In this following tutorial, we are going to create an awesome text effect that is similar to the Kungfu Panda 2 movie title using layer effects and some stock references. This tutorial requires some intermediate level skills like working with the pen tools, selections and such things, but a beginner can also follow the tutorial since the techniques are well explained throughout. So let’s prepare for the tutorial of awesomeness…

Before going into the tutorial, let us see how the final image will look like.

Materials Needed:

Step 1:New Document

Create a new document with the size 1280 x 1024 with White as the background color. Fill the background with Black color.

Step 2: Add Text

Now add the text “2” with the font as Molot which is a freely available one and can be downloaded here. Set the font size to 1000 points so that is big enough to fill the background and center it along the canvas , also set the font color to White. The color is not so important at this moment, its just serving as a guide for editing.

Step 3: Converting the text to path

The font needs a little editing , since the front face of the text looks a little flat, we need to correct the same using path editing tools like the pen tool. Before that we should convert the text to path, for this right-click (Cmd-Click on Mac) on the text layer, and select Create Work Path

Step 4: Editing the path

Once the text is converted into a path, now it is time to work on the path , so grab the Pen tool or press P in your keyboard.

Tips for working with the Pen tool

Moving the anchor points

In order to move an anchor point using the Pen tool, press the Ctrl (Cmd on Mac) without releasing the key, you will see that the pointer will change into the Direct Selection Tool now move the pointer while holding the Ctrl key, and click and drag on an anchor point to move it along the canvas.

Delete the anchor points

To delete an existing anchor point using the Pen tool, move the pen tool over an anchor point , the pointer will now change into a pointer with the “-“ symbol , this indicates that the existing pointer will be deleted once you click on it.

Add an anchor point

To add a new anchor point on the existing path using the Pen tool, move the pen tool over the path, the pointer will show you a “+” symbol telling you that you can add an anchor point on the path once you click on the spot.

Dragging the handles of the anchor point

In order to make the corners at the anchor points smooth we need to work on the handles by dragging them across while holding down the Ctrl (Cmd on Mac) key using the Pen tool.

Step 5: Working on the path

Now it’s time to edit the path, please refer to the following images for your reference. Don’t worry if you are not able to get the accurate result as in the pictures, working with the pen tool and getting to know it requires a lot of time and practice, so just try to get some approximate results, otherwise you can completely ignore this step if you are not familiar with the Pen tool.

Step 6: New layer for the fill

Now the editing is complete, so create a new layer for filling the path and name it something like “text”.

Now turn the visibility off for the existing text layer since we won’t be needing it anymore, by clicking on the “eye” icon of the layer in the layers panel. We can now see our edited path clearly on the canvas.

Switch to the “Paths” tab in the Layers panel, and right-click (Cmd-click on Mac) on the path and select Make Selection to turn the path into a selection.

The Make Selection dialog box will appear , press OK accepting the default settings with feather set as 0.

The path will now be turned into a selection.

Fill the selection with white color (#ffffff). Leave the selection as it is since we will be requiring it for creating the stroke in the next step.

Step 7: Creating Stroke

It’s now time to create the stroke for the text, before that we need to create a new layer “stroke”.

With the selection still on, now go to Select -> Modify -> Expand.

Expand the selection by 20 pixels for the stroke.

Now you can see the selection is enlarged by 20 pixels.

Fill the selection with the yellow color #f8f400.

Now we want only the 20 pixel border of the selection for the stroke and not the whole thing, to get rid of the unnecessary fill , Ctrl (Cmd on Mac) click on the text fill layer to select the pixels we dont want, and then click on the stroke layer and press Delete to remove the fill areas.

The stroke layer is ready now.

Step 8: Layer style for the text

Apply a gradient overlay style for the text layer using the following options.

For gradient, the colors are #cd0000 and #ff1a00.

Step 9: Layer styles for the stoke layer

Apply a Drop Shadow with the following settings.

Apply Bevel and Emboss with the options given below.

Step 10: Dragon Tattoo

Import the dragon tattoo vector which can be downloaded from Freevectors. Open the file in Photoshop and press OK for the dialog box which will ask you for the size preferences accepting the default ones.

Now we are going to cut the tattoo from the file, we need only the dark parts from the tattoo for that, Go to Select -> Color Range.

Select Shadows from the drop-down list for selecting only the darker areas from the image.

You will see only the darker areas from the image will be selected.

Now copy and paste the selection into our original document in a new layer between the “stroke” layer and the “text” layer. Name the new layer as dragon_tattoo.

Delete the unwanted parts from the tattoo like the Chinese inscriptions at the bottom using the Magic wand tool or press “W” from the keyboard. Click on the areas to select them and press delete to remove.

Step 11: Editing the Tattoo

The tattoo barely fits into the text , so we need to stretch it to fill the text approximately. For that using the Transform tool , and switch to Warp mode by Edit -> Transform -> Warp or pressing Ctrl+ T (Cmd + T for Mac) and turning on the Warp mode on the top right side of the toolbar.

Now Stetch the tattoo to fill the text layer approximately, don’t worry if some parts of the tattoo scales beyond the text , we will get rid of it by masking it with the text layer. Use the image below for your reference.

No mask the tattoo layer using the text layer. For this, Ctrl + Click (Cmd + Click) on the text layer in the Layers Panel to select the pixels, and now select the “dragon_tattoo” layer and go to Layer -> Layer Mask -> Reveal selection. Or you can simply press the Mask button at the bottom of the Layers Panel. The tattoo now is perfectly masked with the text layer and you wont see anything that goes beyond the text.

Step 12: Layer styles for the tattoo

Apply the following layer styles for the “dragon_tattoo” layer.

The layer styles now applied to the tattoo layer.

Step 13: Light Overlay

The image looks really good now, but it lacks some depth and lighting on the text, for that we need to paint some few white spots and overlay it for better lighting effects. Create a new layer called light overlay

Grab the Brush tool (B) from the toolbox. Select a soft round brush of size about 125px , with White as the color and paint some few dabs here and there on the text but only inside the stroke.

Change the blending mode of the layer to Overlay

Step 14: Add some text

Now we are almost done, now add some text at the bottom and apply the following layer styles to the bottom text.

Bevel and Emboss

Gradient Overlay

The Gradient overlay settings are the same applied above to the text layer in Step 8.


Finally here is our final image with awesome looking Kungfu Panda title like text effect.

We’re finished! Hopefully you’ve picked up a few new techniques and had fun while doing so. Please share any of your personal creations in the comments for others to see!