Advertisement
  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Typography
Design

How to Combine Photography & Type for a Dramatic Effect

by
Difficulty:IntermediateLength:MediumLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial we look at how you can integrate typography with photos to create an impressive 3D effect. You’ll see this sort of effect on advertising and poster art, but it’s not as complicated to achieve as it first appears. 

I’ll show you how to create the effect for this Melbourne poster from scratch in Adobe Photoshop, and finish up the poster design in Adobe InDesign

final text effect

Looking to make your own unique design? Find the perfect cityscape and striking font from the great selection on Envato Market.

Ready to get started? Fantastic, let’s go!

1. What You’ll Need for this Tutorial

To create the merged text/photo effect, you have to select your photo and font carefully. The effect is achieved by splitting parts of an image from the background, but it helps if the photo has several successive layers of perspective. A cityscape is a great choice for this sort of project, as some buildings will be nearer to the photographer and others progressively further away.

For this tutorial we’ll be using:

Download the photo and download and install the font onto your computer. You’ll also need access to both Adobe Photoshop and Adobe InDesign.

final poster

2. Map Out Your Design

The first step to creating the 3D effect is to map out your design, using the same scale and text formatting that you’ll use in the final design. This will allow you to see exactly where you will need to cut out parts of the photo to sit in front of the letters.

Step 1

Open the Melbourne photo up in Adobe Photoshop.

image in photoshop

Step 2

From the Layers panel, duplicate the Background layer and rename it Original Cityscape.

duplicate layer

Step 3

Go to Image > Image Rotation and select 90° CW.  

image rotation
rotated image

Step 4

Select the Type Tool (T) and drag onto the canvas to create a text frame. Type in ‘MEL’. Open the Character panel (Window > Character) and set the Font to Bebas Neue, Bold, Size 535 pt and increase the Tracking to 40. Set the Color to White.

Position the text frame as closely as possible to what I’ve done here. 

text MEL

Step 5

Copy and Paste the text frame, positioning it below in the location shown, and editing the text to read ‘BOU’.

text BOU

Step 6

Paste again, and edit the text to read ‘RNE’. Position it below, in the location shown.

text RNE

Step 7

Create a new folder in the Layers panel, name it Typography, and drag all the text layers to sit inside the folder.

new folder
layers

Then lock the folder.

locked folder

Step 8

File > Print a copy of the image to your home computer. You don’t need to print the whole photo, just the section that contains the text.

text and photo

Step 9

Then take out a pen or pencil and start to shade in the areas of the text where you can spot buildings crossing behind the text. The aim is to allow buildings to be able to peek over the left edge of the letters, creating a layered, 3D effect. 

Look for areas of the image that will allow you to loop the letters around larger buildings, as I’ve done with the ‘O’ and ‘U’ here.

print-out of effect

This will serve as a rough ‘map’ of the image to have in front of you. You might find that you diverge a little from this once you start editing on the computer, but it’s really useful to have to hand. Keep this in front of you on your desk while you work, as a reference.

3. Create the Cut-Out Effect in Photoshop

Step 1

Head back to your Photoshop document. Zoom right into the ‘MEL’ section of the image to get a really good look at all the details.

zoomed in

Take a look at the letter ‘M’ and what you’ve mapped out on your print-out. Get a good picture of which sections of the photo you want to bring in front of the letter, and then switch off the visibility of the Typography folder in the Layers panel. 

Step 2

Take the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) and skirt around the edges of the building you want to cut out, staying as close as possible to the true edge of the building. Bring the lasso round to meet the first point and then click on the Refine Edge button at the top of the workspace, in the Controls panel.

lasso tool

Step 3

Click on Smart Radius and subtly adjust to make the lasso tighter to the building edge. You want the edge to be as close as possible to the silhouette of the building. Move the Shift Edge slider if needed, and add a very tiny Smooth (approximately 1) and Feather (approximately 0.2). 

refine edge

You can also use the Erase Refinements and Refine Edge Tools to make the lasso as perfect as possible. 

refine edge

Step 4

Then when you’re happy, click OK. Hit Control-C (Windows) or Command-C (Mac) to copy the selection, and then Control-V (Windows) or Command-V (Mac) to paste it onto a new layer.

pasted building

By moving the layer above the Typography folder and making the folder visible, you can see how this has pulled the building forward to sit over the top of the ‘M’.

typography folder

Step 5

Now repeat the process with the next building mapped out on your print-out. Switch off the visibility of the Typography folder and click on the Original Cityscape layer to activate it.

original cityscape layer

Use the Lasso Tool (L) to pick out the next section of building, and then click on Refine Edge again. Depending on the level of contrast in different parts of the photo, you may need to apply slightly different levels of Radius, Smooth, Feather and Shift Edge to pick out the true silhouette of the building.

refine edge

Step 6

Copy and Paste the selection onto a new layer, and move the layer up above the Typography folder. You can see here how I’ve made the selection a bit too large...

typography folder
lasso tool

... so I simply take the Lasso Tool (L), draw a path around the section I want to get rid of, and hit Delete.

lasso tool

Step 7

To tidy up sections of the cut-out layers that look a little fuzzy, first click on the relevant layer in the Layers panel, and then use the Lasso Tool (L) to isolate sections sitting outside the building edge, and hit Delete.

lasso tool

Step 8

If there are parts of the cut-out buildings that are not easily selected but look a little ‘off’, you can use the Color Range function (Select > Color Range) to click on particular tones, such as the slightly pinkish tone around the edge of this building, to select them. 

color range
color range

Refine the selection in the Color Range window that opens, and then click OK and hit Delete to get rid of the selection. You can also click on the Refine Edge button, as before, to further refine the path.

refine edge
building cut out

Step 9

To really make the effect look 3D, we’ll need to add a subtle drop-shadow to each cut-out section. To do this, click on the layer containing the pasted building, and then double-click on the layer to open the Layer Style window.

layer style

Click on Drop Shadow at the bottom of the left-hand menu. Bring the Opacity down to around 45% and adjust the angle so that the shadow sits more over the white letter below.

Adjust Distance, Spread and Size to make the shadow very subtle. Then click OK.

drop shadow

Repeat for the other pasted layer, adding a subtle Drop Shadow. 

Deselect Use Global Light to allow you to have more flexibility over the direction of the shadow.

drop shadow

You can see how the effect is starting to take shape.

effect so far

Step 10

Continue to work your way across the image, pulling out sections of building using the Lasso Tool (L) and Refine Edge function.

refine edge

Step 11

Paste onto new layers, and Delete unwanted sections of the pasted selection.

deleted section
lasso tool
lasso tool

Step 12

Add a Drop Shadow to each selection too.

drop shadow
lasso tool
effect so far

Step 13

Pull out more detailed parts of buildings, like spires and towers, in the same way too.

refine edge
drop shadow
text effect so far

Use your print-out to guide you on cutting out larger sections of buildings to allow the ‘O’ and 'U' to loop around.

lasso tool
text effect
lasso tool
lasso tool
effect so far

Step 14

Continue moving down the image, to ‘RNE’.

Use the same method—selecting, copying, pasting, deleting unwanted sections, and then adding a drop shadow.

lasso tool
layers
lasso tool
lasso tool
layer style
text effect finished

When you’ve finished the whole image and you’re happy with the result, head up to File > Save As. Save the image as a PSD file.

4. Refine the Poster Design in InDesign

Once you’ve created your 3D image you can use it in all sorts of projects. Here, we’ll look at how you can move the image over into InDesign and create a tourism poster design.

Step 1

Minimize Photoshop and open up Adobe InDesign.

Go to File > New > Document. Keep the Intent set to Print and Number of Pages to 1. Deselect Facing Pages.

Choose A3 for the Page Size and add Margins of 15 mm to all sides. Include a Bleed of 5 mm too. Click OK.

new document
new document

Step 2

Expand the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and double-click on Layer 1 to rename it Graphics. Create a second new layer and rename it Border.

layer options

Step 3

Lock the Border layer and click on the Graphics layer.

layers locked

Select the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) and drag onto the page to create an image frame that extends up to the edge of the bleed on all sides.

File > Place, choose your saved PSD file and click Open. Allow the image to fill the frame, with the text roughly central.

image placed

Step 4

Take the Type Tool (T) and drag onto the page to create a small text frame above the ‘EL’ characters towards the top left of the page.

Type in ‘VISIT’ and, from either the Character panel (Window > Type & Tables > Character) or the top Controls panel, set the Font to Bebas Neue Regular, Size 45 pt, Tracking 100 and Font Color to [Paper].

character panel

Step 5

Expand the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches) and click on the New Swatch button at the bottom of the panel. Edit the swatch to C=20 M=54 Y=80 K=9 and click OK

new swatch

Step 6

Copy and Paste the ‘VISIT’ text frame, positioning it below ‘RN’. Edit the text to read ‘THIS SUMMER’, reduce the Font Size slightly and adjust the Font Color to your new orange swatch.

this summer

Step 7

Use the Line Tool (\) to add horizontal straight lines to the right of ‘VISIT’ and left of ‘THIS SUMMER’, extending them past the edge of the page. Set the top line with a [Paper] Stroke Color and the bottom line in your new orange swatch.

white stroke
orange stroke
result so far

Step 8

Return to the Layers panel and lock the Graphics layer. Unlock the Border layer.

layers panel

Step 9

Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a shape on the page that fits snugly against the margin line. Set the Stroke Color to [Paper].

Then head up to Object > Corner Options and add a rounded corner 2 mm in Size to each corner of the rectangle.

corner options

Step 10

Then go to Object > Effects > Transparency and reduce the Opacity of the shape to 55%

transparency

Step 11

Use the Scissors Tool (C) to cut the rectangle and delete sections so that only the top left and bottom right sections of the border remain.

scissors tool
cut frame
scissors tool

And you’re done! Your poster design is finished, and it’s looking awesome. Great work!

final poster

All that’s left to do is export it ready for printing.

Step 12

Go to File > Export. Choose Adobe PDF (Print) from the Format drop-down menu. 

From the Adobe PDF Preset menu at the top of the window that opens, choose [Press Quality].

press quality

Click on the Marks and Bleeds option from the left-hand menu, and click to select All Printer’s Marks and Use Document’s Bleed Settings

marks and bleeds

Click OK to create your print-ready document. You can send this straight off to the printers!

exported pdf

Conclusion: Your Finished 3D Poster

Awesome work—you’ve created this dramatic 3D effect, combining type with a cityscape photo, and it’s looking great. 

final poster

This is a really effective technique for adding drama and interest to advertising, posters and other visuals. Let’s recap the basic steps for integrating type with photos:

  • Spend some time choosing the right photo and typeface for the job—layered, detailed photos often work best, so cityscapes are a perfect choice. Your font should be strong enough to stand out against the photo, and simple, slim shapes often work best to allow you to loop edges around buildings.
  • Map out the design before you start editing—lay out the design in Photoshop and make a print-out. Use a pen or pencil to identify areas which will need to be cut out.
  • Cut out areas of the photo bit by bit, copying each selection onto a new layer.
  • Refine the design by tidying up fuzzy edges and adding a subtle drop-shadow for an authentic 3D effect.
  • Save your image and import it into InDesign to create a more developed poster design.

Want to discover more cityscapes for your 3D projects? Browse a huge library of images on Envato Market, and discover your next favourite font for your poster designs.

Wanting to take your designs to the next level but don't know how? Get a bit of extra help from the team over at Envato Studio.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Looking for something to help kick start your next project?
Envato Market has a range of items for sale to help get you started.