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2.4 Grassy Letterforms

In this lesson we create the bulk of the grassy text effect. We adjust a line of text to have a believable appearance, fill it with our grass pattern, and treat the edges with a special grass brush.

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2.4 Grassy Letterforms

Hello everybody, Kirk Nelson here. Welcome back to Nature Inspired Text Effects. We are working our way through this grassy text effect, and we find ourselves now on lesson 2.4, where we develop the grassy letter forms. When we last left our working file, we had just developed a background texture to plant our grassy letters in. So now we actually have to have some letters to work with. So let's grab our Text tool and add a word. I'm going to choose the word garden. Now the type of font that we choose for this is very important. We want to make sure that whatever font we choose has some straight edges, and it's nice and big and blocky, simply because this effect will obscure a lot of the visual reads of these letter forms. So, if it's very thin, it's not gonna work out. Its just gonna kind of blur into a mass of organic growing material, and you won't be able to read it. As cool as we want this effect to look, it's essential that it still is readable. So the font choice that I made is this SF Collegiate Solid Bold. I like the sharp corners of it, and I like the big blockiness of it. To me, it looks like if I were to actually carve out letters from plots of grass, this might be kind of what my letters might look like. And of course, it's way too perfect because it's generated from a computer and not by a, well, shovel. So one of our first tasks is to make these letters look a little bit less perfect. I'm gonna begin by creating a copy of that text layer and hiding the original, and then right-clicking on this copy layer, choosing Convert to Shape. And this converts it to a vector shape, which means that these letters are no longer letters to Photoshop. They're vector shapes, similar to what would be created if we used the shape tool. And the reason that's important is that we can select these individual pads or these individual points and we can move them around. For instance, if I select this G and press Ctrl or Cmd+T for the transformation handles, I can rotate and scale this letter up individually from the rest. And if I grab the direct-selection tool, I can move individual points. So, like this point of the A here, I can move it up more, and maybe move one of the bottom legs down a little bit, so it's not quite as even with the other one. Also, if you wish to do so, you can use the convert point tool that's underneath the pen tool, click and drag on one of the corners and you can actually round that out, so it doesn't look quite as sharp. It has a much more organic and less mechanical look to it. I'm just gonna go through and do some slight alterations to each of these letters in that way. And here's my letters that look all, well, messed up, but that's exactly what I wanted to do with them. Next I'm going to create another layer, and this is just going to be my grass pattern layer. Now this may seem rather unintuitive, but just trust me, this is going to work out really well. Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool, create a selection that fully encompasses all of those letters, and we're just going to fill that with white. White is my foreground color, so I can hold down the Alt or the Option+Backspace, and cancel that selection with Ctrl or Cmd+D. Add a layer style for the pattern overlay, and select the grass pattern that we created previously. Comes in really huge, so let's dial back on that scale. I've got mine set to about 10% scale, and I'll just click OK for right now. We'll go back into the layer styles in a little bit. So now I want to use this shape of the garden copy as a mask for my grass pattern layer. So, I'm holding down the Ctrl or Cmd, while just clicking on that thumbnail. And it creates a selection in that shape. With that selection made, click the add layer mask button, and we've masked out those letters. At this point, we can actually hide that garden copy layer. The problem now is that the edges don't look like they're necessarily grass. They look very flat and very straight. But that's why we're using this as a mask. Cuz this mask layer can be painted on and updated and edited in the same way just a regular pixel layer can. So first, let's see about making these edges a little less smooth and flat. I wanna make sure I'm looking at the mask. In fact I'm going to Alt+click on that mask so that I can look directly at it. I think this will be a little more informative to see what we are actually doing here. And we do Filter > Filter gallery, and in the Brush Strokes folder, I'm going to use the Spatter filter. And I've got my Spray Radius set at 10 and the Smoothness at 13. And I think that does a fairly decent job of making those edges look a little bit more like they're clods of dirt. It's very uneven and irregular. So if we Alt+click on it again, we can see how that changed the shape of our letters. But it's not quite ready to even look like they're made of grass yet. The next step is to actually paint those edges with a special brush. So let's grab our brush tool and open up our Brush Presets panel, and the brush I want you to look for is the Grass brush. Conveniently, Photoshop actually has a Grass brush. Let's just add a new layer real quick, and experiment with this grass brush. You can see how this is adding in what appears to kinda be grassy over here, but it's creating some different color tones in there, and it's adjusting the angles. The angles are fine, but we don't really want it to adjust the color tones. So I'm gonna turn off the Color Dynamics in the Brush Panel, and I'm actually going to reduce the spacing a little bit to make it a little bit tighter in there. And so now making sure that we are still on our mask for our grass pattern, ensure that the paint color is white, and go through and paint along those edges. I think the brush is still a little bit large right now, so I'm dialing it back a little bit. There we go. Now, you'll notice that this really only works in one direction right now. It's sort of set to be pointing upwards. If we try to go down the sides, it's not quite as good. So just paint all the tops and horizontal edges. Then right-click to get our brush widget here. Do a rotation on it to turn it so that the other edges can be painted. You continue going through, editing the size and the direction of this brush, and painting along all of the edges of our letters. Here's how my grassy letter forms ended up looking after I've painted out all of those edges. Let's take a look at the mask so you can see how that looks. It's a very useful brush, especially for creating this type of an effect. But it still doesn't quite look real. Just for right now, let's go back into that Layer Styles, and let's add a Drop Shadow. I'm going to turn off the Use Global Light, and then increase my distance a little bit and the size of that shadow. I ended up with settings of 13 pixels for the distance and 18 pixels for the size. And while that does add a good element of realism to it, let's add our own shadow underneath it, just to make it look like it's a little bit more of a 3D element. So I'm adding a new layer just for shadow. I'm going to Ctrl+click on that mask to create a selection. And then I'm going to fill that selection with black. Black is my background color, so I hold down the Ctrl+Backspace. See, it fills it with black. Then cancel my selection with Ctrl or Cmd+D. Then I'm gonna use the arrow keys to just nudge that down and over a little bit. And then I need to soften it, ever so slightly. So the ever popular Filter > Blur > Gaussian blur. I use a radius of about 3, just to give some nice softness in there. And I think that's looking really pretty good. So that completes lesson 2.4 on creating the grassy letter forms. That is the main bulk of our grassy text effect. Next lesson, lesson 2.5, we add in some photo elements and some other effects to really make this text complete.

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