Dec 18 Light & Shade to Bring Text to Life

The best book I’ve ever read on drawing is one called “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”. After reading it, I’m still pretty bad at drawing, but I did learn a lot about light and shade. In this tutorial we are going to take some very basic principles of light and shade to make a rather impressive looking text effect.

Light Sources

So before we start the tutorial, here is a little diagram about how light might hit an object. Here we have a square object in the middle with light coming from the top left. You can see that where the light hits the object, a shadow is cast on the other side. Note that the shadow is not a Photoshop “Drop Shadow” which makes the object look like it’s hovering above the canvas. Here we want the object to look like it’s a three dimensional thing stuck on the canvas, extruding if you like. Now tell me what other Photoshop tutorial site gives you diagrams? It’s like being back in school!


Step 1

We begin the tutorial by drawing a subtle Linear Gradient from dark grey to darker grey. Note that because we want our light to come from the top left, that’s where the lighter part of the document is.


Step 2

Now we place some text, I’ve used a very cool font called Agency FB which has a condensed, hard edge feel to it. You should make the text a grey-ish blue colour – #c2c8d4 to be precise.


Step 3

Next CTRL-click the text layer and create a new layer above it. In the new layer, with that selection still held, draw a linear gradient of #495a79 to transparent from bottom right to left. So in other words you are darkening the bottom right as shown.


Step 4

Set your foreground colour to Black (you can do this by pressing the letter ‘D’ on your keyboard which restores the defaults).

Now CTRL-click the text layer again and create a new layer beneath the text layer. Now press the down arrow on your keyboard once and the right arrow on your keyboard once. Then press ALT-BACKSPACE to fill it with black. Then press down and right again one time and fill with black. Each time you will be moving 1px right and 1px down. You should repeat this process about 30 times (which is why it’s important to use Alt-Backspace instead of the Fill tool).

Note also that to move the selection but not the fills when you press your arrow keys you have to have one of the Marquee tools on. If you switch to the Move Tool (V) when you press down and right you will actually move the black fill as well as the selection and will just be filling the same pixels over and over.


Step 5

Here’s what you should now have. Now deselect and make sure you are on the shadow layer, then go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur and use values of -45 degrees and a distance of 30px.


Step 6

Set your shadow layer to Multiply and about 40% Opacity and then hold down SHIFT and press the down arrow and then the right arrow. This will move your object right and down 10px each (Shift tells photoshop to go 10px at a time instead of 1). Now you may have some of the blurred parts of the shadow sticking out to the top and left of the object. If this is the case grab a small soft eraser and gently erase away anything which shouldn’t be shaded (remember the diagram at the beginning).


Step 7

Next duplicate the shadow layer, hold SHIFT and move it down and right again. Then run the Motion Blur filter again with a distance of 50px this time and set this layer to Multiply and 20% opacity. This is just to give our shadows more of a trail off.


Step 8

Now create a new layer above all the other layers, hold down CTRL and click the main text layer to select its pixels and back on your new layer fill the selection with White. Don’t let go of the selection just yet though, instead press down and right one time to move 1px away and then hit Delete.

Set this thin white line layer to about 80% Opacity.


Step 9

As you can see the thin white line gives a sort of highlight effect where the light source is hitting the text and gives the impression that the text is more three dimensional.


Step 10

Next we want to create some streams of natural light. Create a new layer above all the others and draw four or five white rectangles approximately similar to those shown (i.e. getting fatter as they go down).


Step 11

Now press CTRL-T to transform and rotate and enlarge the rectangles as shown. Now normally you’d press Enter when you’re finished, but this time don’t let go just yet. Instead right click and you will get a pop up menu showing you other types of transforms you can do. Choose “Perspective”. The reason it’s important to do this in one step is so that you don’t lose your bounding box. So take the top left two points and bring them closer together so that the light appears to be coming from one place and spreading out.


Step 12

Here we have our four strips of “light”. Now set the layer to Overlay and 20% Opacity and then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and give it a blur radius of 6px.


Step 13

You should now have something that looks like this.


Step 14

Now since those thin strips are meant to be light it would make sense if our highlight layer only showed up where the light was hitting right? So CTRL-click the light layer and then click on the highlight layer from earlier, then while the selection is still on click on the Add Layer Mask button (it’s the one down the bottom of the layer palette to the right of the ‘f’ icon). This will create a Mask that only shows the highlight layer where the light overlaps it.


Step 15

So you could stop here, it’s already looking pretty good, but we’ll finish this effect off by adding some warm lighting.


Step 16

So first of all create a new layer just above the background and fill it with a pinkish colour – #9d506c.


Step 17

Now set the pink layer’s blending mode to Colour and the opacity to 20%. This gives our background a nice reddish-warmth. Over the top of this we can now mix in some yellows. If we don’t put in the reddish cast underneath the result comes out looking overly yellow and not particularly real.


Step 18

Now set the pink layer’s blending mode to Colour and the opacity to 20%. This gives our background a nice reddish-warmth. Over the top of this we can now mix in some yellows. If we don’t put in the reddish cast underneath the result comes out looking overly yellow and not particularly real.


Step 19

Now set the pink layer’s blending mode to Colour and the opacity to 20%. This gives our background a nice reddish-warmth. Over the top of this we can now mix in some yellows. If we don’t put in the reddish cast underneath the result comes out looking overly yellow and not particularly real.



Finally we duplicate the top lighting layer one more time and set it to 65% opacity, then click the Add Layer Mask button on the layers palette again and draw a linear white to black gradient from top left to bottom right. This makes the extra lighting layer fade off as it goes down right.



Download the PSD for this tutorial

written by Pinewood Design \\ tags: , ,

Dec 06

Alienize: Transform a person into an alien

Tutorial, Web And Graphics Design Comments Off on Alienize: Transform a person into an alien 

In this tutorial is written how to create a very cool looking alien using Adobe Photoshop. Grab a picture of someone and get ready to alienize it!

Alienize a person

  1. Go to File > New (Ctrl+N) to create a new file. Make sure that you have your background settings to Transparent. Now search for a portret on your PC to use and add it to your newly created file. For this tutorial I used a picture of Tom Cruise to alienize (Source file Tom Cruise). Ofcourse you can use a picture of your friend, a family member or even yourself.

    Alienize view 1

  2. Grab the Eraser Tool (E) and erase the eyes. Now use the Clone Stamp Tool (S) to clone parts of the cheeks over the nose. It’ll look like the nose is erased. Use the Healing Stamp Tool to fix any not natural looking parts on the place where the nose first was.

    Alienize view 2

  3. Go to Filter > Liquify Tool (Shift+Ctrl+X) and a new window will show. Use the Forward Warp Tool (W) in this window to strech out the empty place where the eyes first were. I used a brush with a size of approxamitely 30 pixels. Strech it untill it has the shape of an alien eye. Press OK to accept the changes.

    Alienize view 3

  4. I used some alien eyes that I created before (Source file Alien eye) and pasted them in the layer behind the face. Scale the eye using Transform (Ctrl+T) untill it’s at a right size. Use the Burn Tool (O) to make the areas around the eyes a little bit darked so it will look more realistic.

    Alienize view 4

  5. Open up the liquify tool by going to Filter > Liquify Tool (Shift+Ctrl+X). Again, use the Forward Warp Tool (W) and strech out the ears. This time I used a brush with a size of 90. Press OK to save the changes and if you want, use the Burn Tool (O) to darken parts of the ears.

    Alienize view 5

  6. Get ready to change some colours using Color Balance (Ctrl+B). Play around with the Color Balance and Tone Balance untill you think you have something alien-like. I used these settings:
    1. Shadows: 0,20,0
    2. Midtones: 0,20,0
    3. Highlights: 0,40,0

    Alienize view 6

  7. Grunge your face. You can use several options for this, for example you could use a grunge brush. Here I used a pattern that I had on my PC (Source file Grunge Pattern). On a new layer, cover the face with the whole grunge pattern using Transform (Ctrl+T) or copy-pasting the pattern next to eachother (See left image below). Set the Blending Mode of the grunge layer to Color Burn and the Opacity around 25%.

    Alienize view 6.5 Alienize view 7

  8. Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) and select the forehead of the face (See left image below). Duplicate layer part (Ctrl+J) and grab the Free Transform Tool (Ctrl+T). Strech the forehead by selecting the middle square and drag it upward. Merge layers (Ctrl+E) (See middle image below).
    Draw facial lines on a new layer using the Brush Tool (B). These lines can be used for detail. Select the lines on the layer and go to Blending Options. In this new window, go to Bevel and Emboss. Use the standard settings but change: Style: Pillow Emboss. I used these values:

    1. Depth: 51%
    2. Size: 1px
    3. Soften: 1px

    When satisfied, press OK to save the settings. Grab your Burn Tool (O) and burn the lines so that it’ll look more realistic (See right image below).

    Alienize view 7.5 Alienize view 7.6 Alienize view 8

  9. Create a new layer (Ctrl+Shift+N). Draw some veins around the eyes using the Brush Tools (B). I used a brush size of 2 pixels (See left image below). Select the content of the veins layer by Ctrl+Click on the image of the layer. Now you should have the veins selected. Select the layer of the face by clicking on it. Now duplicate the selection of the veins (Ctrl+J). You should get a new layer on top of the layer of the face. Delete the layer with the veins that you drew. Now go back to the layer with the outer lines of the veins. Give them color by opening the Color Balance (Ctrl+B). Play around untill you’re satisfied with the colors. Give the layer Soft light or Hard Light to give it more effect. Merge all layers back together (Ctrl+E). Open up Color Balance (Ctrl+B) again and play with the full colors of the image (See right image below).

    Alienize view 8.5 Alienize view 9

  10. Repeat the previous step, but now create some veins on the head (See left image below).

    Alienize view 9.5 Alienize view 10

  11. Adjust the levels of the image by opening the Levels panel (Ctrl+L). Change the levels of the image untill you have a nice, realistic looking face.

    Alienize view 11

And there you have it, your own created alien. This is my final result. Be creative and feel free to post your final result in the comments.

Some people in the comments reported that this tutorial is a copy of one that is posted on worth1000. I checked out the tutorial and I have to admit: It does look-a-like, but it’s not a copy. Furthermore, the tutorial on Worth1000 is way much harder and more for professional than this one.

 Source from:

written by Pinewood Design \\ tags: , , ,

Clicky Web Analytics