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Letterpress Effect in Photoshop

Creating a letterpress effect in Photoshop isn’t as hard as you might think. You can create a letterpress effect in Photoshop in just a few easy steps. Creating a letterpress effect in Photoshop is all about how you fool the eye visually. You have to make the viewer thing that the top surface is forward, and that the letters or objects are “pressed” in. You can see these real life letterpress examples to get an idea. The trick is to make the area that is pressed in slightly darker than the rest of the canvas. The subtle differences in letterpress are determined by the inner shadow, and if there is a bevel present or not. Let’s get started.

Create a new document that is 1024px x 768px. Fill the canvas with grey (#c1c1c1). Next, select your typeface. I chose the beautiful Tommaso typeface. Your Photoshop document should look like the example below.


Next, double-click the type layer to bring up the layer styles. First, let’s check Color Overlay, and choose a darker gray than the background. I chose #555555.



Letterpress-effect-in-Photoshop_exampleNext, we need to add an Inner Shadow. The settings that we choose here will determine how our letterpress effect will turn out. I increased the opacity to 100%. I lowered the distance to 3px and the size of the Inner Shadow to 3px.The choke is set to 0px. The angle is really important, because it determines the viewer’s perspective of the letterpress effect.


As you can see, the effect above is a deeper letterpress effect. To create a more subtle pressed effect, check Bevel & Emboss. Choose down as the direction. Set the depth to 11% and the size to 5px. Leave the other settings the same, but go down to gloss contour and choose half round. Below is a much more subtle effect.

letterpress-effect-in-photoshop-subtleIf you go back into Inner Shadow, you can manipulate the letterpress effect by increasing the Choke amount. You can also adjust the angle to your liking to make the effect more prominent.


letterpress-effect-in-Photoshop_choke2To add a little rounded depth to your letterpress effect, you can also add a small dropshadow. I set the distance to 0px. This is important, so that the edge is even all the way around the outside edge of the type. Set the size to something small, such as 3px.

Letterpress-effect-in-Photoshop-finalAn alternative to this approach is a subtle effect that looks slightly different. Add an Inner Glow. Set the size to 1px and the blend mode to Screen. It is important to remove the drop shadow, as this will make the effect look sharper, and the 1px glow gives a slight highlight to the edges, adding an extra sense of dimension to the letterpress effect.




If you want to create a nice letterpress effect in Photoshop, it is important to know what settings will yield different results. There are slightly different looks and styles of letterpress. You can create a subtle letterpress effect, or you can create a deep one that really stands out.

Do you have any tips for creating a letterpress effect in Photoshop? If so, share them with everyone in the comments section below.