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Create a spellbinding text effect in 5 easy steps

Added on Tuesday 11th of October 2011 09:11 am EST

by Matt Gebhardt
Adobe Photoshop CS2/CS3/CS4/CS5
Operating Systems:
Macintosh, Microsoft Windows


Coming up with new ways to spark up your text consumes a lot of valuable time as you play around with a gazillion filter combinations and layer styles. We’ll make things easier by showing you a text effect that’s electrifying, quick, and easy.

To create text with some delightful shock value, we’ll:

  • Provide you with specs to set up your canvas for optimum results.
  • Give you recommendations for setting your type and adding graphics for additional flair.
  • Render the background and bring the technique to life by adding color and a simple blending mode.
  • Offer some tips to help you customize the technique.

Autumn foliage, pumpkin pies, ghouls, ghosts, and bewitching text: It’s all part of the October design panel. One of our favorite ways to warp and distort text to give it some seasonal flair is an enchanting text effect, illustrated in Figure A. Not only can the results be impressive, but the simple five-step technique literally only takes minutes to complete.

This image is FPO. Please use high-res TIFF instead. Thx.

Prepare the canvas
To follow along with our technique, it’s important that you have the same canvas size and resolution or the effects won’t produce the same results. So, first we’ll prepare the canvas and add the type.

To set up the canvas and add text:

  1. Create a new 6" wide by 4" high canvas set at 200 ppi in RGB mode.
  2. Press D to set the foreground color to the default of black.
  3. Select the Horizontal Type tool from the Tools panel.
  4. From the Type tool options bar, choose a thick bold-face font such as Comic Sans Bold.
  5. Set the Font size large, such as 80 point.
  6. Type your text onto the canvas.
  7. Select the Move tool and position your text where you want it.

If your text winds up being too large to fit on the canvas, simply select your type, and decrease the point size on the Type tool options bar.

Include additional objects in your effect
You can also include an additional object, such as a silhouette or piece of clip art, as we did for the image shown in Figure A. To do this:

  1. Insert the desired object onto its own layer after you’ve entered your text. Make sure this layer is above the text layer in the Layers panel.
  2. Position the object where you’d like it to appear on the canvas.
  3. Select Merge Down from the Layers panel’s pop-up menu to combine your object and text on a single layer.

Stroke your type
The next step in our technique is to create a thick stroke from our text, but on the Background layer.

To add the text stroke:

  1. Select the text layer by [command]-clicking ([Ctrl]-clicking in Windows) in the Layers panel.
  2. Turn off the text layer’s visibility.
  3. ...

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