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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Fracturing Your Type

I saw this technique most recently in the movie poster for the movie Fracture, starring Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling ( This technique has been used in a number of different ways, but besides just learning the technique, there are a few other interesting little techniques to learn along the way (plus, you’ve got to love a technique you can wrap up in just two pages).

  • Step One: Start by pressing Command-N (PC: Ctrl-N) to create a new document (I made mine 800×600 pixels at a resolution of 72 ppi). Press D to set your Foreground color to black, then press Option-Delete (PC: Alt-Backspace) to fill your Background layer with black. Get the Horizontal Type tool (T) and create your text (I used the font Trajan Pro, which comes with the Creative Suite, in white at 135 points). Click on your Foreground color swatch and choose a light gray in the Color Picker, then click on the Add a Layer Style icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose Gradient Overlay. When the Layer Style dialog appears, click on the down-facing arrow to the right of the gradient thumbnail to bring up the Gradient Picker. Choose the first gradient, which is the Foreground to Background gradient (your gradient will go from white at the top to light gray at the bottom, as shown here), and click OK.
  • Step Two: Here you’re going to add a little bit of a bevel, with some red in its shadow areas. Click on the Add a Layer Style icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose Bevel and Emboss from the pop-up menu. When the dialog appears, change the Style to Emboss, then at the bottom of the dialog, next to Shadow Mode, click on the black color swatch. When the Color Picker appears, choose a bright red as your color, click OK, then lower the Opacity of the bevel’s shadow to 50% (as shown here), so the red doesn’t stand out too much. Click OK to apply the subtle bevel effect you see here.
  • Step Three: Now, we have two issues to deal with: (1) to be able to cut through the type on the Type layer, we’re going to have to convert it from editable type to regular pixels (like any other object in Photoshop), and (2) when we cut the text, the bevel and gradient layer styles will change. Here’s how we get around both: Go to the Layers panel and click on the Background layer. Then create a new blank layer above it by clicking on the Create a New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. Now click on your Type layer, then press Command-E (PC: Ctrl-E), which merges your Type layer with the new blank layer. This rasterizes your type and applies the bevel permanently. Problem solved. Now take the Polygonal Lasso tool (press Shift-L until you have it) and draw a selection over the top of the last three letters (like you see here).
  • Step Four: Get the Move tool (V) and press the Right Arrow key on your keyboard a few times, and it automatically selects the letters within the selection and moves them to the right to create the effect you see here. There is one more thing they did in the actual movie title: while the broken letters were still selected, they used Free Transform (Command-T [PC: Ctrl-T]) to shrink those letters down a little bit, and then they nudged them back up a few pixels (using the Up Arrow key on their keyboard). You can now press Command-D (PC: Ctrl-D) to Deselect. The actors’ names up top are in the same font (Trajan Pro), but in the Character panel (found under the Window menu), I increased the Horizontal Scaling to 130% to stretch the letters a bit. The tagline below the movie title is in the font Minion Pro (which also comes with the Adobe Creative Suite).
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