What is the Photoshop Emboss Effect?

True embossing is done on printed paper, as it requires a three-dimensional surface to show depth. However, the Adobe Photoshop emboss effect manages to look just like the real thing, making text and designs seemingly pop out from the screen. Below, we've shared how to create the Photoshop emboss effect in a few easy steps.

1. First, select a background layer that will serve as your textured paper. Then, create a new layer for your embossed text or design, and paste the object onto the layer by hitting CTRL+V (i.e. the "Paste as Pixels" option). 

2. Position your main layer, and make sure that it's the right size before embossing. Then, right-click on the main layer's thumbnail (within the Layers panel) and choose "Select Pixels". A dashed line should now appear around the layer. 

3. Next, choose the Background layer from the Layers panel, copy it (press CTRL+C), and then click Layer > New > Layer on the top menu to create a blank layer (or press CTRL+Shift+Alt+N). Paste the copied background layer into the new layer by selecting it and pressing CTRL+V. You should now see a cutout of your main design, filled in with the textured background. 

4. Now, we're going to emboss the new layer. Double-click on it and the "Layer Style" window will appear, with a variety of effects to choose from. In the left-hand column, enable the "Bevel & Emboss" option, and then select these settings: 

  • Style: Inner Bevel
  • Technique: Smooth
  • Depth: 1000%
  • Direction: Up
  • Size: 6px
  • Soften: 8px

Play around with the Shading section, and if you have trouble, you can always choose "Reset to Default" at the bottom of the window.  

5. In the same "Layer Style" window, enable the "Inner Shadow" option and choose these settings: 

  • Blend Mode: Multiply
  • Opacity: 10%
  • Angle: 120º (use global light)
  • Distance: 11px
  • Choke: 51% 
  • Size: 16px
  • Noise: 0%

6. Next, enable the "Gradient Overlay" option and make sure these settings are selected:

  • Blend Mode: Normal
  • Opacity: 5%
  • Style: Linear (align with layer)
  • Angle: 180º
  • Scale: 100%

In most cases, you'll want to use a black-and-white gradient to achieve the best emboss effect, so click on the "Gradient" option and make sure the colors are set to black and white. 

7. Lastly, enable the "Drop Shadow" option and select these settings: 

  • Blend Mode: Multiply
  • Opacity: 60%
  • Angle: 120º (use global light)
  • Distance: 8px
  • Spread: 19%
  • Size: 2px   

When you've finished tweaking the Layer Style options, click OK. Now, your text or design should look embossed against the background. If you're not happy with the opacity, gradient, or any other settings, just double-click on the main layer and the Layer Style window will reappear.  

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