Create a microscopic particle text effect in Photoshop


In this quick tutorial, you will learn how to create an awesome microscopic particle text effect which has a realistic, natural-looking texture like a bacteria in Photoshop using plain layer styles and filters. We will play with some layer styles and filters to create our text in a very quick time, the steps are much easier to follow, this tutorial requires no user expertise, even a beginner can learn with ease and create some stunning text effects based on this.

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 of size 1600 by 1200 px with black as the background color.

Step 2: Add Text

Now add some text of any simple, hand-written style font, i am using the font Hand of Sean which can be downloaded from DaFont, about the size of 350 pt of white color. The color of the text does not matter here since we are going to apply some layer styles on it.

Before applying the Layer styles you need to set the Fill Opacity to 0% for the text layer. Since we are going to apply two different layer styles for the text, make a duplicate of the text layer.

Note: This text layer is the base for our design, so henceforth in the tutorial, we will be mentioning this layer as base_text.

Position the text in the center of the document , aligning both the horizontal and vertical centers with respect to the background layer.

Step 3: :Layer Styles for the text

Apply these following layer styles to the first – (bottom layer) text layer.

Bevel and Emboss

First apply the Bevel and Emboss style for the text, with the Gloss Contour option selected as Ring Double, you can find this option by clicking the drop-down next to it, please use the below image for your reference.

After applying the Bevel and Emboss style, our text will look like this.


Next apply the Satin style with the second (top layer) text layer.

Here also, we need to apply a different Contour style other than the default one. Choose the Ring contour style from the drop-down and apply OK.

This is the effect so far with our text.

Step 4: Creating the texture – Reticulation filter

With the text layers ready, next we need to create our texture for the effect. For that we are going to use the Reticulation filter available in Photoshop. Before that we need to group the two text layers, duplicate the group, merge them and rasterize them and finally apply the filter.

So first select the two text layers, go to Layer -> Group Layers (Ctrl + G), then duplicate the group by Layer -> Duplicate Group, then merge them by using Layer -> Merge Group (Ctrl + E). Name this layer to something like reticulation_layer since we are going to apply the reticulation filter on this layer.

Then go to Filter -> Sketch -> Reticulation, use the settings as: Density = 12, Foreground Level = 40, Background Level = 5, use the below image for your reference.

Tip: Using Reticulation Filter

We need to make sure one thing before using the Reticulation filter, that is setting the appropriate Foreground and Background colors for the filter, since the Reticulation filter works with both the foreground and background colors, we need to set them before applying it. As you can see the two options of the filter are respectively named as Foreground Level and Background Level, these two options control how the colors are intensified in the effect. For our tutorial, we don’t need to change our foreground and background colors, since we are using only the default colors black and white, we just need to make sure they are set to default, if not press the D key to set them to the default colors.

After applying the filter our text will look like this…

Now duplicate this layer and apply Gaussian Blur, go to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur with the settings as Radius = 20 pixels and apply OK.

Change the Layer Blending Mode to Linear Dodge(Add) and set the Layer Opacity to 75%. This is to add some glow to the effect because we used the default black and white colors for the filter, our effect will somewhat look dull if we are not adding any additional glow to it.

Step 5:Creating the Environment using Stock image

Our text effect is almost done, but its looking very plain at the moment, so we need to light it up a little, for that we are creating an environment which resembles that the text is seen through a microscope by looking at a tissue or blood sample. We are going to add a stock image for this, grab this stock image called network neurons 1 from SXC provided by gerard79, many thanks to him for providing us a wonderful stock image.

Open the stock image, copy it and paste it into our document , a new layer for the stock image will be created , resize the image to fit into the canvas and then set the Layer Blending Mode to Screen and change the Layer Opacity to 20%.

Step 6: Finishing Touch – Adding a Gradient Map

We are almost to the end of the tutorial, our effect is ready, for the final touch, we are just adding some color to the overall effect. For that create a new Adjustment Layer by Layer -> New Adjustment Layer -> Gradient Map and set some light green gradient for our effect. The gradient colors are running from #008C00 to #4BA614. You can the gradient colors by clicking on the selected gradient from the drop-down.

After applying the gradient map, change the layer mode of this Adjustment Layer to Overlay otherwise our underlying effect won’t be visible in the canvas.

This is how our final output will look like, please also take a look at how the layers are stacked against each other and arrange the same in the order given below for good looking final result.

Finally here is our final image with a microscopic particle text effect with realistic looking texture of organic tissue. There are certain things i want to mention here, please be liberal with the use of filters, choice of fonts , layer styles, and also experiment with the settings while applying filters to get accurate and effective results.

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!