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Folds And Creases Effect In Photoshop

Written by Steve Patterson.
In this Photoshop Effects tutorial, we’ll learn how to add folds and creases to a photo as if it had been folded and unfolded like a map! We’ll use guides and selections to create the folded sections of the image, some gradients, a layer blend mode and one of Photoshop’s filters to add highlights and shadows, and we’ll give the fold lines a worn out look to them using a custom brush!

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Here’s the image I’ll be using for this tutorial:

The original photo. Image licensed from Fotolia by Photoshop Essentials.com
The original image.

And here’s what the final result will look like:

The final folds and creases image effect. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com
The final effect.

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Add A New Blank Layer

Let’s begin by adding a new blank layer to our document. Click on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel:

Clicking the New Layer icon in the Layers panel in Photoshop. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Clicking the New Layer icon.

Nothing will happen in the document window because our new layer is blank, but if we look in the Layers panel, we see the new layer, which Photoshop has named “Layer 1″, sitting above the original image on the Background layer:

A new blank layer has been added to the document. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
The new layer appears above the Background layer.

Step 2: Turn On The Rulers

We’re going to drag out some horizontal and vertical guides to help us out, and to do that, we first need to have Photoshop’s rulers turned on. Go up to the View menu in the Menu Bar along the top of the screen and choose Rulers. Or, press Ctrl+R (Win) / Command+R (Mac) on your keyboard to turn the rulers on with the shortcut:

Selecting Rulers from the View menu in Photoshop. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Go to View > Rulers.

The rulers will appear along the top and left of the document window:

Photoshop rulers appear on the top and left of the document. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com
The rulers are displayed above and to the left of the image.

Step 3: Drag Out Two Vertical Guides

Click anywhere inside the ruler on the left, then with your mouse button still held down, begin dragging towards the right. You’ll see a vertical guide emerge from the ruler. Drag the guide to roughly a third of the way across the image, then release your mouse button to place the guide. Don’t worry about getting the placement exactly right. As long as it’s close to being one third of the way across, you’re good:

Dragging out a vertical guide in Photoshop. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com
Click in the left ruler and drag out a vertical guide a third of the way across the image.

Click again inside the ruler on the left and, again with your mouse button still held down, drag out a second vertical guide, placing this one roughly two thirds of the way across the image:

Dragging out a second vertical guide in Photoshop. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com
Click and drag out a second vertical guide, placing it two thirds of the way across the image.

Finally, click anywhere inside the ruler along the top and, with your mouse button still held down, drag out a horizontal guide, placing this one in the middle of the image. When you’re done, you should have two vertical guides and one horizontal guide dividing the image into six roughly equal sections:

Dragging out a horizontal guide in Photoshop. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com
Click and drag out a horizontal guide from the top ruler, placing it halfway down the image.

Step 4: Select The Rectangular Marquee Tool

Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool from the Tools panel, or press the letter M on your keyboard to quickly grab it with the shortcut:

Selecting the Rectangular Marquee Tool from the Tools panel in Photoshop. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool.

Step 5: Drag A Selection Outline Around The First Section

With the Rectangular Marquee Tool selected, drag out a selection outline around the first section (the one in the top left of the image):

Drawing a rectangular selection around the top left section. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com
Draw a rectangular selection around the first section in the top left corner of the image.

Step 6: Select The Gradient Tool

Select the Gradient Tool from the Tools panel, or press the letter G on your keyboard to select it with the shortcut (the keyboard shortcuts for the Rectangular Marquee Tool and the Gradient Tool will come in handy in a moment):

Selecting the Gradient Tool from the Tools panel in Photoshop. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Select the Gradient Tool.

Step 7: Select The Black, White Gradient

With the Gradient Tool selected, right-click (Win) / Control-click (Mac) anywhere inside the document window to quickly open Photoshop’s Gradient Picker, then select the Black, White gradient by double-clicking on its thumbnail (third thumbnail from the left, top row). Double-clicking on the thumbnail will select the gradient and close you out of the Gradient Picker:

Choosing a gradient from the Gradient Picker in Photoshop. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Double-click on the Black, White gradient’s thumbnail.

Step 8: Draw A Black To White Gradient Across The Selection

With the Gradient Tool in hand and the Black, White gradient chosen from the Gradient Picker, click and drag out a black to white gradient inside the selection. I’m going to drag mine diagonally from the bottom left corner to the top right corner:

Drawing a diagonal black to white gradient. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com
Draw a black to white gradient inside the selection.

Step 9: Draw A Selection Outline Around The Next Section

Switch back to the Rectangular Marquee Tool by pressing the letter M on your keyboard, then drag out a selection around the next section (the one in the top center):

Drawing a selection outline around the top center section of the image. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com
Drag out a selection outline around the top middle section.

Step 10: Draw A Black To White Gradient Across The Selection In A Different Direction

Press the letter G on your keyboard to quickly switch to the Gradient Tool, then click and drag out a black to white gradient inside this second selection. Make sure you draw this one in a different direction, though, so both gradients look different. This will add variety to our lighting effect, as we’ll see shortly:

Drawing a second black to white gradient in the document. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com
Draw your second gradient at a different angle than the first one.

Step 11: Repeat Steps 9 And 10 For The Remaining Sections

We need to do the same thing for all six of the sections, but it’s just a matter of repeating the same couple of steps for each one. First, press the letter M on your keyboard to switch to the Rectangular Marquee Tool and drag out a selection outline around the section, then press the letter G on your keyboard to switch to the Gradient Tool and draw a black to white gradient inside the selection, drawing each gradient at a different angle to add variety. When you’re done, you should have a gradient across each section. Press Ctrl+D (Win) / Command+D (Mac) on your keyboard after you’ve drawn the final gradient to remove the selection outline around it:

A black to white gradient appears in each section of the image. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com
Each section should have its own black to white gradient.

Step 12: Hide The Rulers And Guides

We don’t need the rulers or guides anymore, so to hide the rulers, either go back up to the View menu at the top of the screen and reselect Rulers, or press Ctrl+R (Win) / Command+R (Mac) on your keyboard. To hide the guides, go up to the View menu, choose Show, then choose Guides, or press Ctrl+; (Win) / Command+; (Mac) to turn them off from the keyboard:

Turning off the guides by going to the View menu, choosing Show, then choosing Guides. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Go to View > Show > Guides to hide the guides when they’re visible on the screen.

Step 13: Change The Blend Mode To Soft Light

Go up to the Blend Mode option in the top left corner of the Layers panel and change the blend mode of the gradients layer from Normal (the default setting) to Soft Light:

Changing the blend mode of the layer to Soft Light. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Change the blend mode of the layer to Soft Light.

This turns our gradients into a series of highlights and shadows in the image, and we can start to see our “folds and creases” effect taking shape:

The image after changing the blend mode of the layer to Soft Light. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
The image after changing the blend mode to Soft Light.

Step 14: Apply The Plastic Wrap Filter

To bring out the fold lines a bit more, we’ll use Photoshop’s Plastic Wrap filter. Go up to the Filter menu at the top of the screen, choose Artistic, then choose Plastic Wrap:

Selecting the Plastic Wrap filter in Photoshop. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Go to Filter > Artistic > Plastic Wrap.

This opens the large Filter Gallery set to the Plastic Wrap filter. The options for the filter are found at the top of the right column. Set the Highlight Strength to 20 and Smoothness to 15 by dragging both sliders all the way to the right. Then set the Detail option to somewhere between 5 and 10. The higher you set the Detail value, the tighter the effect will appear around the fold lines, so keep an eye on the large preview window on the left as you drag the slider and choose the value you think works best. I’m going to set my Detail value to 10:

The Plastic Wrap filter options in Photoshop. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
The Plastic Wrap filter options.

Click OK when you’re done to close out of the Filter Gallery. The fold lines now appear a bit stronger:

The image after applying the Plastic Wrap filter. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
The image after applying the Plastic Wrap filter.

Step 15: Add Another New Blank Layer

Click on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add another new blank layer, this time above the gradients layer:

Photoshop New Layer icon. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Add another new layer to the document.

Step 16: Select The Brush Tool

To enhance the effect even further, let’s add some wear and tear lines to the folds, and we’ll do that using a custom brush. Select the Brush Tool from the Tools panel, or press the letter B to select it with the keyboard shortcut:

Selecting the Brush Tool in Photoshop. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Select the Brush Tool.

Step 17: Choose A Spatter Brush From The Brush Picker

With the Brush Tool selected, right-click (Win) / Control-click (Mac) anywhere inside the document window to quickly open the Brush Picker and choose the Spatter 59 pixels brush by double-clicking on its thumbnail, which will select the brush and close you out of the Brush Picker (if you have Tools Tips enabled in Photoshop’s Preferences, you’ll see the name of the brush appear when you hover your mouse cursor over the thumbnail):

Choosing a brush from the Brush Picker in Photoshop. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Double-click on the Spatter 59 pixels brush to select it.

Step 18: Open The Brushes Panel And Select The Brush Tip Shape Options

Once you’ve chosen the Spatter brush, press the F5 key on your keyboard to quickly open Photoshop’s full Brushes panel and click on the words Brush Tip Shape in the upper left corner of the panel. Set the Roundness of the brush to around 10%, then increase the Spacing option to 50%:

The Brush Tip Shape options in the Brushes Panel in Photoshop. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Set Roundness to 10% and Spacing to 50% in the Brush Tip Shape options.

Step 19: Select The Shape Dynamics Options

Along the left side of the Brushes panel is a column listing various brush option categories (Shape Dynamics, Scattering, Texture, etc). Before we go any further, make sure none of these categories are selected by unchecking any of them that have a checkmark beside their name.

Then, click directly on the words Shape Dynamics at the top of the left column to view the various Shape Dynamics options in the main part of the Brushes panel. Make sure you click directly on the words “Shape Dynamics”. Don’t click in the checkbox beside the words, otherwise you’ll just turn the category on without gaining access to any of the actual Shape Dynamics options.

Increase the Size Jitter value to 100% by dragging the slider all the way to the right, then set the Angle Control option to Direction. Don’t close out of the panel just yet, we still have one more category to select:

The Shape Dynamics options in the Brushes Panel in Photoshop. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Set Size Jitter to 100% and Angle Control to Direction in the Shape Dynamics options.

Step 20: Select The Dual Brush Options

Click directly on the words Dual Brush in the column along the left to switch over to the Dual Brush options in the main part of the Brushes panel. These options allow us to blend a second brush in with our original one. Select the Spatter 27 pixels brush by clicking on its thumbnail, then change the Mode at the top of the Brushes panel to Multiply. Finally, increase the Size of the brush to around 55 px and the Spacing to around 55%. When you’re done, press F5 on your keyboard to close out of the Brushes panel:

The Dual Brush options in the Brushes Panel in Photoshop. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Choose the Spatter 27 pixels brush, set the Blend Mode to Multiply, Size to 55 px and Spacing to 55%.

Step 21: Set Your Foreground Color To White

We’re going to want to paint with white, and Photoshop uses the current Foreground color as the brush color, which means we need to make sure our Foreground color is set to white before we start painting. The easiest way to do that is to first press the letter D on your keyboard, which will reset the Foreground and Background colors to their defaults (making the Foreground color black and the Background color white). Then press the letter X on your keyboard to swap the colors, which makes the Foreground color white. You can see the current Foreground and Background colors in the color swatches near the bottom of the Tools panel:

The Foreground and Background color swatches in the Tools panel in Photoshop. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
The Foreground (upper left) and Background (lower right) color swatches.

Step 22: Paint Across The Fold Lines

If you’re working inside the floating document window view as I’ve been doing so far, press the letter F on your keyboard to switch over to the first of Photoshop’s fullscreen modes, which will make this next step easier (pressing F a couple more times will cycle you through the fullscreen modes and then back to the floating document window mode). Rather than painting brush strokes manually, click with your brush directly above the first vertical fold line (the one on the left). Don’t click and drag, just click:

Click with the brush directly above the first vertical fold line. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Click directly above the first vertical fold line.

Then, hold down your Shift key and click directly below the same fold line. Photoshop will automatically draw a brush stroke in a straight line between the two points you clicked on. You’ll see a thin white brush stroke running down along the fold line, giving it a worn out appearance:

Click with the brush directly below the first vertical fold line. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Hold Shift and click directly below the same fold line to paint a straight brush stroke between the two points.

If the angle or position of your brush stroke looks a little off, simply press Ctrl+Z (Win) / Command+Z (Mac) on your keyboard to undo it, then try again. To increase the intensity of the wear and tear effect, add a few more brush strokes over top of the first one. Changing the size of your brush with each stroke will add more variety. Pressing the left bracket key ( [ ) on your keyboard will make the brush smaller. Pressing the right bracket key ( ] ) will make it larger. Just click above the fold line, then hold down your Shift key and click below the fold line to add each new brush stroke:

Adding brush strokes to the first fold line. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
The image after adding several brush strokes to the first vertical fold line.

Repeat the same steps with the second vertical fold line to paint a few brush strokes across it, then do the same thing with the horizontal fold line, clicking with the brush to the left of the line, then holding Shift and clicking to the right of the line. If it helps, you can turn the guides back on by pressing Ctrl+; (Win) / Command+; (Mac) on your keyboard which may make it easier to line things up. Press the keyboard shortcut again to turn them back off. Here’s my image after adding the brush strokes across all three fold lines:

Brush strokes have been added across all three fold lines. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
The image after adding the brush strokes.

Step 23: Lower The Layer Opacity (Optional)

Finally, if the brush strokes look a little too white and intense, you can fade them more into the image by lowering the layer’s opacity. You’ll find the Opacity option directly across from the Blend Mode option at the top of the layer’s panel. By default, opacity is set to 100%. I’m going to reduce mine to 70%:

The layer opacity option in the Layers panel in Photoshop. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
Lower the layer opacity to reduce the intensity of the brush strokes if needed.

And with that, we’re done! Here is my final “folds and creases” effect:

Photoshop folds and creases effect. Image © 2011 Photoshop Essentials.com.
The final result.

And there we have it! That’s how to add folds and creases to an image with Photoshop! Check out our Photo Effects section for more great Photoshop effects tutorials, or see below for other tutorials you may be interested in!

Download our tutorials as print-ready PDFs! Learning Photoshop has never been easier!

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