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How to create a retro text effect

This retro, 70s-inspired text effect is very eye-catching and pretty easy to create. We’re using the free Lobster font from Google Fonts, so go ahead and download it if you’d like to follow along and get a result that looks exactly like ours.

Also, we’d like to give a shout out to the Spoon Graphics blog, which was the inspiration for this tutorial — thanks!

Step 1

Create an image and add some text

Since we’ll be creating this design from scratch, first create a new image with a size of 3360 pixels by 1800 pixels. Choose the background layer and use the Style tool S to add a fill to it. Set the color of the fill to #A0D2CE

Then choose the Type tool and write some text — the word Groovy is what we’re feeling with this design but you can write anything you like. Set the size to 500 px and the color to #27315D. Set the font, if you’re using the downloaded one, to Lobster or choose any font you prefer. Fonts inspired by hand lettering will tend to look best (or at least more old-school).

Step 2

Transform the text

In the Layers sidebar, Control—click the text layer and choose Convert into Shape.

Then, choose Edit > Transform (or press the CommandT keyboard shortcut). In the Tool Options pane, select the Skew mode and move up the middle handle on the far right side of the text layer. Drag it up until the Angle in the Rotate field is at 4.0º.

Step 3

Add a stroke to the text

One of the keys to this look is creating a 3D effect from the text. It’s important that the 3D effect is created with a wider version of the text. For that, we’ll add a stroke. Choose the Style tool again and turn on the Stroke style. Set its width to 20 px, position to Center, and color to #27315D.

Step 4

Duplicate the text layer 27 times

This next step will require a bit of concentration but it’s the key to the stripy 3D look, so strap in! You’ll need to duplicate the layer 27 times (to have 28 total text layers) and move each copy down and and to the right by one pixel.

Here, keyboard shortcuts are your best friend! Press the CommandJ keyboard shortcut to duplicate the text and the press the down arrow key once and the right arrow key once to nudge the layer diagonally. Repeat this process until you have 28 total text layers. You can also experiment with different thicknesses by creating more or fewer copies.


When you’re nudging layers, make sure you’re zoomed to around 100% or more. At lower zoom levels, the arrow keys nudge objects by more than one pixel — the exact amount varies depending on the zoom percentage. To set the zoom to 100%, press the Command1 keyboard shortcut.

Step 5

Turn 27 duplicated layers into 1

In the Layers sidebar, select all 27 of the duplicated layers and make sure to leave the 28th text layer — the bottom one — unselected. To select all those layers, click to select the layer just above the bottom text layer and then Shift—click the top text layer. After that, Control—click the selected layers and choose Unite Shapes. Finally, Control—click the new united layer and choose Merge Shape Components. Name this new layer Cloud Burst, then, drag and drop it below the Groovy layer.

Step 6

Create the stripy text effect

In the Layers sidebar, click to select the layer named Groovy. Using the Style tool, turn off the layer’s stroke and change its fill color to #FFF1D2.

In the Layers sidebar, select the Cloud Burst layer again and duplicate it — you’ll now have two layers named Cloud Burst. Click to select the lower of the two Cloud Burst layers and name it Tradewind. Change its stroke color and fill color to #51AEA7.

For the next step, you’ll need to Control—click the canvas and turn off Auto Select, the first option in the shortcut menu. If you already have Auto Select turned off, leave it off. With this option turned off, clicking the canvas will not select layers — layers will need to be selected in the Layers sidebar. This way, we’ll be able to move layers directly below any other layers.

So, with Auto Select turned off, click to select the Tradewind layer in the Layers sidebar. Then, drag the layer on the canvas diagonally while pressing and holding the Shift key. The label on the canvas will show you how much you’ve moved the layer — move it until it says x: 27 px y: 27 px.

Repeat this process two more times. The next color we’re using is #F6AB5A (Sandy Brown) and then #D95852 (Roman). You don’t really have to name the layers but it does make it easier to keep track of which is which. Feel free to experiment with your own colors, too!


After finishing this, if you want to be able to automatically select layers again, make sure to turn Auto Select back on. To do that, select the Arrange tool and then, either find the option at the bottom of the Tool Options pane or Control—click the canvas and choose Auto Select.

Step 7

Create a worn look

The text already looks pretty great but to really drive home the retro look, we’ll add a worn texture over the image. As always, feel free to use your own texture but, for your convenience, you can download this photo of a wall that works really well for this. Insert the layer above all your other layers — dragging and dropping the layer into the Layers sidebar is probably the quickest method. After you’ve added the layer, in the Layers sidebar, change its blending mode to Soft Light and its opacity to 30%.

Final result

And there you have it, that’s one way to create some retro-looking text using Pixelmator Pro. If you’d like to, you can download the final result in PXD format below. We hope you’ll have fun with this tutorial!