advanced photoshop

How to transform text into detailed black and white type effects, part 1

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Tips & Tutorials, by Anna-lisa Saywell

A tutorial on how to combine various stock elements to transform basic text into black and white type effects

Download some of the tutorial files here

Thanks go out to Teddy Soegiarto for this tutorial. See more of his work at www.theycallmeteddy.com

Step 1

Firstly, we need to create our blank document as a basic canvas to create the scene. Create a new landscape document 483 x 329mm (A3+ size). This will be used as our canvas to transform the text into later. Landscape format is good for a wide view area and can be used as a desktop wallpaper.

Step 2

We need to choose a basic typeface and arrange it on the canvas. In this tutorial, we used ‘Helvetica Neue Lt Std’ as our typeface and  set it on tight kerning. San-serif fonts are preferred for simplicity reasons. Simpler typefaces are better to avoid over-complicating the image. You still may use any other type of fonts as long as they suitable with your own concept.

 Step 3

We need to prepare our image stock before composing them with the typeface. Keep in mind that the stock must suit the concept. In this tutorial, we’ll be using some flying creatures to support the theme. Firstly, download the eagle image from www.sxc.hu – ID: 1156019 and convert it to black and white using Desaturate (Image>Adjustments>Desaturate or Cmd/Ctrl+U). Then we need to adjust the image contrast using the Levels palette (Image>Adjustments>Level or Cmd/Ctrl+L). This will help to make the image to stand out more.

Step 4

Our first stock image has been placed, so now we need to clean and make a cut out of it. Pick the Pen tool (P). Start making a path by clicking points around the image shape. Set the Feather radius to 0 for the selection to make a solid selection of your image without any blurring. Use the Pen tool carefully to make a precise selection. You can do extra clean-up by removing all the unused background using the Eraser tool (E) with a hard round brush.

Step 5

After the clean-up, we need to bring the image into our scene. Drag the stock to the main canvas and place it alongside the text. Try to fit your image with the shape of the text and the empty white space around the canvas. You can use Free Transform (Edit>Free Transform or Cmd/Ctrl+T) to adjust the size and shape of your image. The image dimension needs to be maintained carefully to stay proportionate to the canvas – not too big or too small.

Step 6

We need to add more flying creatures in addition to the eagle to bring our story deeper with the magical fantasy theme. This time, we will add a winking owl (sxc.hu – ID: 951236) to bring out more of the magical atmosphere. Use the Pen tool (P) carefully to make a selection of the owl, cut it out and convert to black and white. After that, drag it to the canvas and arrange it below the text between the ‘E’ and ‘C’.

Step 7

Convert the typeface into a rasterised layer (Ctrl/right-click on the typeface layer and choose Rasterize type) and repeat the previous steps. Cut it out, convert to black and white and adjust the contrast. Add additional various stock images – we used various stocks from animal to still life imagery. Be creative and use your own stocks to keep your idea original. Compose all of them along with your text. We need to pay attention to the overall layout, including image size, position and white space.

Step 8

We need to soften the edges of the images, which are too crisp and rigid at the moment. Just pick the Brush tool (B) with a soft round type, set it to around 200px, set Opacity to 40% and Flow to 70%. Add layer masks to each image stock and start brushing to soften the edge. Pay attention to the part of the image stocks which overlap with the text – some of them need to be erased and others should stay the way they are.

Step 9

Open the ornament images files you downloaded earlier (ornament1-3.jpg). Make a selection of some parts of the ornaments, cut the parts that look like a ‘C’ shape, convert to black and white, adjust the contrast level, drag to the main canvas and arrange them with your text. In this tutorial, we arranged them with ‘P’ and ‘C’ letters (see screenshot). These ornaments can add beauty and a classy touch to your text. You can experiment more here by cutting different parts of the ornaments, resizing and rotating them to fit the typeface.

Step 10

Next, we will add a different touch using the same ornament stocks. Do the same thing as in the previous step, open and place more ornaments above the text. Then start to experiment with layer blending modes, which can be found on the Layer palette menu. In this tutorial, we used Screen and Linear Dodge a lot to get transparent effects. Don’t forget to adjust the Opacity and Fill of the layers to achieve various looks.


To be continued…