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Creating a Marble Texture Effect in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements

Header image with the TipSquirrel site name chiseled into a marble texture
In this tutorial we’re going to conjure a marble-style texture in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. This can be used for anything from 3D textures to  creating a fancy background for a web banner; as we have done here.
The effect hinges around the Clouds filter; yes, the highly versatile filter that’s great for creating anything other than clouds. By combining this with further filters, adjustments and layer blend modes, we can achieve a fairly realistic texture quickly and easily. Let’s get started.
Image displaying the New Document dialog in Photoshop CS6
1. We’ll begin by creating a new document: go to File > New, or use the keyboard shortcut Cmd+N (Mac) or Ctrl+N (PC). We’ve set the dimensions to 800×800 pixels in our example. Set the Background Contents to White. Click OK to create the document.
Image showing a newly created document and Layers panel in Photoshop CS6
2. Create a new layer by choosing Layer > New > New Layer, or by clicking the New Layer icon in the Layers panel. We can also use the finger-twisting shortcut of Cmd+Opt+Shift+N or Ctrl+Alt+Shift+N.
Image showing the result of the Clouds filter and Toolbox in Photoshop CS6
3. Make sure the default black and white colour palette is selected by clicking the default palette icon in the toolbox or with the keyboard shortcut D. Now go to Filter > Render > Clouds. This gives us a random set of tones to work with.
Image showing the result of running the Find Edges filter in Photoshop CS6
4. Next, select Filter > Stylize > Find Edges. This gives us network of light veiny lines based on the contrasting borders of the tones in our cloud texture.
Image showing the Levels adjustment and resulting image in Photoshop CS6
5. The result is a little too feint. We’ll boost the darker areas. Go to Image > Adjustments > Levels. Drag the Shadows slider from the left to around the halfway point. This increases the contrast smoothly across the image.
Image showing the Gaussian Blur filter and resulting image in Photoshop CS6
6. We need to soften the effect to give us the cloudier variance that we find in real marble. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Set the Radius to around 4-5 pixels.
Image showing the result of running the Difference Clouds filter in Photoshop CS6
7. Now we’ll add the more defined veins that typify the classic marble appearance. Create another layer at the top of the stack. Run the Clouds filter again. Now go to Filter > Render > Difference Clouds. We end up with a blotchy effect with black divisions.
Image showing the Levels adjustment and resulting image in Photoshop CS6
8. Open the Levels adjustment again. This time drag the Highlights slider from the right over to the left. This bleaches out most of the lighter areas, leaving the darker veins far more contrasted.
Image showing a document window and the Layers panel in Photoshop CS6

9. At the moment we can’t see the softer texture beneath. Set the layer blend mode to Vivid Light. This has the effect of sharpening up the veins but we can also start to see the layer below. Lower the opacity to around 30-40%. We now have a nice blend of the two textures.
Image showing the Gaussian Blur filter and resulting image in Photoshop CS6
10. We’ll soften the veins very slightly so they blend with the halos around them. Open Gaussian Blur again. This time set the radius to around 1-1.5px.
Image showing the final result and merged layer in Photoshop CS6
11. As a final step, we’ll create a merged copy of the effect. To do this, press Cmd+Opt+Shift+E or Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E. This allows us to work on it as a whole without losing our original layer structure.
About David Asch (32 Articles)
David Asch is an accomplished author, artist and designer based in Brighton, UK. To date he has written two books on Adobe Photoshop Elements for Focal Press: Focus on Photoshop Elements and How to Cheat in Photoshop Elements, now in its 7th edition. He also co-wrote Digital Photo Doctor for Ilex Press and have had work featured in many UK magazines. As well as books on digital imaging, he is also the author of Creative Web Design with Adobe Muse, again for Focal Press. David also designs websites and the occasional logo. When he's not doing this, he likes to roam with a camera, capturing the sights. Some of these are posted to his photography gallery, others may make a guest appearance in his photomontage gallery.

8 Comments on Creating a Marble Texture Effect in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements

  1. Very clear, love it!

  2. Daniel thomassin // January 20, 2013 at 10:19 pm //

    bonjour je vous remercie beaucoup pour se tutoriel très intéressant;
    ps continuer vous êtes génial!

    Dan

  3. Wilmar Smiley // January 22, 2013 at 2:54 pm //

    Hi David,
    I thought the creation of the marble texture effect was very impressive, however, for me the realistic “sculptured” effect on the Trajan Pro font was even better. Try as I may, I have been unable to reproduce this in the Layer Styles menus. A pointer in the right direction would be very much appreciated.
    Thank you
    Wilmar

  4. Very usefull! Thank you so much.

  5. Very nice! Thank you!

  6. David Drown // September 18, 2014 at 5:49 pm //

    How can I change the color? I tried blending a color layer but it doesn’t look good.

  7. Thank you so much for this tutorial! I absolutely loved the outcome and can’t wait to use the marble image I created as wallpaper on my laptop 🙂

  8. Whitney M // February 3, 2015 at 9:31 pm //

    This is so helpful! I tried it with color and layered the images on top of each other with different opacity levels. Going for a geode effect and I got it, thank you!

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