Photoshop-Fu: The Fake Sticker Effect

Ever wonder how those fancy shmancy illustrators create the “sticker effect” for their characters?

Here’s a quick and easy method to do just that, using Photoshop.

First, start out with your image – make sure your character is on a separate layer (this is very important).

creating a sticker effect in Photoshop

I generally keep my inks on a separate layer from my colors. What I want to do is combine the inks and colors without altering the original ink / color layers. So, duplicate the inks layer, then duplicate the colors layer (Command-J performs a layer duplication). Next, flatten the two duplicated layers with Command-E.

Your layers should look like this:

creating a sticker effect in Photoshop

Next, on the flattened inks/color layer, choose the Layer Effects option (in the Layers palette) and apply an outer stroke. In my case, I set the size to 16px and the color to white.

creating a sticker effect in Photoshop
Add a drop shadow and adjust its distance such that you can see a slight bit of shadow peeking out from underneath the stroke.

creating a sticker effect in Photoshop
And there you go!

creating a sticker effect in Photoshop

To make your sticker look more convincing, consider adding a textured background, like the ruled paper texture I’ve used.

Creating a sticker effect

That’s all there is to it!

-Krishna

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