Photoshop Candy Cane Text Effect

How To Make Holiday Candy Cane Text With Photoshop

Written by Steve Patterson.

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to easily create a holiday candy cane text effect with Photoshop. We'll start by making a seamless, repeating candy cane pattern with red and green stripes. Then, we'll learn how to apply the pattern to our text, and how to combine it with layer styles to create rounded, shiny, candy cane letters. At the end of the tutorial, we'll learn how to copy the candy cane effect and instantly apply it to as many Type layers as we need. I'll be using Photoshop CC but any recent version of Photoshop will work.

Here's what the final candy cane text will look like:

Holiday candy cane text effect created in Photoshop
Holiday candy cane text created in Photoshop.

Let's get started!

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How To Create A Repeating Candy Cane Pattern

Step 1: Create A New Photoshop Document

We'll start by making the candy cane pattern that we'll be using to fill the text. For that, we'll create a new Photoshop document. Go up to the File menu in the Menu Bar and choose New:

Selecting the New command from under the File menu in Photoshop
Going to File > New.

In the New Document dialog box, set both the Width and Height to 200 pixels. Set the Resolution to 72 Pixels/Inch and the Background Contents to White. Click Create or OK (depending on which version of Photoshop you're using) to create the new document:

The new Photoshop document settings
Creating a new 200 x 200 pixel Photoshop document.

Step 2: Select The Rectangle Tool

With the new document open on your screen, select the Rectangle Tool from the Toolbar:

Selecting the Rectangle Tool in Photoshop
Selecting the Rectangle Tool.

Step 3: Set The Tool Mode To Shape

In the Options Bar, make sure the Tool Mode is set to Shape:

Setting the Tool Mode for the Rectangle Tool to Shape
Setting the Tool Mode to Shape in the Options Bar.

Step 4: Set The Shape Color To Red

Click the Fill color swatch:

Clicking the Fill color swatch for the Rectangle Tool
Clicking the Fill color swatch.

In the Fill Type options, click the Color Picker icon in the upper right:

Clicking the Color Picker icon in the Fill Type options for the Rectangle Tool
Opening the Color Picker.

In the Color Picker, choose a shade of red by setting the H (Hue) value to 350, the S (Saturation) value to 100 and the B (Brightness) value to 75. Click OK to close the Color Picker.

Choosing a candy cane red from the Color Picker in Photoshop
Choosing a candy cane red from the Color Picker.

With the Fill color now set to red, make sure the Stroke for the shape is set to None:

The Stroke option for the Rectangle Tool is set to None
The Stroke option should be set to None.

Step 5: Draw The First Shape

Click inside the document. Don't click and drag, just click. Photoshop opens the Create Rectangle dialog box. Set the Width to 40 px and the Height to 300 px, and then click OK:

Creating a new rectangle shape 40 px wide and 300 px tall
Creating a new 40 x 300 px rectangle.

Photoshop draws the shape, but not in the right spot:

The shape has been drawn but needs to be repositioned
The shape has been drawn but needs to be repositioned.

Step 6: Reposition The Shape

To center the shape, go up to the Edit menu and choose Free Transform Path:

Choosing Free Transform Path from under the Edit menu.
Going to Edit > Free Transform Path.

On the far left of the Options Bar, make sure the center box is selected in the Anchor grid, which it should be by default. I've enlarged it here to make the grid easier to see:

The Free Transform Path anchor grid in the Options Bar
Making sure the center Anchor grid point is selected.

Then change both the X and Y values to 100 px (half the width and height of our 200 x 200 px document). This centers the shape within the document:

The X and Y coordinates for the Free Transform Path command
Changing the X and Y positions to 100 px.

Step 7: Change The Angle To 45 Degrees

To rotate the shape, set the Angle in the Options Bar to 45°:

Changing the Angle of the shape to 45 degrees
Changing the Angle to 45 degrees.

Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) twice on your keyboard, once to accept the new settings and then again to exit the Free Transform Path command. Photoshop will ask if you want to turn your live shape into a regular path. Click Yes:

This operation will turn a live shape into a regular path warning
Clicking Yes to turn the live shape into a regular path.

The first shape is now centered and rotated in the document, and we have our first candy cane stripe:

The first candy cane stripe is added in the center
The first stripe is added in the center.

Step 8: Copy And Move The Shape

Press Ctrl+Alt+T (Win) / Command+Option+T (Mac) on your keyboard. This makes a copy of the shape and re-opens the Free Transform Path command. You'll see the Free Transform box and handles around the shape. To move the copy of the shape into the upper left corner of the document, go up to the Options Bar and change the X and Y values both to 0 px:

Changing the X and Y coordinates for the second shape
Changing the X and Y positions for the second shape to 0 px.

Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) twice, once to accept the new settings and again to exit out of the Free Transform Path command. The second shape now sits in the upper corner, and we have our second candy cane stripe:

The second candy cane stripe has been added in the upper left corner
The second stripe has been added in the upper left.

Step 9: Make Another Copy And Move It

Once again press Ctrl+Alt+T (Win) / Command+Option+T (Mac) on your keyboard to make another copy of the shape and re-open Free Transform Path. In the Options Bar, set the X and Y values both to 200 px:

Changing the X and Y coordinates for the third shape
Changing the X and Y positions for the third shape to 200 px.

Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) once to accept the settings and then again to exit the Free Transform Path command, and we now have our third shape, and our third candy cane stripe, in the lower right corner of the document:

The third candy cane stripe has been added in the lower right corner
The third stripe has been added in the lower right.

Step 10: Draw A New, Smaller Shape

We've added some larger stripes, so now let's add some smaller ones. Click inside the document with the Rectangle Tool to once again open the Create Rectangle dialog box. This time, set the Width to just 4 px, and then set the Height to 200 px. Click OK to close the dialog box:

The third candy cane stripe has been added in the lower right corner
Drawing a smaller shape.

Photoshop draws a fourth shape, this time smaller, but again places it in the wrong spot:

A new thinner shape is added to the candy cane pattern
A new, thinner shape is added.

Step 11: Reposition The Shape

Go up to the Edit menu and choose Free Transform Path, or press Ctrl+T (Win) / Command+T (Mac) on your keyboard:

Again choosing Free Transform Path from under the Edit menu.
Going again to Edit > Free Transform Path.

In the Options Bar, set both the X and Y values to 50 px, and then set the Angle to 45°:

Setting the X, Y and Angle values for the fourth shape
Setting the X, Y and Angle values for the new shape.

Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) twice on your keyboard. Photoshop will again ask if you want to convert the live shape into a regular path. Click Yes, and now the new shape is positioned between the two larger shapes in the upper left:

The first of the thinner candy cane stripes is in position
The first of the thinner stripes is in position.

If we look in the Layers panel, we see that our three larger shapes are on one Shape layer named "Rectangle 1" directly above the Background layer. The new smaller shape is on a separate Shape layer named "Rectangle 2" at the top:

The larger and smaller candy cane stripes are on separate layers
The Layers panel showing the larger and smaller shapes on separate layers.

Step 12: Copy And Move The Shape

Press Ctrl+Alt+T (Win) / Command+Option+T (Mac) to make a copy of the smaller shape and open the Free Transform Path command. Then in the Options Bar, set the X and Y values both to 44 px:

Setting the X and Y values for the fifth candy cane stripe
Setting the X and Y values for the fifth shape to 44 px.

Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) twice, and now a copy of the smaller stripe appears just above and to the left of the original:

A second smaller candy cane stripe is added above the first
A second smaller stripe is added above the first.

Step 13: Make Another Copy And Move It

Again press Ctrl+Alt+T (Win) / Command+Option+T (Mac) to copy the shape and open Free Transform Path. In the Options Bar, set the X and Y values to 56 px. Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) twice to accept it and close Free Transform Path:

Setting the X and Y values for the sixth candy cane stripe
Setting the X and Y values for the sixth shape to 56 px.

We now have three smaller stripes spaced equally apart in the upper left:

The third smaller candy cane stripe is added to the pattern
The third smaller stripe is added.

Step 14: Select All Three Smaller Shapes

We're going to copy the three smaller stripes and move them into the bottom right of the pattern. Select the Path Selection Tool (the black arrow tool) from the Toolbar:

Selecting the Path Selection Tool in Photoshop
Choosing the Path Selection Tool.

Drag a box across all three smaller stripes to select them:

Selecting the three smaller stripes with the Path Selection Tool
Dragging across all three smaller stripes with the Path Selection Tool.

Step 15: Copy And Move The Stripes

With the stripes selected, press Ctrl+Alt+T (Win) / Command+Option+T (Mac) to make a copy of them and open the Free Transform Path command. Then in the Options Bar, set the X and Y values both to 150 px:

Setting the X and Y values to move the copy of the smaller stripes into position
Setting the X and Y values to move the copy of the smaller stripes into position.

Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) twice to accept the new values and exit Free Transform Path. And now we have a copy of the smaller stripes in the lower right. Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) a third time to remove the path outlines from around the shapes:

A candy cane pattern with red stripes created in Photoshop
The initial candy cane stripe pattern is complete.

Step 16: Change The Color Of The Smaller Stripes To Green

If you're happy with the candy cane stripes all being red, you can skip this step, but I think the pattern looks better with the smaller stripes in green. To change the color of the smaller stripes, make sure the "Rectangle 2" Shape layer is selected in the Layers panel:

Selecting the Shape layer for the smaller candy cane stripes
Make sure the smaller shapes are selected.

Click the Fill color swatch in the Options Bar, and then click the Color Picker icon in the Fill Type options:

Changing the color of the smaller candy cane stripes
Changing the color of the smaller stripes.

In the Color Picker, choose a shade of green by setting the H value to 120, the S value to 100 and the B value to 50. Then click OK to close the Color Picker:

Choosing green from the Color Picker in Photoshop
Choosing green from the Color Picker.

And now the smaller stripes are green while the larger stripes remain in red, completing our candy cane pattern:

A candy cane pattern created in Photoshop
The final candy cane stripe pattern.

Step 17: Define The Shapes As A Pattern

To turn the shapes into an actual Photoshop pattern, go up to the Edit menu and choose Define Pattern:

Choosing the Define Pattern command from under the Edit menu in Photoshop
Going to Edit > Define Pattern.

Name the pattern "Candy Cane" and then click OK:

Naming the new Candy Cane Photoshop pattern
Naming the new pattern "Candy Cane".

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Creating The Candy Cane Text

At this point, our candy cane pattern is done! Let's see how to apply it to some text and make the letters look more like candy. To save time, I'll switch over to a separate document where I've already added some white text in front of a holiday-themed background (snowflake background from Adobe Stock). For best results, choose a font with rounded letters. I'm using Arial Rounded MT Bold:

Plain white text in front of a holiday background
Some plain white text in front of a blue background.

If we look in my Layers panel, we see that each word is on a separate Type layer. I'll start by adding the candy cane effect to one of the words, and then show you how to quickly copy the entire effect from one Type layer to another:

The Layers panel showing the words on separate Type layers
Each word has been added on its own Type layer.

Step 1: Select Your Type Layer

Start by selecting a Type layer in the Layers panel. I'll select the word "HAPPY":

Selecting the Type layr to create the candy cane text
Selecting one of the Type layers.

Step 2: Add A Pattern Overlay Layer Style

To create the candy cane text effect, we'll use Photoshop's layer styles. Click the Layer Styles icon (the fx icon) at the bottom of the Layers panel:

Clicking the Layer Styles icon in the Layers panel
Clicking the Layer Styles icon.

Then, to fill the text with your candy cane pattern, choose Pattern Overlay from the list:

Adding a Pattern Overlay layer style to the Type layer
Adding a Pattern Overlay layer style.

Photoshop opens the Layer Style dialog box with the Pattern Overlay options in the middle column. Click the pattern swatch to choose a different pattern:

Clicking the swatch in the Pattern Overlay options in Photoshop
Clicking the swatch.

Double-click on your candy cane pattern's thumbnail to select it:

Selecting the candy cane pattern in the Pattern Overlay options
Selecting the candy cane pattern.

This instantly fills your selected type with the candy cane stripes:

The initial candy cane pattern effect
The type with the candy cane pattern applied.

Step 3: Adjust The Size Of The Pattern

Use the Scale slider below the swatch to adjust the size and appearance of the pattern within the letters. Lower Scale values will shrink the pattern so it repeats more often. The value that works best will depend on the size of your text. I'll lower mine down to 68%:

Lowering the Scale value to shrink the candy cane pattern
Lowering the Scale value to shrink the pattern.

And here's what the letters look like with the pattern scaled down in size:

The candy cane letters after lowering the pattern Scale value
The result after lowering the Scale value.

Step 4: Apply A Drop Shadow

To help separate the letters from the background, we'll add a drop shadow. Still in the Layer Style dialog box, select Drop Shadow in the column on the left:

Selecting Drop Shadow in the Layer Style dialog box
Selecting a Drop Shadow layer style.

In the Drop Shadow options, set the Opacity to 35%. Turn on Use Global Light and then set the Angle to 120°. I'll set my Distance and Size values both to 10 px but you may want to try different values depending on the size of your image:

The Drop Shadow options in the Layer Style dialog box
The Drop Shadow options.

Here's the text with the drop shadow applied:

The candy cane letters with a drop shadow
The effect after applying the drop shadow.

Step 5: Add A Stroke

Let's also add a thin stroke around the letters. Select Stroke on the left of the Layer Style dialog box:

Adding a Stroke layer style to the candy cane letters
Selecting the Stroke layer style.

In the Stroke options, click the color swatch to change the color of the stroke:

Clicking the Stroke color swatch in the Layer Style dialog box
Clicking the stroke color swatch.

In the Color Picker, set the H value to 350, the S value to 100 and the B value to 40, and then click OK:

Choosing red for the stroke color in the Color Picker
Choosing red for the stroke color.

Back in the Stroke options, set the Size to 1 px (2 px may work better for larger images), and then change the Position to Outside:

The Stroke options in the Layer Style dialog box
The Stroke options.

And here's the text with the stroke applied. So far the effect looks rather plain. We'll make the letters look rounded and shiny next:

The candy cane letters with a stroke around them
The effect after applying the stroke.

Step 6: Add An Inner Glow

Select Inner Glow on the left of the Layer Style dialog box:

Adding an Inner Glow layer style to the candy cane text
Adding an Inner Glow layer style.

Click the color swatch to change the color of the glow:

Clicking the Inner Glow color swatch
Clicking the Inner Glow color swatch.

In the Color Picker, choose the same color we used for the stroke by setting H to 350, S to 100 and B to 40, and then click OK:

Choosing the new color for the Inner Glow layer style
Setting Inner Glow to the same color as the stroke.

Back in the Inner Glow options, change the Blend Mode from Screen to Multiply and increase the Opacity to 100%. Then, increase the Size value to around 24 px:

The Inner Glow options for the candy cane text effect
The Inner Glow options.

You may need to experiment with the Size value depending on the size of your text. The result you want is for the Inner Glow to extend from the outer edges of the letters inward to nearly their centers, which creates the illusion of roundness:

The candy cane letters now look rounded after applying the Inner Glow
The letters now appear rounded after adding the Inner Glow.

Step 7: Apply Bevel & Emboss

Finally, to make the letters look shiny, select Bevel & Emboss on the left of the Layer Style dialog box:

Applying Bevel and Emboss to the candy cane text
Adding a Bevel & Emboss layer style.

In the Shading section of the Bevel & Emboss options, click on the small arrow beside the Gloss Contour thumbnail, and then choose the Ring contour by double-clicking on its thumbnail (second from the left, bottom row):

Choosing the Ring contour in the Bevel and Emboss options
Choosing the Ring contour.

Still in the Shading section, make sure Use Global Light is selected. Leave the Angle set to 120° but lower the Altitude to 10°:

The Angle and Altitude options for the Bevel and Emboss layer style
The Angle and Altitude options.

For the Highlight Mode, lower the Opacity to 0%. Then for the Shadow Mode, change the blend mode from Multiply to Linear Dodge (Add), and then click the color swatch:

The Highlight Mode and Shadow Mode Bevel and Emboss options
The Highlight and Shadow Mode options.

In the Color Picker, choose white for the shadow color, and then click OK:

Choosing white in the Color Picker
Choosing white by clicking in the top left corner of the square.

Then lower the Shadow Mode opacity to 22%:

Setting the Shadow Mode opacity to 22 percent in the Bevel and Emboss options
Lowering the Opacity for the Shadow Mode.

In the Structure section at the top of the Bevel & Emboss options, leave Style set to Inner Bevel and Technique set to Smooth. Then increase the Depth to 180% and the Size to 24px. As with some of the other options we've looked at, you may need to experiment with the Depth and Size depending on your text:

Increasing the Depth and Size values
Increasing the Depth and Size values.

Click OK to close the Layer Style dialog box, and the candy cane text effect is complete:

Candy cane letters created in Photoshop using layer styles
The final candy cane effect.

Step 8: Copy The Layer Styles To Other Type Layers

If we look in the Layers panel, we see all the layer styles that have been added to the Type layer at the top:

The candy cane layer styles are listed below the Type layer
The layer styles are listed below the Type layer.

To copy the layer styles to another Type layer, press and hold the Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) key on your keyboard, and then click on the word "Effects" and drag it directly onto the other Type layer:

Dragging the candy cane layer styles onto the other Type layer
Dragging the layer styles onto the second Type layer while holding Alt / Option.

Release your mouse button, then release the Alt / Option key. Photoshop copies all the layer styles onto the other Type layer:

The candy cane layer styles have been copied from one Type layer to another
The layer styles have been copied from one Type layer to the other.

And in the document, we see that both words have now been transformed into sugary, delicious candy cane holiday treats:

The candy cane layer styles have been copied from one Type layer to another
The result after copying the candy cane styles to the second Type layer.

And there we have it! That's how to create holiday candy cane text with Photoshop! For another fun text effect, learn how to turn type in gold with Photoshop. Or for something more winter-related, add falling snow to your photos! Visit our Text Effects or Photo Effects sections for more Photoshop tutorials!