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Deke's Techniques is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
Hey gang! This is Deke McClelland. Welcome to Deke's Techniques. Now most weeks I am sharing with you these cool whiz-bang effects. This week I am going to rein it back a little bit and I am going to show you the solution to a prosaic but very common problem. Now imagine that you're a designer and you end up getting an image file from somebody who is doing some good design work, but they don't know what in the world they are doing inside of Photoshop. So as a result, the entire image is flat, and all you want to do is take this brushstroke and move it up. But you're going to watch out for the descenders below the P and the G, and you know, maybe you want to move the text around a little bit and you want to scale the brushstroke and color it as well.
Well, do you remember MacPaint? This is circa 1984, so long, long ago, but it had this really great Lasso tool. You would draw a lasso around some object and it would just shrink around that item, so you could move it to a different location. How in the world do you pull that off inside of Photoshop and get impeccable results? Check out that brushstroke. That is the original brushstroke. No jagged edges whatsoever. Here, let me show you exactly how it works. All right, here is that flat image file that I received from my client, and I know that it's a flat image for two reasons: First of all, it's a JPEG image, and JPEGs cannot by definition include layers.
Also, if I take a look at my Layers panel, I can see that I have one background element and that's it. So even though I've got text and a brushstroke inside of this image, all Photoshop is seeing is pixels. And yet I need to go ahead and modify these items. Now fortunately, everything is set against the white background, but that doesn't ensure that I am going to get the results I am looking for. So I'll start off by selecting the words "for Design," because I want to move them down to a separate line let's say, and I'll do that using the Rectangular Marquee tool.
I'll just go ahead and enclose the words "for Design," like so. You can press the spacebar if you need to move that marquee on the fly, and once I get things more or less the way I want, I'll go ahead and release in order to generate that selection. Now, you can see that my selection includes a little bit of that G in the word Running. That's no good. So I'll go back to my Marquee tool, click and hold on it, and choose the Elliptical Marquee tool, and then I'll press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, which allows me to deselect pixels, and I'll go ahead and drag like so along the upper-left corner in order to remove the descender from that red G from the selection, and I end up with this, which seems like it would work out just great, right? But check it out.
If I grab my Move tool from the top of the toolbox and then I go ahead and drag this selection to a different location like so, why then I end up covering up the descender of the P, and that's no good. Now there are a couple of solutions at this point. I could pop this selection onto its own layer. I could apply the Multiply mode. That would take care of things. However, let's say I want to work more simply. I just want to get rid of these white pixels inside the selection. I want to automatically collapse them away. I press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac to undo that movement, and I would go over here to the Quick Selection tool.
I am not going to use it because it's no good for this effect. Instead, I'll switch from Quick Selection to the Magic Wand tool. Now the Magic Wand tool, even though it gets slammed a lot, is great for use in these kinds of high-contrast images. What you do is you go ahead and reduce the Tolerance value to 0, and this assumes that you don't have too many compression artifacts or too much noise insider your image. If you do have compression artifacts or noise, you might want to raise the Tolerance value as high as 12, and you can try that out to see what works for you, but I am going to set it to 0 for this effect.
Definitely, no matter what, turn off the Anti-alias check box. You can leave Contiguous set on. Sample All layers we don't need because we don't have any layers; that's our problem. Now move your cursor into the selection, press and hold the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, and click in order to deselect those white pixels like so. And that goes ahead and automatically collapses the selection. All right, I am going to hide those selection edges by pressing Ctrl+H, or Command+H on the Mac, just so I can better see what I'm doing. Then I'll switch back to my Move tool, which I can get by pressing the V key, and I'll drag the text to the desired location, which I'd say is about here.
And notice I'm not covering up the P in the descender anymore. Now to go ahead and set the text in place, I'll go up to the Select menu and choose the Deselect command, or I could press Ctrl+D, Command+D on the Mac. Now let's see how to do something similar with that brushstroke, and not only are we going to move the brushstroke into a better position, but we are also going to scale it and assign a color. Now in the old days--I am going way back here, folks, back in the days of MacPaint, which was that first painting program on the Macintosh computer-- you would grab your Lasso tool and you would just go ahead and drag around this item like so, and then It would automatically collapse.
Those were the good old days for this kind of high-contrast work. Inside of Photoshop, because it's designed to work inside million-color images, you don't get that auto-collapse, but you can still achieve the effect once again using Magic Wand tool. So I'll go ahead and grab the magic wand. Everything is already set the way it needs to be up here in the options bar. So I'll move my cursor into the white area of the selection, press and hold the Alt key, the Option key on the Mac, and click, and that goes ahead and automatically collapses the selection once again. Again, I'll press Ctrl+H, or Command+H, to hide those marching ants so I can better see what I'm doing.
I'll go ahead and switch to my Move tool, and I'll drag that brushstroke into the desired position. Now the brushstroke is too big as it is, so it needs to be scaled. And you know what? I figure at this point I might as well put the brushstroke on an independent layer, and I am going to do that by going up to the Layer menu, choosing New, and then choosing Layer via Cut, as opposed to Layer via Copy. So in other words you don't press Ctrl+J, or Command+J on the Mac, because it'd leave a copy of the brushstroke behind. You press Ctrl+Shift+J, or Command+Shift+J on the Mac, to jump the whole thing.
So now we've got an independent brushstroke here on layer 1. If I turn off layer 1, notice there's no brushstroke left in the background. I'll go ahead and turn the layer back on and rename this layer brushstroke. Now that we have an independent layer to work with, let's scale it by going up to the Edit menu and choosing the Free Transform command, or press Ctrl+T, Command+T on the Mac, and then go ahead and scale the brushstroke as desired. I am pressing the Shift key, by the way, as I drag one of the corner handles so that I'm applying a proportional scaling. It's a little bit too small actually, so I'll go ahead and enlarge it a little bit.
That looks good to me. Once you get the desired scaling in place, go ahead and press the Enter key, or the Return key on the Mac, in order to transform that brushstroke. Now let's give it some color, by dropping down to the fx icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, click on it, and then choose Color Overlay, and that's going to automatically assign red to the brushstroke. But you can see that we get some pretty ratty edges, and that's a function of that JPEG compression, which is really doing a number on those transitional pixels. In order to smooth away those problem edges, go to the Blend mode and change it from Normal to Screen.
And we specifically want screen when we are working with black-on-white art like this. I'll go ahead and choose the mode and notice that completely cleans up the effect. And that's not quite the right shade of red to match with the text up above, so I'll click on the color swatch to bring up the color picker. Then I'll move my eyedropper out into the image window, click somewhere deep inside those letters-- that will lift a matching shade of red-- and then go ahead and click on the OK button in order to accept that color, and then finally, click on the OK button inside the Layer Style dialog box in order to complete the effect.
I'll go ahead and re-center my zoom, and that is the final effect, thanks to my ability to auto-collapse selections using the Magic Wand tool here inside Photoshop.
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