A colleague from the office asked me some time ago about writing on sand in photoshop. I came up with a quick solution at that time which wasn’t very realistic but did the job. This morning I was fooling around with my tablet when I remembered about this and decided to check how far you can go in Photoshop to achieve photo-realistic sand drawing effect. I am sure there are other ways of creating this effect but this is my technique.
For this tutorial you will need a beach or desert sand photo in a perpendicular view angle similar to the below.
Once you have the photo ready you can begin drawing the shape or just import it in Photoshop. Also be sure that you create a new layer before drawing so the effect is applied only to the shape and not the photo itself. Very important: When drawing or importing a pre-defined shape make sure the color is the same as the sand’s. To get the exact color values you can use the Color Picker tool from the left menu or just press I.
STEP 2 Blending Options
After you draw the shape double-click the layer or right-click on layer and choose Blending Options. In the Layer style window go to Bevel and Emboss and make the below settings. This will add depth to the sand effect.
STEP 3 Texture Settings
To make this more realistic we need to use a texture for the Bevel effect. Click Texture within the Bevel menu, Choose Clouds texture as highlighted below.and add the following values:
STEP 4 Inner Shadow
Now activate Inner Shadow option and add the values as in the image. Make sure the Blend Mode Color is a Darker tint then the sand color. This setting will add more depth to our sand drawing effect making it look like sun is casting shadows over it.
STEP 5 Final Touch
To make the drawing background transparent and in our case make it look like actual sand and not a plain color we need to make the following setting. With the drawing layer selected update the layer blending mode to Pin Light.
That’s it. Now have fun drawing in the sand!
You can watch the video tutorial of this below and also download the source files here