Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Design > Adobe Creative Suite

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Creating Custom Type Designs

Photoshop lets you do something that I’ve found surprises a lot of people—it lets you create custom letterforms by tweaking an existing font. This is very popular in logo design. So, in this project, you’re going to learn how to give yourself an advantage by delivering a custom look for your client that can’t be duplicated by just typing in a name with a typeface. If you’ve never worked with paths before, don’t let it freak you out, because what you’re going to do is so simple anyone will be able to do it (plus, if you’re a creative type—and if you’re reading this book, my guess is you are—then this will open a new world of creating with type that’s actually a lot of fun).

  • Step One: Press Command-N (PC: Ctrl-N) to create a new document (mine is 800×600 pixels at a resolution of 72 ppi). Click on the Foreground color swatch and choose a medium gray, then get the Horizontal Type tool (T), and choose the font Bickham Script Pro from up in the Options Bar or in the Character panel (found under the Window menu). (Note: If you upgraded to CS4 from Photoshop CS3, you already have this font installed. If you started with CS4, then it’s not there because Adobe no longer includes this font, and you can download the paths to this font from this book’s downloads page—this will make more sense in a moment.) Set the font size to 295 points, and type the word “pointe” in all lowercase letters.
  • Step Two: Now you’re going to create some text above and below the word “pointe.” In the Layers panel, click on the Background layer, then choose the font Trajan Pro (it comes installed with Photoshop) at a size of 30 points. Click on your document (you may have to click to the side of “pointe” since that font is so large), type in “THE LOFTS AT,” then move your cursor away from your type until you get an arrow, and click-and-drag to position it nice and snug above the word “pointe.” You can already see the first problem we have to deal with—the dot of the letter “i” is colliding with the word “LOFTS.” We’ll fix that, but first we need to add another line of text (in the next step).
  • Step Three: With the Horizontal Type tool, click on the far-right side of your document, and type “RIDGE” in the same Trajan Pro font, but at a size of 108 points. Again, move your cursor away from the text until it becomes an arrow, then click-and-drag to position it just below the word “pointe” (as seen here). By the way, those two lines of text should line up on the left—the left side of the letter “T” in “THE,” and the left side of the “R” in “RIDGE” should both be lined up with each other, like you see here. Okay, all our text is now in place, and it’s time to start customizing. In the Layers panel, click on the “pointe” layer (as seen here) to make it the active layer.
  • Step Four: Control-click (PC: Right-click) directly on the “pointe” layer to bring up a contextual menu of options. From this menu, choose Create Work Path (as shown here). This puts a perfect path around your letters, as if you had drawn them from scratch using the Pen tool. The reason you’re doing this is because now that this type has become a path, you can create your own custom letters (clients always love it when you tell them the font has been customized just for them).
  • Step Five: Now that you have a path in place, you no longer need that “pointe” Type layer, so click-and-drag it onto the Trash icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to delete it. Next, add a new blank layer by clicking on the Create a New Layer icon at the bottom of the panel. Now we can get to editing our path. The tool we use for this is the Direct Selection tool, and it appears nested with the Path Selection tool, directly below the Type tools in the Toolbox (as shown here—it’s the hollow arrow, not the black one), so go ahead and get that tool now.
  • Step Six: First, let’s hide the “THE LOFTS AT” Type layer, so it doesn’t distract us while we’re making our edits. Click on the Eye icon to the left of that layer in the Layers panel and that layer will be hidden from view. Now, let’s start editing. I used the Zoom tool (Z; it looks like a magnifying glass) to zoom in really tight on the dot over the “i.” Take the Direct Selection tool and click-and-drag out a square selection around the dot (as seen here) to select the four points that make up this dot. While it might look like you’ve selected other points in the word, don’t worry, as long as your selection is just around that dot, that’s the only part that will be affected by your next edit.
  • Step Seven: Press the Delete (PC: Backspace) key and your selected dot is gone. Problem solved. Of course, that’s not the main reason we converted to paths. We really did it to create our own custom versions of some of the letters, but while we’re here, we might as well fix stuff, eh?
  • Step Eight: Now, while still zoomed in, let’s scroll over to the right end of the letter “t” in “pointe.” We’re going to extend the far-right side of the crossbar quite a bit, and you do that by clicking-and-dragging out another square selection around the end of the crossbar on the “t” (as shown here). This selects the three points that make up that end of the bar.
  • Step Nine: Click on the path itself, right near the end (I clicked on the bottom—you can see my little arrow cursor on the far-right side of the crossbar), then just drag to the right (as shown here), and that part of the letter extends. Press-and-hold the Shift key as you drag to keep it straight, because you want to keep as much of the original shape as possible—you just want that one piece to be longer. Now, just click off the path (click anywhere else but the path). That’s it—you’ve customized your first letter (wild cheers ensue!). Of course, you’re not done yet (the crowd groans). By the way, you can make your “THE LOFTS AT” layer visible again—just go to the Layers panel and click where the Eye icon used to be.
  • Step 10: Press Command-R (PC: Ctrl-R) to make Photoshop’s Rulers visible (seen here). Now, click directly inside the top ruler, drag down a guide, and position it right along the bottom of the word “RIDGE.” See how the bottom of the “p” extends below the guide, which marks the baseline of where the word “RIDGE” sits? We want that lower part of the “p” (called the descender in typography circles) to be no lower than that guide. So, with the Direct Selection tool, drag out a square selection around the bottom of that descender (as shown here) to select the points in that area.
  • Step 11: Now, click at the bottom of that “p” and drag upward to shrink the length of that descender, so it fits right along that guide (as shown here). Remember to keep an eye on the rest of the descender as you’re dragging upward, so you don’t accidentally change the shape—you want it shorter, but you don’t want to change the shape of the letter. Then, just click off the path.
  • Step 12: Click-and-drag another horizontal guide down from the top ruler and place it along the top of the words “THE LOFTS AT” (as seen here). You can probably guess what’s next—that’s right, we want to shrink the top of the “t” (called the ascender), so it fits within that guide. With the Direct Selection tool, put a rectangular selection around that part of the letter (as shown here) to highlight the points that control that part of the letter.
  • Step 13: Switch to the Zoom tool again, and zoom in tight, so you can really see what’s going on. Then go back to the Direct Selection tool (A), grab the top of the ascender and carefully drag it in toward the rest of the letter, until it’s right around that guide (as shown here), and then click anywhere off the path.
  • Step 14: At this point, all your letter editing is done, so now it’s time to turn those paths into a selection, which you do by pressing Command-Return (PC: Ctrl-Enter). You can see here, the path has been turned into a selection. Also, you can press Command-R (PC: Ctrl-R) to turn off the Rulers and, from the View menu, choose Clear Guides to remove the guides.
  • Step 15: With your selection in place, press Option-Delete (PC: Alt-Backspace) to fill it with your gray Foreground color (as seen here), then you can Deselect by pressing Command-D (PC: Ctrl-D). Next, we need all three of these layers with type to become just one layer, so go to the Layers panel, press-and-hold the Shift key, and click on the two other Type layers, so that all three of your layers with type are highlighted (as seen here). Now, just press Command-E (PC: Ctrl-E) to merge them into one layer.
  • Step 16: Now that your type is all on one layer, let’s add an effect to finish things off (of course, this step is totally optional, but since this is a special effects book at heart, let’s add a special effect). 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 Layer Style dialog appears, from the Technique pop-up menu (in the Structure section, near the top), choose Chisel Hard. Increase the Depth to 200%, then down in the Shading section, turn on the Anti-Aliased checkbox (so the edges of the effect are smoother), and click on the down-facing arrow next to Gloss Contour to bring up the Gloss Contour Picker. Click on the Rolling Slope–Descending icon (the fourth icon from the left, in the second row) to add a metallic, chiseled look to your type (as seen here). To give it a little more “oomph,” go to the Styles section on the left side of the dialog, and under Bevel and Emboss, turn on the Contour checkbox (as seen here), and then click OK to apply this effect.
  • Step 17: Our effect is essentially done at this point, but we might as well put it into action. Open the photo you see here (you can download it from the book’s downloads page, or you can open a photo of your own). Get the Move tool (V), click on your Type layer, and drag-and-drop it onto your photo. It’ll probably be too big, so press Command-T (PC: Ctrl-T) to bring up Free Transform, press-and-hold the Shift key, grab a corner point, and drag inward (as shown here) to scale the text down in size, then reposition it over the center of the image, and press Return (PC: Enter) to commit your transformation.
  • Step 18: Here’s the final image, with the customized letterforms, and the special effect, scaled down to size and positioned.
  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020