8 July 2010

Master brush and layer effects for type

Give your words a painterly feel with Fabio Sasso’s guide to finding your way around Photoshop’s brush and layer options

n this tutorial, Fabio Sasso shows you how to create a beautiful, watercolour-type effect – inspired by the work of illustrator Florian Nicolle – using brushes and layer styles in Photoshop. Aside from looking great, it’s a really simple technique to learn. You’ll discover how to use brush effects to give vector text a hand-painted feel, mastering Photoshop’s extensive set of Brush controls. You’ll also see how subtle use of some of Photoshop’s filters can complete the effect.

It’s highly recommended to have a graphics tablet to follow along this tutorial –you’ll still be able to recreate the effect if you don’t, but some details will be missing.

Fabio has used some commercially-available textures from Shutterstock, but you can use free versions from the likes ofColorburned.com.

Step 1 Create a new document in Photoshop and import an old paper texture. The one I used came from Shutterstock atbit.ly/dzU3x5, although you can use your own if you prefer.

Using a serif font with some vector frills and vector birds I created this composition in Illustrator. Place the vector-text-elements.ai (available from the Download Zone) in the centre of the document.

Step 2 Select a watercolor brush for the Brush Tip Shape (Window > Brush). You can download some really good ones from the Brusheezy website at bit.ly/cjAu0Q.

Step 3 In the Brush tab, select Shape Dynamics, change the Size Jitter to 100% and the Control to Pen Pressure if you are using a tablet – I highly recommend using one for this tutorial. Change the Minimum Diameter to 0% and the Angle Jitter to 100%. Then select Flip X Jitter and Flip Y Jitter.


Step 4 Select Transfer to finalise the Brush specifications. Next, change the Opacity Jitter to 100% and use Pen Pressure again for the Control options.


Step 5 With the Brush tool (B), add a new layer and start painting with black over the text. Change the sizes of the Brush using the [ and ] keys.


Step 6 Add another layer on top of the previous layer and, using the Brush tool (B) with the brush we created, change the colour to orange and the opacity to 40%. Start painting over the text again and then repeat the process using pink for the colour.


Step 7 Group all these layers used for watercolor type effect. Select the folder in the layer palette and go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All. Select the layer mask and with the Brush tool (B) set to black, begin painting over the mask. You will have to increase the brush size for this. You can also try working with different opacities, so try a few out until you’re happy with the results.

Step 8 Import another texture – this time I’m using a natural linen striped stained texture from Shutterstock, (bit.ly/aVD7vL). This layer will be on top of the others. Then change its Blend Mode to Multiply.


Step 9 If you don’t like the brownish result you will have, select the paper texture layer and go to Image > Adjustment > Hue and Saturation. Reduce the Saturation until you get a whiter effect. You can also increase the lightness a little bit.


Step 9 If you don’t like the brownish result you will have, select the paper texture layer and go to Image > Adjustment > Hue and Saturation. Reduce the Saturation until you get a whiter effect. You can also increase the lightness a little bit.

Step 11 Next, go to Layer > Layer Styles > Stroke. Use 3 pixels for the Size, Color Burn for the Blend Mode and 70% for the Opacity. Change the Fill Opacity on the Blending Options to 1%. If you like you can add another layer, and with the Brush tool (B) and a normal rounded brush, you can draw some elements like I did on the d of ‘today’s’ and the m of ‘dream’.


Step 12 Duplicate the vector text and elements layer again and put the new copy on top of the other layers once again. Then, choose Layer > Layer Styles. Selecting each in turn, set the parameters for (clockwise from top right) Blending Options, Drop Shadow, Bevel and Emboss and Color Overlay to match the settings shown above.

Step 13 This is the effect you will have so far. You can add more elements or invert some layer orderings.

Step 14 Add another layer on top of the others and group this layer so it’s inside a folder. Select the group or folder and change the Blend Mode to Color Burn. With the Brush tool (B), pick the watercolor brush we created and increase the size so you have a medium/big size brush. Using black for the colour, start painting on the corners of the canvas to create an ellipse effect. You can reduce the opacity to make the effect more subtle.


Author: Fabio Sasso


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