SigTutorials > Photoshop Signature Tutorials > Beginner Signature Tutorials > Absolute beginner tutorial

Absolute beginner tutorial

Posted on May 23rd, 2006. Written by JaspervD.

Welcome to this absolute beginner tutorial, if you are new to creating signatures this is the tutorial to start with when you have zero knowledge! In this tutorial you will learn:

  • What brushes are, where to get them and how to use them.
  • How to add color to your background.
  • Where to get renders, what renders are and how to use them.
  • How to blend your render with the background.
  • How to create focus and a feeling of depth in your signature.
  • How to add text and a border

Sound pretty good doesn't it? So lets get started, but before we start here is an idea of what you will be making:

Using only the techniques learned in this tutorial you will be able to create signatures like this in only 10 minutes!

Download the .psd

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It is fully labeled, this way you can exactly see what I did when creating the signature, even steps that I didnโ€™t explain in the tutorial.

Never again you will get stuck because you donโ€™t understand something in the tutorial, just take a look inside the .psd file and boost your signature making skills with new techniqueโ€™s and ideas!

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Creating the background

First create a new document, for the canvas size I choose 380 X 140, normally anything from [300-400] X [100-150] is a good choice.

Make sure you have the colors black and white set as your foreground and background color (Hit the D key if this isn't the case), then go to Filter>render>clouds to create your first layer.

Where to get grunge brushes

I have collected the best brushes in a thread located in our forums, if you don't want to register on our forums you can also have a look in the deviantart brushes section.

Once downloaded to your computer you will need to add the brushes file into: C:\Program Files\Adobe\Your photoshop version\Presets\Brushes,
now you might need to restart photoshop to load them.

Select the Brush Tool (B), now load one of your downloaded grunge brushes by doing the following:

Make a new layer (CTRL+SHIFT+N) and with black as your color selected simply click on your canvas to brush, don't overdo it just a few times is fine.

Select a different brush from your brush pack and switch your foreground color to white, now create a new layer again and brush a bit on this layer.

After a few layers of using a brush pack you can switch around to a different brush pack, to keep your signature interesting. I loaded one of my favorite brush packs, Jashin brushes set 12 and I continued by adding new layers, every time switching from a black to white and changing brushes

The background is now finished, time to add some color onto our background!

Adjusting Contrast

You can open the brightness and contrast adjustment screen by going to Layer > New adjustment layer > brightness and constrast on the top of your screen, you can also use the shortcut icon that is located on the bottom of your layers panel.

Adjusting the contrast in your signature can improve the background a lot:

Coloring the background

Coloring your background can be done in a lot of ways, here I choose to use maybe not the easiest and quickest technique, but it does give great colors matching your render.

What are Renders

Renders are images that are cut out from the original image, this way you can use them in your signature without having to spend time cutting out the part you want (for example a game character) from its background, saving you lots of time!

Where to download Renders

You can find lots of renders in our Render Section, the easiest way is to just download some free render packs so you quickly have a great collection of quality collection and you will never need to spend time searching the web for some good renders.

Another great place to get individual renders is Planet Renders.

So first we need to find a nice render, I choose to use the following Render

Opening your render

Renders are almost always saved as a .png with a transparent background, when you simply copy and paste the render from your browser into photoshop you will notice that the transparent background has been gone.

To prevent this you will first need to save your render on your computer, after that you can safely open it in photoshop. Right click > open with photoshop, then copy the render and go back to your original document, now you can paste in your render while the background remains transparent.

Add the render on a new layer inside your document, then duplicate it once (right click on the layer > duplicate layer) and move both layers so they fill the whole canvas like this:

Now select both layers at the same time using CTRL now right click on the layers > merge layers and go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur

Set this layers blending mode to overlay and you are finished coloring your background!

Adding your render

Now its time to add in your render, scale it down and place it in the right spot.

First add your render into your document again, like described before. Now go to Edit > Transform > Scale and drag the handles to make your render smaller so it fits into your canvas. (Note: Hold SHIFT while scaling to keep the original ratio, else your render will look strange).

Try placing (you can move the render around using the move tool (V) ) and scaling your render in a smart way, I will show you some ways not to do it first:

The most important and interesting parts on our render are his face and the tattoo, so they should be the center of the render.

The render is way to small, making it hard to know where to look at, the background or the render?

And this is the correct way, the interesting parts on our render are in the middle and the background isn't distracting, the main focus point in the signature now is our render.

Blending your render

Since we just pasted the render onto the background it often looks like the render just floats on the background.
Thats why we need to blend our render with the background. In this signature its actually already looking decent because of the way we colored our background to match with the render, we could have gotten away by just skipping this step, but I will show you one of the easiest blending techniques. After all you are here to learn new things right, not just to recreate someone else his signature!

Select the Eraser Tool (E) and use the following settings:

With the eraser tool selected go around your render erasing bits of the outline, so your render and background "flow" into each other nicely, here is an example to show you the difference:

See how it makes your render look better? (its not a huge difference in this signature, but in some signatures it can drastically improve your signature!)

Focus, depth and lighting

Focus, depth, flow and lighting are the most important things that make a signature really good, but they are very hard to explain and master so thats why I will not go into detail about these, I will however quickly show you some of the basic techniques. If you want read more tutorials on this subject check out some of the tutorials on the forum.

Things that are farther away from you tend to be vague, while things that are closer to you have much more detail. This effect can be reproduced in signatures using the blurring of things in the background, and sharpening things in the front.

Another huge factor is the light in your signature, you will need to make sure it is coming from the right direction by looking at the shadows on your render. Good lighting can really improve your signature and make your render stand out more.

Before we can begin with this step we will need to add everything on one layer, we will do this by first creating a new layer (ctrl+shift+n), now go to Image > Apply Image and click ok.

First we will take out our sharpen tool and sharpen your render to make it stand out more, you can use the following settings:

Then select your blur tool and blur the sides using the same settings as used for the sharpen tool, your signature should now look like this:

Now its time to use the Burn and Dodge Tools (O). Use the burn tool to make the sides darker and use the Dodge tool to make the render stand out more, you can again use the settings I used for the sharpen tool

Adding text and a border

As you can see our signature is almost done by now, of course you can add a million kind of cool effects to your signature to improve it, the signature we made is is nice, but nothing impressive compared to the things you can create with more advanced techniques! Still I hope you learned the basics of creating a signature using renders and brushes.

Ok enough talking, let's add a border! As with everything in a signature this can be done in multiple ways, here we will use one of the easiest (and probably best looking) ways to create a border.

Create a new layer above all your other layers, and hit CTRL+A, this will select the complete canvas.

Now go to Edit > Stroke and use the following settings to create a border around your selected area.

Text is one of the hardest things in creating signatures, it often happens that you make a great signature but you have no idea what to do with the text. My advice would be to just keep your text as simple as possible for now, when you are starting out you just need to make sure that your text doesn't ruin your signature and is placed in the correct place. You can worry about creating uber sexy text when you get better ๐Ÿ™‚

The best spot to place your text is near your render, don't make your text overlap the important parts in your render but also make sure that you don't tuck your text away in a corner.

A rule often used by designers is to create a grid of 3x3, the places where those line interact should be the places where you must place your most important items, like for example your render and text. As you can see in this signature 2 of the spots are taken by our most important things in our render, the face and the tattoo. This leaves 2 spots open for our text, I choose the bottom left spot since it would look the best.

Now take out your Text Tool (T) and choose something like Arial or Verdana as your font (remember keep it simple, no fancy fonts it will often look bad!). Now type the text you want and make sure that you set the color to something that matches with the rest of your signature. I also added a second subtext, this is not necessary but somehow it will always make your text look much better!

Here is the final signature:

The end

This is the end of the tutorial, I hope you understand the basics of creating signatures by now. If you got any questions feel free to ask them below, if you want feedback on the signatures you created make sure to post them in our show off section and various other designers will help you to improve your signatures!

393 Responses »

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  6. Great tutorial!this is,honestly,the best tutorial I have seen!

  7. this is mine i just start using photoshop again

  8. Awesome tutorial! I like it much.
    This is my first signature, Riven(League of Legends).

    Does anyone know some other good beginner tutorials?

  9. this is my out come i did add some more stuff tho like gradient maps

  10. Result :
    Thanks a lot, it helped me!!

  11. Result ๐Ÿ˜€

  12. this is mine and thx been looking for a tutorial on sigs forever

  13. Here’s mine thanks for it ๐Ÿ˜€

  14. Well, I try exactly and i learn somethings that i should learn. I never applied this in my sig: Like this:

    At least, I never try blending the render into the BG..

  15. My outcome!

  16. This is how mine turned out. Unhappy with the background but the render seems to be okay. In retrospect I would’ve spent a lot more time balancing the colours in the background since that really ruined it for me in the end. Not bad for my first ever sig I guess though :p

    • Spent half an hour messing around with a few brushes and layers and came out with this. I think it’s better – I know I overdid it on the render but I still think it’s better than the first.

  17. My outcome!

    Thanks for the tut!

  18. Thank! Took several tries but I got it.

  19. I’m still confused, but I will keep trying.

  20. Thank ! this tutorial really helping me ! Really appreciate it !

  21. The forums are down and the deviantArt site does not have the brushes. Where can I obtain the brushes to complete the tutorial?


  22. Here is my result:

  23. Thanks for the tutorial ^^

  24. Thanks for the tutorial ๐Ÿ˜€

  25. im a real newbie but thought i would have a go.

  26. Thanks for the tutorial!

  27. This my design with a city stock and a little burn

  28. Great tutorial.

  29. Hi Jasper, Thanks for allowing me to make the video edition of this, here is it ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Heya
    Thanks for this awesome tutorial, really loved this one, i was thinking of making a video tutorial on this, i hope you wont mind, i will give you credits ofc, if you mind just contact me on >
    i also create graphic designs, making tutorials too ๐Ÿ˜€ i used this one for one of my customers, because i had no idea what to make, really thanks, i hope you would answer me if i could make a tutorial on this or no…

    • go ahead, and please post the tutorial here/ on our forums when you finish it. I would love to see it!

      • Thanks brah!

      • Ohh and sorry for double posting but i would like to contact you for some reasons coz i hav made some tuts. B4 and was wondering if u wuld post em here for me? Bcz myself i am a 13 year old designer so yea

    • Used this guide for my school project. Thanks a lot mate!


  31. (=
    Awesome Tutorial Guys

  32. Nice tutorial.. Made this as my first ever photoshop image ๐Ÿ™‚
    Im very proud and will recommend this site to everyone

  33. This is what I got, it was pretty nice :3

  34. Thanks for the tutorial!

  35. Very dope tutorial, shoudlve checked this one out earlier as I already made a couple of sigs…But since the majority of them sucked I wanted to start over. The outcome is pretty bad but I learned a lot from this tut!!!

  36. not bad for the 1st time isn’t it?

  37. not bad bro !


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