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Destroy Text in Photoshop


Destroy Text in Photoshop title postTransform any typeface with this great looking grunge effect in Photoshop, much like the awesome Band of Brothers and 28 Days Later logos. The weathered look is highly customisable, and each result is totally unique – based on the trick that an image is used as a ‘destroy’ mask. This ones a goldie oldie that Ive used for a long time now, but the technique has been refined a bit over the last year – so I thought I’d share!


Base Text

In your Photoshop document, create some white text and rasterize the type (right click on layer, select ‘rasterize’ type). Im really liking Helvetica Ultra Compressed at the moment – so Ive used that for my example! This background was created using textures from the awesome Mayang’s Textures site ;)

Photoshop Destroy Text 1

Choose a ‘Destroy’ Mask

The idea behind this technique is to choose an image that can be used as a grunge layer.. Have a look online and find an image that suits your requirements. The great thing about this process is that absolutely anything can be used; but some images are better than others. Pics with strong horizontal lines work to great effect, in my example Ive used a scratched metal texture from Mayang’s.

Photoshop Destroy Text 2


Paste your chosen grunge image into the document, above the type layer.

Photoshop Destroy Text 3

With your grunge layer selected, open up the Threshold dialog via Image > Adjustments > Threshold. Choose a Threshold level that produces a good looking result, the blacks will be the parts that ‘eat’ into your text.

Photoshop Destroy Text 4Photoshop Destroy Text 5Clear the White

To get rid of the white parts of the grunge layer go Select > Colour Range, when the dialog pops up set the Fuzziness to 200 and select a pure white area with the dropper. This will create a selection around everything that is white – hit delete, leaving you with just the grunge.

Photoshop Destroy Text 6

Tweak as Necessary

Theres lots that you can do with the grunge layer – you can rotate it, duplicate it to add more destruction to other parts of the text or simply move it to a more suitable position.



Create a selection of your grunge layer (Ctrl / Cmd + click on the grunge layer). Go to the Type layer and hit delete. Hide the grunge layer (click eye icon on layer palette), you will be left with your type layer with the destroy effect applied.

Photoshop Destroy Text 7

Bonus Tip

Want to get that gnarly Horror movie look with your new destroy text? Give this a whirl.. Set your destroy text to Overlay Layer Mode, and duplicate the layer (Right click Layer, select Duplicate Layer). The intensity of this effect will depend on your background – so keep duplicating your destroy text layer (set to Overlay) until you get the amount of punch that you require.

In my example I used 4 copies of the layer (set to Overlay), with one copy at the bottom of the stack set to Normal Layer Mode, Opacity 1% (because my background was very dark).

Photoshop Destroy TextHeres a better version, created for a project that Im currently working on.. I spent a lot more time messing about with different layer modes, smudging and tweaking the opacity of the different layers. Lots can be done with this technique!

Photoshop Destroy Text 9


A lot of designers are using 3D software for their type effects now, but I’d argue that Photoshop is still a formidable tool for creating great cinematic text. Be sure to link me to your creations and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Conzz 8-)

Follow on Twitter >> @Conzpiracy

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6 Responses to “Destroy Text in Photoshop”

  1. F5 says:

    this works great!

  2. Fred fish says:

    Great inspiration – and thanks for the link to the site with the texture.

    At the part that you title DELETE surely it is better to just clip the grunge layer to the text layer (by holding down alt while you move the cursor between the 2 layers). Not only is this a lot less complicated it also means that you dont need to rasterize the type layer which leaves it as editable text. Or am I missing a reason to do it the way you are describing?

  3. Wade says:

    If you combine this with some displacement mapping, it could be even more awesome.

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