Metal/Wood Grain Tutorial

This tutorial covers how to create a stainless steel or a wood grain texture in Photoshop. Shortcut keys will be listed bolded, in parentheses.

  1. Create a new document: File > New... Any size document will do, as long as its bigger than 400x400.

  2. Set the foreground color using these values (r:128 g:127 b:132). Using the Paint Bucket tool (G), fill the entire document.

  3. If you're working with a Background Layer, double-click the layer to change it to a normal layer. The layer name will change to "Layer 0".

  4. Two ways to do this:

    1. Select the Shapes tool(s), (U) or (Shift+U), depending on if you want to use a regular shape, or a custom shape. Make sure that the Paths option is selected (in the Shapes tool bar) 1. Now click+drag to create your shape.

    2. Select the Path Selection tool (A), right+click on your path and choose Make Selection.... Leave all the default options the way they are, ie: feather radius = 0, anti-alias (checked), and click OK. OR

    3. Press (M) or (Shift+M) for the Rectangular Marquee tool.

  5. Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise... and use these settings:

    Amount: 25%

    Distribution: Gaussian

    Monochromatic: (checked).

    Click OK.

  6. Now, go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur... use these settings:

    Angle: 0°

    Distance: 20.

    Click OK.

  7. Selection should still be active. Right-click anywhere around the selection or inside of it, and select Select Inverse. Now press (delete), to clear the selection. 2

  8. Now click outside the selection to clear it. Now, go to Layer > Layer Style > Bevel and Emboss (or use the Fx shortcut on the Layers palette). Play around till you find something you like =)

To create just a simple, tileable texture:

  1. On step 1, use a size that is easily tileable (something less than 256x256). Flatten the image after step 2. Skip steps 3 and 4, 7 and 8.

  2. After step 6, go to Filter > Other > Offset, and set your horizontal offset to half of your document width. Do the same for the vertical offset (half of document height) just to check it; this is usually fine. Make sure that Wrap Around is selected in Undefined Areas. Click OK. You'll have a seam down the middle of the document.

  3. Now, go to Image > Canvas Size..., and change the Canvas extension color to match the color fill of the document. Making that the anchor is set to the middle, change the document height to ~50 greater than the current document height, and click OK.

  4. Using the Rectangular Marquee tool, make a narrow (not more than 100 pixels) selection around the entire length of the seam in the middle of the document. Right-click and select Feather... Change the value to somewhere between 12 and 25 pixels. Click OK.

  5. Go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur... and use the same settings for step 7. Click OK. Use Canvas Size... again but subtract the ~50 pixels that you originally added to the height.

  6. Go to Filter > Other > Offset, to test your tile.

Now, you should be finished!

Additional Tips and Tricks

  • Turn the tileable image you created above into a pattern that can be used in Layer Styles by pressing Ctrl/CMD+A, then going to Edit > Define Pattern... Name it something like "Steel/Wood Grain" and press enter.

  • You can use any color for the process detailed above, or you can keep the gray but use the Color Overlay Layer Style to adjust the appearance of your creation.


  1. In Photoshop CC 2018/19, this option is a drop-down—a change from the icon that was used with Photoshop CS when I originally wrote this tutorial in 2005. 

  2. Photoshop CC — pressing (delete) if the layer is a background layer will open the Fill dialog. 

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