23 December 2008

Simple Text Effects - Bevels and Outlines


Most people love to apply fancy effects to text. This tutorial introduces some quite simple but effective effects you can use not only with text but with other objects as well.

These effects can be applied using any version of Corel Photo-Paint from version 8 upwards, and possibly even earlier versions with some modification. At the time of writing, I am now using version 10 all the time now and as I wanted to make these tuts available fairly quickly, I haven't spent a great deal of time referring back to version 8 (sorry) and so there may be some minor changes for version 8 users that I have missed.

Why do we need these effects?
In some cases similar effects exist under the effects menu in Photo-Paint but these are limited in scope and cannot natively provide the same depth of variation and control as those described here.

For instance, the Emboss Effect (under the 3D Effects submenu item in versions 9 and 10) only creates very harsh embosses. We sometimes need a much softer effect as shown here. Even if we apply a slight blur to the native emboss, we cannot achieve the same result with some soft and some hard edges.

Standard Emboss Effect Std. Emboss Effect with Gaussian Blur applied Std. Emboss with our soft emboss effect applied

However, even using this simple blur method, we CAN achieve a hard edged result using either lock transparency or masks (see Part 1A next).

This method utilities Photo-Paint's Lock Transparency function, or masks to create text or object with soft emboss highlights and shadows.


1. Create a new image.
Click the New Image icon on the Toolbar .

The Create a New Image dialogue opens.
The size and background colour will depend on the object/s you wish to apply the effect to. For this tutorial, the new image details were: 200x200 pixels, 72 dpi, background colour 30% black.

TIP: The units of measurement a new image uses for both size information and for rulers is image-specific and can be different from the default units of measurement chosen as Photo-Paint's workspace default setting.

The Units of Measurement for each new image can be changed in the Units of Measurement drop-down list in the ‘Create a New Image' dialogue box. If you have several images open simultaneously, each one can use different units and display different rulers. The workspace DEFAULT units are set under Tools > Options > General.

2. Change the Paint colour to cyan.
Left-click on the cyan colour swatch on the default palette.
The Paint colour swatch on the RHS of the status bar changes to reflect your choice.

If the colour palette is not present in the Workspace, open it using Window > Color Palettes > Default RGB Palette.

TIP: Remember: When using the Colour Palette, left-click changes the PAINT colour, right-click changes the Uniform Fill colour and CTRL+left-click changes the PAPER colour.

3. Create a letter ‘A' object.
Click on the Text Tool in the Toolbox and create a letter ‘A', size 240, with a thick font - I used Boink LET.
Click back on the Object Picker Tool to render the text.

4. Align the ‘A' object to the centre of the image.
From the menu choose Object > Arrange > Align and Distribute. Choose ‘To Center of Document' then press OK. The Character is now centred to the image.

5. Apply the Emboss Effect (Effects > 3D Effects > Emboss).
Use the following settings:

  • Depth=5,
  • Level=152,
  • Direction=135,
  • Emboss Color=Original Color.

Press OK.

6A. (Lock Transparency method).

Ensure that the ‘A' object is still selected.

Press the Lock Transparency button.

  • In PP 9 and 10 this button is located on the bottom of the Objects Docker and also on the Mask/Object Toolbar.

    The Mask/Object Toolbar

  • In PP8 it is a checkbox on the top of the Objects Docker and also as a button on the Mask/Object Toolbar.


6B. (Mask method).
Create a mask from the ‘A' Object. ( Mask > Create from Object/s, CTRL+M, or click the icon in the Mask/Object Toolbar.

If the mask marquee is visible ( Mask > Marquee Visible, CTRL+H, or ) you will see a moving dotted line surrounding the ‘A' object. The visible mask marquee is sometimes described 'marching ants" !

Both methods continued...

7. Apply a Gaussian blur ( Effects > Blur > Gaussian Blur ).

Set the radius to 2 pixels then click OK

The image opposite shows the difference between simply blurring the object without constraints and the effect obtained when the limit of the blur is constrained using either a mask or the Lock Transparency function.

If you like, you can enhance the effect even further through lightening the highlight more ( Image > Adjust > Brightness-Contrast-Intensity (B = 0, C = 5 to 8, I = 5 to 8),

and add a light drop shadow in the same direction as the shaded area of the object.

8. Create 2 new objects.
Make sure the Object Docker is open ( Window > Dockers > Objects or CTRL+F7) then create two new objects ( Object > Create > New Object, or use the New Object icon on the bottom of the Objects Docker.

9. Change the names of the new objects.
Double click the first new object in the Objects Docker - the Object Property dialogue box opens.

Change the name for the first new object to "white" then click OK.

Double-click the second new object and change its name to "black" as shown.

image part1b-1

10. Create a mask from the ‘A' object.
Select the ‘A' object in the Objects Docker and create a mask from this object ( Mask > Create from Object/s, CTRL+M or press the icon on the Mask/Object Toolbar). You should see a dotted marquee (the mask marquee) surrounding the object. If not you can switch the visibility of the mask marquee on using Mask > Marquee Visible or CTRL+H.

TIP: Mask Overlay.
If you prefer, you can display the mask as an overlay (Mask > Mask Overlay or click the icon on the Mask/Objects Toolbar).

The overlay is much better for visualising feathered masks but may reduce visibility of some objects in your image.

The Mask/Object Toolbar

image part1b-2
The mask shown here is inverted
(step 8).

11. Invert the mask. Mask > Invert, CTRL+SHIFT+I, or press the icon on the Mask/Object Toolbar).
If you are using the marquee to visualise the mask, your image should look like that shown just above. This step is important. If the mask is not inverted the effect will not work.

Now we need to fill shaped areas in the two new (white and black) objects we created in step 5. The filled shapes will be the inverse of the ‘A' character.

12. Fill the white object with white using the inverted mask shape.
Select the "white" object in the Objects Docker.

From the menu choose Edit > Fill. The Edit Fill and Transparency dialogue opens.

Ensure the ‘Current Fill' radio button is selected and that the fill type is ‘Uniform Fill' ( the red, green and blue icon near the eyedropper).

If the colour in the large colour swatch in this dialogue is not white, we need to change it to white. Click the EDIT button. The Uniform Fill dialogue opens.

Drag the tiny square in the large gradient colour box right up to the far top left until the readings in the R,G and B value boxes read 255 each. This is pure white (RGB mode). Click OK and then OK again in the Edit Fill and Transparency dialogue.

The ‘white - highlight object now contains a white ‘A'.

Even though you can't see it in the Objects Docker, your image should now show a white ‘A'.

image part1b-3

13. Fill the black object with black using the inverted mask shape.
Repeat step 9 except that this time, select the ‘black' object and change its colour to black. The RGB values in the Uniform Fill dialogue should be 0,0,0 (tiny square dragged to the far bottom (left or right side is the same).

After pressing OK twice you should see a black ‘A' in both your image and in the ‘black' object in the Objects Docker.

image part1b-4
14. Remove the mask ( Mask > Remove, CTRL+SHIFT+R , or click the icon on the Mask/Object Toolbar).

15. Blur both the white and black objects.
Select the white object in the Objects Docker. From the Effects menu, choose Blur > Gaussian Blur. Change the Radius to 3.0 pixels then press OK. Select the ‘black' object in the Objects Docker and repeat the effect ( Effects > Last Effect or CTRL+F). You image should now show a blurry cyan letter ‘A' with a black background.

16. Clip the black and white objects to the original cyan ‘A' object.
This is a really neat feature in Corel Photo-Paint - the ability to ‘clip' one object to another. In the Objects Docker click the blank column between the object thumbnail and the ‘eye' icon for each of the black and white objects. A small paper clip appears beside the thumbnail for each of these two objects.
image part1b-5

17. Shift the position of the clipped objects.
Make sure the Object Picker Tool is selected. Select the ‘black' object in the Objects Docker. Using your keyboard arrow keys, move the black object two pixels up and two pixels left (click twice up and twice left). Select the ‘white' object and shift it 2 pixels down and two pixels right (the opposite to how you moved the black object. You image should now look like this:
image part1b-6
image part1b-1 Try changing the placement of the white and black objects the other way around - the soft embossed effect appears reversed. You could consider this to be similar to changing the position of a light pointed at the object.

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