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For the first installment of Photoshop for Designers, Nigel French shows how to create editable, non-destructive effects such as shadows, glows, and bevels with layer effects in Photoshop. The course covers the use of layer effects like Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, Bevel and Emboss, and Gradient Overlay, as well as how to combine effects with blending modes, transparency, and textures. With these techniques, designers can finesse type and graphics, control light, warp text, and extrude shapes, creating drama and adding depth to their compositions.
Here we're going to look at a comparison of using a layer mask to create textured type versus using a Pattern Overlay. And we'll also see how we can make this effect to a little bit more realistic by applying a small warp to the type. Here is our starting point. What we have here is just a letter on top of this texture. Let me just mention that this texture began its life looking like this and I made a few modifications to it with adjustment layers, which you can break down and figure out exactly what I did if you're so inclined, and the reason I did this is because the patterns tend to work better I find when they're grayscale and when they're more high contrast.
So I have taken any distracting color from them. So first of all it might seem like what you want to do here is just change the opacity and/or blending mode to bring through the texture of the pattern beneath. But in actual fact that's not really going to work too well. Let's just see what happens when we do that. If we reduce the Opacity, we just get another washed out looking letter. We could try to changing the blending mode and that gets us a better looking effect but it's also of course going to shift the color.
Let's say that we want to retain the color as being pretty much the yellow that it already is. So those two options are not working particularly well. Well, we might try using a Pattern Overlay and let's try that next. So I am going to just disable this vector mask that is applied to the group that makes up the background texture. I'm going to do that by holding down the Shift key and clicking on it so that we see the whole of the pattern fitting the canvas. I'll now turn off the visibility off the letter and I'll come and select this group and come and choose Define Pattern. I'll call this cracked pavement.
The patterns that we have in the presets library tend to be samples that are 150 to 200 pixels square. And those are fine if you working with small images, but if you try to apply those patterns to large images that are going to tile and you either going to see the seam, or if you scale them up then you'll diminish their resolution. So this is a much larger pattern and would be suitable for using this context differently. So if I now come to Pattern Overlay and we will click on the pattern swatch and then we can scroll down to the pattern that we want and then we need to change its blend mode to something like Multiply so that we see it. And the effect is not really that much different from what we were seeing before.
Now the problem here is that the pattern inside the letter is offset from the pattern in the background and we are not seeing that crack running through it. You would expect that if you click on Snap to Origin that would solve the problem, but it doesn't. So I'm going to move my cursor into the letter just to start dragging it around, so that I can line up the scene and this is obviously rather precarious and less than exact size but now we have it. There is the effect with the Pattern Overlay applied.
What I'm going to do now for purposes of comparison is I'm going to duplicate that layer and I will turn off that layer effect. We'll hide this one for the time being and now I'm going to choose my preferred technique for doing this, which is to apply a layer mask that is the texture to the letter layer itself. So what I'm going to need to do is turn off the visibility of that layer so I see just the texture by itself and then we'll come to the Channels panel and I'll hold down my Command key or Ctrl key and click on the RGB channel and that will load the luminosity channel of what's currently visible, in this case just the texture. So it's important that the type layer be turned off while you do this.
Now come and turn the type layer back on and then click on the Add Layer Mask. So that embeds the texture as a layer mask and if we turn of the background layer we can kind of see what's happening there. We get an idea of what's going on, and that's I think already an improvement on what we had, but it is perhaps not bringing out the texture as much as we might like. If we take a look at the layer mask we can see that there are perhaps too many gray values here. The layer mask where it's white will reveal the layer that it's attached to and where it's black it'll conceal it.
So we want more blacks and more whites. And to do that, if I wanted to be really extreme about it and sometimes this works, I could go to Threshold or if I wanted to use a slightly lighter touch I could go to Levels and then bring the black and white points closer to the center. All right, let's just have a comparison of the two. This is the effect with a layer mask and this is the effect with the Pattern Overlay.
You decide which one you like better and which one works for you. But I'm going to do one more thing. So we have a crack in the road here which is running right through the A, so we need to sort of work the A little bit now. Of course I would have far more flexibility in warping this letter, I could use a free-form warp on it, if it would no longer type. If I wanted it to remind vectors, I would have to convert it to a shape layer or I could rasterize it one all the other. But I don't want to do either of those. I would like to keep this type editable.
So in that case what I'm going to do is I'm going to go to the Type tool and then click on my Warp option. This is going to be a very slight warp, just to sort of make it look a little bit more damaged, something like that. And that allows us to keep the type completely editable and I can come in there and change it to any other letter as I choose. So that was all about comparing the benefits and ease-of-use of Pattern Overlay versus applying the pattern by using a layer mask directly on the layer.
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