Photoshop: Candy Cane Text

To continue with this month’s holiday themed tutorials, we’re going to create candy cane text! Perfect for your digital holiday decorations or cards!


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The first thing we’re going to do is create the texture. Create a new document with the dimensions 100px by 100px with a transparent background. To ensure that our pattern tiles properly, go ahead and make sure that “Snap” is turned on under the View menu. You’ll see why in a moment. I’m also going to drag out a Guide from the left to find the center of my document. (Don’t see your rulers? Enable them with Command/CTRL + R)

Selecting your Rectangle Tool from the Tools Bar on the left, set the color of this shape to a medium red. I used b60000. Once the color is set, drag out a rectangle in the middle of your document. As long as Snap is turned on, your rectangle should snap to the middle guide when you go to position it.

Now that this rectangle is in place, we need two more. Holding down your Alt/Option key, drag this rectangle to the edge of your document. If we were to place this shape right on the edge, we’d have pretty ugly results when we apply the pattern, so we need to place this rectangle halfway off our document. Dragging it off the edge, as long as Snap is turned on, you should see the middle of the rectangle snap to the edge. That’s exactly what we’re looking for.

When it’s in place, I’m going to change the color of this rectangle to be a touch more vibrant. It’ll give us some variation to our pattern. I choose to use e50000 for the outer rectangles. After that’s complete, duplicate this new rectangle over to the opposite side of your document, making sure it snaps into place.

Good. Our pattern is complete. It may look quite boring now, but once we pop some Layer Styles on it, I’ll spice it up! To save this as a pattern, head up to the Edit menu, then down to Define Pattern, then give a name to your pattern.


Good! We’re ready to create our text. The size of your document is completely up to you. I’m working with a 700x500 pixel document. With the Type Tool selected, pick out your font of choice. I found that choosing a font with nice rounded edges works well for this design. “Pooplatter looks like a good choice. Perfectly fitting for the holiday season. 😉

As for the font’s color, I’m going to use a mostly white font, with a slight touch of red. I went with ffefef. Now, type your word in the center of your document. The size of the font is up to you (I used 230 pt), but remember, you’ll definitely need to tweak the Layer Styles in order to get the result you’re looking for.

Now that the text is ready to go, let’s add our pattern. On your Tools Bar, grab the Paint Bucket Tool, then at the top, change the source from Foreground to Pattern. You should see a dropdown appear to the right. This will give us access to the pattern we created a moment ago, which should be at the bottom of the list.

When you have the pattern selected, create a new layer, and fill it with our new pattern by clicking anywhere inside the document.

Now there are two ways of placing our pattern inside our text. Layer Masks and Clipping. Because we’re going to be rotating the pattern and possibly moving it, let’s go the Clipping route. In your Layer’s Panel, right click on our newly created layer, then choose Create Clipping Mask. This will place our pattern inside our text layer.

What’s nice about Clipping Masks, is we can rotate or move our pattern even after it’s been clipped. Entering Free Transform mode, with my Command/CTRL + T shortcut, you can rotate my pattern until you’re happy with the result. I prefer to stray away from a vertical look.

Now some may be completely happy with this result, and you’re free to stop here if you are, but I’m going to go further with this design. Let’s add a few Layer Styles.

Layer Styles

Let’s start the Layer Styles on our pattern layer. On this layer, let’s first add a Stroke to soften up the harsh edges of our pattern. Basically, I’m going to use a light red (fd8c8c) which will go around the edges of our pattern. If we leave the edges too sharp, the pattern can be quite distracting. Setting the size at 2px should do the trick.

The last Style we’re going to add is a Drop Shadow. We’re not trying to give our pattern depth, we’re actually introducing a third color to the mix. I chose to add a green line to my pattern (008800).

Pefect. Our pattern is complete.

Again, you’re free to stop here if you’re happy, but I’m going to add two more Layer Styles to my text layer, starting with Bevel and Emboss.

This should leave you with a nice shiny looking effect. Now remember, like I mentioned earlier, if you’re working with a larger or smaller font, you’ll probably have to tweak the settings to get a nice result. And finally, to pull our text away from the background, add a Drop Shadow.

And that should do it! You can, hopefully, have text that looks like a candy cane!

  • Victoria Harrington

    That is soooo cool!

  • Emily Grae

    Nice! You did it exactly right! I’m am unreasonably anal about my candy canes (perhaps I should rephrase that) and you got it exactly how I like it! I hate when the green stripe is too wide!

  • dane2610

    thanks for posting written tutorial… i can make use it to my lesson in Photoshop..

  • IceflowStudios

    I studied a lot of candy canes while tweaking this design. 🙂

  • Agatha Luy


  • Branden

    Quick question, how were you able to fit a 230 pt font, on a 700×500 pixel document? Largest i found possible was only 60pt. O_o

    • Branden

      Edit: Nvm, i’m so use to using a 300dpi, that i found with a 72dpi, is how you used that size of a font with the size of the document.

    • Branden

      Edit: Nvm, i’m so used to using a 300dpi, that i found with a 72dpi, is how you used that size of a font with the size of the document.

    • IceflowStudios

      @Branden Branden – Yeah, I was working with a 72dpi document. Some fonts are also made smaller than others.

    • WynnAnneSibbald

      @Branden I had the same question – thanks for asking and answering!

      • Branden

        @WynnAnneSibbald No problem (:

  • NickHjorth

    Hey! I actually suggested that, probably not the only one who suggested it, but nice work as always Howard, you definitely are Photoshop guru of the year!

    • IceflowStudios

      @NickHjorth Yeah, a few people suggested something similar. I definitely pay attention to suggestions. 🙂

  • Simon463

    You can create some literally sweet depth with layer styles, especially for shiny objects. You might wanna check out my little design here

    • Shadowfied

      @Simon463 That looks amazing. You don’t happen to have a tutorial on making that design, do you?

  • WynnAnneSibbald

    These are so great – thank you for creating them. I added a Inner shadow at -90 degrees to my text. I think it looks even more 3d.

  • Cloris

    where can I find “pick a solid color” to change the outer rectangles?

  • TheodoreJ.Irelan

    I integrated this into one of the Christmas surprises for my wife. So a HUGE Thank You

  • Shadowfied

    When I did this i found the green drop-shadow to have kinda jagged edges, like it requires anti-aliasing but even with the AA option on it doesn’t look much better.

    Great tutorial, though.

  • BrockCovington

    This was an amazing tutorial! This changed the way I see Photoshop and has helped me so much. Thanks so much for making this tutorial. I can wait for more!

  • PegBrantPowell

    Is it possible to do this in Elements?

    • mshiscool


    • mshiscool


      I did this with my middle school class yesterday. We followed the script/video until after the green drop shadow (we didn’t apply bevel and drop shadow). Instead we applied Layer Style>Wow Plastic>white instead. Not exactly the same, but it looked pretty close to this tutorial,

  • ilikepie1945

    You can also just set your ruler mode to “Percent”, it will help you get the center quicker that way.

  • gbaca07

    HI . I cant get define pattern to show up. I tried everything.


  • gbaca07

    Howard. After I do the ruler and I go to do the retangle shape. the define pattern disappears.

    what version of photoshop are you using. thanks g

  • gbaca07

    is it just me or is anyone else not getting define pattern

    its hard to follow along if I am missing somepartts.

    • IceflowStudios

      @gbaca07 I’m using CS5. Try flattening the image first. Layer > Flatten Image.

  • gbaca07

    the flatten image worked. but that means i cant use the layers again.. thank you

  • gbaca07

    i understand what I was doing wrong. i kept listening to what you were saying and I thought you were saying hold down the alt key. and you were saying the control and the alt key at the same time.

    so when i did that. define pattern showed up.

    i really thing you are doing a great job. I would love if you would go a little slower and show where you are getting certain tools. I am new to cs5. I havnt done photoshop in a while and I always stuck with the clone stamp now I am trying new tools. so when my kids go to school. i hopefully can do this.

    thank you.

  • Great post. <a href=””>Thanks for share</a>.

  • Melissa Jensen

    This is wonderful – I love your photoshop tutorials! But I’m having an issue where the edges of my pattern are very pixelated after I rotate it and I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. Help?

  • Aargaash Rajkumar

    You are amazing, thx for the candy cane tutorial – it works in photoshop CS2!!! 🙂