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Stamp your designs with a wax seal

Added on Friday 22nd of February 2008 07:10 am EST
Adobe Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3
Operating Systems:
Microsoft Windows, Macintosh

If you want to add authenticity to your official documents, a wax seal is the way to go. But what about when you’re creating electronic documents? Since you can’t send a three-dimensional seal over the information highway, we’ll show you how to re-create the same authentic look directly in Photoshop.

To create an authentic wax seal, we’ll:

  • Set up our Photoshop document and add the appropriate shapes to mimic the wax seal look.
  • Point out which layer styles combination will make our wax seal look believable.
  • Personalize our wax seal with an insignia or initials.
  • Describe how easy it is to change colors or add a texture so you can customize your wax seal further.

Securing an envelope with a wax seal stamped with a personalized insignia is one way to add a classy look to your mailings. However, with today’s modern mail-sorting equipment, you’d probably jam the machines if you sent a wax-sealed envelope. Instead, keep a friend at the post office, save a few cents on postage, and add a touch of class to your mailings by creating a wax seal in Photoshop, as shown in Figure A.


What’s a wax seal?
Before the invention of adhesive envelopes, an individual who was sending a letter would fold the letter, and then apply a wax seal over the joint in the seams. To create the seal, he’d pour some melted wax over the joint and stamp it with a heavy stamp, ring, or other engraved device. This would ensure the recipient that the letter came from the actual sender and that nobody had tampered with it. A wax seal also showed authority and identified the sender because the seals often contained family crests, initials, or other unique identifying marks.

Lay the foundation First we’ll show you how to set up a new Photoshop document and add the layers necessary to create the seal’s initial round shape.

To create a new document and form the seal’s round shape:
  1. Create a new 4" x 4", 300 ppi document with a transparent background. Make the document CMYK if you’re using it for print, or RGB if you’re keeping the file in electronic form. We’ll make ours CMYK.
  2. Rename layer 1 Base.
  3. Set the foreground color to the color you want your seal. We set ours to gold with CMYK values C:27, M:35, Y:71, K:10.
  4. Choose the Ellipse tool from the Tools palette and select the Shape Layers button on the tool Options bar.
  5. Press and hold [shift] and then click and drag in your document window to draw a circle, as shown in Figure B. Tip: Keep holding the [shift] key and the mouse button, and then press the spacebar and move the mouse to reposition the circle. Release the space bar to continue drawing the circle.


  1. Duplicate the Base layer and rename this new layer Inside.
  2. Press [command]T to activate the Transform tool.
  3. On the tool Options bar, select the center reference point location, set the Horizontal and Vertical scale to 85, as shown in Figure C, and click the Commit Transform button to accept the transformation. The Inside circle should now be centered in the Base circle, only smaller, as shown in Figure D.



Press the wax
When you stamp melted wax, the pressing action creates an organic edge, thus no two seals look alike. So next, we’ll show you how to create that organic-shaped edge.

To create the organic-shaped edge:
  1. Turn off the Inside layer’s visibility and select the Base layer to make it active.
  2. Choose the Custom Shape tool from the Tools palette and, on the tool Options bar, choose Blob 1 from the Custom Shape picker. Click the Add To Shape button, as shown in Figure E. Tip: If you don’t see the Blob 1 shape, it’s located in both the default set and the Shapes set.


  1. Click and drag on the existing Base layer to add a blob shape so that the curved edge extends past the round edge, as shown in Figure F.


  1. Continue adding a few more blob shapes until you have what looks like a circular blob, as shown in Figure G. Tip: If the extra lines dis...