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

Home > Articles

Jealous Type: Cool Type Effects

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


Do you have any idea how hard it is for a type effect to be included in this chapter? Sure, by the time a type effect winds up here, with all the glitz and glamour, it's looks like a lot of fun, but believe me, it's a lot of hard work. It all starts with an open audition for type effects, which takes place in Houston, L.A., New York, and Atlanta. In each city, a panel of judges then views each aspiring type effect, and from that group they choose only 30 type effects to go to compete in the regional semifinals. At the semis, the judges then narrow the type effects down to just ten, who will be vying for the title “Coolest American Type Effect.” Cool American Type Effects, which airs Wednesday nights on FAUX, is hosted by Ryan Seabiscuit, and…. (Do I have to keep this up? Seriously, I was pretty sure that you would've stopped reading back a hundred words or so, and since I was kind of counting on that, I never really developed an ending for this intro. So, I'm just kinda going to end it right here. If you don't tell anyone I didn't have an ending, I won't tell anyone you read this far. Deal? Deal.)

Jaguar “X”

When Apple Computer came out with their “gel” look for Mac OS X, that effect quickly became a favorite with designers. When Apple followed up with Mac OS X Jaguar, their Jaguar look became popular, but every tutorial I tried on the Web used Photoshop's Stained Glass filter, and I couldn't find one that really looked like Apple's version; and that's because you can't use that filter. Here's a version I worked out that I hope you'll agree looks much better.

Step ONE. Open a new document in RGB mode. Click on the Foreground Color Swatch in the Toolbox and set your Foreground color to an orangish-brown in the Color Picker (I used R=255, G=164, B=59). Now, press the letter “t” to switch to the Type tool and type a capital “X” (as shown). I used the typeface Garamond Condensed, which is fairly close to the custom version of Garamond that Apple used.
Step TWO. Create a new blank layer by clicking on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. Press the letter “L” to switch to the Lasso tool, then draw your first jaguar “spot” somewhere near the top of the left side of the letter (as shown here).
Step THREE. Once your first “spot” selection is in place, hold the Shift key and draw some more (the Shift key lets you add more selections to your original selection). Make a series of freeform selections in the shape of spots (as shown here). Hint: To make your shapes more like the ones Apple used, make sure some of your selections go from one side of the letter, right through to the other.
Step FOUR. Switch your Foreground color to a dark brown (I used R=53, G=32, B=0), and then fill your selected “spots” with this brown color by pressing Option-Delete (PC: Alt-Backspace). Once you've done that, you can then deselect by pressing Command-D (PC: Control-D).
Step FIVE. To make your spots appear inside the letter “X” only, you can “group” your spots with the letter on the layer beneath it by pressing Command-G (PC: Control-G). When you do this, you're forcing the spots inside the letter and clipping off anything that extends outside the “X.” (In Photoshop CS, this is called a “Clipping Mask.” Back in Photoshop 7, it was called a “Clipping Group.”)
Step SIX. In the Layers palette, you'll see a tiny arrow indicating that the “spot” layer is grouped with the Type layer beneath it (as shown here). This technique is easier if you merge these two layers together, but you can't merge a regular image layer, with a Type layer—unless you know this little secret: Just link them together (by clicking once in the second column of the Type layer), and choose Merge Linked from the Layers palette's pop-down menu (the black, right-facing triangle in the top-right corner) to merge the brown “spots” layer permanently with the Type layer.
Step SEVEN. Now, duplicate the merged layer (the “X” with the spots inside) by pressing Command-J (PC: Control-J). You'll need this layer to add color back into the image later, but for now, hide it from view by going to the Layers palette and clicking on the Eye icon in the first column of the layer (as shown). Next, click on the original “X-with-spots” layer in the Layers palette to make it active.
Step EIGHT. Hold the Command key (PC: Control key), go to the Layers palette, and click once on the “X-with-spots” layer to put a selection around the entire letter (as shown here). Now that the entire letter is selected, you'll have to deselect (or subtract) one “leg” of the letter. That's because you'll have to apply the technique in Steps Ten and Eleven individually to each “leg” for this to look right. Make sure you have the Lasso tool, then move on to the next step.
Step NINE. Hold the Option key (PC: Alt key) and draw a loose selection around the top right side of the letter. The area you select will become “unselected” (if there is such a word). That's because you're holding the Option/Alt key. Do the same thing for the left bottom of the letter (as shown here), leaving just the one “leg” of the letter selected.
Step TEN. Go under the Filter menu, under Noise, and choose Add Noise. When the Add Noise filter dialog appears, enter 55% for Amount, choose Gaussian for Distribution, and turn on the Monochromatic checkbox. Click OK, and it fills the selected “leg” of your “X” with noise (as shown). Don't deselect yet.
Step ELEVEN. Go under the Filter menu, under Blur, and choose Motion Blur. When the Motion Blur filter dialog appears, drag the direction of the blur Angle in the circle until it's in the same direction as the letter (as shown here). For Distance, enter 14 pixels, and then click OK to apply the Motion Blur to your letter. This starts to give the letter the “fur” feel. Deselect by pressing Command-D (PC: Control-D).
Step TWELVE. Now we're going to do the exact same thing to the other “leg.” Start by Command-clicking (PC: Control-clicking) on the visible “X” layer (in the Layers palette) to put a selection around the letter. This time you're going to hold the Option key (PC: Alt key) and use the Lasso tool to remove the selection from the areas to which you've already added noise and blurred. Be sure to also deselect the area in the middle where the two “legs” intersect, leaving only the un-blurred, noise-free areas selected.
Step THIRTEEN. Now apply the same amount of Noise and Motion Blur as we did back in Steps Ten and Eleven, but this time change the Angle of the Motion Blur to match the angle of this “leg” (as shown here). For the first side of the letter, we used an Angle of -63°; here we're using +68°. Now deselect by pressing Command-D (PC: Control-D).
Step FOURTEEN. Command-click (PC: Control-click) on the layer's name in the Layers palette to select the letter again. Now, switch to the Dodge tool in the Toolbox (shown here); choose a small, soft-edged brush from the Brush Picker in the Options Bar; and paint over the left half of each “leg.” As you paint, the area will be lightened (as shown). You'll probably have to paint a few strokes before you can see the effect from the Dodge tool.
Step FIFTEEN. Now, switch to the Burn tool (it's in the Dodge tool's flyout menu in the Toolbox), and paint over the right half of each “leg” to darken them a bit. It'll be easier to see the darkened effect as you paint, and luckily, the lightened side will also become more visible (as shown here). Once you're done, deselect by pressing Command-D (PC: Control-D).
Step SIXTEEN. Now you'll sharpen the “X” to help accentuate the “fur” look of the effect. Go under the Filter menu, under Sharpen, and choose Unsharp Mask. When the Unsharp Mask dialog appears, enter 75% for Amount, 1 for Radius, and use 0 for Threshold. Click OK to sharpen the fur.
Step SEVENTEEN. Choose Bevel and Emboss from the Layer Styles pop-up menu at the bottom of the Layers palette (the black circle with an “ƒ”). When the Bevel and Emboss dialog appears, you're only going to change one setting: Increase the Soften setting to 9. Click OK to apply the Bevel and Emboss, which gives the “X” a more rounded 3D look.
Step EIGHTEEN. Remember that layer we duplicated and hid all the way back at Step Seven? It's time to bring it “into play.” Click on that layer in the Layers palette to make it the active layer (it should be directly above your “X-with-fur” layer as shown here).
Step NINETEEN. In the pop-up menu at the top left of the Layers palette, change the Blend Mode of this top layer from Normal to Soft Light (as shown) to bring back the original colors you applied before the Motion Blur and Noise faded them out.
Step TWENTY. Merge the top layer permanently with the layer directly beneath it by pressing Command-E (PC: Control-E), the keyboard shortcut for Merge Down.
Step TWENTY-ONE. Duplicate your merged layer by pressing Command-J (PC: Control-J). Now, press Command-T (PC: Control-T) to bring up Photoshop's Free Transform bounding box around the “X” on this duplicate layer. Control-click (PC: Right-click) anywhere within the bounding box to bring up a pop-up list of transformations. Choose Flip Vertical to flip your duplicate “X” vertically. Press Return (PC: Enter).
Step TWENTY-TWO. Press the letter “v” to switch to the Move tool, and drag this vertically flipped “X” down until it touches the bottom of your original “X” (as shown here). Then press “g” to switch to the Gradient tool. Press “d” to switch your Foreground color to black. Press the Return key (PC: Enter key) and the Gradient Picker will appear at the current location of your cursor. Choose the third gradient in the Picker (by default, it's the Black to White gradient).
Step TWENTY-THREE. Click on the Add a Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette to add a Layer Mask to your flipped layer. Then, click the Gradient tool at the very bottom of your image area and drag upward until you reach the bottom of the original “X.” This fades your flipped layer from 100% opacity to 0% opacity at the bottom, giving the impression that the “X” is casting a reflection (as shown here) to complete the effect.
  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account