“Dangerous Type,” named after the song by The Cars, is just about the perfect name for a chapter on creating type effects. Now, in all actuality, the really perfect name for a chapter on type effects would be “Type Effects,” but I couldn’t find a movie, TV show, band, or song named “Type Effects,” however I was able to find a song named “The Darker Type” (by the band The Dying Effect, from their album “Bleed the Night”), which is what I was going to use, but when I heard the 30-second online preview of the “death metal” song, I realized that I could actually understand more of the words from any song by French pop musician Maxime Le Forestier, than I could from “The Darker Type,” despite my complete inability to speak French, with the possible exception of the phrase, “J’ai une urgence de salle de bains,” which I memorized just in case (which loosely translated means, “It’s urgent that you call Sally Jessy Raphael, or actor Conrad Bain”). Anyway, I have to tell you—you don’t want to play “The Darker Type” when you’re alone with the lights out, because it’s really scary sounding (which is surprising for the tender love song it sounds like it is). So, I went with “Dangerous Type,” mostly because none of the lyrics made me want to bludgeon myself, which I think is a real plus.
Halftone Pattern Type Look
This look was made popular by a very slick series of TV and Web ads for Ford’s F-150 truck. While the type effect itself is pretty simple, what makes the project a lot of fun (and a great learning experience) is going through all the steps you need to create the whole look of the ad from scratch, which is what we’re going to do here. This particular look is incredibly popular right now (the overall grungy look, not just the type effect), so learning this look will probably come in even more handy than the type trick. Here’s how it’s done:
- Step One: Open the photo you want to apply this type effect to (you can download the photo shown here from the book’s downloads page, mentioned in the book’s intro). Now duplicate the Background layer (as seen here in the Layers panel) by pressing Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J).
- Step Two: Go under the Filter menu, under Artistic, and choose Cutout. This filter will give us a posterized look to our image (a look using only a few colors), without it looking as harsh as it would if we actually posterized the image. When the dialog appears, at the top right, choose 5 for Number of Levels (as shown here), set the Edge Simplicity to 0, the Edge Fidelity to 2, then click OK to apply this effect to the photo. As you can see here in the preview on the left side of the dialog, there’s a cool effect on the photo, but we lost all the detail in the truck (and if you’re doing this for a truck manufacturer or truck dealer, they’re not going to want you to mess with the truck. That’s why we duplicated the layer when we started—so we can go back and get parts of the original untouched image if we need it (and as it turns out, we need it).
- Step Three: Go to the Layers panel and click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the panel. Press X to set your Foreground color to black, get the Brush tool (B), choose a mediumsized, soft-edged brush (from the Brush Picker up in the Options Bar), and paint over the truck. As you do, the original untouched truck (from the layer below) is revealed, and now all our detail is back. Press Command-Option-Shift-E (PC: Ctrl-Alt-Shift-E) to make a new layer that looks like a flattened version of your file (doing this leaves all the other layers intact, in case we have to go back and make a change later). Now let’s add some noise to grunge things up a bit. Go under the Filter menu, under Noise, and choose Add Noise. When the dialog appears (shown here), set your Amount at 3%, choose Gaussian as the Distribution (it looks better), and turn on the Monochromatic checkbox (so your noise doesn’t look like little red, green, and blue dots). Click OK.
- Step Four: Now, to keep the truck looking good, you don’t want noise all over it, but that’s an easy fix. Go to the Layers panel and press-and-hold the Option (PC: Alt) key. Don’t change layers, but click directly on the layer mask thumbnail in the center layer (the one where you painted back in the truck), and just drag-and-drop that layer mask onto the top layer in the stack (your noise layer). Pressing-and-holding the Option key copies the layer mask from one layer to another, and since your mask was of the truck, the noise is instantly removed from just the truck. (I know, copying masks is sa-weet!)
- Step Five: Now we’re going to grunge things up even more. Open the paper texture file (shown here below) you downloaded from the book’s downloads webpage (it’s the same one we used in the “Adding Texture and Aging to a Photo” project in Chapter 2). Get the Move tool (V), and just drag-and-drop that paper texture photo right onto your truck photo. Of course, this will just cover your truck photo, so at the top of the Layers panel, change the blend mode of this layer to Multiply (so it blends in and darkens the whole photo at the same time) and, since it’s too dark, lower the Opacity of this layer to 45% (shown here). Okay, time for another one of those merged layers on top (like we did in Step Three), so press Command-Option-Shift-E (PC: Ctrl-Alt-Shift-E).
- Step Six: Let’s add some edge darkening by going under the Filter menu, under Distort, and choosing Lens Correction. When the dialog appears, first turn off the annoying Show Grid checkbox (yes, that’s its official name—annoying Show Grid checkbox) at the bottom of the dialog. Now that you can actually see what’s going on (don’t get me started), go to the Vignette section on the right side of the dialog, and for Amount, enter –63 (that controls how dark your corners get), for Midpoint, choose 40 (that controls how far the edge darkening extends in toward the center of your photo), then click OK to darken the edges around your photo (as seen here).
- Step Seven: Now open the photo of a bull (think: “Strong like a bull”), and then go under the Filter menu, under Sketch, and choose Halftone Pattern. When the dialog appears, at the top right, set the Size to 2, the Contrast to 4, make sure the Pattern Type is set to Dot, and click OK to give you the effect you see here in the preview on the left side of the dialog (a grayscale image with lots of repeating dots).
- Step Eight: With the Move tool, click-and-drag that gray-dotty bull over onto your main image, and position him over to the far left (like you see here). You’re probably noticing that on your screen, he doesn’t exactly “blend in,” so change the layer blend mode for this layer to Soft Light, then lower the Opacity to around 60% to give you the effect you see here. Now, you can still see hard edges along the right side and top of the bull photo, but don’t worry—you’ll fix that in the next step.
- Step Nine: Go to the Layers panel and click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the panel. With your Foreground color set to black, get the Brush tool (B), and choose a really huge, soft-edged brush from the Brush Picker in the Options Bar (notice the size of my brush here). Just paint over those hard outside edges and, in seconds, they are gone, blending in nicely with the rest of the photo. The key is to start far away from the edges, and move slowly in as you paint short strokes up and down. You’ll see your edges start to fade away as you get close to them. Now it’s time (finally!) to add the text effect we came here for in the first place. We’ll look at some tips on how to design with type, as well.
- Step 10: Start by getting the Horizontal Type tool (T) and choose a bold sans serif font. I used Helvetica Black, and in the Character panel (found under the Window menu), I set the Tracking (the space between the letters) to a negative amount, so that the letters are very close together—the top line of type is 6 points with the Tracking set to –80, which is very tight—and I chose a light brown for the text color by clicking on the Color swatch in the Character panel. Type in the line, “It’s not just another truck.” We’re going to be using just one font for everything we do here, so it’s quickest to just duplicate that first line of type, highlight it, and type in your new text. To do that, get the Move tool, then duplicate your Type layer, and click-and-drag that duplicate type straight downward, so it’s beneath your original type. In the Layers panel, double-click directly on the dupicate text layer’s thumbnail to highlight its text, then change its color to a dark gray. Now, you can just type “IT’S THE,” like you see here, make it slightly larger (between 7 and 8 points), get back the Move tool, and position it so the left side is aligned with the top line of text (as seen here).
- Step 11: We want the lines of type below this to line up, so press Command-R (PC: Ctrl-R) to make the Rulers visible, then click on the left-side ruler and pull out a vertical guide, aligning it with the left side of your type. Pull out another vertical guide and align it with the right side of the word “THE” (as seen here). Now duplicate the IT’S THE layer, click-and-drag it downward, highlight the text, and type in the word “ALL,” which needs to fill the area between the two guides. To do that, switch back to the Move tool, press Command-T (PC: Ctrl-T) to bring up Free Transform, press-and-hold the Shift key, click on the bottom-right corner handle, and drag outward until the text scales up to fill in that space. Reposition it as needed, then press Return (PC: Enter) to lock in your resizing. Do the same thing again, but change the text to read “NEW” (seen in the next step).
- Step 12: Now you’re going to add “’09,” but before you do, create two horizontal guides (click-and-drag them out from the top ruler), and position them as you see here, because the “’09” has to be exactly as tall as the lines “ALL” and “NEW.” Duplicate the word “NEW,” click-and-drag it to the right, highlight it, change the color to a dark yellow (I used R: 217, G: 168, B: 76), and then type in “’09.” Use Free Transform to resize it, so it fits within the two horizontal grid lines. Note: To create the backwards apostrophe, press the Apostrophe key twice, then delete the first one. Also, I shrank the apostrophe, so it fit inside the “L” in the word “ALL.” Then I did a baseline shift to move it upward by highlighting the apostrophe, then pressing Option-Shift-Up Arrow key (PC: Alt-Shift-Up Arrow key) a few times. Duplicate the word “NEW” again, reposition it, highlight it, and change it to “SERIES.” Use Free Transform to scale it up until it reaches the end of the “9” (everything has to line up to something in type design).
- Step 13: You’re going to start to apply the effect to the text. (Note: I’ve turned off the Rulers [Command-R; PC: Ctrl-R] and removed the guides [by choosing Clear Guides from the View menu] because we no longer need them.) First, click on the top layer in your layer stack and create a new blank layer at the top by clicking on the Create a New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. Command-Shift-click (PC: Ctrl-Shift-click) directly on the thumbnail for your top Type layer (the ’09 layer, as shown here) to put a selection around the type on that layer. Then go to the next layer down (keep holding down those keys) and click on its thumbnail. It will add the word on that layer to your selection. Keep doing that (and keep holding those two keys down) for the rest of your Type layers, until there’s a selection around all the Type layers you created (as seen here). By the way, what’s making this work like this is the Shift key—when you hold it down, along with the Command key, it tells Photoshop to add the next thing you click on, so as you keep clicking on Type layer thumbnails, it keeps adding that layer to your selection already in place.
- Step 14: Click on the Foreground color swatch and set your Foreground color to a medium gray. Make sure you still have that new top layer selected in the Layers panel, and press Option-Delete (PC: Alt-Backspace) to fill the type selection with gray (as seen here). Don’t deselect quite yet.
- Step 15: Go under the Filter menu, under Sketch, and choose Halftone Pattern. When the dialog appears, for Size, choose 1, for Contrast, choose 23 (as shown here), set your Pattern Type to Dot, then click OK. This puts a tight dot pattern over your type that looks pretty cool (I know it’s hard to see here in the book, but you’ll see it on your screen big time!). Now you can Deselect by pressing Command-D (PC: Ctrl-D). To have your dots layer blend in with your type on the layer below it, go to the Layers panel and change the layer blend mode to Soft Light, and lower the Opacity to 30% (as shown here). Now, it nicely blends over the type, and most of the original color is still there.
- Step 16: Let’s add some really huge type, just for looks. Duplicate your “SERIES” Type layer, then click-and-drag the duplicate layer above your gray dots layer. Highlight the text on the layer, change the color to white, and type “TRUCK PROVING GROUND” (one word on each line). Use the same font and make it really huge. I made mine 38 points at –100 tracking. I also made the Leading (the vertical space between the lines of text) really tight, too—in the Character panel, I set the Leading to 28. Now, get the Move tool and move this type over to the lower right of the image and then lower the layer Opacity of this Type layer to 10% (as shown here), so the text is just barely there.
- Step 17: You’re going to build another block of text, but these words are going to line up differently. Duplicate one of your Type layers (like the “SERIES” layer) and click-and-drag it up to the top of the layer stack. Highlight it, type “THE MOST,” and then move it over to the right with the Move tool. Repeat this to create new Type layers for “EFFICIENT,” “OF THE,” “BIG,” and finally “TRUCKS.” Highlight the “EFFICIENT” text and change the color to that same yellow color you used on the ’09 text. Do the same thing for “TRUCKS.” Next, change the color of “THE MOST,” “OF THE,” and “BIG” to white. Now, you just have to resize them and then align them. If you look at the type here, you’ll see that the first three lines (“THE MOST,” “EFFICIENT,” and “OF THE”) are all aligned along the right, and they line up with the right side of the letter “R” in “TRUCKS.” The word “BIG” is as tall as “EFFICIENT” and “OF THE” combined, and it’s aligned with the letters “UC” below it. Again, everything has to line up with something, but that’s actually good, because now it’s no longer a guessing game, right? Now you know, “Oh, this should line up with these other letters.”
- Step 18: Now it’s time to put a selection around all those new Type layers, so we can add our text effect to them. Create a new blank layer at the top of your layer stack. Command-Shift-click (PC: Ctrl-Shift-click) directly on the thumbnails for all your new Type layers to put a selection around them (as shown here). Once all of them are selected, set your Foreground color to a medium gray, and fill your selection with this color. Don’t deselect yet.
- Step 19: Press Command-F (PC: Ctrl-F) to apply the Halftone Pattern filter, using the exact same settings you used a few moments ago when applying the filter to the type at the top left (that keyboard shortcut does just that—it repeats your last filter using the same settings). Now, at this point, it’s covering your type, but you want it to blend in. Last time, we changed the layer blend mode to Soft Light, but this time we’re going to choose Multiply instead, because our text is white and yellow, rather than dark gray, brown, and yellow, so in this case, Multiply looks better (by the way, I didn’t just magically know that. When I chose Soft Light it looked bad, so I went through some of the other blend modes until I found one that looked good—Multiply). This makes the text color look a little funky, and the effect appears too intense, but we’ll fix both of those in the next step. Now you can deselect.
- Step 20: To finish this project off, all you have to do is lower the Opacity of this layer to 30%, which brings back the color, and makes the text effect not appear too intense. Here’s the final image with that last tweak.