrl+R) and drag guides out until they snap in the center of the selection.

Step 2 – Dirtying the Parchment

In order to continue with this tutorial, you’re going to need some Grunge Brushes. Grunge brushes can be used to imitate dirt and decay. To learn how to install brushes, read the tutorial.

On a new layer inside your Parchment group, use a dark brown color like #735c27 to dirty the parchment. Don’t overdue it!

Then create another new layer and use a lighter brown color like #ab8e4a to create some more dirt.

Step 3 – Adding Texture and Color

Create a new layer and fill it with a dark brown color like #5f470d. Then set the blending mode of the layer to Vivid Light and set the opacity to 30%. This will help give our parchment a nice brown weathered color.

Now we need some paper texture. There are some great ones in the 99 Free Textures post here on Tutorial9. I chose the Old Aged Paper (Parchment) Texture. By placing it on a new layer, resizing it (Ctrl+T), desaturating it (Ctrl+Shift+U), and setting the layer to multiply, I can give my parchment a more realistic look.

Step 4 – Creating the Edges

Right now, all of our layers are placed inside of the Parchment group. This will allow us to easily mask all of the layers to the parchment using just one group mask.

Using the Polygonal Lasso Tool, make a selection around the inside of the parchment that will give it jagged edges. Then apply the selection as a group mask. To do this, click on the Parchment group icon, then click the Add Layer Mask at the bottom of the layer pallete.

Step 5 – Creating the Outer Crisp

In order to get the burnt effect, we need to create a dark outer edge around the parchment. To do this, use a really dark brown color like #211a0a and hard small brushes around 3-5px to create an effect like below.

Step 6 – Burning the Edges

To make the burn look more realistic we need to have a transition from the dirty parchment to the burnt edges.

Duplicate (Right Click > Duplicate Layer) the layer containing your crispy dark edge. Then apply a Gaussian Blur (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur) of 2. Set the layer to overlay, and make a selection of the layer mask set on the Parchment group. Then apply the same layer mask to your current layer. Repeat the process with larger and larger amounts of Gaussian Blur until you get an effect like the one below.

Step 7 – Adding Text

Add some nice cursive script inside of your parchment. Lower the Fill of any text layer to 60%, and give it the following layer effect. Lowering the fill will cause the text to look worn into the paper, and the stroke adds a fade off burnt look around the edges of the text.

To add the RSS image, I simply placed it inside the parchment and changed the layer mode to multiply.

Step 8 – Changing the Background

Let’s add a nice background to the scene. I decided to use a nice wooden floor.

Step 9 – Adding a Shadow

To add a shadow simply create a new layer underneath your Parchment group, make a selection of the Parchment group mask, fill it with black, and give it a Gaussian Blur (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur) of 10-15.

Step 10 – Adding Effect

Create a new layer above all your old layers. Go to Image > Apply Image so that the layer is filled with a merged version of what was showing. Then go to Filter > Render > Lighting Effects and apply a lighting effect like the one shown below.

On a new layer, create a gradient like the one below using pink #b02db9 and blue #1f7bc9. Then change the layer mode to Overlay and lower the opacity to a level you like.

Experiment, Redesign, and Be Creative

I can’t stress enough how putting a little extra work into your designs can improve them drastically.


  1. Add point Subtract point

    Excellent tutorial – everything worked well for me. Couldn’t have been happier with the finished product. Thanks!

    Flag as inappropriate
  2. Add point Subtract point
    Maxwell (4 Points) March 26, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Unfortunately a lot of steps are missing, others are poorly described. Too bad I wasted considerable time getting into this project, before finding steps that made no sense, had no words that turned up in searches or in Photoshop help. Very disappointed. Now I have to start all over with another tutorial.

    Flag as inappropriate
  3. Add point Subtract point

    looks interesting, but there are missing some steps or something and i cant to do it

    Flag as inappropriate
  4. Add point Subtract point
    Review (-4 Points) November 17, 2010 at 8:57 am

    After your jaunt to Dahab its o.k. to the machine to progress indorse home to Sharm El .

    Flag as inappropriate
  5. Add point Subtract point
    Michael Banks (1 Point) October 29, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Hi, Tyler. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I’m doing a Western-themed video, and your tut gave me the knowledge I needed to make a “wanted” poster-type background for my video.

    Thanks for sharing your know-how!


    Flag as inappropriate
  6. Add point Subtract point

    This is exactly what I have been searching for! I am glad I stumbled across this, made my life that much easier now. Thank you.
    Joel 0.0

    Flag as inappropriate
  7. Add point Subtract point
    Photo Restoration (2 Points) May 29, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Great post, i’m am sure somewhere along the way i will be able to put this one into practice!

    Flag as inappropriate
  8. Add point Subtract point
    Framieous (1 Point) March 20, 2010 at 3:50 am

    the what of the paper…. of potho side in the world

    In of a Fantasy in Game of Fantage

    I konw of the paper in the side

    Flag as inappropriate
  9. Add point Subtract point
    ดาวน์โหลดเพลงฟรี (1 Point) February 3, 2010 at 2:14 am

    Thanks for your post , Great post.35

    Flag as inappropriate
  10. Add point Subtract point
    แจกเพลง (0 Points) February 1, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    Thanks for your post , Great post.28

    Flag as inappropriate
  11. Add point Subtract point

    Thanks for your post , Great post.23

    Flag as inappropriate
  12. Add point Subtract point
    ฟังเพลงออนไลน์ (1 Point) January 30, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Excellent post. Thanks

    Flag as inappropriate
  13. Add point Subtract point
    Okumura (1 Point) January 26, 2010 at 8:54 pm


    Flag as inappropriate
  14. Add point Subtract point
    Line In (2 Points) December 13, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Great guide, thanks very much.

    An alternative way to center guides is to go to View -> New Guide… and in the position box, type 50%. Repeat for the other direction and you’ve got your perfectly centered guides.

    Flag as inappropriate
  15. Add point Subtract point
    Vanj (0 Points) July 3, 2009 at 1:03 am

    How do I add color to the layer? Im a newbie…..All these things are really alien to me. Somebody help! ^_^

    Flag as inappropriate
  16. Add point Subtract point
    andra (0 Points) June 25, 2009 at 6:39 am

    oh ,god . its so beautiful , i like you design

    Flag as inappropriate
  17. Add point Subtract point
    abc123 (0 Points) May 6, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    great tutorial! thanks so much, but i’m stuck at step 6. please help!

    im trying to finalize the blur and the wording threw me off a bit.

    Then apply a Gaussian Blur (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur) of 2.
    [to the copy correct?]

    Set the layer to overlay [fine here],
    and make a selection of the layer mask set on the Parchment group
    [just select the layer mask?].
    Then apply the same layer mask to your current layer.
    [this is where i'm confused. apply to which current layer? the copy? do i just drag it in there?]
    Repeat the process with larger and larger amounts of Gaussian Blur until you get an effect like the one below.

    i did add the parchment layer mask into the copy 2 (of the burned edge) and tried to do the Blue over and over with no effects.

    Flag as inappropriate
  18. Add point Subtract point
    huwaw69 (0 Points) May 2, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Wow its look like an old paper from BC! hahaha

    Flag as inappropriate
  19. Add point Subtract point

    with all due respect… you call it Incredibly Realistic? Come on… Using the burning tool would give you better effect. But good, well explained tutorial, thank you for sharing :)

    Flag as inappropriate
  20. Add point Subtract point
    Magda (0 Points) March 27, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    very well i want to try one of them too.

    Flag as inappropriate
  21. Add point Subtract point
    Strobe Kit (0 Points) February 27, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Great article. Thanks for sharing.

    Flag as inappropriate
  22. Add point Subtract point
    TheWordguy (0 Points) January 25, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! There are so many “scam” tutorial websites out there; this is the first one I found that was real, and did *exactly* what I was looking for. I can’t thank you enough for providing this incredibly valuable service — and for free! Kudos to you. I will be subscribing.

    Flag as inappropriate
  23. Add point Subtract point
    Simgust (0 Points) November 28, 2008 at 2:47 am

    Really nice. Yep. i like nice :P

    Flag as inappropriate
  24. Add point Subtract point

    Love the effect, but I don’t have photoshop. I have elements. I could do everything up to the layer mask. Thanks for putting the tutorial out there. It was fun to learn about the brushes and making the paper, even if I couldn’t do the burn. Thanks!

    Flag as inappropriate
  25. Add point Subtract point
    Vuongot (0 Points) October 24, 2008 at 6:38 am

    Well done!
    It’s easy to do it, thank you man!

    Flag as inappropriate
  26. Add point Subtract point

    wonderful tutorial
    but i have note about edges :)

    Flag as inappropriate
  27. Add point Subtract point
    Mindless Wizard (0 Points) August 28, 2008 at 5:10 am

    Simple N cool !!! : )

    Flag as inappropriate
  28. Add point Subtract point

    @Jana: Make sure that you create the dark edges using 3-5px hard brushes on a separate layer than the paper, this way you can perform step 6 correctly.

    Flag as inappropriate
  29. Add point Subtract point

    when I’m creating the edgesI don’t really get a separate imag elike that? also how does the next step – brush – works…

    Flag as inappropriate
  30. Add point Subtract point

    @Stacy: In regards to “how to apply effectively”, I’ve got no concrete examples — but I do think that creating a theme that heavily employs a style like this would do wonders :)

    It just carries that old-time, classic effect — and the end result feels very polished. I might use it myself in some WordPress Themes of my own in the future.

    Flag as inappropriate
  31. Add point Subtract point
    Stacy (0 Points) August 12, 2008 at 9:42 am

    I really enjoyed this tutorial. It was very easy to follow, and it introduced a lot of ideas that I knew how to do, but wasn’t exactly sure how to apply effectively. Also, I didn’t know about Image>Apply Image. I’m going to use that a lot in the future :) Thank you!

    Flag as inappropriate
  32. Add point Subtract point
    Tom Ross (0 Points) August 11, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Pretty cool effect Tyler! I liked the gradient overlay to finish things off, but found the grunge brushes+paper texture a bit overused and not too original. That’s not to say that I’m not guilty of this myself, but I’d like to see a more more original techniques to balance things out. I did like the tutorial overall though, just trying to be constructive :)

    Flag as inappropriate
  33. Add point Subtract point

    @Gabriel- GlassSphere: I’m glad that you found my tutorial unique! Also, using lighting effects and adding those few extra steps in after you have your creation can make it look SO much better!

    @LBrother: Nothing feels better than knowing I inspired someone to create their own unique work of art. I’m glad to help in any way I can!

    Flag as inappropriate
  34. Add point Subtract point
    Roxi (-1 Points) August 11, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Oh God.This is so beautiful.
    I will definitely try it!

    Flag as inappropriate
  35. Add point Subtract point
    LBrother (1 Point) August 11, 2008 at 8:06 am

    At first: Thanks for the tutorial, I’ve been waiting for this for weeks ;D
    To the Tutorial. When I looked at the end result, I wasn’t very “amazed”. I mean it’s great, but not my style. So I wanted to try if I could do something similar. And now this is my favourite tutorial because you inspired me. Thanks!

    I’ll post my result into the forum when I’ve finished.
    Well done,

    Flag as inappropriate
  36. Add point Subtract point
    Gabriel- GlassSphere (0 Points) August 11, 2008 at 1:07 am

    Thats really neat. I’ve never seen burnt paper achieved without using the burn/dodge tool before. The lighting effect filter really makes everything pop out.

    Flag as inappropriate
  37. Add point Subtract point
    InfinityXero (0 Points) August 11, 2008 at 12:30 am

    Guess I was wrong.
    Oh well
    Great tutorial !

    Flag as inappropriate
  38. Add point Subtract point

    This effect is incredible Tyler. Very well done. It’s got a very realistic feeling to it which I wouldn’t expect to see achieved with so little effort!

    Flag as inappropriate