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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.
Hello everybody! This is Deke McClelland. Welcome to Deke's Techniques! This week I'm going to show you how to render text in grass, down to the individual blades. Now as with the last week's movie, this one requires Photoshop CS5 or later. If you have Photoshop CS5 or later, you're in luck. Here, let me show you exactly how it works. Here is our final type effect, and here is where we are going to start. Now notice that I've got this layer of editable type called TURF right there, and it appears in front of this soil image.
Above that we have a photograph of grass. And by the way all of these images come from the Fotolia Image Library, which you can learn more at fotolia.com/deke. The first step is to render this text layer as a layer mask for the Grass layer, and we do that by pressing the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac and clicking on this T right here in the Layers panel. Then go ahead and click on the Grass layer to make it active, drop down to the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the panel, and click on it. All right, now at this point we don't need the text layer anymore-- in fact, it will get in our way--so I'm going to ahead and turn it off.
We've got the layer mask active. Now I want to go ahead and round off the corners of the letters a little bit, and I'm going to do that by going up to the Filter menu, choosing Noise, and then choosing Median. And I will set the Radius value to 12 pixels, as you can see here, and that goes ahead and provides about 12 pixels of rounding to every one of these corners. So by averaging the neighboring pixels, you end up rounding corners. All right, I will go ahead and click OK to accept that change. All right, now what I want to do is add a drop shadow to this layer, and I'm going to do that by clicking on the fx icon down here at the bottom of the list.
But before I do, if you want to be able to lift a color while you're working inside the Drop Shadow dialog box there, you need to have, not the layer mask selected, because you'll just lift black and white--that's all you'll have access to-- instead, you want to make sure that the layer itself, the image, is selected. So go ahead and click on that layer thumbnail, then drop down to the fx icon, choose Drop Shadow. In CS6 it's located at the bottom of the list; in CS5 and earlier, it's up here at the top. Either way if you are working along with me, choose the command. And now let's go ahead and click on this color swatch and then click some place in the shadow detail here inside of the image to lift a color.
Depending on where you click, you will end up with sort of a purplish shade of red. And the Hue value that I'm looking for is 330 degrees. I will set the Saturation at 15% and the Brightness to 15% as well. Now I will click OK in order to accept that change. Now notice that my Global Light Value is set to 105 degrees, and that's because I figured that the sun was coming down and just slightly to the right. I'm going to take the Distance value up to 10 pixels. I'll also take the Size value up to 10 pixels. I want a sharper shadow, however, than that, so I'm going to increase the Spread value to 10%.
All right, that takes cares of the drop shadow. I will go ahead and click OK in order to accept that effect. Now let's set to work growing the mask into the grass, which of course we can do using the Refine Edge command. The problem is the way things are structured right now, Refine Edge is not going to do what we want. Let me demonstrate. I will go ahead and click on the layer mask thumbnail and then I will go up to the Select menu and choose the Refine Mask command--or you can press Ctrl+Alt+R, Command+Option+R on the Mac. I'm going to take that Radius value up to 20 pixels, and then I'll tab my way down to the Contrast value, take it up to 50%, and take the Shift Edge value up to 25%. And we end up with this just awful effect right there.
Notice that in particular, the U and the R are just glomming onto each other. One way to avoid that problem is to reduce the Radius value. So if I take the at Radius value down to 10, for example, we no longer have that problem; however, we have kind of shrank all of the letters, because we no longer have a large area of grass action. In other words, we don't have a lot of grassy blade-like edges inside of our layer mask. So I really want that Radius value to be cranked up to 20, just as I had it before, but I don't want this glomming to occur.
Another thing you might try is to turn on the Smart Radius check box and that will, to some extent, solve the problem. We no longer have as much glomming. However, now, we've got this weird gap up here between the T and the U and another kind of bad gap down here between the R and the F, in the lower right-hand corner of the image. And then we just have this bizarre sort of gap between the U and the R. They kind of glom together down here at the bottom and the top and then they separate. So in other words, no solution is going to work out. What we need to do is pull the T and U away from the R and the F and deal with them independently.
So here is how we are going to do that. Cancel out of this dialog box. Go ahead and create a copy of this layer by pressing Ctrl+J or Command+J on the Mac. Then I will go ahead and click on the layer mask for this top layer, and I will draw rectangular selection around the R and the F like so, using of course a Rectangle Marquee tool. Now my background color is black, so I am going to press Ctrl+Backspace or Command+Delete on the Mac in order to fill that portion of the layer mask with black. So in other words, I have gotten rid of the R and the F for the top layer. Now, click on the layer mask for the bottom layer, go up to the Select menu, choose Inverse to just reverse the selection, and then press Ctrl+Backspace or Command+Delete again to get rid of the T and U. So we've got the T and U on one layer and then the R and the F on the other.
Let's start off working on that top of the two layers, so I'm going to go ahead and click on the TU layer mask, press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac to deselect the image, then go up to the Select menu, choose Refine Mask, and I am just going to dial in those same values. 20 for the Radius value, we need 50% for Contrast and 25% for Shift Edge, and that looks great. The T and U fuse together, but they do so nicely. I really like the way that looks. And we don't have any interaction between the U and the R, because Photoshop doesn't even see them as being together.
Just go and click OK. You do not want to turn Smart Radius on for this effect. We will go with the dumb radius. Just click OK here. Now click in the RF mask and repeat the process. Go up to the Select menu. Choose Refine Mask. Let's dial in a Radius value of 20 pixels. I will take the Contrast value up to 50%, the Shift Edge value up to 25%, and again, we get this really great effect right here. Let's click OK in order to accept that change. Now then, I've got these two layers I have created in advance. There's this ball layer right there. Go ahead and turn it on.
Let's zoom in on this layer as well. This is not a particularly high-resolution, image by the way; however, the ball has more resolution. That's why it expressed as a Smart Object. Now I need the drop shadow, so I will just go ahead and drag and drop it--this is an Alt+Drag and drop, by the way. I am pressing the Alt key as I am dragging and dropping the drop shadow; that would be pressing the Option key and dragging the drop shadow on the Mac. And that goes ahead and duplicates the shadow, as you can see. However, I also need a little bit of inner shadow. Notice the ball is so bright right there.
I don't want it to be that bright. And I want to create a little bit of interaction with the grass. So I'm going to click on the fx icon, choose the Inner Shadow command, and then I will go ahead and click on that black swatch there. I want to lift some dark shade of green, so I can just go ahead and click inside one of those recessed shadows in the grass. And the values that I am looking for are a Hue of 90 degrees and a Saturation of 100% and then a Brightness value of 25%. Then I will click OK. And let's go ahead and take the Distance value up to 10 pixels. The Size should be 10 pixels as well.
Look at the angle of that inner shadow; it's going totally the wrong direction. We need to send in the opposite direction, but before we do, you got to turn off Use Global Light, because if you leave it on, then you will mess everything up. Now, having done that, we want the opposite of the angle we had before, which was a 105 degrees. That just so happens to be -75 degrees. I think that shadow is a little much, so I am going to take the Opacity value down to 65%, then click OK. The final step is to turn on this little tuft layer.
And all that is is a few blades of grass that I selected manually using the Lasso tool. So it took me about five minutes, but no big deal. Anyway, we want to add a drop shadow to that grass, and I'm going to base it on the drop shadows we have already created. So, I will Alt+Drag and drop the drop shadow on to the tuft layer--that would be an Option+Drag and drop on the Mac-- then double-click on the drop shadow, and we need to change some values here. I'm going to reduce the Distance value to 2, I'm going to take the Spread value down to 0, and I'm going to reduce the Size value to 2 pixels as well.
That's it. Click OK, and we are done folks. I'm going to press the F key a couple of times in order to fill the screen. That is how you turn type into amazingly manicured grass, here inside Photoshop.
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