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-   -   The Photoshop Graphic-Making Tips, Tricks, and Guides Thread (http://forums.wrestlezone.com/showthread.php?t=64123)

The Doctor 08-28-2009 07:05 PM

The Photoshop Graphic-Making Tips, Tricks, and Guides Thread
Couldn't think what else to call it. We have an Ask-A-Question thread, and a Tutorials thread, but this is (hopefully) something different, and might get more people into graphics and design. It'll be a multi-part topic and anyone can chip in if they so desire.

Update: The first few posts are old. That is why they're hidden in spoilers. Look through them for reference, though. Once you get to the non-spoiler'd post, you've reached the new guide.

Click for Spoiler:
Brushes!: Now, I'm not going to pretend to be the be-all end-all guy with brush knowledge. I only started using them recently, and boy am I glad I did. With them, making your own background is a snap.

Click here for my favorite brush set.

I’ll be doing this from the perspective of a Windows and Photoshop 7 user, so you’ll have to improvise and work around some things if you’re on a Mac.
Be sure you have WinRAR and WinZip installed. Many brush sets are packed in either a RAR or ZIP file.
When they have downloaded, you have to put them in the "Brushes" folder, which is in the "Presets" folder which is in the “Photoshop” folder which is in the “Adobe” folder which is in the “Program Files” folder which is on the C:/ drive.
C:\Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop 7\Presets\Brushes
Got it?

You’ll want to download a variety of brushes. Abstract brushes are nice, as are Fractal brushes. There are brushes for pretty much anything out there, for things like Cityscapes, to fire, to water, to ancient circles, to blood spatters, and more.

To add your brushes, make sure Photoshop isn’t open when you put the brushes in the right folder. Then, open up Photoshop and select your brush tool.
Afterwards, open the brush menu and click on the little arrow to show all your brushes

And then select your brush that you want to add.

When this dialogue box comes up, I usually click “Append” because it adds the brushes from that set onto your default set. Very useful.

Click here for Midnight City, another brush set I quite like.

IMPORTANT: If you have an older version of Photoshop (for example, Photoshop 7), many brushes made with the new versions will not work! To get around this, you‘ll have to do things the long way. Luckily, the long way isn‘t that bad.
Download the ABR Viewer by clicking here. When you have that downloaded, use it to open up your ABR file, and click Export>Thumbnails. This will save every brush in the ABR file as a PNG. It is recommended you export into a new folder, just to make things easier.
Anyway, open the PNG files with Photoshop, and for each one click “Define Brush” which is under the Edit menu.
BE WARNED: If you ever replace your current brush set, these brushes will be deleted and you’ll have to define them again!

It’s very useful to have some paper texture brushes, in order to make different types of backgrounds. Here are the three textures I use for paper brushes:

For those, you will probably have to cut sections out. I usually cut out a quarter of them. To get a perfectly accurate measure, go to View>New Guide, and type 50% when the dialogue box pops up. Do this for both horizontal and vertical, and Voila! Your image is now split into quarters. Simply crop it and use Define Brush.

Well, that pretty much wraps it up for the Brushes section. Let’s move on to designing backgrounds.

Now, when designing a background for a sig, I usually start with either a straight black or straight white background. It's easier that way. Then, I create a new layer. This is very important. With a new layer you can edit very easily, and apply color overlays and the like. I usually use white for the brush strokes themselves, as it is very easy to change colors later.

Here are some useful tips when designing backgrounds:
  • Be sure to vary your brushes! Don’t just use one abstract brush over and over again. Try and use multiple to make the background pleasing and more interesting.
  • Experiment! Try using a gradient overlay instead of a color overlay, or try making a new layer and doing brush strokes of a different color.
  • Blank space is not a bad thing! If your background looks good with a few brush strokes and a large chunk of black in the middle, that’s fine. Do whatever you think looks good.

The one thing to remember when designing sigs is Everyone has their own style.
For example, I favor high contrasts or colors, while Rebecca usually has faded, sepia sigs. Just because someone has a different style does not mean that they are better or worse than you.

That’s about all I have for the first installment of this thread. Next up: Selections, Fonts, and Strokes.

Any graphic designers and others who want to pitch in their own guides, tips, and tricks, feel free to!


The Doctor 08-28-2009 11:04 PM

Click for Spoiler:
Well, MRC had a great idea, so I’ll be following through. All these tutorials will teach you how to make a single sig.

In our last lesson, we learned about Backgrounds and Brushes. In this one we’ll learn about a variety of techniques to give your sig some style, such as working with selections, fonts, layer styles, and strokes.

Giving Your Background Some Color!:
Now, we start off with a background you might have made with the last tutorial.

I made this using Bulldozer’s “Heavy Abstract” brushes which are an extension of the brushes linked to you in the earlier tutorial.

As you can see, I started with a black background and then made a new layer, where I did my brush strokes in white. Now we’re going to make them colorful!
Select your brush layer and click on the little (f) symbol. On Photoshop CS3, this is an Fx symbol. When the menu pops up, click “Gradient Overlay”

Mess around with the settings to your liking. I’ll use a green to white reflected gradient. It’ll look something like this:

See? Very nice. Now lets move on to adding images to your sig.

Selecting and Cutting!:
Now, after you’ve created a nice background, it’s time to add images to your sig. As an example, let’s go with this picture of a lettuce:

You’ll see why in a bit.

The Magic Eraser tool is a very useful tool for erasing backgrounds. Make sure your tolerance is set to default, and click on the white space around the lettuce.

You’ll have to click a few times. The checkerboard means we have a transparent background and can easily drag and drop the lettuce into the sig.

Most of the time, your image will be too big. To rectify this, click on the move tool and click on the “Show Bounding Box” checkbox OR go to Edit>Transform>Free Transform. Select the corner of the dotted box and hold down SHIFT as you drag the corner! This prevents your image from getting all out-of-proportion and squishy.

Other ways of selecting are the polygonal lasso (my favorite) and magnetic lasso. You can also use the marquee tools.
There’s also masking, but let’s not worry about that yet. It’s kind of complicated.

Anyway, once you’ve done that you might want to mess around with blending modes. I find the linear light blend mode works best with this. Sometimes you can just leave it at normal and mess around with other tings. We’ll get to that later. Right now, we’re going to talk about strokes, and fonts.

Strokes And Fonts!:
Now, I get most of my fonts from dafont.com. They have fonts for pretty much every occasion, and they’re all free. To install fonts, unzip the file to C:\WINDOWS\fonts,

Anyway, when working with fonts, be sure to have the Character window open, which you can find by going to Window>Character. I’d suggest putting in with your default tabs, because it’s dead useful. You can adjust fonts, spacing, size, and color with ease.

When you’ve found a good font, it’s time to go to your layer options menu and click Stroke. I usually go with a three pixel black stroke. It helps the text pop. If I don’t want it to pop so much, I usually leave it red and change the Stroke’s blend mode to Luminosity, which blends it in with the background, color-wise, while still outlining the text.

On the topic of strokes, It is vitally important that all your sigs have a border! To do this, create a new layer on the very top, and press Ctrl+A to place a marquee around the whole image. Then, go to Edit>Stroke and change the options to the following:

Pick whatever color you think will stand out and whatever thickness you desire. 3 is a good one, as it’s think but not too thick. Make sure it’s an inside stroke.

Here is the final result:

That wraps it up for the basics of sig-making. Next tutorials we’ll be talking about other ways to make backgrounds, the intricacies of various tools, and just general tips and tricks.

Happy sigging!

The Doctor 08-30-2009 03:49 PM

This one isn't very good, but there are still some interesting things regarding clipping masks you can learn from it.

Click for Spoiler:
Welcome again, everyone! Today I’ll be showing you what to do when your selections are less-than-perfect, how to use clipping masks, and another way to make good borders. Using MRC’s awesome idea of applying all these to a single sig, in this lesson we’ll be making a John Morrison sig.

Selections, and what to do if your cuts are less-than perfect:
Let’s start out with this image of everyone’s favorite Shaman of Sexy.

I believe I used a combination of the extract tool (which I don’t really recommend, by the way. It’s a little confusing and doesn’t always do the best job. Maybe I’ll cover using it in another post.) and the magic eraser to get the black background away from Morrison.

I cut this picture out a while ago and found it while looking on my hard drive for a suitable pic, and it had both cut and uncut pics in the PSD, so you’ll have to forgive me for not knowing my methods exactly. The important part is that the background is mostly away. However, you’ll notice that there is still some black, and some of the cuts are a little rough. How does one fix this? Well, there are two methods:
  • Zoom in to a billion percent and pizel edit everything perfectly, which gets rid of the black, but leaves the roughness and takes a really long time.
  • Layer styles!

I usually pick option 2, which I will be demonstrating.

Inner Strokes: Inner stroking is my preferred method of hiding bad edges, because it smoothes things out and I like the style. A lot of times, I use inner or outer strokes even when the edges are perfectly fine. It’s just my style. I like bold lines and things that pop.

Create a background, and drop your cut Morrison image onto it by clicking the layer, dragging it, and dropping it onto your background, like so:

So now your image is on your background, but there are still the rough and black edges to worry about. Go to your layer styles menu [The (f) or Fx button mentioned in an earlier tutorial] and select “Stroke”. Make it an inner stroke.

The stroke will pop up red. Setting the blending style to “Luminosity” makes the stroke blend in with the background, and unless I select a black stroke is my preferred method of stroking because it makes it look more natural. You can do whatever you want, though. It’s all about finding your own style. After that, it’s all just selecting gradients, colors, and fonts to go with your sig.

You’ll notice I used a boring, blocky font. There’s a reason for this.

Using Clipping Masks:
Let’s make that blocky font a little more interesting. Make a new layer above it and grab your favorite grunge or texture brush. Make sure it’s black, and start randomly brushing.

Looks pretty terrible right now, but here comes the clever bit.
Hold ALT, and click on the line separating the text and brushed layers.

Tadaa! Pretty great, huh? Texture can liven up even the most boring blocky font.

Using Layer Styles To Create Borders:
Now I’m going to show you how to use layer styles to create borders. This is better than using Edit>Stroke because you can easily change it, and even use patterns and gradients!
Make a new layer at the very top, and fill it with any color using the paint bucket tool (which is hidden under the gradient tool). Then, adjust the fill to 0%.

Then, go to your layer styles menu and click Stroke. Make it an inside stroke, and from there, you can mess around with color, thickness, and even whether you want it to be a gradient or pattern, and see your results on the fly!

Here’s my final result:

Well, now you know a few more things about sig-making. Go out, make things, have fun, experiment, and enjoy yourself.

The Doctor 02-20-2010 11:00 PM

Hello, everyone! Welcome to a text only tutorial on sig-making, updated for Photoshop CS3! This has to be text-only because I'm on a computer that doesn't have CS3, because it's easier to write long posts on it. Oh well~!

The Best Way To Make Clean Cuts:
First off, there's a new way to do selections that is only possible in CS3 and higher. IT's called the Quick Selection tool, and it's a godsend. It's easy to use (Click, select, move around) and makes selecting things easier than ever.
Anyway, to make great selections every time, select the subject with the quick selection tool then invert the selection (Ctrl+Shift+I). Change your foreground color to black, and hit Alt+Backspace to fill the background with black. Then, go to the Select menu, and go to Modify > Feather. Feather the selection by one pixel, and then hit delete.
Use the rectangular marquee or a lasso to select the subject. DO NOT just drag the entire image or layer to the sig file, because you will be left with a box around the subject. That's no good.

Brightening Up Your Subjects:
A great way to make the subjects in your sig look more interesting is by duplicating the layer and desaturating the duplicate (Shift+Ctrl+U). Then, adjust the blending options. I find the anything in the group that starts with Overlay is the best, but you can use whatever you like to get the effect you want. You can do this with a color duplicate as well to brighten up the colors in a layer.

Another tip to brightening up your subjects is using the Levels command. Press Ctrl+L to adjust the levels of the selected layer. By dragging the little arrows, you can adjust the brightness, and black and white levels of the layer. Very useful.

Adding Color To Your Backgrounds:
The best way to do it is by making a new layer above the one where you have brushed and pressing Alt+Backspace to fill it with a color. It doesn't matter what color, as you need to adjust the Fill to 0% when you're done. Go to Layer Styles (The Fx) and select either color or gradient overlay. In the dialogue box, change the blending mode of the overlay to Color. Adjust the color or gradient as necessary. This is a great way to add some color. However, experiment with different colored brushes. Under an overlay, red things turn the color they're under. It's interesting.

So there you have some more tips. Experiment! Have fun!

SalvIsWin 04-29-2010 11:11 AM

[Tutorial] General Animation by Salv
Word of caution: Animated signatures are not permitted on WrestleZone, so while you can post your results, or share your own creativity, note that you cannot use any of the effects in your own signature here. This is clearly stated in the WrestleZone rulebook under section F: http://forums.wrestlezone.com/showthread.php?t=59463 .


Note From Doc:
In CS3 and above, all features from ImageReady (including the Animation palette) are incorporated into Photoshop, making this tutorial follow-able from the one program.
Hello, this is a tutorial for creating simple animations. This tutorial is going to show the steps using Photoshop CS2 and ImageReady CS2, so other versions, or GIMP may not be exactly the same.


Overall, by combining Photoshop and Imageready, you can add animation to images. There are limitations, and in no way is this a replacement for most complex animation, but for simple effects, PS & IR animation options should be all you need, you're really only limited by your creativity. Let's get started:

Step 1:

The first thing you need to do is have your tutorial finished, with some layer, or layers that you would like to have animated. In the above picture, there is a simple Randy Orton image, with a pen design I quickly made that circles up and around. The goal will be to make that red design fade out to 20% opacity, and fade back in to 100% opacity.

As you can see, I have created a yellow box around the 'Export to ImageReady' button on the left, once you have the layer you wish to animate, and the rest of your image is complete, click this button, which will automatically open ImageReady CS2 and open your PSD there.

Step 2:

Your next step is to go to the top and click windows, move your cursor down to animation. This will open the animation window at the bottom left of your ImageReady screen.

Step 3:

This is what the animation window looks like. Your window should only have one picture in it thus far. To continue with the tutorial, click the 'Duplicate Current Frame' button, which I have outlined in yellow in the above picture. After this, your animation window should look the same as mine.

Step 4:

You're going to click the second image (the one you created within the animation window) and then change the opacity of your animation layer (Layer 1 in my example, as you can see it's highlighted) to what ever you wish. In this tutorial, I am changing it to 20%. In this example, Randy Orton's red swirl design has faded, and this will be the lowest point in fades out to before it fades back in to 100%. (Note: It doesn't have to fade back in to 100%, you can make it fade in to what ever you wish, just change the first animation image to any opacity you wish.)

Step 5:

After this, you can click the play button if you want, and you will see that the design image will switch from your default opacity (image #1 in the animation window, which by default is 100%), to what ever you set the second image's opacity to (which was 20% in this example).

What you want is the visual that it is fading out and fading in, so you need more frames between the 100% and the 20% opacity images. In the image above, you will see I have created a yellow box around the 'Tween' button. This will add frames between the image you have highlighted (image #2 in this example), and the image before it (which is Image#1 in this example). Overall, click image #2 and click the tween button.

Step 6:

This is the window that will pop up. As you can see, it is stating that it will tween (add frames) between the selected layer and the default selected 'Previous Layer'. What you want to change is the 'Frames to Add' selection. The way this works is that animation quickly cycles between various images, how ever if you have 50 images overall, with one part of the image lowering in opacity 2% each image, it will appear as if that part of the image is fading out. The more frames you add, the smoother the animation will be, because there will be less change per image. Click OK.

The higher the number the better, but the higher you set the number, the larger the file size will inevitably become. This usually isn't a problem, but it is something to note. Adding 30 frames is usually enough for a smooth animation, but in this example I chose 20, but experiment with differing amounts to see the differences, and then decide on what you think looks best, but 30 is a safe number.

Step 7:

That will be the extent of your animation at this point if you click the play button on the animation window. The animation cycles through your frames quickly, giving the illusion of a fading image. However as you can see in the above image, the red design fades to 20%, and then appears at 100% again before fading. This isn't ideal, and this is happening because your last frame on the animation window is a low point (20% opacity in this example), but when the animation starts anew, it begins at frame #1 again (100% opacity in this example). We will correct this now.

Step 8:

What you are going to want to do is to add another frame of animation by duplicating your last frame, the same thing that you did in Step 3, but make sure that you have your last frame selected when you duplicate, other wise you risk adding a duplicate image some where in your animation and it will screw the process up.

Change this newly duplicated layer so that it is identical to frame #1 (which in this example is 100% opacity, as that's the change we decided to do). As you can see in the above picture, I have frame 23 selected (my last frame), and I am going to change the opacity of that frame to 100%, and then I will repeat Step 5 & 6, which is clicking the tween button and adding another amount of frames.

Step 9:

As you can see, after tweening again between your newly duplicated layer (which is identical to frame #1) with the layer before that, which would be the 'lowest' part of your animation, the animation will fade out to your lowest point (20% in this case), and then fade in (to 100% in this case) before resetting back to frame#1 and starting the process over.

If you click the play button, your animation will have come full circle, like so:

Lastly, in order to save your animation, go to 'File' at the top left in ImageReady CS2, and click on 'Save Optimized As'. You will have to safe the image as a .gif, instead of a .jpg if that's what you normally do, but that's just so it shows the animation.


There are various things you can do with animation, as long as you understand how it works, by cycling through many images to give the illusion of change.

You can create effects to make it look like it's raining (by having different 'rain' images cycle), or you can have pictures 'slide' in and out of frame. I have done animation to make it look like a gun is firing, by having the animation cycle between 2-4 images of muzzle flashes, so you really are only limited by your creativity.

Thanks for following the tutorial, and it would be cool to see any results or creative ways to use the animation powers of ImageReady, so if you come up with any thing, results, or creative uses, post them here.

Word of caution: Animated signatures are not permitted on WrestleZone, so while you can post your results, or share your own creativity, note that you cannot use any of the effects in your own signature here. This is clearly stated in the WrestleZone rulebook under section F: http://forums.wrestlezone.com/showthread.php?t=59463 .

The Doctor 05-01-2010 04:11 PM

A Guide to Smudging and the "Chalk Effect"
Hello everyone! Welcome to a new tutorial.

Earlier today, I got a PM asking about my current sig:

And how I got that chalky effect as the background. I thought I'd write up a tutorial so that you can have the effect in your own graphics.

For this, I will be recreating that Kristoph sig. First, we need these three images:


Save the first and last and open them in Photoshop. They have transparent backgrounds. The middle one is an easy cut job.

Next, open a document 400x200 pixels, and fill it with black.

Place the giagantic picture of Kristoph in your document, and shrink it down a bit.

Duplicate the Kristoph layer multiple times (Ctrl+J), and then hide the bottom one. Four times should about do it. Now comes the fun part. Hide every Kristoph layer except the one directly above your original. Next, press "R". Go to the tool that was selected and change it to the Smudge Tool.

You'll see you can select a brush tip shape, just like with the brush tool. Select the 60px Chalk brush, which is the one selected in that image. It is a default brush. Now, open the brushes palette:

And click "Shape Dynamics". Set it to the following options:

Then click "Scattering" and set it to these options:

Now go to the Kristoph picture, and smudge! Smudge the edges, the center, click multiple times in one spot, drag...you should end up with something like this:

Now, unhide your second render and do it all again. When you're done, set the layer's blending mode to Color Dodge.

Unhide the third and fourth layers and do it again. You can change the blending mode to Linear Dodge if you'd prefer. Whatever looks good. Smudge the other layers. Widen out all of them using Free Transform. Whatever you think looks cool.

Finally, unhide your bottom Kristoph and bring it all the way to the top.

Now bring in your other two Kristoph pictures, put them behind the main one, and set their blending modes to anything that looks cool. I think in the original sig I had them both set to Overlay, but it's not working well with this one. So I set the dark blue one to overlay and the black and white one to Multiply and adjusted the opacity.

Blend the main Kristoph image using feather or erasing the outline or however you want to do it. Then make a new layer and set this layer to Overlay. It's time to do some lighting!

Grab a soft brush of a decent size, and select White as your main color. Click in places to increase the brightness and lighting. Turn it to black and do the same for shadows. AFter adding text and a border, I ended up with something like this:

Yes, yes, I know it doesn't look like that sig up there, but things rarely come out the same way twice in Photoshop. At least, not for me...

Anyway, I hope this helped!

Davie Broon 05-05-2010 07:51 PM

Hello fellow sig-makers, members and guests alike. This is my first sig-making tutorial and I hope that it comes in useful to you. I have never done a tutorial before but thought that I might as well give it a go. I spoke to Doc on MSN and whilst he was offline and remained silent for the full conversation, I am sure he will be cool with this. Today, I will be showing you how to create a sig for House MD. I have no idea how this will turn out but we will give it a go, I suppose.

So for this, I will be using a House MD render from PSD-Dreams. I will be using this one if you wan to follow along at home:


So, first what we want to do is open up a canvas that is 396 x 196. Have it filled in black and we are ready for our first step. Now, what you want to do is have some shimmer brushes at your disposal that will allow you to create a lovely shimmery background. The ones I am using can be found here:


So yeah, Fill some of your canvas with some of these brushes and just leave it at whatever you feel comfortable with. I am going to put in a photo filter. If you want to follow along, go to “Image > Adjustments > Photo filter”. Click on the coloured box and pick a colour. I want this sig to look quite warm from the start so I am going to choose a deep red. This is the code for it “810505”. Now we have that, you should have something like this:

You can hopefully see that there is a slight difference with how the background looks now and that there is a slight red tint in the background. Now, we have to bring in our render. So open you other canvas with your render on it and hit “Control + A, Control + C” and go to the previous canvas and hit “Control + V” and it will paste in hopefully. With that done, you should have both your image and the background in place. Make sure you still have the House render selected in your layers panel and hit “Control + J” 3 times and it should duplicate your render 3 times.

Now, what I want you to do now is get a soft edged brush. It will look like a circle that gets softer as it goes outwards and reduce it to around 50 pixels. After that, hide all but the bottom House render and the background. Now, I want you to make sure that your brush strength is set to 100% and just paint over the House image. I am going to start off with a warm red colour but feel free to do yo thang. You should end up with something like this:

After you have something like this, I want you to find your smudge tool. It may be on show or it may be hidden under the sharpen or blur tool. Once you have it, I want you to smudge everything on that layer with the red. Please ensure that your strength (at the to) is set to somewhere between 80-100%. Afterwards, it should look something like this:

I know it looks like a mess right now but I promise you it will get better. Now, I want you to set this layer, in the blending options, to Soft Light and it will give you something like this:

That’s already looking smashing. Right, now I want you to do the same for the other layers above it. Only this time, try some different colours. I am going to use a warm orange and a purple. Just do the exact same thing as you just did with that layer until you reach the top most duplication and then stop. This is what I have:

If you have something similar to that, then you are doing great so far. Now for the tricky part. Open up a new canvas and make it 3 pixels by 3 pixels and ensure that it is a transparent background. Once you have that, take a soft edged brush and make it 1 pixel large. Now, I want you to press “Control and +” together to continually zoom in. Once you are zoomed in far enough to see the canvas, fill in only one square with solid black paint and you should end up with something like this:

Now you have that, you need to go to “Edit > Define Pattern” and hit OK. Now you have that, shut that canvas off and open your previous one. Now, I want you to go to “Edit > Fill” and select Use: Pattern, before selecting the one you just made. You should end up with something like this:

Now, it’s at this point that I like to reduce the size of the canvas and make it 396 x 96 and then just move everything so that it is visible again. After this step, you should hopefully have something that resembles this:

With that done, I like to save this PSD file and also as a PNG. So once you have done that, close the PSD file that you have saved and open the PNG file instead. Once you have done that, it is time to take out the burn tool and ensure that your strength is set somewhere between 70-90%. Once you have done that, go over the places that you want to make darker. Once you have done that, take out the dodge tool and use that to lighten the places that you want lighter. You should end up with something like this:

Davie Broon 05-05-2010 07:54 PM

Once you have that, it is time to create a gradient map. First, set up a new layer and go to “Image > Apply Image”. Once you have done that go to “Image > Adjustments > Gradient Map” and footer about with that until you have something that you want. Personally, I go with black to white to black again and hit OK. So once you have that, go to the layer properties panel and set that to Overlay and 10% opacity.

Now that is done, it is time to add ourselves some levels. Go to “Adjustments > Levels” and mess around with that until you find something you like… When that is all done, you should have something that could resemble this:

Now, I am going to play with the colour balance but this is purely for my own fun and is not needed in the slightest.

Now, we are all ready to put in some text and a border and we are done. This is what I have:

Nicely done peeps. Please feel free to copy this design and post it in your own threads to show us how well you have done. Also note that a few of the pictures in this tutorial were done as JPEGs and were then changed to PNG's as I got further on.

The Doctor 05-06-2010 09:45 AM

Layer Masks
First off, before I start this, I want to throw a big thanks towards Dave for helping drive some discussion and traffic in this section. Damn good tutorial there, Dave, and I should have the last sig up by tonight.

Warning, this tutorial will use few images and an abundance of text. I'm doing this at school and that's the best I can do. Hopefully you'll be able to follow along.

Applying a Layer Mask is one of the most useful things Photoshop can do. with them, you can easily make Torn Paper effects, or erase parts of an image without hurting it if you make a mistake.

To add a layer mask, click on the layer you want to add it to and click this button:

This adds an all-white block thingie next to your layer. Now you take a black brush and paint on the mask to erase the parts you want to erase. This is great for softening edges or unwanted backgrounds without deleting or erasing the actual image.

You can add strokes and drop shadows and any other layer styles to layers with masks, and the effects will apply to the mask. I made the torn paper effect on my current sig using masks, by placing an image of clock work under the complete sig, adding a stroke and drop shadow to the top image, and using a chalk brush to erase parts of it.

Like with everything, experiment. Layer Masks are great to master and have helped me out immensely. There are a myriad of uses, so be sure to add this skill into your repertoire.

Happy sigging!

Davie Broon 05-17-2010 08:16 PM

Text – Using it effectively and adding effects.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Whether that is true or not, in this tutorial, I will try and show you some of the things that can be accomplished by adding text a picture and more importantly, adding effects to said text. Texts really are imperative to some signatures and in this tutorial, I will try and show you some of the hints and tips that I have come up with when using text tools with Adobe Photoshop. Sorry GIMP guys but I find it to be an absolutely terrible program and as long as I ca get Adobe Photoshop, I wont be using GIMP. If there is enough demand in the future, I might download the thing and get to know it a little better and perhaps do a tutorial but for now, let us get on with the Photoshop alternative.

Adding and installing new fonts.

When I first started making graphics, I was unaware that I could add new fonts to my system and have use of them with all of the programmes on my system. That includes things like Microsoft Office and more importantly, Photoshop. However, having followed a tutorial, I learned how to put new fonts onto my Windows system and thus make the sigs that I made all the more appealing.

Let’s start off with a helpful site for new fonts. Dafont.com is the standard for people now and I would be very surprised if any person here did not know about it. However, there is still a few people who do not know where to find the fonts and that link is for you. Now, for the remainder of the tutorial, I will be using the one font. I will download it and then I will add it to a graphic and show some effects on it. Now, For the use of the font later on, I will be using a very wide font that is big enough to show the effects that I using. Using a narrow font in these instances would not make sense. So, with that in mind, I am going to use a font that is called “Karabine” from Dafont.

You can find the font here:


Once you have that downloaded, which is pretty self-explanatory, you will be met by the Winrar welcome screen, if you have that installed, which you pretty much need to. If you don’t have that installed, I suggest you use this time to go and install this free product…

Done that? Good. So, all fonts and brushes will generally need to be extracted and Winrara is perfect for doing that. Winrar is pretty complex the first time you use it, so I will briefly go over what you need to do. When you download the font and open it with Winrar, you will be met by this:

What you will need to do, is hit enter on the ellipses that is selected and it will take you into the unextracted folder and to the location of the font. It should look very much like this:

It wont look exactly like that but “Karabine.zip” should be highlighted at least. After that, clock on the “Extract To” button and select your desktop. It should only take a second and after you are done, close Winrar because you wont be needing it any more. Go to your desktop and you should have something that looks like this on your desktop:

Once you have that, you need to select it and hit “control + x” and then follow this directory:

Start > Computer > Local Disk > Windows > Fonts

And paste that bad boy in. After that, you have successfully installed a font! Go you!

Now, we need to open out Photoshop and get to work on making some effects for this new font. I will be using my outstanding Adobe Photoshop CS5 for this task but generally any Photoshop version will allow you to do this sort of stuff. For the remainder of this tut, I will be using a whit background and black text. So, as you open a new canvas, make sure that it is set to white and that your primary colour is set to black. I will also be using a canvas that is 396 x 196.


Getting to the effects is simple. I have written some words on the canvas and will now demonstrate the sort of things that you can do with them, including some of the things that I personally like to do.

So, what you will need to do is ensure that your text layer is selected and then hit the “fx” button that is listed in the boom of the panel. Once you have done that you can add effects from there. One quick tip I will say to do first is to check on all of the options and see how it affects the text that is on the canvas. Now, admittedly, this is a bad font face and I could have chosen better but it will still have the same effect when you use others. I had to make my text 150 point to make it noticeable so feel free to make it what you wish.

Some of the best effects are as follows…

The stroke:

Now, everyone should already know what the stroke is and what it does. Any self-respecting sig-makes will use the stroke extensively when it comes to adding some definition to text and graphics all the same. What it does is add a border to the immediately selected layer and make it more distinguished. I went with a white colour and make the stroke colour a lovely pink colour and 2 pixel stroke before ending up with this:

Lovely, huh?

The Drop-Shadow:

I personally love the drop shadow but don’t ever use it enough. As you can probably guess, it adds a shadow to the text and will do that in any direction that you want. It is very useful to use when you are trying to make an engraved look to something. I used the settings of

“Distance = 15 pixels”
“Spread = 13 pixels”
“Size = 10 pixels”

I also used the colour of black and ended up with something that looks like this:

Now, naturally, you can feel free to mess around with the settings and find something that really suits what you are doing perfectly. Now, I want to move onto something a little more complicated whilst you get used to the effects and what they do when used with text. Please remember that all effects can be used with anything and not just text.

More to follow but had to split it because of the 10 picture rule.

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