Create a wood background in Photoshop

Wood Background Tutorial

In this Photoshop tutorial, we are going to create a wood background. We are going to create the wood from scratch and turn it into a pattern. Then we will finish it off by adding some lighting and texture effects.

What you’ll need:

Adobe Photoshop

Step 1

Create a new document in Photoshop. You can make your document pretty much any size you want depending on how you are going to use it. I’m going to make mine 1680×1050 at 72 pixels/inch so I can use it as a background wallpaper.

Wood Background Tutorial

Step 2

Now we are going to create our first board. To do this click on the marquee tool, then at the top, in the options bar, change the style to fixed size. Change the size to 90x325px and click on your document. This will create a box the exact size we specified.

Wood Background Tutorial

Step 3

Lets fill our box with a brown color. It doesn’t have to be the same exact brown I am using, just something that would be a good base wood color.

Create a new layer (Control + Shift + N) and fill the box with the brown we picked.

Wood Background Tutorial

Step 4

To get the grain of the wood, we are going to Control + click on the board layer to select it. Create a new layer (Control + Shift + N) and fill it with black.

Wood Background Tutorial

Step 5

Go to Filter>Render>Fibers. Play around with the Variance and Strength until you get something like what I have. Since the fibers are randomized, yours probably isn’t going to look exactly like mine, but get something where there is some contrast.

Wood Background Tutorial

Step 6

Deselect the box Control + D. Go to Filter>Blur>Motion Blur. Change the distance to 345px.

Wood Background Tutorial

Step 7

Make sure you are on the fiber layer we just made, then Control and click on the board layer. Do Control + Shift + I to get the inverse selection and delete the fiber area that is outside of the board.

Change the blend mode to Overlay and change the opacity to 30%.

Wood Background Tutorial

Step 8

Now we are going to add some styles to our board layer.

First go into the inner shadow. This is going to give us a little more depth to the board.

Second, we are going to add a bevel and emboss. This will give it a slight 3D look and help to make it pop. The contour will make the bevel a little sharper.

Wood Background Tutorial

Step 9

Now we don’t want every board to be the same so we are going to create another one by repeating steps 3 through 8. This board will be different because when we create the fibers in step 5, the fibers always come out different, which will give us different grains in the wood.

We’ll only do two different boards to keep our pattern fairly simple.

Wood Background Tutorial

Step 10

Fill the background layer with black so that when we put our boards together, if there is any spaces in between boards, white won’t show through.

Before we go any further we want to make sure that the boards and their grain are in two folders “board 1” and “board 2”.

Now to start creating the patterns we are going to click on the “board 1” folder. Do Control + T to get the transform box around the board.

Click and drag guides so the go through the middle plains as well as on each edge of the board.

Click on the “board 2” folder and do Control + T. This will put the box around it. Like the top of the box with the middle guide of “board 1”. Line up “board 2” so the top aligns with the horizontal middle and left guides.

Wood Background Tutorial

Step 11

We are going to duplicate “board 2” by right clicking on the folder and doing “Duplicate Layer Set”. Bring that new board, “board 3” over to the right side of “board 1”.

Wood Background Tutorial

Step 12

We are going to add guides to boards 3 and 4 like we did in step 10.

Now we are going to duplicate “board 1” and move it down so the top is touching the bottom of the original “board 1”.

We are going to do the same thing with boards 2 and 3 except we are going to move them up.

You should end up with 6 boards, and something like I have below.

Wood Background Tutorial

Step 13

I am going to add some nails to our boards, to give it more of a real look. The reason why I’m doing it now and not when we first made them is because this way we can set them up slightly differently on each one so they aren’t all on the same spot on every board and it isn’t as obvious that it is a pattern.

Start off by clicking on the Circular Marquee tool. Change the style to fixed size and then make the size 7x7px. Fill with a dark gray color.

Go into the layer styles then click on the drop shadow. Change the settings as I have them.

Now go into bevel and emboss and change the settings like I have them. This should give you the look of a nail in the wood.

Now you can duplicate it with Control + J and put two on the ends of each board.

Wood Background Tutorial

Step 14

Now we are going to merge all of the boards so we can turn them into a pattern.

First click on the eye to the left of the background layer. Now click on the arrow on the top right of the layers palette and go to merge visible.

Click on the eye to the left of the background layer to show the background again.

Wood Background Tutorial

Step 15

To get the pattern click on the square marquee tool and make sure the style is normal. Make a box along the guides as I have.

Go to Edit>Define Pattern. Rename the pattern “Wood”.

Wood Background Tutorial

Step 16

We can click and drag our board layer to the trash. Then go to View and clear guides.

Create a new layer called “boards”. Click on the pattern tool, select the patter we made, and paint the entire area.

If you don’t see the pattern tool, it will be under the clone tool in the tool bar.

Wood Background Tutorial

Step 17

Now we have our seamless wood pattern we can add some effects to it to make more interesting.

Using the circular marquee tool change the feather to 100px in the options bar at the top, then create a circle the same size as the document. Holding down shift use the up arrow to move the middle of the circle to the top of the document, so just the bottom half of the circle is showing. Fill with an orange color.

Wood Background Tutorial

Step 18

With the marquee still selected, do Control + Shift + I to get the inverse selection and move it down towards the bottom. Create a new layer and fill with black.

You’ll probably have a line at the top of the black that we don’t want. To get rid of this we are going to go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and change the radius to 35px.

Wood Background Tutorial

Step 19

Using the circular marquee tool again, with the 100px feather make a smaller circle with the top half above the top of the document. Fill with white. Change the blend mode to Overlay.

Wood Background Tutorial

Step 20

Repeat step 19 with a smaller circle at 50% opacity.

Wood Background Tutorial

Step 21

We are going to go in and change our levels to give our image more of a contrast.

Wood Background Tutorial

Step 22

Let’s go in and put a texture in. I’m going to go to Zen Textures to get this film texture.

Using Control + T, shrink it down to size.

Change the blend mode to Overlay at 40%.

Wood Background Tutorial

Step 23

Finally we are going to reduce the saturation. Go into Hue/Saturation and change the saturation to -15.

Wood Background Tutorial


There we have it a wood design that can be used as a desktop wallpaper, background for your website or whatever else.

Wood Background Tutorial

Here is an alternate version I created with a combination of this tutorial and the “Create 3D text with some extreme lighting” tutorial.

Wood Background Tutorial

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Only comments in English will be approved!


  1. 11/05/2011

    I always follow your site thank you.

  2. 27/05/2011

    thanks nice site.

  3. 07/09/2011

    Maybe you must update any perl remote computer against your hosting company, Wp is definitely kinda sluggish.

  4. 24/09/2011

    I’ve learned a lot of things reading this tutorial and the final rendering is like a piece of cake that you want to eat, it’s great ! Thanks for this great time :)

  5. 17/10/2011

    I like it dear. its a beautiful way for Learning. Thank You Dear

  6. 18/12/2011

    Yeah bookmaking this wasn’t a speculative conclusion outstanding post!

  7. 03/01/2012

    I think, that you commit an error. Write to me in PM, we will talk.

  8. 08/01/2012

    Tyler, this was a great tutorial, but you totally blew me away with the last image with the extreme lighting! You are one talented designer. Sooo… now I’m off to learn how to do that one :-)