How to Make Sticky Tape in Photoshop

Being able to make something that looks totally real using nothing but drawings is part of why Photoshop is so addictive. One of the latest trends in graphic design uses this idea, focusing on everyday items made purely in Photoshop. Partly for this reason, and partly because I’m working toward the pieces to create a full web layout in a later tutorial, I’ve been obsessed with different ways of creating those everyday objects – and the latest one I’ve come up with is the popular sticky-tape effect.

This guide can be completed in any graphics program with tools comparable to Photoshop, but all illustrations are geared toward Photoshop CS2 – you will need to experiment if you’re using a different program. With that said, let’s get going, shall we?

One: To start, we need something to tape down. I’m using a piece of parchment paper I also created in Photoshop. You can use the process to create your own at or use a found graphic. Either way, open your object to tape down in Photoshop and get ready.

Two: With our paper ready, we’re going to jump right into doing the sticky tape. First, set your foreground color to white. Use your rectangle shape tool to draw a small rectangle. Right-click and rasterize the shape after you’ve drawn it, to get rid of the jagged edges. (When you rasterize, make sure to click the layer, not the layer mask.)

Three: You will probably want to zoom in for this step. Use your polygonal lasso tool to give each side of the tape uneven edges – the look of tape that has been cut by the teeth of the tape dispenser. Select one side with your polygonal lasso tool, and hit the backspace key on your keyboard to erase the selection. Repeat on the other side.

Four: Now, we add a two quick layer styles. Click Layer – Layer Style – Stroke. Change the color to gray and the Size to 1 px. Then, click the Drop Shadow option. Leave the drop shadow settings alone and click OK.

Five: Two more quick things and we’re done! First, lower the Opacity of your tape layer to about 50%. Then, duplicate the layer 3 times (making four sets of tape, one for each corner). Finally, click Edit – Transform – Free Transform and adjust each layer so that it sits at an angle on your corners. Wa-la! Perfect sticky tape.

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