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How to Create a Fluffy, Feathery Ugly Duckling Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

I'm the owner and founder of PIT Designs. I love creating digital presence and creative digital solutions for our clients.

Posted 7 years ago on July 29th, 2016. Last modified on April 7th, 2022

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Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

This tutorial will show you how to create an Ugly Duckling inspired, fluffy, feathery text effect, using simple textures, modified brush tips, and adjustment layers. Let's get started!

This text effect was inspired by the many Layer Styles available on Envato Market.

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:

  • Berkshire Swash font
  • Black Smoke by FollowinTheBlackBird
  • feathers by warpig-stock
  • Feathers Brushes Set 1 by Falln-Stock
  • Glitter texture 4 by ellemacstock
  • Chic Sparkles by ElvenSword
  • Texture 351 by Sirius-sdz

1. Create the Background

Step 1

Create a new 1000 x 750px document, place the Black Smoke texture image on top of the Background layer, resize it as needed, and rename its layer to BG Texture.

Add the BG Texture Layer

Step 2

Click the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose Gradient.

Gradient Adjustment Layer

Step 3

Create the gradient fill using the colors #716c52 to the left and #00002e to the right. Then change the Style to Radial, the Scale to 150, and check the Dither box.

Gradient Fill Settings

Step 4

Clip the Gradient adjustment layer to the BG Texture layer, and then change its Blend Mode to Color and its Opacity to 50%.

Gradient Layer Settings

2. Create the Text

Step 1

Create the text using the font Berkshire Swash. Set the Size to 300 pt and the Tracking value to 150.

Create the Text

Step 2

Place the feathers texture on top of the text layer and resize it to cover the text, and then rename its layer to Text Fill.

Add the Feathers Texture

3. Mask the Text Fill

Step 1

Command-click the text layer's thumbnail to create a selection, and make the text layer invisible.

Create a Selection

Step 2

Select the Text Fill layer, and then click the Add layer mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to mask the selection.

Add a Layer Mask

Step 3

Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and clip it to the Text Fill layer. Change the Hue to -43 and the Saturation to -85.

HueSaturation Settings

4. Modify the Feather Brush

Pick the Brush Tool and open the Brush panel (Window > Brush).

Choose the Falln-Brushes Feathers2 tip from the Feathers Brushes Set 1 pack, and modify its settings as shown below:

Brush Tip Shape

Brush Tip Shape

Shape Dynamics

Shape Dynamics

Color Dynamics

Color Dynamics

5. Stroke the Text

Step 1

Right-click the text layer and choose Create Work Path.

Create Work Path

Step 2

Set the Foreground Color to #e1e0e0 and the Background Color to #c4c3c2, and then create a new layer on top of all layers and name it Feather Stroke.

Feather Stroke Layer

Step 3

Hit the Return key three times to stroke the path.

Pick the Direct Selection Tool (A) and hit the Return key one more time to get rid of the work path.

Stroke the Path

Step 4

You can then add a mask to the Feather Stroke layer, set the Foreground Color to Black, and use the Brush Tool with the same modified feather brush tip to erase any unwanted parts of the stroke.

Here, that was used to erase a part of the letter g's stroke to separate the top and bottom parts.

Erase Unwanted Areas

6. Fill the Text With the Feather Brush

Step 1

Create a new layer on top of all layers, and paint over the center of the text to fill it with the feathers brush.

You can add multiple layers for that if you like. This will help add a bit more depth to the fill.

Fill the Text with the Brush

Step 2

Place all the feather layers in a group and call it Feather Fill.

Feather Fill Group

Step 3

Add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer and clip it to the Feather Fill group. Then change the Brightness to -10 to darken the feathers a little bit.

BrightnessContrast Adjustment Layer

7. Add More Feathers

Step 1

Create a new layer on top of all layers and call it Edge Feathers.

Use the same feather brush tip to click and drag quite near some of the edges to add some more feathers.

Add Feathers to the Edges

Step 2

Create another new layer on top of all layers and call it Floating Feathers.

Increase the brush size a bit, and then click to add some floating feathers around the text.

When you're done, right-click the Floating Feathers layer, choose Convert to Smart Object, and change the Opacity to 55%.

Add the Floating Feathers

Step 3

Go to Filter > Blur > Radial Blur, and change the Amount to 2.

Radial Blur

8. Merge and Duplicate the Text Layers

Step 1

Group all the layers above the original invisible text layer, and call the group Text.

Text Group

Step 2

Duplicate the Text group, and then go to Layer > Merge Group. Duplicate the merged group layer, and place the copy below the Text group.

Rename the layer at the top to High Pass, and the one at the bottom to Shadow.

Merge Duplicate and Change the Layers Order

9. Style the Shadow Layer

Step 1

Change the Shadow layer's Fill value to 0.

Fill Value

Step 2

Double-click the Shadow layer to apply a Drop Shadow effect with these settings:

  • Color: #656565
  • Opacity: 30%
  • Uncheck the Use Global Light box
  • Angle: 113
  • Distance: 50
  • Size: 50
Drop Shadow

This will add a subtle shadow to the text.

Applied Shadow

10. Apply the High Pass Filter

Step 1

Select the High Pass layer, and then go to Filter > Other > High Pass, and change the Radius to 2.

High Pass Filter

Step 2

Change the High Pass layer's Blend Mode to Hard Light and its Opacity to 70%.

High Pass Layer Settings

11. Add the Glitter

Step 1

Place the Glitter texture 4 on top of all layers, resize it as needed, rename its layer to Glitter, and convert it to a Smart Object.

Clip the Glitter layer to the High Pass layer, and change its Blend Mode to Lighten.

Add the Glitter Layer

Step 2

Go to Image > Adjustments > Levels, and then change the Input's Shadows value to 30, the Gamma value to 0.50, and the Highlights value to 226.

You can also change the Output's Highlights value to 215.

We're trying to darken the texture to get a more subtle glitter overlay, so feel free to play around with the values until you get a result you like.

If you can't apply the Levels directly to the Smart Object, then you can use an adjustment layer instead.

Levels Values

12. Modify the Sparkles Brush

Pick the Brush Tool and open the Brush panel again.

Choose any tip you like from the Chic Sparkles set, and modify its settings depending on how you like your sparkles to look.

Here are the values used here:

Brush Tip Shape

Brush Tip Shape

Shape Dynamics

Shape Dynamics



13. Add the Sparkles

Step 1

Create a new layer on top of all layers, call it Sparkles, and then change its Blend Mode to Vivid Light.

Make sure that the Foreground Color is still set to #e1e0e0, and then start clicking and dragging slightly to add some sparkles around the text.

Add the Sparkles

Step 2

Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and clip it to the Sparkles layer. Check the Colorize box, and modify the other settings to get a color you like.

We'll get back to this at the end of the tutorial, but for now, the Hue is set to 235, the Saturation to 25, and the Lightness to 15.

HueSaturation Settings

14. Add Some Adjustment Layers

Step 1

Add a Gradient Map adjustment layer, and check the Dither box.

Create the gradient fill using the colors #3b326a to the left, #4c5073 in the center, and #a99c88 to the right.

Then, change the adjustment layer's Blend Mode to Hue and its Opacity to 25%.

Gradient Map Adjustment Layer

Step 2

Add a Gradient adjustment layer, and use a Transparent to Fill Color gradient fill using the colors #cdcdcd to the left and #d2d2d2 to the right.

Change the Style to Reflected, the Scale to 275, and check the Dither box.

Gradient Adjustment Layer

Step 3

Change the Gradient layer's Blend Mode to Color Burn.

Change the Blend Mode

15. Add the Texture and Modify the Sparkles' Color

Step 1

Place the Texture 351 image on top of all layers, resize it as needed, and then change its layer's Blend Mode to Soft Light and its Opacity to 50%.

Add the Texture Overlay

Step 2

Now you can go back to the Sparkles layer's Hue/Saturation layer, and modify the values again if you like. Here, we just changed the Hue value to 55.

Adjust the HueSaturation Values

Congratulations, You're Done!

In this tutorial, we used a texture and a gradient to create the background.

Then, we created the text, applied a feather texture to it, modified a feather brush, and used it to stroke and fill the text. After that, we added a glitter texture and modified a sparkles brush to add to the text.

Finally, we added some adjustment layers and a texture overlay to finish off the effect.

Please feel free to leave your comments, suggestions, and outcomes below.

Final Result

Source: Photoshop Tutorials +