How to Create Aged Tape from Scratch in Photoshop

By LaurenMarie

The grunge look is pretty popular right now and although I didn’t mean to, the new Creative Curio design is going to have many grungy elements to it. The navigation in particular is using an aged tape graphic created in Photoshop. Want to learn how I did it? Keep reading!

Creating the Master Tape Texture

Before you open Photoshop, you might as well download some grunge brushes (I used these by Tackybrush on Brusheezy) and stick them in the Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS2\Presets\Brushes folder.

If you’ve already opened Photoshop and then you install new brushes, no problem. They won’t appear in the list of brushes to load on the bottom of the Photoshop Brushes palette menu, so you’ll have to go to the Load Brushes option. Now you can just find the name of the file in the Brushes folder you put it in at the beginning.

Start out by creating a long strip of solid color on a new layer with the Marquee tool. I ended up using #EBDDB9 because I liked the effect of the Dodge and Burn tools on it.

With the Dodge andBurn tools (shortcut O), use one of the grunge brushes to create a generally textured background. Set the Shape Dynamics>Size Jitter in the brushes palette to 50% and either set Exposure Jitter to Pen Pressure under Other Dynamics if you have a pen tablet (like the mighty fine Wacom Intuos 6×8) or set the opacity of the Burn tool pretty low, to maybe 15%. You may want to lower the overall tool opacity even if you are using the Exposure Jitter.

I used a lot of Dodge at first (which makes the color lighter) and then went back in a Burned it a bit to give it more variance in color. Don’t get too detailed yet; we just want to break up the solid color.

Next I made some little creases and broke up the edges a bit. Start by selecting little triangles with the Lasso tool (L). Then use the Burn tool on them.

Invert the selection so that you can get right up close to the edge of the burnt area because if there’s a shadow, you’ll need a highlight, too. You’ll have to hold down Alt/Opt while in the Lasso tool to subtract area around the outside of the area you want selected. It’s a little confusing. Remember that you have all the area except the burn area selected. It might be easier to visualize the selection in Quick Mask Mode (Q). The normal areas are what are selected, the red area is masked. Then with this new selection, use the Dodge tool to create a highlight.

Now we’ve created a master tape texture that we can use over and over. This is beneficial because all the buttons will have the same style of texture and the same color (this is the most helpful). Next we’ll create the individual buttons.

Individual Buttons

There are just a few more steps to getting an individual button prepared.

new button layer

Use the Lasso tool (L) to select the new button area and be sure to make the edges interesting! You may want to write out the text first so you have a better idea of how long the button needs to be. With your new selection, copy it to a new layer or just hit Ctrl/Cmd+J.

Ctrl+click the new layer to select it and go to Selection>Modify>Contract and enter 2px. Invert the selection with Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+I.

edge burning and locking transparent pixels

Select the Burn tool and burn the edges—but not uniformly. It’s an organic, natural look we’re going for here! Perfection does not count this time! If you don’t like burn edge results, lock the layer’s transparency and use the Brush tool to paint in the color you do want the edge to be. You can toggle the Eyedropper tool with Alt/Opt while in the Brush tool.

You can go back in and add more creases if you want, too.

Button Shadows

Sure, you could use the Drop Shadow Layer Style, but that’s obvious and not very realistic. It’s super easy to create your own custom drop shadow and have it be much more accurate and appealing.

Ctrl/Cmd+click the button layer to load the button’s shape as a selection. On a new layer below the button, fill the selection with black (or grey).

transforming the shadow layer to fit the lighting

Hit Ctrl/Cmd+T to Free Transform the shadow. Drag (Ctrl/Cmd+click) the corners to sculpt the shadow so that parts that are closer to light source (coming from top left for this example) are closer to the button edge while dragging the corners that are farther from the light source slightly farther away from the button edges. Double click or hit enter to accept the transformation.

new shadow with Gaussian blur applied

Now to soften the edges of the shadow go to Filter>Gaussian Blur and enter approximately 1px (to taste really).

For a more realistic shadow, especially if it is sitting on top of other layers, set the Layer Mode to Multiply. You can also reduce the layer opacity if the shadow is too dark. If you really want a realistic shadow, you can also add a core shadow, which is the darker area close to the object. Simply Burn the area on the shadow layer around the edge of the button.

Repeat the steps for the individual button and button shadow as many times as you need to, selecting a different area of the tape master each time. By using the tape master, you’ll have consistent colors across all your buttons, even if you end up adding one a year later and completely forgot how you made the orginals!

The new button!

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