Photoshop CS4: A Picture Worth a Thousand Words

I love Photoshop techniques that offer all kinds of possibilities for experimentation—and the following tutorial is a perfect example of one of those techniques. In this issue, we’re going to take a portrait and replace the person’s image with text (think 2009 Grammy posters).

1 CHOOSE YOUR PHOTO

Pick a portrait that offers good contrast—a photo that’s very dramatic and dark probably won’t work as well. I’ve had the best success with straight-on head and shoulder shots, but again, feel free to experiment with all types of photos. For the best results, choose a photo that has a light background (or select the background around the person and make it lighter).

ps cs4
©ISTOCKPHOTO/JOAN VINCENT

2 CREATE VARIOUS TEXT BRUSHES

Create a new document (File>New) in a size that’s smaller than your photo: the specifics don’t really matter. Press D to set the Foreground color to black. Use the Type tool (T) to type several different words in various fonts and sizes (in this case we used a person’s name). One at a time, draw a selection around each word with the Rectangular Marquee tool (M), and from the Edit menu, choose Define Brush Preset. Name each brush in the Brush Name dialog and click OK.

ps cs4
ps cs4

3 SELECT THE SHADOWS AND MAKE A LAYER

Switch back to the photograph. From the Select menu, choose Color Range. From the Select drop-down menu in the Color Range dialog, choose Shadows and click OK. (In our example, nothing in the background was selected. If parts of the background are selected in your photo, see the next step for removing those selected areas.)

Then, press Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J) to copy the selected pixels onto a new layer. Press Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J) to copy the selected pixels onto a new layer. Click back on the Background layer in the Layers panel.

ps cs4
ps cs4

4 SELECT THE MIDTONES AND MAKE A LAYER

Go back to the Select menu and choose Color Range again. From the Select drop-down menu in the Color Range dialog, choose Midtones and click OK. If (as in this example) some of the background is selected, use the Lasso tool (L) with the Option key (PC: Alt key) held down to circle the areas you don’t want selected. Then, press Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J) to copy the selected pixels onto a new layer.

ps cs4
ps cs4

5 FILL THE LAYERS WITH BLACK AND GRAY

Click the Eye icon next to the Background layer in the Layers panel to hide that layer from view. Click on the midtones layer and from the Edit menu choose Fill. Use 50% Gray, check the Preserve Transparency box, and click OK. Then, activate the shadow layer and use the Fill command again, except this time use Black with Preserve Transparency checked. You should have a very basic portrait made from black and 50% gray.

ps cs4

6 FINE-TUNE THE RESULTS AND MERGE DOWN
If necessary, show the original Background (click where the Eye icon used to be) and use the Brush tool (B) to paint with black on the shadow layer, gray on the midtones layer, or use the Eraser tool (E) to completely remove areas. (Note: For gray, click on the Foreground color swatch, enter R:128, G:128, and B:128 in the Color Picker, and click OK.) In this example, we added a little more definition to the ears by painting with gray on the midtones layer. Once you’re satisfied, click on the top layer (the shadow layer) and press Command-E (PC: Ctrl-E) to merge it with the midtones layer.

ps cs4

7 ADJUST BRUSH SETTINGS AND PAINT SOME TEXT

Click the Create a New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. Press D to set your default colors. Press Command-Delete (PC: Ctrl-Backspace) to fill the new layer with white. Choose one of your custom brushes from the Brush Picker in the Options Bar, and in the Brushes panel (Window>Brushes), click on the words “Brush Tip Shape.” Adjust the Spacing so there’s space between each word. Under Shape Dynamics, vary the size and rotation of the brush. As you paint on the white layer, experiment with the Shape Dynamics. Repeat with your other custom brushes. For now, just get some “text paint” on the layer—we’ll continue painting in a moment.

ps cs4
ps cs4
ps cs4

8 COPY THE PORTRAIT
Create a new layer and drag it above the black-and-gray portrait layer. Press Command-Delete (PC: Ctrl-Backspace) to fill it with white. This will provide a white background behind our image. Hide all the layers except the black-and-gray portrait layer, and then click on that layer to make it active. Press Command-A (PC: Ctrl-A) to Select All and then Command-C (PC: Ctrl-C) to Copy.

ps cs4

9 PASTE INTO A LAYER MASK
Show all layers and activate the layer with the painted words. Click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a layer mask. Hold down Option (PC: Alt) and click on the layer mask thumbnail (this will hide the painted text and show just the mask). Press Command-V (PC: Ctrl-V) to paste the copied pixels onto the mask. Press Command-D (PC: Ctrl-D) to Deselect. Press Command-I (PC: Ctrl-I) to Invert the mask (your mask should look like a negative of the black-and-gray pixel image that you pasted).

ps cs4

10 CONTINUE PAINTING, VARYING BRUSHES
Activate the painted text layer (not the mask) by clicking on the layer thumbnail, and continue painting using the different custom brushes you created. You can also continue to experiment with the brush settings for Size, Spacing, and Shape Dynamics. (Although you don’t need a pressure sensitive pen for this technique, it sure helps!)

ps cs4

11 ADD A LAYER WITH RANDOM TEXT
The painted text will only appear inside the white and gray areas of the mask. To add a bit more randomness to the portrait, add a new layer above the painted text layer. Then use the same text brushes to add a few words here and there outside the boundaries of the mask.

ps cs4

12 PAINT ON THE MASK IF NECESSARY
If there are areas where you’d like text to appear in the portrait—or there’s text showing where you don’t want it to show—click on the layer mask and paint with a round, soft-edged brush: use black to hide the text, white to show the text, and shades of gray to make the text somewhat visible.

ps cs4

13 VARIATION: ADD A GRAIDENT OVERLAY
Here’s a simple variation: Add a Gradient Overlay layer style to the painted words layer. Just click on the Add a Layer Style icon (fx) at the bottom of the Layers panel and select Gradient Overlay. In this case we clicked on the Gradient thumbnail, and selected the Blue, Red, Yellow gradient in the Gradient Editor. Click OK to close the Gradient Editor, then select Screen for the Blend Mode and click OK. Hold down Option (PC: Alt) and drag the word “Effects” in the Layers panel on top of the “extra words” layer to copy the same layer style to that layer.

ps cs4

14 VARIATION: USE TEXT BLOCKS WITH THE MASK
Use the Type tool to click-and-drag a text box around the entire image. Get a large amount of random text (we used www.blindtextgenerator.com) and paste the text into the text block. Hold down Option (PC: Alt) and drag the layer mask from the painted text layer onto this new type layer to copy the mask. Then, either hide the painted text layer, or use both the painted layer and the new type layer—the possibilities are endless!

ps cs4
ps cs4

Share & Enjoy


 

  1. PsdDude (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    Very nice result! It looks pro!

  2. Sonia (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    Cool…Nice Job!![:

  3. charlie cruise (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    that was awesome!!!

  4. Chris Miller (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    Great tutorial, I’ll have to try this tonight :)

  5. lori (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    It doesn’t whants to cooperate :| …..

  6. energy monitoring (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    pretty good brush tool tutoria..i m impressed by the way of description..

  7. Alex (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    It came out really nicely although it took quite a few hours for me to edit because of some problems with the lighting. Thanks!

  8. interesting (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    Cool technique, but I am just wondering, this same exact techinque, practically step by step, can be found at this site posted on the same exact day: http://www.psdtop.com/blog/photo-effects/typographic-portrait-like-grammys-posters/ Not a big deal, but it looked like someone copied the other, looks like this tutorial on layers is a copy of the other one. I like Layers, not putting it down, just strange that the same exact technique was featured on that site by someone else on the same exact day. Also the author of this tutorial even mentions “think Grammy 2009 posters,” copying the commentary from the psdtop site as well, but without giving credit. Why not at least credit and link to the original tutorial writer?

  9. Emmanuel (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    this is cool
    thank you.

  10. interesting (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    maybe the guys at psdtuts copied this tutorial, if so, not cool! Or maybe they were trying it out on their own, either way, the copier should credit the original writer. Hmmm.

  11. carly (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    i cant find the colour range button, i have photoshop elements 7. can somebody tell me what to do instead?

  12. paco (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    Culo!

  13. Paco (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    Culos! Me chupan la verga

  14. Paco (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    Orale! Hombre!

  15. Karina (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    i dont care who copied who,God bless them both,because this is what i need:)THANK YOU BOTH:D

  16. Urwa (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    man took me 3 hours to do it!

  17. lidmauren (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    great job!! ^^

  18. alie (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    this was really hard umm icouldnt find the Rectangular Marquee tool soo i dunno lol :p

  19. HANNAH (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    I don’t get it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. kosai (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    ho, i so like text effect . thank very much.

  21. ali ayvaz (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    very good.thanks

  22. Kelli (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    Very fun! I will be doing this again!

  23. maggy (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    great tut .. i’ll have a go at this myself

  24. Lilly (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    Very cool. Thank you so much. A suggestion for people have issues with the background: you can use magnetic lasso to get rid of the background all together.

  25. Kaushik Ghosh (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    Art of photography has achieved a new dimension with the aid of computers

  26. [...] surfing the web today, I came across this photoshop tutorial, which is a project combining text and image. I thought it looked pretty cool, so I decided to use [...]

  27. Lalrinngheta (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    nice man…..

  28. Lalrinngheta (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    tel me one thing how to use CS5…..

  29. Lyndit (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    This is a great tutorial! Fun playing with typography.

  30. [...] for experimentation—and the following tutorial is a perfect example of one of those techniques [source] Inspiration photoshop | demo, media [...]

  31. Shannon (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    I have gotten everything until step 9, when I hold alt (I have a PC) and create mask the mask’s icon shows it as black but all I see in front of me is white. It doesn’t show the words (like the tutorial says) but it does not show it as black. When I have that thumbnail (for the mask) highlighted and paste it puts that in a new layer entirely (as shown here: http://tinypic.com/r/6j3bc7/7) instead of pasting on the mask.
    What am I doing wrong?

    Thank you.

  32. Mel (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    This is fanTAStic!! A cursory knowledge of Photoshop is a good idea, but even with my little bit of know-how, this is doable. The result was gorgeous–thank you!!

  33. [...] tiver tempo, tenho de fazer um poster destes. Seguindo o tutorial do Dave Cross até parece [...]

  34. [...] A Picture Worth a Thousand Words [...]

  35. melissa (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    awesome tutorial, had to use this for a class project, was quite fun :) love this technique alot (current graphic design student, from cape breton, ns, canada :)

  36. Ray Ray Lizzy (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    This took FOREVVVVERRRR to do but it turned out really good!

  37. [...] first saw this Photoshop tutorial here. It was wonderful but used CS4, a program that I can’t afford. I knew I could do this with PS [...]

  38. Janelle (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    aHH, i WANT TO USE THI SFOR THE TUTORIAL PROJECT FOR MY gd CLASS AT SCHOOL, BUT i CANLT ACCESS cs4 UNTIL mONDAY Xd i’D DO IT HERE BUT i CAN’T GET PAST STEO 2 WITH pse 7 :| (And I hit CAPS lock too, stupid keyboard…)

  39. Alice (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    hi! i wonder what i shall do at step number 6. paint what? how exactly and what part exactly?

  40. Natasha (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    I love this tutorial! I just did it in less than an hour! thanks soo much!

  41. BALAKRISHNA RAO K (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    that’s called Professional work.

  42. WelcomeGet (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    pretty impressive

  43. Eric Bieller (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    Wow. This is very cool. I would have taken a much more roundabout way to achieve this effect. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  44. hein (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    thanx bro…

  45. Fhconway (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    This is so cool. Will try it.

  46. Mohamed El-Asfar (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    thank you , that was really useful

  47. Black Man... (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    WAT IF YOUR BLACK??????????????????????????????????????????????

  48. Daniela (Reply) on Tuesday September 1, 2009

    GREAT tutorial!!!! Thanks!!!



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