The Best Create a Ribbon Photoshop Tutorial!

Skill level

The ribbon is all the rage these days, it’s like a graphical “ribbon-sanity”! Well, maybe not, but it’s still a sweet skill to have in your graphic making tool kit. Ribbons are ultra versatile and seem to be everywhere in advertising and web design. From that slick new marketing piece, newsletter, or package design, a nicely placed ribbon can really spruce things up!

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Jump right in and we’ll look at using a mixture of Shape layers, Masking, Layer Styles, and even a little burning to learn how to create straight, simple ribbons, corner ribbons, and beautiful rounded ribbons! This is truly the best ribbon-making tutorial on the web!

Tutorial Inspiration:

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Step 1:

Create a new document sized 1280px by 720px. Throw a background into place if you have one, or just use a very light gray and add 2% noise to it. I’ve got a crazy background with some textures and some of the great watercolor brushes available for free over at »

Step 2:

Next you want to have an object you can wrap your ribbon around. I have a little mock-up slider I put together featuring an image of a Ferrari 458 Italia that I had the opportunity to photograph in 2011. (Beautiful car inside and out!)

Step 3:

We’re going to cover creating a simple, straight ribbon, wrapping the corners with a straight ribbon, and even drawing rounded ribbons. Let’s start by creating a ribbon that we can place the main “Ferrari 458 Italia” text onto. Grab your Rectangle Tool (U) and look to the Tool Options Bar and set the tool to draw “Shape layers”.

Step 4:

Draw out a rectangle the size of the ribbon you want. Double click the color thumbnail in the layers panel and set the fill color to #e9eef0.

Step 5:

Next go Layer>Layer Style>Pattern Overlay and use the settings I have. Choose any pattern you like, the key here is to set the “Scale” very small to replicate a slight grainy look. Feel free to adjust the Opacity and Scale of the pattern if the color of your ribbon needs it! TIP: I am choosing a pattern from the little fly out menu in the patterns drop down box. I am using the “Artist Surfaces” library.

Step 6:

Go ahead and add the Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, and Gradient Overlay that I have using my settings below.

Step 7:

Now click on your Pen Tool in the Tools panel and hold to get the little fly out menu to appear. Choose the “Add Anchor Point Tool” and note that your cursor has become a small white arrow. Use this arrow to click on the very left side of the rectangle you drew out to highlight the whole shape. TIP: Zoom in close to have an easy time selecting the shape.

Step 8:

Next, when you hover over the left-most path section you will see your cursor become a pen tool with a little “+”. Click as close to the center of that section to add an anchor point to the middle of that line. NOTE: You will see a tangent handle sticking out of the top and bottom of the anchor point; no sweat, you’ve done exactly what we need and only placed the one anchor point.

Step 9:

Again, click and hold on the Pen Tool in the Tools panel and grab the “Convert Point Tool” and click on our new anchor point once to suck those tangent handles right in. Grab the white arrow Direct Selection Tool (A) and click on our new point and hold your Shift key down and tap the right arrow-key a few times to nudge the center point over to create a nice ribbon shape.

Step 10:

Grab the Rectangle Tool again (U) and hit the “Enter” or “Return” key to deselect our ribbon shape. Drag out a little rectangle like I have in the screenshot below and look to the Tool Options Bar and get rid of the styles on this layer (See additional screenshot below).

Step 11:

Hit Cmd/Ctrl + T to free transform this shape. Move it so it is aligned with the right-most edge of our ribbon and then right click on the shape and choose “Skew” from the menu. Look to the Tool Options bar and set the “V” (Vertical Skew) to -45. Drag your shape into the correct position again and hit the little “check” icon to commit the changes.

Step 12:

The portion of the ribbon we just created will be sitting underneath this main ribbon so we want to fill the layer with a darker gray than the top portion. Double click the color thumbnail in the layers panel and set the fill to # a1aeb3.

Step 13:

Grab the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) and drag out a small selection that covers the part of the ribbon that would be hidden by the object the ribbon is wrapping around –in this case the ribbon would be wrapping and running behind the slider. Go Layer>Layer Mask>Hide Selection to cover that chuck of our ribbon.

Step 14:

Because I have already created this dummy slider with a drop shadow I want to drag this under-ribbon below both my top ribbon shape AND my slider layer. I am doing this to take advantage of the shadow that the slider has to further give the effect that this shape is wrapping behind the slider. NOTE: See my layers panel in the screen shot below.

Step 15:

We can now add our text to the ribbon and we’ve got our first finished ribbon! HINT: The typeface I am using is called “Six Caps”.

Corner Ribbon

Step 16:

We’re going to add a colored ribbon to the top left corner indicating the horsepower of this particular vehicle. Hang tight, we’re going to use some of the skills we just picked up to make this thing happen! Grab your Rectangle Tool (U) and drag out a new Shape layer like I have.

Step 17:

Hit Cmd/Ctrl + T and hold your shift key and rotate the shape until we have a nice 45 degree angle and move the new ribbon shape into position.

Step 18:

We’re going to mask this using a little bit of a different technique, but I find it works and it’s fast and easy! Grab your Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) and drag a selection across the top of the slider as I have. Go Layer>Layer Mask>Hide Selection.

Step 19:

Drag out another selection against the side of the shape and once you’ve made the selection, hold down your shift key and press you left arrow key to nudge the selection ten pixels to the left. Click on the Layer Mask (Not the gray Vector Mask) in the layers panel and fill this shape with black. Grab your Move Tool (V) and nudge the shape ten pixels straight upward. Select the color thumbnail for this Shape layer in the layers panel and set the fill to #d6406b.

Step 20:

Before we add any layer styles let’s create our two wrapping shapes and then we’ll add some style to this ribbon. Grab the Rectangle Tool (U) and drag out a small square. There is no need to skew this shape just use the Move Tool (V) and drag it into place and then fill it with #702d40. Duplicate this layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J) and move the second shape into position too.

Step 21:

Now we need to drag those two Shape layers below the object we’re wrapping them around (again, in my case it is this slider which has an Outer Glow creating that shadow on the pieces of ribbon).

Step 22:

Next add the Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, Bevel and Emboss, Gradient Overlay, and Pattern Overlay that I have. TIP: With the Pattern Overlay, I’m using one of Photoshop’s built in patterns from the “Artist Surfaces” library. You want to choose any of the patterns and scale it way down until it looks nice and subtle. Also play with the opacity setting depending on the color of your ribbon.

Step 23:

Now we’re going to drag some text over and drop in the horsepower using the same “Six Caps” typeface. I used white text and reduced the opacity to 70%.

Rounded Ribbon

Step 24:

We’re going to start by grabbing our Rectangle Tool (U) and dragging out a nice sized rectangle and using the Free Transform Tool (Cmd/Ctrl + T) to rotate the ribbon on a slight angle running across the bottom left corner as I have. I have filled the shape with #69c47c.

Step 25:

Let’s use the same masking technique we did a moment ago for the corner ribbon to mask this shape how we want it. Grab your Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) and make a selection up against the left side of the shape that our ribbon is going to run around. Go Layer>Layer Mask>Hide Selection.

Step 26:

Drag a selection against the bottom of the shape, but hold down your Shift key and nudge the selection downward ten pixels. Fill that selection in the layer mask with black and then select the layer with your Move Tool (V) and nudge it ten pixels to the left.

Step 27:

We’re going to use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a small shape with a rounded edge to act as our ribbon that will wrap underneath the slider shape. I set the Pen Tool (P) to draw a Shape layer and created the shape I have and filled it with #3d4d41. (NOTE: I dragged my shape below the top ribbon shape so you could see how the curve needs to roll out of that corner –see my screenshot of the layers panel.)

Step 28:

Duplicate that layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J) and drag it over and use Free Transform (Cmd/Ctrl + T) to rotate it into position until that curve rolls right out of the other side of your ribbon.

Step 29:

Take both of those new ribbon pieces and drag them below the layer containing the object we’re wrapping around (again, I have an Outer Glow on this slider so it is automatically adding that little subtle shadow).

Step 30:

Select your ribbon layer (the top of the ribbon) and add the following Drop Shadow, Gradient Overlay, and Pattern Overlay using the settings below. What I mentioned earlier about the Pattern Overlay applies here too. Adjust it depending on the color of your ribbon.

Step 31:

The key to getting the rounded effect is to burn the edges. There are a million different ways to dodge or burn in Photoshop so we’ll keep it easy, fast, and simple. Create a new layer by going Layer>New>Layer. Name this layer “Burn”. Look to the layers panel and hold down you Alt/Opt button and click between this layer and the ribbon shape layer beneath it to clip this layer to the shape on the layer below. NOTE: You will see the cursor change to the “Create Clipping Mask” icon.

Step 32:

Set your foreground color to black by hitting the (X) key. Grab the Brush Tool (B). I am using a 175px brush with no hardness. Click a few times around both edges of the ribbon to paint on some black. TIP: Use the very edge of the brush to paint fading bits of black. Add a bit of text and we’re finished!