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Fundamental Text Effects


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Fundamental Text Effects





Before I start I wanted to point out that a basic understanding of the Photoshop interface is suggested for this tutorial. Everything here should work with any Photoshop version after CS1. However if you notice any problem or differences please let me know. I had a nice heading image worked out for the top here, but rather unsurprisingly, I hit the cap for images. We'll just have to pretend its there





A Bit About Kerning: Just a bit though, I promise...


Kerning refers to the process of adjusting space between individual letter pairs within a font.Many fonts, especially free fonts have not been properly kerned. Even some common design fonts have kerning problems which are visible at larger sizes.








Above you can see a font (Exposition Black SSI) that has some very obvious kerning issues. In this case its probably due to a missing file containing ligatures. Fortunately kerning problems are fairly easy to fix.





Fixing Kerning Problems


In Photoshop select Window from the main menu and choose Character to open the Character Palette








With the Type Tool ( T on your keyboard ) selected click between the effected characters as show above. The Set The Kerning... Drop down should now be available in the Character Palette. Simply adjust the kerning value (negative values move characters closer together and positive values move them farther apart.) until all the characters appear well spaced and the entire word can be read without eye strain or discomfort.





Text Effects Setup


The set up for this tutorial is fairly easy. All you need, is to open a photoshop file, and throw some text on a background. For the example I've used Exposition Black SSI on a black background with a purple (for some reason) pattern for texture. I would recommend doing this tutorial on a darker background. Particularly the drop shadow I add later will look quite stupid on a light background.





Blending Options & Gradient


We're going to apply a gradient overlay to our text. To do this open up the Blending Options for your text layer, by either double clicking it in the Layers Palette or right clicking and selecting blending options from the menu. You can copy my settings from above if you prefer to follow along exactly, but feel free to experiment. It shouldn't really effect the process of this tutorial.









Adding A Color Overlay


I've chose to include a blue Color Overlay. You can choose any colors or experiment with settings, but keep in mind that a color overlay is going to sit above a gradient overlay, so if you don't change the Blend Mode for the color overlay, it will override your gradient overlay.









Creating The Highlights


Before we do anything else, we're going to add a new layer above the one containing our type. Lets name it something like "highlight". This is the layer on which all of the highlight effects will sit. Now select the Pen Tool ( P on your keyboard ). Be sure it that it is set to draw Paths. You can find this setting at the left hand side of the Options Bar which is at the top of your page, just under Photoshops main menu.








Now using the Pen Tool trace the edge of a letter as I have done. For the purpose of this tutorial we are only going to be highlighting the letters as if they are being lit from the top right. So we're only tracing edges that face the top or right. Just do the one letter ( or section of a letter ) for now. With your lines in place as mine are above, it's time for us to adjust the brush we'll be using to stroke or path. Switch to the Brush Tool ( B on your keyboard ).








With the Brush Tool selected, modify the settings at the left hand side of the Options Bar. I've chosen a 2px as the maximum width our line will reach. Set the Foreground Color to white. I've also set hardness to 0% because I think the softer line looks better for the highlights. If you want a harder line, or even a wider line, feel free to adjust these settings to your liking. Now switch back to the Pen Tool again. With the Pen Tool selected and remembering to choose the highlights layer in our Layers Palette, right click, and choose Stroke Path....


On the resulting menu, you should set Tool: Brush and make sure Simulate Pressure is ticked. Simulation Pressure will draw the line as if it is a natural stroke. It will go thin -> thick -> thin being largest ( 2px per my settings ) in the middle. Click Okay, and you should see the result immediately. However the path is still there. Why god why!?!?! Just right click using the Pen Tool and choose Delete Path, we won't be using it again anyway. Now set your highlight layer to Overlay in the Layers Palette. You can also adjust the Opacity in the Layers Palette if your highlights are too strong.



Note: If for some reason your strokes come out the same thickness all the way through, undo and then select Window from the main menu, and then Brush. This will bring up the Brush Palette. Tick Shape Dynamics, and then repeat Stroke Path Process. Everything should work now.



Pro Tip: You'll find it works better to handle some letters in sections or your highlights will be brightest in strange places. This is fine, and its actually a bit more realistic anyway.








Continue the process until you have done all the sides of the letters facing your imaginary light source. Remember to make sure you are working on the highlight layer, this will make adjust effects much easier later!


Pro Tip: Sometimes setting a layer to Overlay in the Layers Palette produces a weak highlight effect. If you prefer your highlights to be pure white, try setting the layer to Screen instead. You can also try right clicking and selecting






Modifying Blending Options


If you've been following along and using my settings your text should look something like this now. Weird homo-erotic color choices and all. I apologize for that, maybe I'm in my blue phase?








At this point, I decided we need to introduce a little bounced light into the text to give the bottom a little contrast and make the whole thing slightly more interesting. If you're unfamiliar with the concept of bounced light, at least in the academic sense, don't worry, I've got you covered.








When the surrounding surface is reflective, light bounces back from the ground plane onto the object. We don't have a ground plane, but we can exploit this common phenomenon to our advantage. We'll do so by modifying the Gradient Overlay in our text layers Blending Options and also add in a few other effects. Rather than run though them one at a time, I'll just give you the settings, If you made it this far into the tutorial you'll be able to work it out.









Adding A Reflection


Create a new layer, above your text layer, but below your highlight layer. Name the new layer, something like Reflection. Within your Layer Palette your Type layers should have a small capital letter T within a box, on the left hand side. While Holding CTRL Left Click that small box. This should select all of your text, but none of the background. If this fails, highlight your text layer in the Layers Palette, then choose Select from the main menu, and then Load Selection at the very bottom. Click Okay in the resulting pop-up, and your text should be selected.








Now, leaving the text selected, choose the Pen Tool, and draw a nice graceful curve through your text, as I have done. Close the path outside the text as shown in the image. With the Pen Tool still selected, right click and choose Make Selection. The Make Selection dialogue will pop-up, and you should choose Subtract from Selection and then click okay. Due to a quirk in Photoshop, you might sometimes end up with the inverse of what you wanted selected. In that case you can press ctrl + shift + i to invert your selection.








Making sure you have the Reflection layer selection in the Layers Palette fill the selection with solid white. You can do this any way you choose. Once the selection is filled you can cancel your selection by pressing ctrl + D. With the reflection layer still select, go to the Layers Palette and turn fill all the way down to 0%. The area you just filled white should be invisible now.








Open up the Blending Options for your reflection layer and give it a Gradient Overlay. To open the Gradient Editor as shown on the left above, you need to double click the small gradient drop down visible in the layer styles window. The Gradient Editor can be a little confusing to use, I've tried to highlight the important areas in the image above. You need to click the tab at the top left, and then set its Opacity to 0%. When your gradient looks something like might (White on one side and transparent on the other) you can click okay. Your text should be looking pretty good now, there is one last thing I added.








This is the Drop Shadow I warned you about earlier. If you are attempting this on a white or light colored background, the best thing to do, would be to increase the Spread by a small amount, and decrease the Size to something like 1-3 or 4 pixels. If you've been following this on a dark background as I used...











You've finised...but it's more like I finished. You should continue to experiment. This is really only fundamental text rendering, and there are many techniques to come in future tutorials. You should get some practice in. I hope you learned something from following my process here, and if not, I at least hope it didn't make you angry. Look out for future tutorials where I'll discuss Stacking Multiple Effects Layers, Texturing, Detailing, and potentially working with 3d Images and Digital Painting. I would just like to take this one last opportunity to apologize for the purple on teal color scheme in this tutorial. Cheers.

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