Join Nigel French for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating the digital letterpress effect, part of Designing an Invitation.
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Here I'm going to show you how to create this digital letterpress look that we are using in the first of our designs for the invitation. We also have a variant of this which we'll see later on where we will be hand stamping the letterpress with wood type and an ink stamp. But this version we're going to be doing digitally in Photoshop. This is how it looks in InDesign. This is how this piece of the design looks in Photoshop, and we are going to see here how we can combine the use of InDesign, Photoshop, and even a bit of Illustrator to create this effect.
I'm going to start out and finish in InDesign. Moving now to our work in progress, the currently blank document. On page 1, the first thing I'm going to do is draw a frame to accommodate that design. And I'm going to take note of the size of the frame, 45 picas x 27 picas. I'll now switch to Photoshop where I will create a new document at that size. At a Resolution of 300 with a Color Mode of RGB.
I will now tap T to go to my Type tool and click on my Character panel on the tool options so that we can all be sure we're starting from the same place. First thing I'm going to do is come to the Panel menu and Reset Character. That's going to put things back to their default values. Myriad Pro, 12 point black without any Kerning, Tracking, or any other options applied. I'll then click somewhere on my canvass and type in 30! So I'm now going to select that Command+A or Ctrl+A and apply some type formatting to it.
I'm going to use Clarendon as the typeface. It's a beautiful mid century, mid 19th century Victorian typeface, slab serif, big and chunky. If you don't have it--and there is a high probability that you won't have it, it's not a standard typeface that comes with the Creative Suite-- just use something that's really solid and has a lot of surface area. So I'm going to use Clarendon and I want the weight of the Clarendon to be bold.
I'm then going to increase its type size massively. Somehow that got switched back to Myriad Pro. And then switch to my Move tool, drag it into position. Back to my Type tool I'm going to select the exclamation point and this I'm going to put into Rosewood--that is probably a bit overused but I have a soft spot for it, so I'm going to use it anyway. Click into my Baseline Shift Options, because I want to move this character up just a fraction like so.
I'm then going to come to my Swatches. Choose this red and press Option or Alt and my Backspace key to apply that red color to the type. I now want to align it on the canvas, Command+A or Ctrl+A and I will center it vertically and I will also center it horizontally. Looking at that, I feel there's a bit too much space between those characters, so I'm going to double-click on the T on the Layers Panel, bring up my character panel again, and come to the Tracking Option and make that -50.
Of course that's now thrown the alignment off completely so I need to come do that again. The next thing I want is that pointing hand, pointing to the number in the top left. This thing right here, this is from a font called Adobe Wood Type Ornaments. It's another font that is now a standard font, you may not have it. There's a very similar character in the Zapf Dingbats font, feel free to use that one instead.
Whichever one we choose, it's going to be hard to access that exact character without knowing what key to press. I have no idea what key I need to press to get that character and here's where Photoshop lets us down because it doesn't provide a Glyphs panel in the same way as InDesign or Illustrator do. So I'm going to switch over to Illustrator here and with my Type tool click on my artboard as it's called here, and then go to my Type menu and to Glyphs, and since I was messing around with this before, it just so happens to come up with exactly the right font and exactly the right character.
So you need to choose the font here and then just by a process of finding the character that you're after, you can increase the size of the view right here, and when you found it, you just double -click and that will insert it at the point of your cursor. If necessary, you can change its size. I'm using a 200 point character here and then you can copy it. Command+C or Ctrl+C. Switch back to Photoshop and paste it.
I'm going to paste it as a Smart Object. I'm then going to rotate it, move it, and scale it; and then reposition it again. When I have it where I want it, I can click the tick to confirm that or press Return. The next thing we want to do is put this texture inside that type to make it look distressed. So I'm going to move over to this texture.psd file, press Command+A or Ctrl+A to select All, Command+C or Ctl+C to copy and then comeback here.
Before I paste it, I'm going to select these two layers and I'm going to make them into a group. So with these two layers selected, Command+ G or Ctrl+G, we'll put them into a group. I will then paste my texture Command+ V or Ctrl+V, and it looks like that. I need to size it slightly so that it covers all of the area that we want it to affect. Command+T or Ctrl+T and I can just pull this around. We can take some liberties with it, since it's just a texture.
Next I want to load the gray values of this texture, which will then be used as Layer mask on Group 1. So with just the texture visible, I'm going to come to the Channels panel, hold down my Command key, or my Control key on Windows, and click on the RGB Channel, and that gives me a large marching ant selection of the gray values. I'll then switch back to my Layers panel, hide the visibility on that texture and target the Group.
I will then add that selection as a Layer mask and it would look like that. I'd like it to be a little bit more impactful than it currently is. If I Alt+Click or Option+Click on that Layer mask, the grays are too flat right there. So the next thing I'm going to do is click onto the Layer mask, but with the whole of the group visible. I could use Levels to adjust the contrast, but I'm going to use a sledgehammer instead, and that sledgehammer comes in the form of the Threshold command, which is going to turn the gray values to black or to white.
I can adjust the Threshold one way or the other and I'm going to leave it right there. And there is my distressed type treatment. I'm now going to save this, Command+S, I will call it 30.psd. I want to retain the layers, click Save. At this point we come full circle and we are back in InDesign where we have our frame selected. I will now press Command +D or Ctrl+D to place this and from my Exercise Files folder come to the file I've just saved.
I have Replace Selected Item checked, so that it should go exactly into that frame. If I want to make it a little bit bigger--and I think I do--then I'm going to switch to my Selection tool, click on my Content Selector. Make sure that I have the Center Reference Point selected and press Command+>. And that's going to scale that from the center point. I know that it is technically centered, but it looks a little bit off center, I'm going to move it to the right a little bit by just pressing the cursor arrows.
And scale it a little bit more and move it to the right a little bit more to get it exactly how we want it. You will remember from the finished version, this needs to end up upside down. So I'm going to select it, I'm going to tap my R key to choose my Rotate tool. Make sure I have the Center Reference Point selected on the control panel and then spin it around through 180 degrees.
There we have it, I'm now going to increment this version, File > Save As, and I'll call this invitation1a.
- Looking at type choices
- Creating a digital letterpress effect
- Adding text and images
- Creating alternate versions of your invitation