Design insights & tutorials.

Aged Type Effect in Photoshop (w/Ps Action)

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While working on the poster for DIT Fest last week I managed to create an impressive text effect that I will likely reuse for awhile. It’s very subtle and does not look like a filter. I’m simply adding a slightly aged, worn, or screen-printed look to any typeface. You can even apply this effect to any solid color shape or vector graphic for a hand-made screen-printed look—all done in Photoshop.


  • Create your type as you normally would
  • Rasterize the type
  • Add noise, around 25%. Be sure the check the ‘Monochromatic’ checkbox.
  • Adjust the Input Levels, bring the black level up to about 70
  • Run a very slight Gaussian Blur on your type – like 1 or 2 px
  • Run Smart Sharpen to remove the blur but keep some of the organic distressing / softening that occurs. Like 200% for the amount and about 15 for the radius.
  • Adjust Levels again – bring black up to about 50 and white down to 69.

Or just download the Aged Text Effect Photoshop Action (48009) and never have to remember how to do it again.

If you want to take it further:

Buy our Stamp Effect actionmore info

See example images:


About the Author, Jeff Finley

I'm a partner at Go Media, a Cleveland web design and development firm. We also specialize in print design and branding. I started Weapons of Mass Creation Fest and wrote the book Thread's Not Dead, teaching artists and designers how to start a clothing company. In my spare time, I write songs and play drums in Campfire Conspiracy. I'm a happy husband and an aspiring b-boy and lucid dreamer.
Discover More by Jeff Finley


We want to hear what you have to say. Do you agree? Do you have a better way to approach the topic? Let the community know by joining the discussion.

  • Colorburned

    Pretty cool action. Downloaded and added to my arsenal!

  • kriscruser

    Nice timesaver. Thank you!

  • nickhealy

    thanks! this will definitely come in handy. Plus, that poster came out sweet!

  • Matt Bryant

    Very sweet, thanks.

  • George Coghill

    Nice tip Jeff, and the Photoshop action makes it even better!

  • joe

    Nice, seems a bit similar to Cameron Moll's Wicked Worn effect.

    Definitely easier to remember though. :)

  • Donna

    What a cool effect. Thanks so much for the action.

  • infectedrobot

    very cool tutorial, but i think this can be done with some grunge brushes.

  • Janne Gylling

    I agree. Brushes and mask would be easier and you don´t have to convert text.

    • Adam Merkison

      Yeah, but if you’re doing mass amounts of text, that’d take far longer than an automated approach.

  • bluetooth speakers

    Really cool tutorial I am agree with this and simply agree with this.
    Anyways thanks for the intelligent post.

  • Simon H.

    Nice one. But there are many ways to do that :-) A little layer mask on the text layer, some grunge brushes…

  • richn

    you might like this, not cheap, but impressive

    By the way, whats the font used for the very top image (aged type with the ps logo)?

  • George Coghill

    Although if you want to use this as an action, the grunge brush method won't work.

  • infectedrobot

    yeah, thats right, but if you are using brushes you dont need to use the action.
    i think there is more control using brushes and you can add a lot of diferent details in the illustration.

    just my opinion

  • George Coghill

    Agreed, but in this case for lots of body text (per Jeff's design example), I'd go with Jeff's automated approach. For something more detailed or larger/prominent, hand-crafted with grunge brushes would give a more polished-looking effect.

  • George Coghill

    The header image font is Rockwell Standard, probably bold or extra bold.

  • infectedrobot

    yeah, i agree with that.

    even do if you have a cool brush in high res, one click and you are done.

    anyway, this method is very cool

  • richn

    ah thanks had forgotten about that one!

  • vailancio

    Dame useful. Thanks

  • Heeectooor

    When I apply this action on a brown colored text, it gets all noisy and illegible. Must it be applyed only to black text or otherwise it looks awful?

  • jeff_finley

    Yeah, if it only works well on black text, you can just change the color later.

  • jeff_finley

    Sure, grunge brushes are one way to distress type, but sometimes it looks too “brushy” if you know what I mean. This effect is more uniform and anonymous. Certain grunge brushes call too much attention to themselves. I think it's best to use a combination of a global aging technique like this and spot distressing with grunge brushes or textures.

  • infectedrobot

    yes, you are totally right, some brushes are too famous, i is that what you mean, probably the best way to do it is using your own brushes. i think this method is really cool to distress all the illustration at once and then use some stuff, so i agree with you,
    but also i think that it depends on what brushes you use.

    even do as i said before, this technique is really cool

  • Ken Turner

    As a Ps beginner, not sure I understand what you mean by adjust Input Levels. Clarify, please? Thanks.

  • mike_r

    hey, Ken! Go to Mode > Adjustment > levels. thats the inputs levels. this is a cool way to distress some type, never thought of doing it this way.

  • George Coghill

    @mike_r – thanks for clarifying that for Ken.

  • Shawn_C

    Really great Jeff! Thanks!

  • Ivan Mišić

    Great share Jeff

  • Defunkt Shirts

    Awesome work. And thank you!

  • Ken Turner

    Thanks for the info. Very helpful.

  • johny

    its the best … great work

  • Alexander

    I published this action at

  • lawoman

    Nice action, very quick and easy.

  • sean

    wow, it's nice action, i would have it, but download link is missing…
    can you guys fix it up, please??

  • Jamie Allsop

    Thanks for the tutorial, this looks very quick and easy to do.

  • etty

    Pretty cool action. Downloaded and added to my arsenal!
    dizi izle

  • etty

    Pretty cool action. Downloaded and added to my arsenal!
    dizi izle

  • Matt

    Thanks for this nice work!
    dizi izle

  • Sandy_in_MD

    Cool effect – thanks for creating and sharing the action to achieve this look!

  • Clippingimages

    superb share…nice action and the tutorial…

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    You have good tutorials and i had post it on my website.

  • David Emery

     Hi – does anybody have a working link for this action? Neither of the links above seem to work! Thanks

    • Justin Feroz

       right click (ctrl click) and save as…

  • David Emery

     Hi – does anybody have a working link for this action? Neither of the links above seem to work! Thanks

  • John Cole

    nice and useful…thx

  • HeroicTuts

    Tried it and Liked it ! Thanks for the action.

  • Anonymous

    This works great for me. I’ve been trying to get this “hastily screen-printed poster” look for a while with only limited success. Try throwing a subtle “render clouds” effect into the action if you’re looking to get a a little more randomness to the grain.

  • panax

    Very cool and interesting article

  • panax

    Very cool and interesting article

  • Vance Carlisle

    hate to be a dope, but how do you “load” the action once you’ve downloaded it? thx

  • Ayden Gotzmer

    Can’t seem to get these to work….=/ The type doesn’t normalize when I finish the levels. Could it be because I’m starting with colored type? Tried the action as well and it doesn’t work–keeps saying the “commands don’t exist”

  • Adrienne

    I am trying to achieve this exact effect, and have been searching online everywhere to figure out how to do it, but, both when I employed your Action and when I went through your steps myself, the result was a crazy bright yellow (my starting text color is a dark green), multi-colored, pixelated-looking mess. When I hit “play” on your Action, Photoshop notifies me that I can not add Noise, and so on. I have CS3. What am I missing? Thanks!