Deke’s Techniques 023: Creating Synthetic Wood Grain

Those of you who pay attention to this site may recall that, several months ago, I solicited your suggestions for future episodes of my weekly Deke’s Techniques. Well, today’s episode marks the first answer to such a suggestion, one posted by dekeOnline member henrymatt. Many more are to come. (Incidentally, I’m still very much interested in your wants, hopes, and desires on this topic. Please post any suggestions you may have to that same page. Don’t be a lurker; feed my Frankenstein!)

In this week’s video, I show you how to create synthetic wood grain, altogether from scratch, inside Photoshop. If you watch the video—which is is as entertaining as it is educational—you’ll note that I never once mention dekeOnline member henrymatt. And that’s because, miraculous as it may sound, I just so happened to answer his question before he asked it! So please don’t take offense, dekeOnline member henrymatt. I cannot help that my many powers include reading your mind.

Here’s the official description from my buddy Colleen at

If you’ve been following these Deke’s Techniques blog posts for a while, you know my favorite are those that require nothing but Photoshop; that is, Deke takes a mixture of effects, smart objects, filters, and color information, and with no source material whatsoever, creates something that looks like something else. After watching this week’s episode, I know if I were stranded on a desert island (with Photoshop and a power supply for my laptop, of course), I would be able to create 100%-synthetic, natural-looking wood to go with my faux starscape and fake curtains created in previous weeks’ episodes.

The fake woodgrain results from a combination of the Clouds, Emboss, High Pass, and Noise filters; plus an adjustment layer or two and a color overlay effect. After watching this week’s free movie, you will be able to create something like this:

Synthetic wood grain created in Photoshop

Without a single pixel harmed or tree destroyed!

For members, Deke has created another exclusive video inside the Deke’s Techniques course in which you’ll learn how to put several of these wooden slats together and carve a message into them. In fact, subscribers to the Online Training Library can see the entire collection of Deke’s Techniques (which now number 38!), with plenty of great tips and tricks for creating your own world of real and imagined textures, words, and images.

Next week, I’ll show you how to kern the interior of a single character of type. Sound weird? It’s awesome. You’ll see.

Next entry:Deke’s Techniques 024: Hand Kerning Inside a Single Character of Type

Previous entry:Get Maximum Dynamic Range with HDR Pro


  • Great as always.

    As someone always eager to learn new stuff I’m once again grateful of your time and generosity.

    Bit of a Photoshop nut.

  • Great Tut - Thanks!!

    Awesome tutorial…. i’ve been looking for a good wood tutorial.  I think Bert’s are great but this one is pretty awesome.

    I added one more filter, (Distort > Shear), just went back and forth a couple of times and came up with a better wood grain flow effect.  I think it looks even more realistic with Shear… try ‘er out.

  • Good Variation

    Very Cool! Slightly different variation from this old tutorial:

  • Thanks Deke! Looks

    Thanks Deke! Looks great.

    But you have set the bar extremely high for your future answers to my requests. I hope you’re prepared to read my mind for all questions and suggestions I may have from now on. Thanks in advance!

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