Creating an Otherworldly Title Screen in Adobe Photoshop

Omni Wars final

They are among us, and they have the power to destroy us. It’s up to you to save mankind! Okay, that may be overstating it a bit, but here’s a technique to really make your text shine even when faced with lots of negative space.

Step One: You’ll want to use a thick font, preferably one that’s sans serif. The font used here is called Bebas and can be found for free at For this example, the document is 7.5×7.5″ at 150 ppi. Since it’s going to be a space theme, use white text on a black background. Press Command-I (PC: Ctrl-I) to invert your Background layer from white to black, and press D then X to set your Foreground color to white. Once you’ve set up your document, use the Type tool (T) to set some text in your document. Our beginning font size is 140 pt, and we selected the Center Text option in the Options Bar.


Step Two: Before we start resizing the text, let’s first adjust how the font looks. Make sure the Type tool is selected and the Character panel is open. To access the panel, go to Window>Character, or simply click on the panel icon just before the 3D icon in the Options Bar. Change the tracking settings to –75 to tighten the spacing between letters. (Tracking is the third field on the right side of the panel.) That looks pretty good, but you can tweak the lower letters a touch more. With your Type tool, click between the W and the A, and press Option-Left Arrow (PC: Alt-Left Arrow) to tighten the space more. Do this between the A and R and the R and S, as well.



Step Three: We want the word WARS to be larger, so use your Type tool to select the bottom text, and in the Character panel, increase both the font size and the leading to 210. (Leading is the space between lines of text.) Select both words and bold the letters to make them a bit chunkier by toggling on the Faux Bold option, which is the first letter T icon in the Character panel.




Step Four: After you bolded the letters, you may have noticed that the crisp corners now have a slight bevel to them. Press Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J) to make a copy of the text layer so that you have a backup, and click the Eye icon next to the copied layer in the Layers panel to turn off its visibility. Right-click to the right of the original text layer’s thumbnail in the Layers panel and choose Rasterize Type from the menu that appears. Use the Rectangular Marquee tool (M) to select the top edge of one line of text. Press Delete (PC: Backspace) to trim off the top of the text to sharpen it. Repeat for the top and bottom of each line. This will clip a little of the rounded edges of the O and S, but that gives them character, which is always a bonus. You may also want to trim the ends of the S to make them parallel, as seen in this example.


Step Five: It’s time to add the hero or heroine. This technique works great with the letter A in our example, but you could try different letters according to the words and the shape of the hero that you’re using. With the Rectangular Marquee tool, select the black areas in the letter A, and press Option-Delete (PC: Alt-Backspace) to fill them with white to make it a solid triangle. Using the Move tool, bring in your heroine image (we’ve already extracted her in the download files that are available for KelbyOne members). Press Command-T (PC: Ctrl-T) to bring up Free Transform, hold the Shift key, and drag a corner point to resize her to match the letter. Having a hero with a wider stance helps sell the idea of being part of the A. Drag her into position, and press Enter to commit the transformation.

[KelbyOne members may download the files used in this tutorial at All files are for personal use only.]


Heroine: ©Fisher Photostudio/Fotolia

Step Six: Make a copy of the rasterized text layer by making it active in the Layers panel and pressing Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J). Turn off the visibility of the original rasterized text layer. Load the shape selection of your heroine by Command-clicking (PC: Ctrl-clicking) on her thumbnail in the Layers panel. You should see the marching ants around the person. Click her Eye icon to hide her. With the copied rasterized text layer selected, press Delete (PC: Backspace) to cut out the person’s shape from the A. Press Command-D (PC: Ctrl-D) to deselect. That effect by itself looks pretty cool, but we’ll take it further.


Step Seven: Select the word OMNI with the Rectangular Marquee tool and press Delete (PC: Backspace) so that you just have the word WARS with the silhouette. We’ll use this to make the light shadow. Deselect. Turn back on the visibility of the original rasterized text layer and the heroine layer. Press Command-T (PC: Ctrl-T) to Free Transform the WARS layer, and pull the top-center transform handle down until the top of the hole in the letter R extends beyond the bottom of the page. While the handles are still showing, Right-click inside the box and choose Perspective. Now you can grab the bottom-right or -left handle and pull outward (you may need to drag out the corner of your document to see the handles). This will cause the text to spread out. Adjust until you like the look, and then press Enter.


Step Eight: We need to blur the light shadow. The easiest way to do this is to use Gaussian Blur, but the more effective way is to use the Tilt-Shift blur. Go to Filter>Blur Gallery>Tilt-Shift. Pull the top solid line off of the top of the page so there’s no blurring on the top portion of the image. Now drag the bottom solid line to just above the bottom edge of the word WARS and drag the dotted line just below it. This will keep the top edge of the light shadow more in focus and let the rest of the word be blurry. Crank up the Blur in the Blur Tools panel until it looks right to you and then press Enter.


Step Nine: Find a background image that will fit with the theme, drag it into the main document using the Move tool, and move it just above the original rasterized text layer in the Layers panel. You’ll want to clip this image inside the text layer, so place you cursor between to the two layers in the Layers panel, press-and-hold the Option (PC: Alt) key, and click. Now the image will only be seen through the lettering. The great thing about this technique is that you can Free Transform the background image to visually fit it. Check out the “Beginners’ Workshop” in this issue to learn more about clipping an image into text and other shapes.


Planets: ©diversepixel/Fotolia

Step Ten: The image is coming along nicely, but you may want to drop the Opacity of the clipped background image in the Layers panel so it doesn’t look too busy and has a feeling of lightness. Now let’s give the background some stars by placing a star image as a layer just above the black Background layer. Use Free Transform to resize the star image to fill the document. Click on the Add Layer Mask icon (circle in a square) at the bottom of the Layers panel. Now select the Gradient tool (G), click on the gradient thumbnail in the Options Bar to open the Gradient Editor, select the Foreground to Transparent preset, and click OK. Select the Linear Gradient icon in the Options Bar, and press D then X to set your Foreground color to black. Start your gradient at a point just above the head of your hero and, while holding the Shift key to keep it straight, drag up to the middle of the word OMNI. This should give you a nice fade from black to the stars.


Stars: ©Tryfonov/Fotolia

Step Eleven: To add to the lightness of the image, press X to change the Gradient tool to a white to transparent gradient, and select the Reflected Gradient icon (the fourth icon in the Options Bar). Create a new layer at the top of the layer stack. Start the gradient at the very bottom of the word Wars and, while holding Shift, drag down a very short distance to create a layer of light. Double-click the cloud brush that we included in the download files to load it into Photoshop. Set up the brush to have a light Opacity and Flow in the Options Bar, and on a new layer, use it to add some cloudy haze to the ground. You may need to user your Bracket keys to adjust the size of the brush to get the size clouds you want. Load Corey’s Flare Brush (also in the downloads), reset the Opacity and Flow to 100%, and create a new layer. Place the cursor over the outstretched hand of the heroine, use the Bracket keys to make the center of the brush a little larger than her hand, and click once to add a flare.


Step Twelve: Everything is looking really good, but there’s always going to be a little tweaking at the end. Our heroine needs to be a little cooler, so select her layer and then click on the Hue/Saturation icon in the Adjustments panel (first icon in the second row). To make sure that it only affects the layer immediately below, click on the first icon at the bottom of the Properties panel. Now check Colorize and move the Saturation, Hue, and Lightness sliders until you get the look you want. Once that is done, you may want to hold the Option (PC: Alt) key and drag-and-drop a copy of that adjustment layer onto the text background image to match the coloring. Don’t forget to clip it so it only affects the text background image. Finally, make a copy of the flare layer, place it strategically on another part of the text, use Free Transform to resize and rotate it, and you’re done.


The key points for this project are knowing how to tweak text, transform text with perspective, and clip images into text. They’re not very complex techniques, but once you understand how to work them, the sky’s the limit.

Omni Wars final

This article is courtesy of Photoshop User magazine, the official publication of KelbyOne, which provides quality online education for creative people. For more information, visit