SigTutorials > Photoshop Signature Tutorials > Beginner Signature Tutorials > Ripple and Smudge Tutorial

Ripple and Smudge Tutorial

Posted on January 22nd, 2007. Written by JaspervD.

In this beginner signature tutorial you will learn how to make a nice looking signature using the smudge tool and some filters.
The final result of this tutorial is the following signature:

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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 didn’t explain in the tutorial.

Never again you will get stuck because you don’t understand something in the tutorial, just take a look inside the .psd file and boost your signature making skills with new technique’s and ideas!

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Creating the background

Start of by creating a new photoshop document (ctrl+N) 380px by 130 px and fill the first layer with 434343:

Now you will need to find a nice looking render. Try to search one that is off high quality and with some nice action and flow in it, I picked the following unreal 3 render. Open it inside your photoshop document.

Saving Renders

Renders often have a transparent background and are saved as .png files. To preserve the transparency you will first need to save the file locally on your computer, before you can open it in photoshop.

Duplicate your render layer, hide one of the two layers and call it "render backup". We aren't going to do something with it, its just to make sure we will have a backup of our render in case we might need it later. Take the other layer (dont resize it just yet!) and place it in a corner.
Now make it black and white (aka desaturate it) by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+U.

Go to filter -> disort -> ocean riple. Use a ripple size of 8 and a magnitude of something like 4, press ok and your signature will now look something like this:

Remmeber the layer with your render on it which we saved? Time to use it! Duplicate it (right click > duplicate) once and resize it so it fits your signature nicely.
Take out your Erasor tool (E) and select a soft brush of around 100px and slightly erase the outlines of your render to blend it in. Call this layer: "main render"

Now we are going to create the cool looking background so pay attention!

Background Effects

Duplicate (right click > duplicate) your "main render" layer 2 times, place these two layers underneath your "main render" layer in the layer pallet and hide one of the two copies for now.

Select the one that is still visible and go to filter -> disort -> ocean riple and again use something like a size of 8 with a magnitude of 4, experiment with these settings to get a different result.

Drag this layer to the left side of your signature and turn the blending mode on Color dodge with a fill of around 80% (this is done to get rid of the colors that are to harsh).

Now your signature should look something like this:

Time to start smudging

Now unhide the other render layer which we just made by duplicating, since we are going to smudge it.

Select your smudge tool () and then load the maple leaf brush (if you can't find it reset your brushes, its part of the photoshop default brushes) and use the following settings:

Set the strenght to something around 50% and heavily smudge this layer. Once finished duplicate this render and move it around, your signature will now look like this:

I hid my render on this picture so I could easily see what I was doing while brushing, this is how it looks with the "main render" layer visible again.

Time for adjustment layers

Your background is now done, we are now going to adjust the colors to make it look good (don't worry if it looks horrible now, thats part of the idea), first I added a brightness and contrast layer (layer -> new adjustment layer -> brightness and contrast)with +20 contrast / +2 brightness between my render and the brushing layer to make it look better:

Notice how the colors are a bit cold and boring? Thats when a gradient maps (layer -> new adjustment layer -> gradient map) comes in handy, I added this one on top of all my layers to give everything some nice colors. I set the blending mode of the layer to Color Dodge and the fill to 40%

Flow and lightning

Notice how the right side of his head is brighter compared to the left side of his head? That must be because the light source is on the right. Add your own light source by taking out your brush tool and on a new layer brush once with a soft round brush, 300px and color white to get something like this: (lower the opacity of the layer if its way to bright)

Now create a new layer and this time select black as your brush color, brush on the sides of your signature, to make them darker and keep the middle unharmed. This will get you some flow like this (I duplicated this layer ones because one layer wasnt enough):

Now create a new layer (CTRL+SHIFT+N) and go to image -> apply image and press ok, after that go to filter -> sharpen -> sharpen. I also added an orange photo filter (layer -> new adjustment layer -> photo filter) in this step, this is optional and ofcoure use a color that matches the rest of your signature.

Now tweak your sig by adding more adjustment layers or whatever you like (a C4D render perhaps?) and then add your border and text. You can easily add a nice border by making a new layer and then image -> stroke, with the settings: 2px, inside and a black color.

This was my final result, I hope you learned some new stuff today and remmeber play around with different settings and try out new stuff!

203 Responses »

  1. cheers man

  2. This was my first attempt. Came out pretty nice, but didn’t know what text to add.

    Made this one for a friend with my newfound abilities thanks to this tut.

    Thanks a ton.

  3. Too much darkening I guess? nice tutorial πŸ˜€

  4. I tried

    • fixed edges

  5. cant even do the beginner tutorials, why do all my attempts suck ass?

  6. thanks for the tutorial

  7. any tips on improving… & good tutorial man.. was simple to follow πŸ˜€

  8. So JU LIAHK ET?

  9. Very nice tutorial!

  10. umm, when im opening the renders, it is opening as another file[ not as a layer =.=]
    Can someone please tell this idiot what he is doing wrong O_O

    • Try cut & paste the render into your workspace. It will become a new layer then.

      • Thank you πŸ˜€

  11. Hmmm, I typed here, but it looks like new comment isnt made.. When i click on ”render” it pops out an errrorr.. Can I find it somewhere else? πŸ™‚

  12. ”Now you will need to find a nice looking render. Try to search one that is off high quality and with some nice action and flow in it, I picked the following unreal 3 render.”

    When I click on render, error pops out… πŸ™

  13. Thanks for the tutorial! I wasn’t sure what I was gonna get as a result since that was my first time using PS (ever) but i’m pretty happy. Thanks again!


  14. very good tutorial, love the result πŸ™‚

    thank you

    • What font did you use for your name djozeph

  15. Great tutorial. Here’s my finished product. Love the results.

  16. First attempt at this type of signature. I’m satisfied.

  17. Nice Tut!! This is what i came up with.

  18. Mi resultado xD

  19. nice tutorial πŸ™‚ thanks.

  20. (GREAT TUT)

  21. Thanks very much Grate tut

  22. thank you very much grate tut ^_^

  23. Thanks for the help. Here’s my result!

  24. My outcome . thanks

  25. Great Tutorial here’s my outcome:

  26. hu can suggest gud font tutorials its my font is so bad :((

  27. What does the 434343 mean when you say it here? “Start of by creating a new photoshop document (ctrl+N) 380px by 130 px and fill the first layer with 434343:”

    • Jonzn

      434343 refers to the Hexadecimal colour code number for the colour of the background.

      If you notice at the bottom of the colour palette window there is a small box with a 6 digit number preceded by a “#”. – this number represents the different shade and hue all the colours in the spectrum. So if you enter “434343” you will get that shade of grey used in the tutorial. Move you mouse over the colour gradient in the main colour palette window and you will see the # number change accordingly.

      Hope that helps.

  28. Thanks Alot For The Tutorial !
    This Was Really Easy To Follow And I Think It Turned Out Great !

  29. Thanks again for another great tutorial. A tremendous help and a real eye opener as always.

    Here’s my effort although this is all new to me, For whatever reason I couldn’t achieve the same standard of effects that you did (possibly down to my choice of render or inexperience with smudging, blending, et al?) but after some tinkering I’m fairly satisfied with this.


  30. Thanks for the tut! πŸ˜€
    This is just my first try but I think it’s kinda good xD

  31. here’s my first try, kinda ugly but whatever πŸ˜‰

  32. i haven’t made because i can’t add an image on background could anyone post the making of these signatures

    use fraps

  33. great tut! very easy to understand!

    • Niceeee πŸ˜€
      Ezio Auditore<3

  34. Cool, the sigs are looking very professional. You can make money with your forum sig, check out to see how.

  35. My goodies. :3

  36. First tutorial i did. quite happy with the outcome, great and easily understandable tutorial

  37. Heres my finished sig. thanks for the tutorial man! πŸ™‚

  38. It is ok i guess πŸ˜›

  39. That is amazingly easy, wow..I thought it was suppose to be as difficult as hell and take forever, apparently not. I guess “quality is not quantity”.

  40. Rate my Sig? Nice tut btw πŸ˜€

  41. Thanks alot, nice tut! =)

  42. This is hard D:
    This is bad sig :'(

    • lol fail

  43. eh…

  44. Very nice tutorial, very easy to use and with an awesome outcome, thanks for sharing.

  45. This is what i came up with from following this tut.
    I like the result. i might use some of these settings for future sigs.
    Thanx for the tut. much appreciated

  46. This tutorial helped a lot since I didn’t know about adding adjustment layers, especially gradient mapping. Although this is almost a surefire way to have a decent signature, I still think that I will need to play around with PS more to really understand what I am doing and why. Thank you for the tutorial though.

    • lol what a shit

  47. My outcomes

  48. Text looks like rubbish. I’m not good at text XD. Btw, Thanks for the tut!

  49. My first actual non-text based sig.

  50. Isaac Clarke

  51. FIrst try…

  52. :/

  53. Got something like that, tut pretty good :]

  54. Heres my first attempt of it, great tut (Y)

  55. I don,t have any text because i,m not good at it whta,s the text font of the tut itself please?

  56. Text font from the tut itself?

  57. This is what I ended up with πŸ˜› Not the best, but better it was my 2nd try xD
    Thanks for the tut!

    Amara E.

  58. First pic in 2 years. not bad i think

  59. Well, I don’t know how… but I got this. =P
    I’m just starting doing sig’s.
    Thanks for this tutorial! ^^

  60. I didn’t do the dimensions you stated in the sig, but here is my go.

  61. My result, anyone tell me what they think?

  62. After i tried like 3 times i

    was most happy witht his one

  63. πŸ™‚

  64. Thats one with a real life picture. Awesome tutorial!!

  65. v1:


    Thanks! Awesome tutorial!

  66. My outcome + Remixed a bit. Nice tut Jaspervd.

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