Working with Text Effects in Photoshop

There are two easy ways to use text effects in Photoshop. These effects can be used to give your text depth, impact and a variety of interesting finishes.

Basic Text Styling
When you select the Text Tool, a series of options appears in the toolbar just beneath the main menu. You can set these options before you start typing, or highlight your text with the mouse and set them later.

  • Orientation: This is a letter T with an arrow to the left and an arrow beneath. This lets you set your text to read horizontally or vertically.
  • Font: You can choose a font from the pulldown menu.
  • Font Style: This lets you choose font variatons, such as bold or italic. Note that this isn't available for every font.
  • Size: Choose the size of your text, in points. You can also type a value into this field, if you don't want a preset value. Note that the largest size available is 1,296 points.
  • Aliasing: This field, next to two letter as, lets you set the ailiasing of the text, or how crisply it will print. It's generally best to leave this on Smooth for Web design, and not all fonts alias well with these controls. You'll need to use trial and error with both aliasing and print settings to get the best look for printed work.
  • Alignment: These three buttons set the text to left-aligned, centered or right-aligned.
  • Color: The box of color calls up the Color Picker tool to set a text color. The color you choose will be used for text only; it won't change the color you have set at the bottom of your Tools menu.
  • Text Arc: This tool, a letter T with an arc beneath it, lets you warp text into different shapes. When you click it, three sliders will appear that let you set the arc as well as the horizontal and vertical distortion. It's very easy to abuse this tool, so it's best used sparingly to add subtle touches to text, rather than warping it to the point where it's hard to read.

Layer-Based Tools
When you click the Text tool, a new layer is automatically created in your document. This allows you to create some interesting Adobe Photoshop text effects by pulling up the Blending Options menu under Layer>Layer Style. You don't need to highlight the text to perform these operations, and every change you make will apply to everything on the current layer. Certain effects, such as Blend Mode and Knockout, apply universally if you set more than one effect at once. Blend mode tells Photoshop how to process the light difference between the foreground and the background. Knockout determines the contrast of the effect on the current layer; Shallow makes it lighter while Deep increases the contrast.

  • Drop Shadow: Puts a shadow behind the text, giving it a three-dimensional appearance. Changing the opacity can hide the text, leaving just the shadow behind.
  • Inner Shadow: This can make the text appear as if it's carved into a surface. You'll need to adjust the opacity to get the most from this effect.
  • Outer Glow: Puts a white halo around the letters, making them appear illuminated. Adjusting opacity will remove the foreground color from the letters while leaving the halo intact.
  • Inner Glow: This effect can make it look like recessed letters are lit from within, but it's difficult to use. For the best results, first set the Inner Shadow and hit OK, then go back and add Inner Glow.
  • Bevel and Emboss: This makes your text look three dimensional by applying preset lighting effects. Adjusting the opacity brings more of the background color into the text, creating a sculptural effect. It works best with capital letters and large text. The Contour option enhances the effect. Texture applies a predefined texture to the effect, which isn't terribly useful in most situations.
  • Satin: This smooths out the contrast between different color values, giving the text a more natural look.
  • Color Overlay, Pattern Overlay, Gradient Overlay, Stroke: Each of these filters applies a style to the text that can be set in their respective menus. Color Overlay applies a preselected color to the text, while Stroke puts a hard border around the letters in the chosen color. Pattern Overlay and Gradient Overlay can be used one at a time, so if you want both, you'll need to apply one, hit OK, then apply the other effect.
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