photoshop creative

Paint striking type effects

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
May 10, 2017

Create your own paint-filled typography by mixing traditional paint with Photoshop techniques

1. Start analogue

Get a set of acrylic paints and add dots to a plate, then pick up your paintbrush and simply dip it into numerous colours. Now, swoosh it across the paper until you get a mix of all the different colours. This will take a little experimenting to get right, but it’s all part of the fun of mixing analogue and digital together.

2. Clean it up

Scan your paint samples, remember to let them dry first though! Then remove the background. Simply add a black layer behind the paint and delete all the white sections. The black is there so you can see any remaining white more easily. This will take a little while and can be tedious, but bear with it. Do this with a few so you have a good selection of samples to work with.

3. Enhance it digitally

You should have an idea of how your piece will look and what colours you are going to use from the initial colours used within the paint phase. You can however adjust colour to your choice using Hue and Saturation. This is under the Image>Adjustment menu. Don’t over saturate though, just add a little spark and contrast to the swooshes.

4. Create your type

Now onto the fun part. Create whatever type style you wish to; typography that flows is the best for this approach. This will only be a rough guide so don’t be too critical. Make sure it’s not too tight as the paint won’t work if it’s bunched up too tight.

5. Work on the background

Now behind this create a layer filled with black. Then create a layer above this using the Gradient tool for your background planes, select the angles you wish this perspective to run at with the Polygon Lasso tool and fill it to the colour depth you wish (blacks are best).

6. Warp it

Open up a paint sample you prepared earlier then Cut and Paste it into your document above the template layer. Now, using the Edit>Transform>Warp function, shape it by pulling the nodes to follow the shape of your text. Make it as twisty as you feel will look best in order to get the desired result, remember though, this needs to be legible! Double-click when you have it in the right place and shape. Repeat this with other samples until you have built up your lettering.

7. Stay organised

Collect these layers and put them all in one folder in the Layers palette. This may sound like common sense, but its easy to get carried away and in later stages you regret it when you have hundreds of layers all called layer 4845 copy 78. Name the folders in a logical fashion too.

8. Now repeat

Continue Step 6 and 7 until you have built all the letters in your word. Remember to leave enough space for the letters to breathe and be legible. Not too many twists and not too many conflicting colours. Even though this is a complex look, simplicity is key!

9. Work on the details

Now go into your piece in a little more detail and add layer masks to layers that have abnormalities. Photoshop will throw some strange shapes into the mix when you warp and it’s easiest to hide them with a layer mask and paint black with the relevant mask selected. If you paint too much out then simply paint white in, to make it visible again. You can also clean up edges in the same way and improve legibility further.

10. Add some shadows

Add a drop shadow to the folder for each letter group, this will make them pop a little. It needs to be subtle and barely visible with just enough shadow to make them stand off your background. Too much and it will detract from the look. Use your judgement depending on the background you created earlier.

11. Now duplicate

Duplicate whole word. Then hide the original group. On the duplicate group use the Burn tool to add detail and depth on sections that go behind other sections to give flow. Make sections that go behind a little darker to give more depth and enhance the dynamics of the piece. Again, be subtle as too much will make the piece too dark and moody.

12. Repeat for the other words

Repeat all the above steps if you are building more than one word. Remember you have your earlier template layer as a rough guide for construction purposes. Space is key, this has been stated already, but it really will need space to work properly. You will be tempted to make the type interact with the word above and below, but try and resist or you’ll just end up with a pile of paint strokes!

13. Add some background detail

Now go back to your background group and add a few details. These could be paintbrushes against the wall, a texture added by pasting a layer and Multiplying (layer mode in Layers palette), or even a surface texture added to your gradients. The choice is yours depending on what your text is all about. Also you could add a few paint splats and even drips if you like. Just have fun.

14. Make it pop

Duplicate all type based elements and place them in a folder, now go to your Layer Options with the group selected and Select>Merge Group on the Layer palette menu. Then go to Filter>Sharpen and choose from Sharpen or Sharpen More. This will make the layer detail pop . If you go too far, reduce the opacity of this layer to find a good balance.

15. Work on the foundations

Again duplicate all the text-based elements as above and combine them in the same way. Now place this layer above the background and set the mode to Multiply and reduce your Opacity. Now using the Edit>Transform>Perspective and Scale tools shape this to look like it is sitting on the floor. You can make this matte by removing the colour or if your surface is reflective just keep the colour. If its looking a little too stuck on add a Gaussian Blur from the Filters menu.

16. Add more detail

Add a little colour to the rear wall, this could be shapes that follow the perspective or splats. These are simply enhancements and you don’t want them taking the limelight away from the typography you have created. You can use various modes of layer effects here from multiplying the layers down to colour. Experiment to get a unique look and fits with your subject matter.

17. Finishing touches

Flatten image and finish. You’re all finished. So save your working copy and then save a flat version too. It’s a simple system to build this type of text and can be used for different textures too like hair or anything that flows randomly.