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Learn How to Create a Vintage Notepad From Scratch

Learn How to Create a Vintage Notepad From Scratch

Have you ever needed a good notepad for your RPG, but without paying for stock images? Well, I can show you how to easily create your own from scratch!

In this tutorial you’ll learn a variety of drawing techniques, mixed with professional filter application, coloring, lighting and more.

Final Image

As always, this is the final image that we’ll be creating:

Resources Used In This Tutorial

Step 1

First, create a new file. It shouldn’t be too small, don’t forget about good resolution too (300dpi at least). Fill the background with black.

Step 2

To draw the first sheet we need some irregular brush. Create a new file and draw some black blob with disorted edges, then go to Edit > Define Brush Preset.

Open Brush window and select Shape Dynamics option for your brush. Move the Angle Jitter slider, so that your line could be made of rotated “blobs” – it will make the brush even more rough.

Step 3

Select some glum color for your paper (it’s supposed to be old, saturated colors fade over time).

Create a new layer and use Rectangle Tool (U) to draw a template shape for your first sheet. You can use any size you need.

Change the layer’s opacity to 10% (you can do it simply by clicking “1″ with Move Tool on). It’s just a template, so it shouldn’t be too disturbing.

Create a new layer again and draw the borders of the sheet with your new, rough brush. Hold Shift to keep the lines straight.

Use Magic Wand Tool (W) to select the area outside of your sheet, then click Ctrl+Shift+I to inverse the selection.

Go to Select > Modify > Contract to contract to selection. Select 2 px for it. Now you can fill the inside by using Paint Bucket Tool (G) without fear it will fill your smooth edges too (you can remove the template now, it’s not needed anymore).

Your first sheet should look like this:

Step 4

Now it’s time to add some texture to the sheet. Of course, you could download some free paper texture, but I want to show you how to create your own using patterns built into Photoshop. First, duplicate the sheet layer clicking Ctrl + J. Then make it a clipping mask, selecting Create a Clipping Mask from Layer Menu (or simply with Ctrl+Alt+G shortcut).

With the clipped layer selected, go to Filter > Render > Clouds. Then select Overlay as blending mode and lower the opacity to achieve natural effect.

Let’s rumple this paper even more! Create a new layer above the clipped one, fill it with any color and create a Clipping Mask of it too. Now double click it to get into Blending options, and select Patter Overlay. Choose any pattern you think looks good on it (you may need to load some other texture packs like Erodible Textures or Rock Patterns – they’re not shown on the list by default). Then select Rasterize Layer Style from Right-Click menu of the layer.

Again, use Overlay as blending mode and lower the opacity. Looks better now, but it still resembles some kind of marble. That’s not what we were looking for.

Once more, create new layer, fill and clip it. There’s a nice white texture that’s perfect for paper…

…but because it’s white, it may not look so good. Rasterize it’s style, click Ctrl + I to inverse the colors and select Substract as blending mode. It should look good even with full opacity now (if you feel lost with all these blending modes, just click once on the list and use mouse roll to do a quick review of them all. Experiments are good!).

As the last texture we’ll use noise. Create a new layer, fill it with dark brown, clip it and go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise. Again, use Overlay and lower opacity to blend it into the sheet.

First sheet is done now! Just merge all the clipped layers with the base.

Step 5

It’s time to create other sheets. Duplicate the layer (Ctrl + J) and double click it for blending options. Select Drop Shadow and change its options as shown below.

Now move the duplicated layer a bit left and up using arrow keys with Move Tool on.

Repeat the step above as long as you need.

Step 6

Since it’s an old notepad, its sheets can’t be so steady. Select the layer on the top and put a layer mask on it (it’s this little circle-in-rectangle icon under layer list). A white rectangle should appear next to the layer – select it, grab black, rough brush and draw ragged edges with it. When you draw on the mask, black makes part of picture disappear, white makes it appear again.

Repeat the step above to all the layers. Don’t make them all the same, they should be naturally chaotic.

Step 7

Now we’re going to create the ripped sheets. Copy a full-lenght strip of one sheet…

…then move it to the left and apply the sheet’s style to it. To do it, just select the layer with style you need, right click it and select Copy Layer Style. Now come back to the layer you want it to be applied to, and right click it to select the Paste Layer Style option.

Step 8

Add Layer Mask to the strip and draw ragged edges with black, rough brush.

Then duplicate (Ctrl + J) the layer to create a few ripped sheets.

Use technique from Step 6 to rip the strips too.

Step 9

Now we’ll make holes to bind the notepad. Create new layer and draw something like this with your rough brush.

Select Drop Shadow from Blending Options and change the options as shown below.

Place the copies of the hole wherever you find it fit.

Step 10

Time for ribbon that will keep the sheets together. Use rough brush with some glum, dark color and draw a ribbon on a new layer.

Duplicate the ribbon and clip it to the original. Then put some pattern on it to simulate ragged surface.

You should know what to do now – rasterize, overlay, maybe some lower opacity.

Create a new clipped layer and put some shades around the edges. Use normal brush with low (~20%) Flow for it. Then draw the edges with the main color, and take some color of the sheet to reflect it to the ribbon. When you think it’s done, merge the ribbon with its clipped layers and duplicate it to the rest of the holes. You can use Free Transform (Ctrl + T) to change their shape a bit (and make them various).

That’s the final effect of this process:

Step 11

Now create a new layer and draw a knot on the middle ribbon. Use the techniques you just learnt to make it similar to the ribbons.

Some shadow will make it more natural:

Duplicate the it to simulate strong, tight knot.

Step 12

Create two new layers and draw two loose ribbons. Make them drop a shadow too.

Use our tricks again to simulate the same material as before. The ribbon beneath should be more shaded, so use Curves (Ctrl + M) to darken it.

Step 13

Create a new layer under all the ribbons and paint some shadow using black brush with low Flow. Then change this layer’s Blending Mode to Soft Light. You can also add some light on the ribbon, it’s all up to you.

Step 14

For the text I used free font Aquiline Two. You can find it in the resources section.

And We’re Done!

Doesn’t it look nice? It’s ready to be taken into fantasy world!

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About the Author:

I'm an artist with a long experience in doing creative things. I'm familiar with traditional and digital media, and I feel at home in Photoshop. I love fantasy, my speciality are dragons - I could draw them all the time. You can visit my portfolio at

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