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Photoshop Tricks, Part 1

For a humorous approach to touching up images in Photoshop, check out Gary Bouton's tips and tricks. He covers how to use Photoshop to firm up your subject's neckline with painless nipping and tucking, how to create images from text, how to work with an image's color palette using practical techniques and more. (From Inside Photoshop CS, Sams, ISBN: 0672326442.)

Author Info:
By: Sams Publishing
Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 41
August 25, 2004
  1. · Photoshop Tricks, Part 1
  2. · Trick 2: Creating an Image Out of Text
  3. · Trick 3: Borrowing an Image's Color Palette
  4. · Posterized Piper
  5. · Trick 4: Removing Fringing from Leaves
  6. · Touching up the Image
  7. · More Touch Ups
  8. · Other Selection Techniques

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Photoshop Tricks, Part 1 - Trick 2: Creating an Image Out of Text
(Page 2 of 8 )

I'm sure you've seen this effect before: a black-and-white high-contrast image is made up of text or symbols. A couple of hard-to-find plug-ins can do this (I believe that Alien Skin Software has one), but wouldn't it be cool to be able to create the effect yourself?

Materials needed (and provided on the companion CD) are a black-and-white photo and a text file. On the companion CD, we included a copy of the Gettysburg Address and a public domain picture of Abraham Lincoln. If you want to use your own photo, you should know that the Lincoln picture has been filtered, and you should filter your photo, too. I posterized the Lincoln picture to about six levels.

Ready to build a picture of Lincoln from the Gettysburg Address?

Creating a Textual Image
  1. Open Gettysburg Address.txt from the Examples\Chap24 folder on the companion CD. The file should open in a standard text editor program; make sure Word Wrap is turned on in the text editor program (go to the Format menu, and Word Wrap should be checked).

  2. Press Ctrl(Command)+A to select all the text. Press Ctrl(Command)+C to copy the text to the Clipboard. Exit the text editor.

  3. In Photoshop, open the Lincoln.tif image from the Examples\Chap24 folder on the companion CD.

  4. Click the Create a new layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette to create a layer above Lincoln. Press D for the default colors (black will be the foreground color; and white, the background). Press Ctrl(Command)+Delete (Backspace) to fill the new layer with white.

Insider - Press Alt(Opt)+Delete (Backspace) to fill with the foreground color, and Ctrl(Command)+Delete (Backspace) to fill with background color. These shortcuts save you the time and keystrokes required to switch the background color to the foreground.

  1. Choose the Type tool, and make sure the Options bar shows black as the selected text color. Drag a marquee selection that encompasses the entire image. This method of making a marquee selection before placing the text will ensure that the text wraps properly throughout the entire document.

  2. You should see a blinking cursor inside the marquee selection. Press Ctrl(Command)+V. The text will plop into the image window.

  3. Now, to make an effective "text as photo" composition, the font needs to be dense, the leading needs to be tight, and the point size needs to be larger than average. In Figure 24.4, you can see that I took out the paragraph breaks and chose Compacta as the font at 40 points with 42-point leading. And the paragraph alignment is Center text. Do something like this with one of your own bold typefaces, and use the Character palette (Window, Character) to make similar adjustments.


    Figure 24.4 -- Try to leave as little whitespace as possible when formatting the text.

  1. Merge the text with the white layer. Just for reference here, Figure 24.5 shows the picture of Lincoln you'll be using.


    Figure 24.5 -- This photo will become a textual image.

  1. To ease confusion, rename the layer with text Gettysburg Address, and rename the layer with the picture of Lincoln, well, Lincoln.

  2. Choose Image, Calculations. In the Source 1 field, specify Gettysburg Address. In the Source 2 field, specify Lincoln. Check the Invert check box for Lincoln. For the Blending field, choose Subtract, and for the Result field, choose New Channel (see Figure 24.6). Click on OK to apply the calculations.


    Figure 24.6 -- The Calculations command is key to making the textual image.

Insider - When you're working in the Calculations dialog box, you can also choose other options from the Result drop-down menu. The option you choose will determine where the results will be displayed. The selection you made in step 10 will place the results in an alpha channel that you can view from the Channels palette. But if you prefer to have the results in a new document window, choose New Document from the Result drop-down menu instead and then continue with step 11.

Insider - If you chose New Channel from the Result drop-down menu as instructed in step 10, the result will be displayed on the Alpha 1 channel on the Channels palette. Click on the Channels tab to view the Channels palette (or choose Window, Channels), and then click on the Alpha 1 channel to make sure it is the active channel before performing the next step.

  1. Press Ctrl(Command)+I to invert the tonal scheme of the image. Now, depending on the font and font size you used, the image might need a little more contrast for you to clearly see the image of Lincoln. Press Ctrl(Command)+L to display the Levels command, and then drag the White Point slider to the left until you see something like that shown in Figure 24.7.


    Figure 24.7 -- Adding contrast to the image helps sort out the tones and makes Lincoln more visually prominent.

  1. Save the image to your hard disk, get some text and a black-and-white image of your own, and try this example with different fonts.

Figure 24.8 shows the finished image. The trick here is to make sure that the text you use covers as much of the photo as possible.


Figure 24.8 --  The finished image.

Two down and eight to go. Let's see what other trouble we can get into!

This chapter is from Inside Photoshop CS, by Gary Bouton (Sams, 2004, ISBN: 0672326442). Check it out at your favorite bookstore today.

Buy this book now.

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