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Dripping Blood Text Effect

For this free Photoshop tutorial we will learn how to create bloody looking text that appears to be bleeding and dripping blood. This is a great effect for creating titles for any horror or Halloween related project, plus it's fairly easy to pull off. This tutorial is designed to be suitable for both novices and pros alike. And the effect can be added to more than just text; any type of solid object can be made to appear to be bleeding. In addition, this same technique can be adapted to make a dripping slime effect. Here's what our final product will look like when we're done with this tutorial:

dripping blood text effect


blood text, bleeding text, dripping, oozing blood, droplets, streams

Features Used:

text tool, paint brush, move tool, liquify filter, pucker tool, bloat tool, layer style, drop shadow, bevel and emboss, contour, gradient overlay, gradient tool, reflected gradient

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To start, I made a new document that was 800 pixels wide by 700 pixels and filled with white. This will gives us some room to work in.

bleeding text step 1


Now we'll add the text we want to have bleed. I chose the word "Ooze". Select the text tool and pick a font you like. I used a font called Ghoulish Fright that I found on and I made the letters 250 points in size. For the text color, pick a nice blood red shade. I used color #9f0404. Click with the text tool in the middle of the document and type in your text. Don't worry if it isn't perfectly centered since we'll fix that. Here's what I have so far:

blood text effect


We'll need to work with the text as pixels, so we'll convert it with Layer > Rasterize > Type from the menu. Now we'll position the text correctly. To center it, use Select > All from the menu or the command-A keyboard shortcut (control-A on Windows). Now select the Move Tool or press v. Next press the align horizontal centers button up on the tool bar. This will center the text horizontally.

For the vertical alignment, we want the text to be a little above the center line to give us room for the blood to drip down. We'll do this manually by clicking on the image with the move tool and moving it into the proper vertical position with the mouse. When the text is positioned, hit command-D (control-D on Windows) to deselect. Here's what I have at this point:

dripping blood effect


Time to add the drips of blood coming off the letters. This is done with the paintbrush, so select the brush tool or press b. Set the foreground color to the same shade of red used for the text. Choose a hard edged brush (I used 100%) that's 7 pixels in diameter for starters and make sure the text layer is selected in the Layers Palette. To draw the drips of blood:

1. First position the brush inside the bottom edge of a letter where the drip should begin. Be sure to start drawing from inside the letter since ensures the trail of blood looks like it's coming out of the text itself. With the brush inside the letter, press and hold the mouse button but don't move the mouse yet.

2. After you press the mouse button, press and hold the shift key. This constrains the motion of the brush to be either vertical or horizontal based on whichever direction you draw in first. Using the shift key like this lets us draw perfectly horizontal drips of blood.

3. While holding the shift key and the mouse button, drag the brush downwards until you reach the desired length for the drip, then let go of both buttons. Here's an illustration of the process:

drawing a blood drip





Now repeat Step 4 adding as much or as little blood drips as you like. Be sure to let go of the shift key after drawing each drip otherwise Photoshop will connect the drips together. As you choose where to draw the drips, think about how gravity would effect things. Picking bottom edges and points on letters makes for a realistic looking bloody text effect. Also, vary the length of the drips so that they're not all the same and try to get random look to the lengths. Lastly, vary the brush diameter as well since in the real world not all the drips would be the same diameter. I varied the brush between 4 and 9 pixels for this example. If you make a mistake and a particular drip doesn't come out looking right, just hit command-Z (control-Z on Windows) to undo it. Here's what I came up with:

blood text with drips


Time to make the drips look more realistic. When a thick liquid like blood drips down a surface, it tends to be narrower in the middle than it is at either end. Also, the blood tends to pool a little bit into a droplet at the end of the drip. We'll achieve both these effects using Filter > Liquify. When the dialog opens, set these tool options:

The exact numbers are not that important since the difference between a brush size of say 40 or 42 isn't at all noticeable for what we'll be doing.

To start, we'll narrow the center portion of the drips. Select the Pucker Tool which causes pixels under the brush to be squeezed together. Now position the brush just below the bottom edge of the letter where a drip begins. Click and hold the mouse button and drag the brush downward towards the end of the drip in a continuous motion. Stop just before you reach the very end of the drip since we want to make a droplet at the end. Try to move the mouse downward at a constant speed, but don't worry if your hand wavers left and right a little. This will actually make the drips of blood more realistic looking since real drips would waver a bit based on slight variations in the texture of the surface that they're flowing on.

Use the pucker tool on every drip your drew in Steps 4 & 5. Don't click OK just yet since we have one more thing to do while we're here in the Liquify tool. Here's my result so far:

effect of pucker tool


We'll make more distinct droplets of blood at the end of each drip now. To do this, select the Bloat Tool from the palette in the Liquify window. This does the opposite of the pucker tool and it spreads the pixels underneath the brush tip outwards. To make droplets, move the brush so the cross hair in the brush is positioned over the bottom end of drip. Without moving the mouse, press and hold the mouse button for 1 to 2 seconds. The tool will continue to bloat the pixels underneath it as long as the mouse button is down. At the brush rate I selected, it only takes a second or two to achieve a nice droplet. Repeat the application of the bloat tool on the end of each drip. Try to vary the sizes a bit to randomized the look. When you're done, click OK. The result should look like this:

result of bloat tool

This is looking pretty good so far. If you decide you want more blood, just go back and repeat steps 4-7 to add as much as you want.

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The next part of the process is to add some dimensionality to the blood using a Layer Style. We'll start with a Drop Shadow as follows. Double-click the text layer in the Layers Palette to open the Layer Styles dialog.

drop shadow style

The color of the drop shadow I used is #4f0101 which is a very blackish-red (set the color by clicking in the color box of the Structure section). This is a good tip to follow: whenever you're creating a shadow for something like blood that is semi-transparent, always use a dark version of the color of the object that's casting the shadow. This coloring of the shadow helps sell the effect visually.


Next we'll set a bevel on the edges to make the text look three dimensional. Try the settings:

bevel and emboss style

Here, the colors for the Highlight and Shadow Modes are simply white and black. Use of the Hard Light and Overlay blending modes causes these to be blended with the red of the letters to yield a lighter red for the highlights and darker red for the shadows which is just what we want.

Here are the Contour settings I used to shape the contour of the letters and the streams of blood the way I wanted:


Lastly, I added a Gradient Overlay to enhance the lighting effect a little. The effect of this is subtle, but I like what it does.

With these settings in place, our bloody text effect is looking quite nice:

effect of layer style of dripping blood text effect


To complete this image, we'll add a background gradient to give the illusion of a lighting effect. Double-click the Background layer to unlock it. In the dialog that pops up, just give the layer any name you like and click OK. Now select the Gradient Tool and press the d key to select the default colors (foreground color black and background color white) or click on the little default colors icon . On the gradient toolbar, make these settings being sure to click on the Reflected Gradient style:

To make the gradient we want, position the mouse in the center of the image. Now click and drag the mouse at a 45 degree angle towards the upper right corner. Keep dragging until you're an inch or so past the edge of the window and let go of the mouse button. This yields a nice gradient with a white streak in the middle and darker edges at the top and bottom. It creates a nice illusion that there's a light source coming from the upper left, which of course matches the lighting angle used in the Layer Style above. This is the key thing to create the illusion of a light source. If your gradient didn't come out right, just try again and it will overwrite the previous contents of the layer. Your goal is to get the white streak going from the upper left corner to the lower right corner.

And our final version of the dripping blood text effect is this:

Dripping Blood Photoshop Text Effect



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