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Tutorial: Create a hard beveled stoney text effect!

Written by · Created on Feb 15, 2013, last updated over 11 years ago CC BY-NC License


This tutorial shows you how to create a hard beveled text on a stoney surface with some special shadows. I took that idea from the Game of Thrones facebook page, where they had a similar effect on their title image.

Tutorial details

  1. 1

    The tutorial is splitted into 3 parts (beveled text, stoney background and an interesting long shadow)

    Let’s make the beveld text first.

    Create a 1200×500px image with black background.

    Choose the Text Tool, set the size to 250 and choose a medium gray as text color (i.e. #808080). Then write something into the middle of the screen. I chose the date of the season 3 premier of Game of Thrones.

  2. 2

    To easily center the text use the alignment tool (1). Click on the text on the canvas (2), then center horizontally and vertically by clicking the appropriate buttons (3).

  3. 3

    Go to Layer / Layer to Image Size. This discards the text information.

    For the bevel we need a channel that will contain the information where the bevel of the text should reflect light and where not. A channel can only contain black, white and shades of gray. For the kind of thing we want to do it should contain a blurred version of the text we just created. The quick and dirty way to do this is:

    • Right click the text layer in the layers stack and choose “Alpha to selection”. (alternatively holt ALT and click the layer thumb in the stack [ALT+WINDOWS in Ubuntu])
    • Menu: Select / Feather: at least 15px with the size of the text we just wrote.
    • Select / Save to channel – This will activate the channels stack.
  4. 4

    Disable the Selection by clicking CTRL+SHIFT+A or Select / None.

    We’ve got a blurred version of the text now in our channels stack. To use it switch back to the layers stack and click the text layer to activate it.

    Go to Filter / Map / Bump-Map and use the values from the image. Don’t forget to choose the channel mask we’ve just created in the Bump map drop down menu!

  5. 5

    Now we’ve got a nice and sharp beveled text.

    Time for the stoney background:

    Select the background layer. Fill it with a darker gray: #4e4e4e. Then fo to Filter / Noise / HSV Noise (values 2/15/0/11).

  6. 6

    Create a new transparent layer above the Background layer.

    Window / Dockable Dialogs / Paint dynamics. click the “new dynamics” button. Check these values:

  7. 7

    We need some kind of grungy texture now. I’m combining 3 brushes with paint dynamics to get a nice texture.

    Set the FG/BG color to a dark gray and white (The "color"+"random" value in the paint dynamics gives you a random color from the gradient thats selected. Normally you’ll have a FG-BG-gradient, so if you paint you’ll get a random color out of the current gradient).

    Choose the Paintbrush tool. First choose the “Galaxy Big” brush (Opacity 25%, Size: ~200px). Paint randomly on the canvas, as seen on the picture. Next repeat the painting with the brush “Sponge 02”. Then a third time with “Sponge 01”. You could also experiment with other brushes (brush: texture four and three)

  8. 8

    After you got a nice random texture go to Filter / Distorts / Emboss (values: “Emboss”, 112, 11, 1).

  9. 9

    The color shadings are pretty plain – so we need to make this more interesting. Choose the Dodge/Burn Tool, use a special brush – I used “texture four” brush to dodge and burn some areas of the background.

    I also lowered the opacity (to 90%) a bit of this layer so that the noisy BG layer is sligtly visible.

  10. 10

    Lets do the special shadow now:

    What I didn’t want was a normal drop shadow, since that does not fit the light direction. I wanted a more interesting, a long shadow.

    • To do it duplicate the date layer. (1)
    • Select the duplicate and move it above the dates layer.
    • Click teh “Lock transparency” field (found above the layers stack and below the layers mode drop down menu) (see 2 in image)
    • Set black as FG color. Fill the layer with pure black by going to Edit “Fill FG color”. (3)
  11. 11
    • Unlock transparency of the layer again
    • Filter / Blur / Motion Blur: Linear / 50 / 320.

    The “shadow” is pretty soft now.

  12. 12

    The scene is more intense if the shadow is a little harder and darker: To accomplish this I used the curves tool:

    • Colors / Curves. Select the Alpha channel and drag the curve to the top as seen in the image.
  13. 13

    Move the shadow layer below the original date layer. I did some fine-tuning now:

    • On a new layer: I used the blend tool and “FG to transparency” gradient to darken the left top and right bottom corners.
    • Then I chose the paintbrush tool with a very big size soft circle brush and painted over the right part of the image, then I lowered the opacity down to 15%.
  14. 14

    A very small but cool detail was added at the end. I added a slight yellowish color tone to the highlights of the text layer:

    • Color / Color balance: Shadows: 0, Midtones:10 / 0 / -10, Highlights: 5 / -15 / -30.
  15. 15 schwert_raw.jpg

    Triple swords

    After that I did the triple swords effect on the zero. I have attached the basic photo which I used to extract the sword. I masked it, pasted it into my image rotated/transformed it accordingly to be exactly vertical and smaller. I duplicated it 2 times and one copy was flipped vertically.

    Then I merged the 3 sword layers down to one to have them on one layer.

    Photo by Troy2007 on

  16. 16

    I repeated the steps for the long shadow (steps 10-12, but now for the swords layer).

    On the swords layer right click the layer in the stack and “Add Layer mask” – Fill it white. You’ll see the mask right beside the layer you added it to (1). Then use a black soft brush with a small size and paint over the overlapping parts of the swords (2) + (3) so that it seems that they would be inside the zero.

  17. 17

    Finally we’re done! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and I would be happy to see your results ;)


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about 3 years ago

thank you so much, it's a beautiful tutorial

about 7 years ago

Script for Hard bevel text effect has moved to:
Since we moved our forum to a faster host.

about 7 years ago

I thought the hard-bevel effect portion of text is cool.
So i scripted it:

about 8 years ago

This was an awesome tutorial. I was unable to follow one portion but was able to duplicate the effect easily. The rest taught me some new tricks and my result looks great! I did not use the swords as it is not a part of my design. Great tutorial! Thanks for this!

about 8 years ago

My letters look nothing like the above date example, after spending hours and hours messing with this. I wonder if it has something to do with what font you chose. I tried several different ones in Gimp and they all did the same thing: Every letter was stone-cut or beveled like above, BUT each one was a flat plateau on top and didn't come to a nice point like that pictured. All edges were beveled, it's just that the upper parts were completely flat so that each letter still looked almost normal except for a very narrow bevel on each outside edge. Followed the instructions all the way through like a dozen times: same result.

almost 10 years ago

please do a detail "tips 3"

omanhi member for over 10 years omanhi 1 comment rated this topic with 5/5
over 10 years ago

Great tutorial. I am lucky that I discovered this web page. I want to thank the great ideas you give. Thanks.

Sunny member for over 11 years Sunny 7 comments
almost 11 years ago

Looks like you could make a brush from an image of satin, or pool water and paint the letters with it.....and a little artistic smudging and painting to make the the rest.....overlay it on a image of dark windows...

BrianMcBride member for about 11 years BrianMcBride 2 comments
almost 11 years ago

@devvv - could you possibly do a tutorial on how to make the Arrow (TV show by the CW) text effect???

devvv member for almost 18 years devvv 1475 comments
about 11 years ago

Cool result ;) Glad you uploaded it!

BrianMcBride member for about 11 years BrianMcBride 2 comments rated this topic with 5/5
about 11 years ago

Wow! Thanks for this tutorial! With it, I was able to make a banner for my upcoming novel!

Sunny member for over 11 years Sunny 7 comments
over 11 years ago

I was making a vampire graveyard for someone in Second Life. Sonnenschein Felsenbirne is German for for my Second Life avatar name. I used it as kinda a signature on my work and Sunshine Juneberry wouldn't look very authentic... or scary lol :P
But no....not German...Alaskan :D

devvv member for almost 18 years devvv 1475 comments
over 11 years ago

Looks nice too! Are you German sunny? Just thought of it because yourtext is German in the picture you uploaded :)

Sunny member for over 11 years Sunny 7 comments
over 11 years ago

I inverted the colors on some lettering and played with the levels and created a chiseled look in stone....i did it easy but didnt bother to take note of the setting i used when i bump mapped and cant quite seem to get the great results i got on my first go

devvv member for almost 18 years devvv 1475 comments
over 11 years ago

Thank you sunny, I've made this more clear now in step 3/4.

Sunny member for over 11 years Sunny 7 comments
over 11 years ago

I was having same problem using 2.6. I wasnt getting any results until on the bump map menu i switched to the mask channel. then it suddenyl worked.

devvv member for almost 18 years devvv 1475 comments
over 11 years ago

It should work almost the same in gimp 2.6 I think.

In step 3 the channels are active after saving the selection to the channel (GIMP does activate the channels tab automatically and goes away from the layers tab). the "switch" only means that you have to activate the layers dialoge again and click the date layer. (the layers dialoge is active in the image of step 1, you can see it there how it should look like)

beelissa member for almost 12 years beelissa 1 comment
over 11 years ago

I'm using Gimp 2.6 on Ubuntu and I'm lost at step 4. Not sure exactly what it means "switch back to the layers stack and click the text layer to activate it" because I've never used the Channels stack before. However, I tried it several times (yes, I at least know what the Channels stack is) and am following the instructions to the best of my ability, and it doesn't make a bit of a change to my image from step 3. :-( I was really hoping to do this, the beveled text looks really cool! Is this a problem with my version (last time I checked they didn't have 2.8 for Ubuntu yet) or am I just doing something wrong?

devvv member for almost 18 years devvv 1475 comments
over 11 years ago

Thanks ;) corrected it!

over 11 years ago

Step 8 states the Emboss filter is in Filters --> Enhance. For me on GIMP 2.8.2 on Windows XP, it is in the Filters --> Distorts

Great article! I've been needing to learn how to backgrounds like this. And the shadow explanation will come in handy, too.

darkusw member for over 11 years darkusw 4 comments rated this topic with 5/5
over 11 years ago