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Passport Stamp Effect

Photoshop's Sketch> Stamp filter can do a decent job of replicating a rubber stamp's unevenness. But sometime you might want to have a bit more control over the look. Using several filters in combination gives you a lot of options.

I used a couple of Photoshop's custom shapes and some simple text to create a "stamp." I used black in order to appropriately apply filters (we'll change the color at the end), and I've merged my layers into a single layer. (The image is not flattened; the artwork remains on a separate layer with a transparent background.)

NOTE: This artwork measures approximately 470x320 pixels. The settings used in the following steps are appropriate for this size. When applying this technique, you can either work at this approximate size and scale the final product or adjust the settings for the size of your artwork.

Using the Sketch> Stamp filter with settings of Light/Dark Balance: 17, Smoothness: 8 gives this result:

Let's undo this and work through some "customized" stamp making. I'll start with the Artistic> Sponge filter, using settings of Brush Size: 2, Definition: 12, and Smoothness: 5.

Next, it's the Sketch> Photocopy filter, with Detail: 10 and Darkness: 50.

A one-pixel Gaussian Blur follows:

Let's add a Smart Blur. This particular step will make it appear that not only is the stamp old, but somebody's been watering down the ink. (It is, of course, optional.) The settings used are Radius: 0.6, Threshold: 0.1, Quality: High, Mode: Edge Only.

Immediately go to Edit> Fade Smart Blur. The Fade command is available only immediately after applying a filter or adjustment. If you so much as use the Save command beforehand, Fade is not available. I reduced the opacity of the Smart Blur filter's impact to 26%.

To add some color, use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. I checked the Colorize box, set the Hue to 360 degrees, the Saturation to 63, and the Lightness to 41.

To finish things off, I pasted the stamp into my "passport" and used the Layer Style dialog box's Blend If sliders to let the background show through and to break up the stamp even more.

Passport Stamp Effect

There are most certainly endless variations on this technique. Different settings, different filters, whatever suits your fancy. Like most tricks and techniques, it's good to experiment and modify the steps to suit your needs and artwork.


Pete Bauer

Pete Bauer is the Help Desk Director for NAPP, as well as a Contributing Writer for Photoshop User and Mac Design magazines. His books include "Special Edition Using Adobe Photoshop 7" (with Jeff Foster), "Special Edition Using Adobe Illustrator 10," "Sams Teach Yourself Adobe Illustrator 10 in 24 Hours" (with Mordy Golding), and "Special Edition Using Adobe Illustrator 9." Pete writes documentation for a variety of computer graphics related products, as well as testing software for a number of companies. As a computer graphics efficiency consultant, Pete specializes in customized training programs. He is based in Columbus, Ohio, and can be contacted via Email.

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