Final Result

Embroidered Text in Photoshop

A friend of mine was working on some logos for a little league team and asked me for a way to make text look as if it had been embroidered onto a uniform.

After a fair amount of experimentation, it turns out it’s not that hard to do — but it does take a little tweaking. The final results are surprisingly versatile.

In this tutorial, we’re going to make the this header for a fictitious sewing blog:


To follow along, you’re going to need this brush and this layer style. (Right click and choose “Save Link As…”/”Save Target As…” to download.) You can also grab them both together as a 4kb zip file here.


1. Create a new file, 900×500. Fill the background with black.

2. Add the text (T) you want to make look embroidered. Use a really thin font for this — the stitch effect traces the outsides of the letters, and if you use something too bold you’re only going to get embroidered outlines. I’m working with Nobel Light. Make sure there’s enough space between your letters to avoid overlapping piles of thread.

3. Click the text warp button on the Options bar.

Choose “Arc” from the drop-down menu and set the Bend slider to about 19.

(You can skip this and the following step if you just want straight letters.)

4. Hit Ctrl+T, rotate the text a bit and hit enter.

5. With the type layer selected, choose Layer > Type > Create Work Path.

You have now created a path based on the outlines of the text.

6. Select the brush tool and load the brush file you downloaded. Change the size to 8pt or so. Make sure your foreground color is the same as your text color.

7. Create a new layer. (Shift+Ctrl+N)

8. Choose the pen tool (P), then right-click on the image and choose “Stroke Path…”.

Make sure “Brush” is selected and the “Simulate Pressure” box is checked.

Click OK. Yay, fuzzy text!

9. Load the layer style you downloaded, and apply it to the stroke layer (not the type layer).

Select the text layer underneath and make the font color a little lighter.

And there you have it. Shiny embroidered text:

10. Find a home for your fine sewing work, like this blog template:

Keep in mind that the brush preset also works as, well, a brush, and you can also use it to draw embroidered-looking things on its own — for instance, the RSS feed icon in the example. Just be sure to drop the layer style on top for shine.

Happy stitching!

42 thoughts on “Embroidered Text in Photoshop”

  1. I can’t seem to download the brush or layer style. You have the most realistic embroidery look on the web! Can you please email the brush/layer style?

  2. Thanks! Try right-clicking and choosing “save link as…” — they should work just fine. Clicking on them in some browsers just gives you the files as scrambled text.

  3. Is it possible to create an animated’Embroidered Text’ using font type Edwardian Script ITC? How hard would that be to do?

  4. Nice tutorial. I modified your technique a bit and came up with even better results that you might enjoy trying out. Adjust the Angle Jitter to Direction, then when stroke the path, make sure your foreground color is set to a darker tone of your final color. (Almost black) Stroke the path twice with that color, then once more with your final lighter tone. Apply the layer style to your embroidery layer and text layer, and voila. You end up with a lot more shadow and a bit of a Anisotropic highlight that runs the center of the text.

  5. best embroidery effect tutorial i’ve found so far – good work – unfortunately it didn’t work out for the object I was trying to simulate.

    for those having problems downoading the brush and style on a mac using safari, pres down the alt/opt key on your keyboard and hold while clicking the link and you should get a good download.

  6. Hello Victoria, thank you for this great tutorial, but I was wondering if you knew how I could edit your brush so that I could make a version for filling in large areas of graphics. I have been asked to mockup some embroidered effects on some graphic patches. So I would need to be able to fill very large shapes to make them look embroidered or filled with thread. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks, Darius.

    1. Hmmm.. that’s a good question! Large embroidered areas are usually made out of stripes of smaller stitches, so you could actually try running the effect on a bunch of vector lines, then masking that to fit the area (and maybe using the effect on the outside edges as well?

      You could also try using the effect on the edges, then filling the middle with a texture taken from a photo of embroidery (something like the shield areas on this?) and matching the color.

      It’s also possible to use the brush as a paintbrush and vary the size as you go — if you have a graphics tablet, setting the scale to be based on pen pressure will allow you to draw stitches of varying length.

      Hope some of that is helpful!

  7. Hey I cannot download the files either. When I download them I get 1 kb files. I don’t think this is the real files because usually brushes are 7mbs and I can’t open it with Photoshop. I downloaded via save target as.. and clicked on it. Can you please send it to my email? Thank you and Great Tutorial

  8. Dhruvin, they’re each 4kb files — the usual much larger files you’re talking about contain sets of multiple brushes, often with complex shapes. This is just one fairly basic brush and a single layer style. I’ve added a link to grab both as a zip file, however — let me know if that works. :-)

  9. I got the files and they work just fine. Thank you, but when I try to create embroidered text I can not get it to be fuzzy. I followed all your steps perfectly except I used red instead of pink and used another font instead of Nobel Light because I don’t have it.

  10. The brush and style should work fine with other fonts, as long as they’re a thin weight.

    Can you post a sample of what your work looks like? I can be more helpful if I can see what you’re getting, but here are some possible fixes:

    If it’s the shape of the brushstroke that seems wrong, and it just isn’t “fuzzy” looking:
    – Make sure you’re not actually hiding a selection that’s cropping off the edges of the stroke. (I keep doing that by accident myself!)
    – Try increasing the scatter slider in the brush settings if the stitches are too close together, or playing with the brush size if you’re using bigger or smaller type.
    – If the font is too thick, you can select its outlines, then contract the selection a few pixels. You can also experiment with stroking single paths you draw yourself.

    If the layer style’s the problem and it’s adding the wrong sort of texture, you can right click on the layer style icon and choose “Scale Effects…” to adjusting the scale of the layer style if it is the wrong size for your stitches.

    If the color change seems to be the problem, try doing it the same color as the tutorial then adding a hue/saturation adjustment layer on top to change it to the color you want.

    Hope something there was useful! :-)

  11. Hello, could someone please give a hint on why my “stroke path” item in the right-click menu is disabled? I have done everything up to that point, but it doesn’t come up with either the pen tool or the freeform pen tool. When I create a work path from the type layer I also don’t get any feedback, other than it appearing in the history and the text looking slighty more antialiased. What am I doing wrong? :) Thanks

  12. Hmmmmm. It’s hard to know without seeing your setup, but here are a couple things you could try…

    — Hit ctrl+H(command+H) to see if you’ve accidentally hidden your outlines.
    — Make sure you have the path active and have selected a blank layer in the layers palette before right-clicking.

    Let me know if you’re still stuck and I’ll try to figure out what’s going on.

  13. Hello,

    I am not sure what I am doing wrong, I don’t see any thread lines, all I see is shading applied to the layer in the back.

    Any Suggestions?


  14. Hello all, I’m from Spain thus my english understanding is not very outstanding. Please don’t blame me. I read on-line forums to boost my english and i tell you that your site was flawlessly readable for me, because the english is truly very clear and all the articles are perfectly readable. Thanks for this tutorial. Will You post a fresh Photoshop tutorial any time soon? (Yamaha R1 Parts – site I maintain)

  15. For the life of me, I can’t reproduce this in Photoshop CS5. I see the same thing that Ayaz sees.

    Could someone be kind enough to post a youtube video demonstrating the steps.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Make sure you are applying the stroke to a blank layer, and that you have that layer selected. I wish I could help more, but I’m honestly not sure what else might be happening! Please let me know if you figure it out. I’ll post an update if I do.

  16. Very cool tutorial. I am using CS5 and menus slightly different, but I figured it out. I did notice however, outline created by create path leaves a little residual, but solved by moving layers around and erasing it. I also experimented with applying filter to the letters too and that produces cool effects, if you turn off shadow. Also reordering layers produces interesting results too. Thanks for tutorial and style and brush. Dave

  17. If anyone else has the same trouble that some of the others have mentioned with the effect working in CS5, here is what you can do: Make sure you have the brush from this tutorial selected in your brushes tool as mentioned in the steps above. Go to the window menu and open the brushes palette, if you notice the brush shape preview on the brush tab probably looks like a typical basic brush. Click on the tab that is called “brush presets” and you should see a sample of the current brush (the stitching brush) in the window below. Click on that preset and then go back to the brush tab and you should see the shape dynamics etc. should now be updated and you should see the stitching pattern in the preview at the bottom of the window. That should be it. Now when you apply the steps with the pen tool the stroke should reflect the stitching brush properly. Good luck!

  18. Indeed a great effect. It is very realistic. The problem I am facing is that I am not able to do the effect against a white background en the text colored. Could you pleae please help me with this ?

    Many thanks in advance,


    1. Hmmm. If the problem is the light background, you could try making a solid color layer with a mask that follows the outline of the text putting that below it?

  19. victoria, I followed every step of your tutorial…but my end result does not look anything like yours. After you stroke the path and apply the layer style what you get is the dark area from the type layer running down the exact middle of each character, whereas in your example it contours the type in a much more realistic way. plus you seem to have threads going across the entire letter, did you add that afterwards?something’s not right.

    1. What version of Photoshop are you using? I made this tutorial five years ago(!) and I haven’t tried it in the most recent versions.

    1. Loading styles should work the same way it does in the image above. Once it’s loaded, make sure you have the right layer selected and click the style to apply it.

  20. I am trying to have the finish on CS6 but I get stuck somewhere on step 9 on adding the style to the stroke…
    could you put some pictures about this step for CS6?

    1. All you should need to do is select the layer then click on the style preset. Or are you having trouble importing the preset?

  21. I absolutely love this, but I cannot get the layer file to open. I receive an error message which reads “Could not place the document ‘embroidered-text.asl’ because no parser or file format can open the file”. I’m running Adobe CC. Not sure if the file just doesn’t work in CC. Please help! Thanks.

  22. This is awesome. Works in photoshop cc, but I did not create a new document, just added a new layer above where I needed text.

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