Distressed Grunge Effect


Here's how to create grunge or distressed look for your text or image. This technique has you create the distressed texture in Photoshop and then jumps to Illustrator. Skip ahead to step 5 if you already have a distressed texture that's vector.


  1. In Photoshop, create a 5 x 5 in. grayscale document in Photoshop. Make sure the background is white. 
  2. On the same layer and with black as your foreground color, use grunge brushes or Photoshop effects to create a distressed texture. 
  3. Apply Image > Adjustments > Levels and pull the black and white sliders towards the middle to get a black and white image with very few shades of gray. Save your image.
  4. In a blank Illustrator document, place the Photoshop grunge file. Choose Object > Live Trace > Tracing Options. Choose Black and White Logo, check Preview and adjust the Path Fitting and Corner Angle as necessary. Make sure Ignore White is checked and click Trace. Click the Expand button.
  5. Group (Cmd-G) your vector texture and copy it to the clipboard. Open your clean artwork, making sure it's a different color than the vector texture. Paste the vector texture.
  6. For Sample 1 (top left), make the texture white and reduce the opacity to 40%.
  7. For Sample 2 (top right), select both the clean artwork and the vector texture. Click on Divide in the Pathfinder.
  8. Using the group selection tool, click on a piece of your vector texture and choose Select > Same > Fill Color. Press Delete. Repeat this action for the little pieces left (usually there are blank pieces left with a fill of none, stroke of none). This cleans up your artwork so you have a truly one color piece of artwork, necessary for one color T-shirt printing.

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