Create Your Own Digital Word Art in Photoshop CS and Elements
Rating: 8 / 10Photoshop CS and Elements Type Tools provide many creative options — from changing horizontal text to vertical, to applying special effects and drop shadows, or “Warping” lines of text into arcs, flags, bulges and other shapes. This column illustrates a sampling of these features and how you can apply them to your own layouts.
Alphabet stickers, chipboard letters, even ready-made word art — nothing gives you creative flexibility and control like building your own digital headlines. Whether you use them in digital or conventional scrapbooks, applying the following simple techniques can help turn your future page titles into memorable “word art.”
This page was made using the Digital Scrapbook Memories’ (DSM) “Timeless” scrapbooking kit (www.digitalscrapbookmemories.com). The quote used for my headline was found on The Quote Garden, an online quote library, and printed using the Cochin typeface. I applied a simple hard edge drop shadow to help separate the words from the busy background. The word “Butterfly” (right) was added in vertical format, using an Embroidery typeface that gives the appearance of being embroidered right into the background — a simple but effect form of word art.
Composition: Finding the right words
Before you can create digital word art, you have to write the text. Perhaps you’re one of those lucky souls who can easily pull a witty headline out of thin air. As a journalist, I can whip up straight headlines fairly quickly, but when it comes to “fun” titles for my scrapbook pages, I still need occasional inspiration. Among my favorite resources are scrapbooking and topical quote sites on the Internet.
Search the word “quotes” and you’ll get a selection of popular, literary and historical quote sites. Expand that to “scrapbooking words or quotes” and you’ll find sites dedicated to collecting quotes, phrases, song titles/lyrics and synonyms that you can draw on for ideas — many categorized by common scrapbook topics and themes. Even if they don’t provide the perfect page title, these resources are great for triggering ideas.
Creation: Fit the title to the theme
The headline below, “Fly Like a Bird,” is a well-known phrase that most everyone has heard. By adding some simple graphics, creative lettering, and informal layout, I’ve created a title that’s very similar to word art sold on digital scrapbooking sites.
1. “Fly Like a Bird” was created using Zapfino typeface, clip art and Soft Edge drop shadows.
What makes it stand out from straight headlines is the combination of font sizes, stacked and indented lines, simple clipart and drop shadows — and effect that makes the birds appear to be in mid-flight. I keep a small library of professional clipart, but if I can‘t find what I need in my collection, I simply search for free (or low-cost) clipart from the Internet. You can also create your own graphics using PE’s “Brightness/Contrast” control. For example, edit a personal beach image with seagulls in flight, increasing the contrast until the birds turn black.
2. The Type toolbar in Photoshop Elements (tools may vary with PE Version): 1) Choose Font Family, 2) Font Style (i.e.: bold, italic and other options), and 3) Font Size. 4) Anti-aliased option smoothes edges of the letters (if necessary); 5) Choose “Faux” Bold or Italic if the font doesn’t already have them (plus Underline and Strikethrough). 6) Set text alignment on left margin, center, or right margin; 7) Set the Leading (distance between lines) and 8) Set the text color. 9) Warp tool, 10) Change text orientation (Horizontal or Vertical), 11) Cancel current edits, and 12) Commit current edits. Note: In standard text blocks, you can set the leading to (Auto) or to the font size you’re using, then adjust the number up or down until you find a leading that looks natural or fits the space you want to fill.
I chose the Zapfino typeface for my title because the flowing ascenders and descenders (on the letters y, k and d) give the text a feeling of sweeping motion*. I set the text alignment at the left margin and then used Tabs and Spaces to indent the second and third lines. The words in the middle, “Like a,” are much smaller than the top and bottom lines to maintain emphasis on the key words “Fly” and “Bird.” Finally, I experimented with the leading between lines to create some open space and to prevent letters from bumping into each other.
Once I was happy with text placement, I added the birds on a separate layer, making sure to remove any white space around them so they floated on a blank background. As discussed in my last column, “Add Dimension to Your Scrapbook Pages,” you can use Layer Styles in Photoshop CS or Elements to make objects appear to “pop” off the page. The same is true for headlines and, in this case, the graphics included with the headline. So I applied a Soft Edge drop shadow to the text and bird layers.
3. After testing different drop shadow styles, I applied a Soft Edge style (red arrow) to each of the “active” layers — type and graphics.
Since I created this headline to use in a conventional scrapbook, I had to output and frame it to match the intended page. I soon realized that it would be a better match if the type were dark brown instead of black. Normally, this would require simply highlighting the active text layer and changing the color to brown (#8 Arrow in Graphic 2, above). But I had already flattened the file — merging the birds, text and background into a single layer — so I had to use the Magic Wand and Paint Bucket tools to change the color.
4. To change color on word art that has already been “set” and merged, highlight the text and birds with the Magic Wand tool. (Note that this process works best on high-resolution graphics to avoid aliasing in the new color.)
5. Use the Eyedropper tool to choose a new color.
To make the color change, select all of the text and clipart (excluding drop shadows) with the Magic Wand tool, as shown in Graphic 4. Next, choose the replacement color using the Eyedropper tool (Graphic 5, above) or by clicking on the “Set foreground color” tool (Graphic 6, bottom left arrow) to bring up a color picker. I used the eyedropper to select a dark brown shade from the mulberry paper I was using to frame the headline. Once the new color shows up in the Foreground box, use the Paint Bucket tool (Graphic 6, top left arrow) to fill in the selected areas on the Background layer or on a new blank layer (Graphic 6, right arrow).
6. The Paint Bucket tool (top left arrow) is used to fill specified areas with color shown in the Foreground box (bottom left arrow). You can fill selections on the background layer or on a new blank layer (right arrow).
I prefer to add the new color to a blank layer on top of the background, using the selections as guides to fill with color. Depending on the project, I can then delete the background and add drop shadows to the new color layer, or I can merge the two layers to give the word art a little more depth. I chose to merge the two layers.
Printing: Turning digital into hybrid
Once the new word art was complete, I printed it on translucent vellum paper and framed it with the same mulberry paper I used to frame the hang glider’s photo (see layout, below). Vellum is great material for printing titles and journaling. In this case, it has the added benefit of allowing the texture in the mulberry paper to show through — creating a raw, natural effect (below).
7) Vellum backed by mulberry paper. When printing text or titles on vellum, set the paper in your printer dialog box on “standard” weight instead of photo paper.
8) The final hybrid scrapbook page is recreated digitally with a vertical headline added on the right. HANG GLIDING was created using Skratch Punk typeface with a Hard Edge drop shadow. If properly set up, HANG GLIDING could be printed directly on the Colorbok paper. Page products include: Lightweight cardstock backing, Colorbok Flavia “Tan Waves” printed paper and Die Cuts with a View Mulberry sheets for framing.
More Word Art Ideas
With literally thousands of typefaces and even more ways to manipulate them, the possibilities for creative word art are virtually endless. Here are just a few more ideas using typefaces, layer styles and “warp” styles.
Over the Rainbow
“Over the Rainbow” was created using the Caflisch Script Pro font, typed in black, at 72 points. I applied the “Rainbow” effect in Layer Styles to get the raised multicolor effect.
Click on the Warp tool “sad-face” icon near the end of the horizontal tool bar (above) to bring up the Warp Text dialog box with pull-down menu (below). Sliders control the degree of distortion.
I chose the “Arc” effect and set the “Bend” at +50 — producing a colorful rainbow of words. I could change the distribution of colors in the rainbow by moving the headline a fraction of an inch up or down.
The Warp tool has more than a dozen warp options. Fishbowl Effect was actually made with the “Fisheye” warp and Goldfish was made with the “Fish” warp.
Both Photoshop CS and Elements provide a selection of Layer Styles for adding drop shadows, bevels, glows, patterns and other creative effects to your text and photos. Experiment on your own word art, and if you enjoy using them as much as I do, search the Internet for more creative layer styles that you can download free or for just a few dollars.
The first style below came with Photoshop CS3. My version of Photoshop Elements doesn’t have a similar style, however, I was able to reproduce the effect (somewhat) by using “Heavy” Inner Glow plus “Heavy Outer Glow.”
Fresh Paint #1: Cracked Font; Photoshop CS Text Effects Style: Sprayed Stencil; Background: DSM Timeless Paper, Plain Red.
Fresh Paint #2: Made in PE using Cracked Font and Layer Style 21 from “My Styles Archives” by Musta Fanesil, downloaded free from the Photoshop sharing website TwentyTwoPixels. Background: DSM Timeless Paper, Plain Brown.
Note: Once you start downloading new fonts, Photoshop layer styles, brushes and actions, or even scrapbooking words and quotes, you should back them up on CD, USB drive or other exterior device. You may need to transfer these materials to a new computer, add them to upgraded software or (worst case scenario) replace them after a hard drive crash.