WHAT WE’RE CREATING:
Hello Design Cutters! Simon here, and boy are we in for a treat with this extensive bundle. There’s so much to play with that it was hard to choose where to start from.
Just like Jo, I decided to have us explore the resources you just acquired with a little something for that special person in your life. This tutorial will teach you how to work with text, integrate vectors into your work, and apply some sweet texture effects!
Ready? Then let’s get right to it!
STEP 0: CONCEPTUALIZING
The story behind this piece is simple. I was perusing the deal’s content, and Moon Loop’s photos quickly jumped at me.
After going through the pack, I had a few images in mind, along with a few messages and/or quotes to pair them with.
Proposed line: “Let’s explore life together!”
Proposed line: “I’d love to fly you to the Moon”
Proposed line: “Would you like to share the ride of our lives?”
Proposed line: “I finally found an antenna big enough to broadcast my love for you.”
These were fine, but felt either cliché, or geared towards people that just started a relationship, or people looking to declare their feelings to someone else. I then came across this beautiful shot of a cut tree.
One of the things most people hope of their relationships is that they last a long time (if it goes well). A tree is a good allegory for that: with each passing year, a ring is added, its bark takes on a few scars and nicks, and the roots grow further and deeper. Having been married since 2008, this fits perfectly my situation and intent.
The line I paired with the image is “Shall we count the tree rings together?,” which is another way of wishing to grow old with one’s partner.
With these two pieces of the puzzle in place, a look at Make Media Co.’s decorative typography kit helped to precise my plan for a central, framed type element.
A peek at Dexsar Harry Fonts’ Roverd made me want to leverage its gorgeous swashes.
Finally, Dexsar Brush, and Goodfy would be useful to contrast with the cleanliness of Roverd.
The plan is ready, now it’s time to execute it!
STEP 1: DOCUMENTS SETUP
I say documents for a reason I’ve already shared here: it’s easier to manipulate type in Illustrator than in Photoshop, at least in their current incarnation. Therefore, we’ll need a Photoshop document, as well as an Illustrator document.
I hesitated a long time before choosing the format for the piece: would we do a card, a large print? I felt that a large print would translate better all the details of the photograph, textures, and other artifacts. Let’s go for our usual 18″x24″ canvas.
We’ll start by setting up our Photoshop file.
Add a few guides all around, as to mark the center of the piece, along with a one inch thick band around the edges of the piece.
Quick tip: If you’re one of the lucky users of the CC version of Photoshop, you can use the View > New guide layout… functionality to set these up in no time. Simply add a margin of one inch, two columns, and two rows, without a gutter between them. Click OK, and tadaa, the guides are all there! You can even save the guide layout for later use, regardless of your canvas’ size.
Note that there are addons out there for older versions of Photoshop that do the same thing. GuideGuide is one of them.
Once your Photoshop document is ready, create a mirror document in Illustrator. Note that in Illustrator, the guides are element visible in your layer palette. Give them their own layer, and lock it.
STEP 2: THE COLORS
Before we go further, we should talk color palette for the piece.
One of the things I’ve hinted to in the past is that the tutorial medium isn’t always well suited to show ALL the back-and-forth that happens during the creation of a piece. One of the things that happened during the experimentation that led to the creation of the piece we’re working on today was very influential on the end result.
Let’s have another look at the background image we’ll use for the piece. It’s part of MoonLoop’s photo set (print-designers-bundle-moon-loop).
As you can see, its colors are muted, but bright. This was creating contrast issues between the type element of the piece, and its background, even after treating it with textures. This led me to use a much stronger color palette than first envisioned. After going through a lot of reference material (old forest photos and illustrations), I came up with this color palette, that I called “Counting tree rings.”
With, from dark to light (and left to right):
- Dark brown: #1C0A07
- Rich warm brown: #49281F
- Cold green: #6C7F6F
- Warm green: #A2A47B
- Muted tan: #F7F0DE
ColourLovers assigns some funky names to the colors (“minstrel show,” “can you hear me now?”, “Cold evergreen,” “can’t you see?”, “jasmine white”).
Freebie alert: I went through many possible iterations for the color palette, pulling samples from many sources. That led to 15 other iterations. You can find them on my ColourLovers profile, but also in this handy Illustrator file that lists them all.
Now that we have our color palette ready to go, let’s get this piece moving forward.
STEP 3: THE BACKGROUND
We’ll start in Photoshop. Start by placing photo-11.jpg in your document, as a smart object. This is important, should we ever want to tweak the background later.
If you want to place your image exactly like mine, use the absolute sizing and placement controls: X: 9.45″, Y: 12″, and image blown up at 195% of its original size. These controls show up once you’ve activated the transformation controls (CTRL/CMD+T).
Once that’s done, duplicate the background smart object, and clip it to the original layer.
PSA: Don’t know what a clipped layer is? Glad you asked! This means that the layer is only visible/applies to the layer directly below it. You can very quickly do this by holding ‘Alt’ down on your keyboard and clicking between the two layers. Here’s a quick demonstration.
Apply a High pass filter (Filter > Other > High pass) to the clipped copy of the image. We’ll use this to sharpen the image, since we’ve blown up its size to almost the double of what it normally is. I’m using a 100 pixels radius.
Change the layer’s blending mode to Soft light @ 75% opacity.
Next, use a clipped Black and white adjustment layer to remove the color from the image. I’m using Black and white rather than hue/saturation because B&W allows us to tweak the contrast and intensity of the conversion.
Let’s use the High contrast blue filter preset, as it soften a lot of the contrast, while still leaving the tree rings visible and legible.
Now, we’re going to assign our own color to the background. Head back to the color palette, sample the rich warm brown (#49281F), and create a new layer filled with that color.
Change the blending mode of that layer to Overlay @ 100% opacity.
The colorization is neat, but not deep enough yet. Simply duplicate the brown layer for a stronger effect.
Now the effect is too strong. We’ll lower the opacity of the copy to 85% in order to let the tree show through better.
The background is ready! It’s time for a bit of house cleaning in our layers. Assign them a layer group to keep the file organized.
STEP 4: TYPE!
Choosing a base to start from
This is where the fun begins! Remember the line we’ll use for our piece:
Shall we count the tree rings together?
Interestingly enough, I was trying a few visual combinations, none of which had the desired impact at first. And then I came across Make Media Co.’s DIY Decorative Typography Pack (print-designers-bundle-make-media-coDIY Decorative Typography PackIllustrator AI).
The file that’s of interest to us at this point is CM_TypographyKit_TypographyFrames.ai.
Let’s have a closer look at the top left frame/badge.
It’s a neat type arrangement, although the current typefaces are a bit thin compared to the frame elements themselves. They are overpowered because of that. We’re going to use that frame, strip it of its current type, and add our own type elements in it. The bundle includes some typefaces with more visual weight, that will nicely complete the ornaments.
Adapting the base to our use
Let’s start by copying the badge to our Illustrator document. Center it in the canvas, and make it big, so we can see what we’re doing. I sized mine at 14″ wide.
Start by stripping away all of the text elements.
Remove also the smaller ornaments present in the badge. The various swashes will occupy that space.
Putting our own copy in place: Tree Rings
I started by working on “Tree” and “Rings,” as they are the central elements of my text. Since they carry all that meaning, the various swashes and ornaments offered by Roverd will be perfect to give them additional visual weight.
Let’s start with “Tree.” Start by writing it on the side of your canvas, sized at 270 points tall. It’s important to capitalize the word, as the swash for the “t” we’ll be using is only available for the capital T.
Once you’ve spelled out the word, bring up the Glyphs panel (Window > Type > Glyphs).
PSA: Don’t know what the glyphs panel is? We got you covered! We got an overview of it together, that covers how to leverage the power of that panel to use the precise variation of the character that you want in your words. I strongly recommend reading it now if you’re not familiar with the panel, as it’ll make following the next steps much easier.
With the panel open, highlight the “T,” and search through its possible alternates to replace the basic one with the swash version that extends to the right (short version – the long version extends too far out to the right).
Quick tip: use the “Show… alternates for current selection” option in the drop-down menu at the top of the glyphs panel, in order to avoid having to sift through the whole typeface for the one character you need/want.
Once you have the proper “T,” find the version of the “e” with the swash that extends back to the left. This will be to replace the ending “e.”
Next, we need to tackle “Rings.” I wrote it set at 228 points tall, because I know that the badge will have less horizontal space to accommodate the word in its lower middle section.
The first alternate we need to find is for the capital “R.” It’s the one that extends slightly towards the bottom.
The next one is for the “g.” We’re looking for the swash that extends to the bottom right, going upwards.
The last alternate we need at this point is for the “s.” To visually complete the word, we’ll need the swash that extends back to the left, from above.
From there, it’s time to roughly put the words in place in the badge. Change their color to something dark if needed (you want to see them on the white background), and adjust them so they occupy the middle of the badge.
Shall we count
The next bit we’ll put in place is “Shall we count.” If you remember the original badge, the type was following the curve at the top. We’ll use the same layout. Write your line, and set it in Goodfy that’s 108 points tall. I’m using center align for each blocks of text by the way.
From there, we’ll give it a warp effect to make it follow the arc at the top of the badge. You’ll find that effect either through Effect > Warp > Arc, or though the appearance panel.
Give the filter a bend of 30%.
Lower the line some, and we’ll be good.
PSA: We used these techniques to distort and manipulate type a lot in a recent tutorial, in order to fit text within a tea cup. If you haven’t looked at it yet, it’s a great place to learn how to push the warp tool and others further to manipulate text, and other elements.
Grabbing the “THE”
The “THE” comes from one of Make Media Co.’s catchwords (print-designers-bundle-make-media-coDIY Decorative Typography PackIllustrator AICM_TypographyKit_Catchwords.ai.
The only thing we don’t want along are its top and bottom dividers. Copy and paste the word in your badge.
Either ungroup and delete, and then regroup, or use the direct selection tool to remove the dividers.
Increase its height to 0.75″, and lower it in place between the two lines of copy.
The reason why we’re using a different typeface for “Together?” (DHF Dexsar Brush) is because Goodfy doesn’t include the question mark symbol. The line is set at 78 points tall.
Apply a reverse Arc to it so it fits in the bottom section of the badge (bend value: -30%).
Adjust its placement.
Now that the elements are in place; we can proceed to a few adjustments. Let’s start with “Tree.” The current “r” breaks the visual flow of the line. Locate this better suited alternate.
Next, the “THE.” There’s a bit of dead space around it, and it creates a visual void.
If you open the document containing the badge examples, there’s the perfect symbol waiting for us.
Bring it into your badge, create a copy, and place them so they frame the word. Each of the ornaments is 1.3″ wide.
The last tweaks are about visual flow. Adjust carefully the spacing between the words, until the spacing is pleasant to the eye.
Colors! – Preparation
Now that we’re done with the layout, we can colorize the badge. In order to make things easier, a bit of layer organization and sub-layer creations are in order. The organization doesn’t make too much sense yet, but it’ll be clearer once we’ve assigned colors.
Text sub-layer content.
Leaves sub-layer content. Note the two ornaments around the “THE” are also included in there.
Branches sub-layer content. Note that some leaves are also included in there. They are the secondary ornaments.
Colors, for real this time!
Start by assigning the muted tan (#F7F0DE) color to the text.
The leaves get colored in warm green (#A2A47B).
Finally, the rest of the elements get colored in the colder green (#6C7F6F).
Once you’re done, copy and paste the badge as a smart object in your Photoshop document.
It’s 14″ wide, and centered in the canvas.
Our piece is taking shape nicely!
STEP 5: CORNERS
In order to visually contain the piece, we’re going to add corner elements to our piece. This process will make us go back to our Illustrator document, as it’ll be easier to position and color the corners in relation to the badge that way.
We’ll use other elements from Make Media Co.’s kit. Open the main kit document (CM_TypographyKit_Elements.ai).
We have plenty of options to choose from. My first choice is this guy, at the top right. It’s reminiscent of the various “leaf elements” the badge design is using. It’ll fit the piece well thanks to that.
Copy and paste it into your Illustrator file. I chose to place it at 0.5″ from the edge of the canvas. Its size is unchanged.
Note the reference point for the data isn’t the center of the element.
Let’s color it. The main branch will be the dark green, and the leaves the warm green. We’re following the same logic than for the badge itself.
Let’s duplicate it, and place the copy at the mirror angle (bottom left).
At this point, we have options: we can duplicate the same corner element additional time, to cover all the corners with the same one, or we can use a different one for the remaining corners. This can often add visual variety in a piece, and help to balance visual weight one way or another.
In our case, since the piece is fairly balanced (the badge is symmetrical), I chose to use the same element for all corners. The technique at hand is simple, and relies on copies of the same element that are flipped on their vertical and/or horizontal axes to obtain proper orientation.
Once satisfied with the placement and colors of your corner elements, you can paste them as a smart object in your Photoshop document.
From there, it’s time to tidy up the Illustrator document a little bit, and to archive it. Don’t close Illustrator quite yet, we’ll need it one last time in a few.
It’s also time to tidy things up in our Photoshop document.
STEP 6: IT’S TIME FOR TEXTURES!
The bundle features a neat series of textures, both raster and vector. They are just hidden within the various resources!
The first one we’ll use is called Example 4.jpg. It comes from Item Bridge’s Scene creator (print-designers-bundle-item-bridge-scene-creatorBackground-Textures). Once manipulated, we’ll be able to get a nice noise effect out of it.
Before we go on, a couple of PSAs:
PSA #1: every time we’ll work with textures, we’ll follow this simple process: place as smart object, sharpen, desaturate, enhance contrast with levels, and modify the blending mode.
PSA #2: placing the textures as smart objects, and using adjustment layers to tweak them, allows us to stick to a non destructive workflow. We’ve explored in depth the numerous pros and few cons of such a workflow in this past tutorial: “How to Use Textures The Right Way.”
Now that these are out of the way, let’s press on.
Start by placing Example 4.jpg in your canvas. It should full cover it in a vertical orientation.
Sharpen it (Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen, and desaturate it with a clipped hue/saturation adjustment layer.
Noise textures are often used in conjunction with the Screen blending mode. Noise is assimilated to white particles of dust and other speckles. The screen blending mode displays black pixels as transparent. Simply put, when placing a noise texture in our work, we aim to only retain the white speckles, and hide the rest.
With that in mind, the level adjustment layer values we’re using are rather drastic, in order to keep but a few artifacts of the original texture here and there.
Finally, we’re going to use a clipped Curves adjustment layer to show a negative version of that texture. And we now have our small white speckles of dust.
Change the blending mode to Screen @ 50% opacity for fake dusty goodness.
The next texture comes from Paul Kim’s Valentines Day pack (print-designers-bundle-paula-kimValentines-Day-Vector-GraphicsTextures), and is called GrungeRed.jpg.
PLace it so it covers your complete canvas, but slightly off-centered, so the lighter area of the top right corner is more prominent in the canvas.
Blending mode: Soft light @ 25% opacity.
The next to last texture we’ll be using comes from Make Media Co.’s bonus watercolor textures (print-designers-bundle-make-media-coDIY Decorative Typography PackBONUS Watercolor Textures). It’s Watercolor_Texture_BluePurple11.jpg.
Place it in the piece so the purple part of the texture is up.
Blending mode: Soft light @ 35% opacity.
The last texture we’re going to add to the piece will make us go back to Illustrator. It’s one of Make Media Co.’s vector textures (Dprint-designers-bundle-make-media-coDIY Decorative Typography PackIllustrator AICM_TypographyKit_Textures.ai).
Change its color to the muted tan (##F7F0DE) in Illustrator before pasting it in your Photoshop document.
Paste it as a smart object, and make sure it covers your complete canvas.
The texture brings a few more speckles of dust and noise to the piece.
A quick tweak: increase the width of the badge to 16″ wide.
Finally, organize your layers before the final touch.
FINAL TOUCH: COLOR HALFTONES
The last thing we’ll add to our piece is a halftone effect, courtesy of Photoshop’s Color halftone filter.
Start by creating a merged copy of all your piece (CTRL/CMD+SHIFT+ALT/OPTION+E). It’ll create a new layer, that I’ve renamed into Halftones.
Make the layer into a smart object (Filter > Convert for smart filters on Photoshop CC).
Go to Filter > Pixelate > Color halftone.
Next, proceed to change the effect’s blending mode to Soft light @ 100% opacity.
Finally, change the layer’s blending mode to Lighter color @ 35% opacity, and our piece is complete!
Here’s a last look at the layer palette in Photoshop.
WRAPPING THINGS UP
Print, frame, and surprise your partner!
I hope you had fun following the tutorial along. If you have any technical questions, please use the comments below, and I’ll reply to them.
If you have already purchased The Print Designer’s Bundle, I hope you enjoy your new resources, and that you got a glimpse of you can now accomplish with them. If you haven’t yet, you can still grab it for 97% off its normal value, but only for a few more days!
Finally, we’d love to see your tutorial outcomes! Please share them with us on the Design Cuts facebook page. We’ll share the best ones with the whole community.
That’s it for me today! Until next time, cheers, and have a great weekend.