Stony Text Pixelmator Tutorial



Difficulty: Intermediate



Whenever you have to get across a statement that’s concomitant with nature or the environment you can utilize stock photos of flora to make the idea more pleasant. Follow the steps in this Pixelmator tutorial to create a nature themed typography.

The Layer Masks, Gradient Tools, Brushes, Type Tool and other features of Pixelmator are used in this tutorial.

stony text pixelmator tutorial final

Step 1

Open Pixelmator and create a new document. The image size used in this tutorial is 900 by 600 pixels. Copy and paste the picture of the grass. Then make the leaves of the grass more distinct. To do that go to Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen, set Sharpness to 30% and click OK. Then, open the Shadow and Highlights dialog (Image > Shadow and Highlights), set the Lighten Shadows to 30%, Darken Highlights to 40% and click OK. The end result should look similar to the image below:


Step 2

Now use the Type Tool (T) to insert the text of your preference. The word Boulder is used in this tutorial. Use Franchise as the font, 288px as the font size and black as the color. After that, right-click the text layer and choose Convert into Pixels. This will rasterize the layer making it easier to edit.


Step 3

Next, lets add some lighting effects. Duplicate the layer Boulder and rename it to Shadow. Then, position it below the original layer in the Layers Palette. Go to Filter > Blur > Motion, set the angle to -30°, radius to 10px and click OK. After that, set the layer’s Opacity to 80%. This will generate a shadow effect and help the text to blend into the image more smoothly.


Step 4

Now comes the interesting bit! Copy and paste the metal texture into a new layer. To enhance the details of the image go to Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen and set the Sharpness to 100px. Then, right-click the layer and choose Create Clipping Mask.


Step 5

The text still does not resemble a rock. To make it more realistic, copy and paste the image of the cracked earth. Then go to Image > Desaturate. This will make the image black and white so that the colors are more similar to the colors of a stone. Next, make the cracks and chips more noticeable. To do that go to Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen, set the sharpness to 70px and click OK. Then right click the Cracked earth layer and choose Create Clipping Mask. After that, set the layer’s Blending to Pin Light and reduce the Opacity to 30%.


Step 6

Now let’s make the middle part of the text appear indented. Create a new layer and name it Gradient. Right-click it and choose Create Clipping Mask in the drop-down menu. Then use the Gradient Tool to fill the layer with a white to black to white gradient. Use the image below as a reference and take a look at the tip below if you have trouble creating an appropriate gradient. After that, set the layer’s Blending to Overlay and reduce it’s Opacity to 40%.


Tip: To create a radial linear gradient used in this tutorial open the Gradients Palette (View > Show Gradients). Click the action button and choose New Gradient. Select Linear as the Gradient Type (If the Gradient Type is not visible in the Gradients Pallet, double-click your gradient preset). Now, click the right color stop and set it’s color to white in the Colors Palette. Then, click the left color stop and also set it’s color to white. Finally, add a new color stop in the middle simply by clicking where you want the new color stop to be placed. Then, set’s it’s color to black in the Colors Palette.

tip pixelmator gradient

Step 7

To increase the depth of the image let’s add an emboss effect. First, Command-click on the Boulder layer thumbnail in the Layers Palette to get its selection shape. Then go to Edit > Invert selection to select everything outside of the text. After that, create a new layer, name it White and use the Paint Bucket Tool (N) to fill the selection with white color.


Step 8

Next, use the Move Tool (V) to move the layer White down and to the right. Right-click the layer and choose Create Clipping Mask. Use the image below as a reference for the position of the layer. After that, right-click the layer once more and choose Duplicate.


Step 9

Now, select the original layer White, go to Filter > Blur > Box, set the radius to 10px. Change it’s Blending to Overlay and reduce the Opacity to 30%. Then, change the second layer’s (White copy) Opacity to 10%. Do not use the blur filter on the second layer.


Step 10

Repeat steps 7 to 8, only this time fill the selection with a black color and move it to the left and to the top instead of to the right and to the bottom. Also, blur the original Black layer and set it’s opacity to 60% and do not blur the copy layer, but reduce it’s Opacity to 10%. The end result should look similar to the image below:


Step 11

Now it’s time to add the last lighting effect. Once again select the layer Boulder in the Layers Palette and use the Magic Wand Tool (W), but this time only select the space that is occupied by the text. Go to Edit > Refine Selection, set Smooth to 10%, Feather to 20%, size to -10px and click OK. Then create a new layer Gloss and use the Paint Bucket Tool (N) to fill the selection with white color. The result should look similar to the image below. After that, set the new layer’s Blending to Overlay and reduce it’s Opacity to 50%.


Step 12

The result looks fine already but some additional details will make it even more realistic. First, let’s add some green moss to the composition. Create a new layer named Green Moss, right-click it and choose Create Clipping Mask. Then select the Brush Tool (B) in the Tools Palette and go to View > Show Brushes to open the Brush Palette. Click the Action button in the palette and choose Grunge in the drop-down menu. Select the brush that is situated second from the left on the first row and set the color of the brush to green (#52780f). Then add patches of green to the text. Use the image below as a reference.


Step 13

To smear some dirt on the letters create a new layer named Dirt and repeat step 12, but this time use brown as the brush color (#804000). After that, set the layer’s Blending to Overlay and reduce the Opacity to 50%. The end result should look similar to the image below:


Step 14

Lastly, let’s cover some parts of the text with grass. Once again select the Brush Tool (B) in the Tools Palette and open the Brushes Palette. Click the Action button and this time choose Nature in the drop-down menu. Then, select the brush that’s situated second from the right in the middle row, set it’s size to 40px and the color to dark green (#52780f). Now, cover the lower part of the text with leaves of grass. Use the image below as an example. After that, sharpen the grass blades to make them appear more defined. Go to Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen and set the Sharpness to 50% and click OK.

Then create a new layer named Light grass and repeat the same actions, but this time use light green as the brush color (#b6cf8d). After sharpening the new layer, set it’s Opacity to 70%.


Step 15

Now repeat the actions from step 14, only this time cover the top inner parts of the letters. Use the same brush as before, but set it’s size to 20 px and do not forget to add a sharpen filter to both new layers. Also, reduce the opacities of both layers to 80%. The end result should look similar to the example below.


Step 16

Lastly, let’s intensify the colors of the image so that the final result looks more defined. To do that create a new layer and name it Gradient. Use the Gradient Tool (G) and fill the new layer with a white to black radial gradient as it is shown in the example below. Then, set the Gradient layer’s Blending to Soft Light and reduce it’s Opacity to 70%.



Have fun creating fascinating typography with the help of stock photos. Remember to choose high quality works and be sure to properly incorporate the text into the image.

stony text pixelmator tutorial final


  • Joe says:

    Great as always, but I have to ask… are the two founders of the site not going to post any more tutorials? This site is great I would hate so see it trail off and only be a repository of other peoples tutorials.

    Thanks again – it is always good stuff.

    • Ashley Rich says:

      Hi Joe,

      Thanks for the comment. Unfortunately Jacob can no longer commit any time to the website due to personal reasons, therefore it’s just me running things at the moment. Admittedly I’m feeling pretty stretched, just running the site takes up a lot of my time without producing new tutorials but hopefully I’ll back to it soon. Thankfully Idea Venue has been producing some really high quality tutorials that he has allowed me to publish and for that I’m really thankful.

      I have no intention of letting PXM-Tuts die down and I have a few plans in the pipeline, we’ll just have to see how they pan out.



  • Joe says:

    Awesome. I really enjoy this site. Best of luck balancing everything. I understand how crazy things can get just running the back end of the site. Talk with you soon!

  • Ploughguy says:

    Step 7 has me stumped. But this is no surprise – your average sled dog probably has more knowledge and natural talent for this than I do.

    Coming into Step 7, I have an image that looks like the sample. The gradient is in place. The cracked earth is doing its stuff. All good here.

    Then I almost immediately lose the plot. I guess “the outer part of the text”? means we should select the grass then use “add to selection” to pick up the counterspaces in the letters. I will go with that. So what we have selected is not(Boulder) in Venn diagram parlance.

    Next, “create a new layer” using the “+” operator in the Layers window. The “Boulder” text is now black. “Name it White” – Easy!

    Now to the Paint Bucket Tool. Select layer “White”. Select the Paint Bucket then white crayon (aka Snow) and drop the bucket on … what? Doesn’t seem to matter if I drop it on the text or the grass – the result is black text with cracked earth on metal in the background. I do not see any actual white anywhere. I suspect I am demonstrating that I am not capable of using the paint bucket correctly.

    Move tool – Layer is “White”. Drag down and to the right one gridline. I now have a thin line of grass on the top and left, and the text is now 3d letters with a grass shadow on a cracked metal background. The selection lines follow the grey of the cracked metal. The selection around the letters includes the black letters and the grass shadow.

    Create Clipping Mask – Layer is “White” – result is cracked metal letters (with gradient) on grass with the selection mask where the shadow should be. Compared to the Step 8 picture, I have grey letters where the white letters should be, and a selection outline where the grey letters are. There is no whiteness anywhere.

    I have tried five variations on the above, and I just don’t get it. I believe I have a gap in my knowledge (no! it is not possible!) so I am not interpreting something correctly here, but I cannot work it out on my own.

    Please tell me where I when wrong.

    • Ashley Rich says:

      Hi Ploughguy,

      I think your over complicating step 7. You simply need to use the Magic Wand tool to select the area surrounding the text. With the Boulder layer selected and the Magic Wand tool active click once anywhere but on the text. This will give you the correct selection. You then just need to fill the selection with White on the newly created layer.

      Essentially what you are doing is creating a white layer with the text cut out, if that makes sense. Hope this helps explain it better.


  • Ploughguy says:

    Thanks for the help.
    Something is not right – I Wand the background then the counterspaces in B,O,D and R. Create a new layer. Select it. Spill the white paint on the grass – I get black letters on a steel and cracked earth background. Highly mysterious.
    I’ll go try something else and come back to this one later.
    Thanks again.

  • Omar Vazquez says:


  • Russ says:

    Hi Ashley – great tutorial! ….Until Step 7! Like Ploughguy, Step 7 has me stumped completely. I have done everything EXACTLY as you describe, but it just doesn’t work. I know I’ve done everything correctly, as up to step 7 my picture looks identical to yours (only with a different word), but then after I do the add new layer, call it white, then use the paint bucket tool step, it just doesn’t work at all and does something completely different. Are you sure the instructions are written correctly? Please help – it’s a really great tutorial and everything up to that point was so quick and easy to follow! Thanks Ashley :-)

  • Russ says:

    Hi – me again. I just wanted to say that I skipped the Step 7 bit, to just try and do the rest of tutorial anyway, so I went straight to Step 12 but that didn’t work either – even when I followed your instructions to a T. Any ideas what is going on? I am using Pixelmator Version 2.1.1 Cherry (20831), and I know I’m not just being an idiot, cos like I say – up until Step 7, my picture was identical to yours and it was all going great. Argh! Help!

  • Jacob Bordieri says:

    Hey guys, I’m currently looking at Step 7 and I think an easier way to do this is first Command -click on the Boulder text layer thumbnail to get the selection, then just go to Edit > Invert selection. On a new layer fill this selection with white, then deselect. Move on to Step 8.

    Step 12 is just brushing some green color on the text and the clipping mask confines the color to the text itself.

    Hope that helps, we’ll make some changes to the tutorial.