Sample Trick: Text as Image (with photo).

I started from the Creative Commons search page, looked for images of “people moving night,” and eventually selected this one from Flickr user bcbeatty, which has a license that allows me to remix it, as long as I give credit and allow others to remix my work.

I then cropped the image to get a wide banner of just the people. After that, I clicked on the “image” menu, then under “mode” I clicked “grayscale” to get rid of the existing color information (this left me with a black and white image). Then I went back into “mode” and selected “Duotone;” from all the color options, I picked “cyan bl 1.” That left me with a tinted version that looked like this (you can see that I still have the crop tool highlighted):

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 8.09.26 PM

Then I put the word “Public” on top of my image. You can see that I selected the typeface Stencil STD, size 280. You can also see (look to the tool bar on the right) that I manually made the letters closer together than they would be with standard typesetting.

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 8.19.18 PM

Next, I held down the shift key and used the magic wand tool (right above the crop tool) to select all the pieces of all my letters. After I had done this, I went to the “Select” menu and clicked inverse. I had everything except my letters selected. After this, I looked at my layers on the right—I wanted to be sure the background layer was the one I was working with. It was. I clicked delete* (if you’re using a PC, this won’t work; you can use the “cut” command in the edit menu instead). I looked for a second like I just had a white screen with letters selected on it.

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 8.27.44 PMBut then I deleted the layer with the white text in it, and I had this left (you can check if this is going to work by just clicking the little eyeball next to the text layer, which makes it invisible):

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 8.29.09 PM

Then I picked a contrasting typeface and added the phrase “writing for the…” to my public:

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 8.35.09 PMIf I was going to make this the header for my infographic, I’d save it as a photoshop file (.psd), so that I could edit all the layers and the text later. If I was done for now and wanted to email it to someone to check out or post it to the blog, I’d save it is a second, smaller file too—I’d click “File” > “Save for Web & Devices.” I might then pick to save a version as a medium quality .jpeg file.

If you didn’t click the link before, consider now that this is the photo I started from:

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 8.42.19 PM

Beyond using this technique for lettering, I might find it useful as a way of giving a little bit of extra visual intrigue to something like a bar graph or pie chart (just be careful not to compromise utility/readability too much in the interest of cool).

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