Cool Transparent Text Effect in Photoshop
This tutorial shows you how to create the following effect in Adobe® Photoshop:
Notice that the text is defined by a black shaded area in the upper left of the text and a white shaded area in the lower right of the text. It gives an embossed look as if light is being cast from below and to the right.
This example uses a 72 ppi image with 60 point type. Accordingly, should you decide to use a higher resolution image or greater point size type you will need to adjust some of the specs. In that case I'll call out notes where applicable.
Although I used Photoshop version 5.5 for this example, both version 5.0 and 5.5 support editable text layers (text that you can change). You could do the tutorial with version 4.0, but the text won't be editable once you create it because it will be rasterized (made into pixels).
1. In this example I chose a sky image because I thought it was fitting for the effect. Load it up into Photoshop by clicking File > Open.
2. Click anywhere on the image with the Type Tool . I used 60 point Arial Black Bold in this example. Choose "Smooth" for the Anti-Alias setting.
3. This is what your image should look like after creating the text. Don't worry, Photoshop creates the text on a new layer so it won't affect the pixels of the background image.
4. In the Layers palette Cmd + Click (Mac®) / Ctrl + Click (Windows®) the new layer. This will create a selection in the shape of the text. You will see the hand pointer with a square marquee when you hold down the modifier key (Cmd or Ctrl) over the layer when you click.
5. This is what the image will look like with a selection in the shape of the text. The selection will be defined by its "marching ants" marquee.
6. Next click Select > Save Selection.... In the dialog, just accept the defaults. When you click "OK" Photoshop will save the selection as a new channel (circled).
7. Next create two new layers. Either click the "Create new layer" icon twice (at the bottom of the Layers palette - circled below) or click Layer > New Layer... to create them. You don't need the text layer anymore so you can either hide it or delete it. In this case I chose to hide it. Just click the layer visibility icon (the icon that looks like an eye) on the far left of the text layer (circled below). The two new layers are named "Layer 1" and Layer 2".
8. Here's what the selection looks like against the background image.
9. Next, we want to select everything except the text, so click Select > Inverse or Cmd + Shift + I (Mac®) / Ctrl + Shift + I (Windows®).
10. In the layers palette, temporarily hide the background image by clicking the visibility icon for the background layer (circled below). Then click one of of the new layers to make it the active layer. I chose Layer 2 (below).
11. Click Edit > Fill. In the dialog, choose "White" from the "Use:" drop down of the Contents section. Set the opacity for 100%, Normal mode, then click "OK".
12. This is the result of the fill. Everything except for the text shape is white.
13. Deselect everything by clicking Select > Deselect or Cmd + D (Mac) / Ctrl + D (Windows). Then choose the Move Tool and nudge the layer 2 pixels up and 2 pixels to the left with the arrow keys.
Note: Nudge the layer more if your image resolution is greater than 72 ppi or if you use a larger point size for the type. For example, if your image is 144 ppi, nudge the layer 4 pixels for 60 point type. If you chose 120 point type, then nudge the layer 4 pixels for 72 ppi or 8 pixels for 144 ppi.
14. We are going to use this layer to create the soft white shaded portions of the text in the lower right corner. Even though we used anti-aliasing for the text, it still needs to be a little softer. With the white layer still active, click Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.... In the dialog, set the blur radius to .9 pixels (circled).
Note: Increase the blur radius if the image resolution is greater than 72 ppi or if the size of the type is greater than 60 points. For example, if the image resolution is 144 ppi, increase the blur radius to 1.8 for 60 point type. If you chose 120 point type, then set the blur radius to 1.8 pixels for 72 ppi or 3.6 pixels for 144 ppi.
15. Next, we want to copy only the white shaded portion of the text, so we need to load the selection that was saved in an earlier step. Click Select > Load Selection.... In the dialog click the "Channel:" drop down and choose "Alpha 1" (if you didn't give it a name when you saved it) then click "OK".
16. The selection appears on the layer as a "marching ants" marquee in the shape of the text. When you copy the the area enclosed by the selection you will copy only the portion of the text that falls within the lower right corner of the selection. Click Edit > Copy or Cmd + C (Mac®) / Ctrl + C (Windows®). Then click Edit > Paste or Cmd + V (Mac) / Ctrl + V (Windows). This will paste a new layer into the file.
17. Shown below is the Layers palette after executing the "Paste" command. You will see the new layer appear just over the white layer. It is named "Layer 3".
18. Next, we need to repeat a similar series of steps for the black portion of the text shading. Start by hiding the white layer and the new one just pasted (circled below), and activate Layer 1. This was one of the two layers created in an earlier step. We want to fill this layer with black after loading and inverting the text-shaped selection.
19. Click Select > Load Selection.... In the dialog, choose "Alpha 1" from the "Channel:" drop down as in a previous step, then click "OK". After loading the selection, click Select > Inverse to invert the selection. This will select everything except for the text shape.
20. Click Edit > Fill, then select "Black" from the "Use:" drop down in the Contents section of the dialog. As before, choose 100% opacity, Normal mode. Click "OK" when done.
21. This is what the selection looks like when filled with black. Deselect everything by clicking Select > Deselect or Cmd + D (Mac) / Ctrl + D (Windows).
22. We need to apply the same Gaussian Blur to this black layer as we did to the white layer. In Photoshop you can repeat the previous filter by clicking Cmd + F (Mac®) / Ctrl + F (Windows®) or choose it from the top of the Filter menu (below). The settings will be exactly the same as they were for the white layer so you can use this shortcut.
23. This will be the effect of applying the Gaussian Blur to the black layer.
24. This layer needs to be shifted down and to the right for the black shading to appear in the upper left portion of the text. Choose the Move Tool and nudge the layer down 2 pixels and to the right 2 pixels with the arrow keys.
Remember: that this tutorial is based on a 72 ppi image with 60 point type. See previous note at step 13 to compensate for a higher resolution image or a greater point size of type.
25. Once again we need to load the text-shaped selection to copy the black shaded portions of the text. Click Select > Load Selection.... In the dialog choose "Alpha 1" from the "Channel:" drop down and click "OK".
26. The selection marquee appears on the black layer in the shape of the text. Click Edit > Copy or Cmd + C (Mac) / Ctrl + C (Windows). Then click Edit > Paste or Cmd + V (Mac) / Ctrl + V (Windows). This will paste another new layer into the file.
27. In the Layers palette, you will see that the new layer has been pasted just over Layer 1 (the black layer). This new layer is named "Layer 4". We need to reposition this layer next to Layer 3 (the layer having the white shaded portion of the text). Then we will merge Layer 3 and layer 4 into a single layer. Start by pressing the mouse button on Layer 4.
28. While holding the mouse button down, drag the layer upwards to position it under Layer 3.
29. Layer 4 is now positioned directly under Layer 3. Activate Layer 3 by clicking it in the Layers palette.
30. Click the small triangle in the upper right corner of the Layers palette (circled below) to access the Layer Options menu. Choose "Merge Down" from the menu.
31. Next, click the visibility icon to hide Layer 1 (the black layer). We are finished with it.
32. This is the merged layer (Layer 4) that contains all the text shading.
33. In the Layers palette, click the visibility icon on the background layer to make it visible. Layer 4 is still the active layer, though (it is highlighted in the Layers palette).
34. The effect is almost finished. The shaded portions of the text are still a bit harsh. The black portions are too black and the white portions are too white. We want to give it a transparent look so we can see through the shadows and highlights to the underlying image.
35. With Layer 4 still active, click the opacity slider in the layers palette. Knock the opacity back to about 75%.
36. This is the finished image. The text appears more transparent by adding this finishing touch.