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How to Create an Ink Cloud Typography Text Effect Using Adobe Photoshop

This post is part of a series called Text Effects .
How to Create a Cactus Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator
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This post is part of a series called German Week.
How to Create a Half-Blurred Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

We're honouring the German language and culture this week in celebration of the launch of the German version of Envato Elements

In this tutorial, you will learn how to use a stock image of ink in water and some simple text to create a blended effect. This tutorial will work better with images that have a solid background that we can play with. This ink in water image is from Envato Elements, so feel free to browse there to find more options!

What You Will Need

Download the image and install the font, and you are ready to start! 

1. How to Set Up a New Photoshop File

Step 1

In Photoshop, go to File > New. Name the document Ink Poster. Set the Width to 1270 px and Height to 1600 px. Set the Resolution to 72 Pixels/Inch. Click OK.

Create a new Photoshop file

Step 2

On the Layers panel, click on Create a New Fill or Adjustment Layer > Solid Color. In the Color Picker window, set the color to black (#000000). Click OK.

Create a Solid Color Adjustment Layer and choose the color black

Step 3

Press Command-R to bring up the rulers around the document. Head over to View > New Guide. In the New Guide window, select Horizontal and set the guide to 50 px. Click OK.

Do the same for the other sides of the document by subtracting 50px from the final size. To activate and deactivate the guides, press Command-;.

Add horizontal and vertical guides

2. How to Set Up the Ink in Water Image

Step 1

Drag the Ink in Water image into the Photoshop file.

Drop in the Ink in Water image onto Photoshop

Step 2

Resize the image by pressing Command-T. Head over to the Options bar and press the Maintain Aspect Ratio button. Set the Width to 300%. The Height will change automatically. Press Enter.

Resize the ink image to cover a large portion of the document

Step 3

Select the Move Tool (V) and centre the image to the document. We want the poster to appear as if the image is flowing from the top. Therefore, align the top of the image to the top edge of the document.

Place the image at the top edge of the document

Step 4

On the Layers panel, select the Ink in water layer. Right-click > Rasterize Layer. Duplicate the layer by pressing Command-J.

Rasterize the Ink in Water image layer

Step 5

In order to create the illusion that the letters are blended with the ink, we need to add a layer mask. On the Layers panel, select the top Ink in water layer and hit the Add Layer Mask button. 

Duplicate the ink image

3. How to Add Text

We need to map out the text before we start working on the layer mask. We will also need to add the text in separate layers. This will give us freedom to move the layers around as we please.

Step 1

On the Tools panel, select the Text Tool (T). 

Click on the document and start by typing the word “DER”. Bring out the Characters panel by going to Type > Panels > Character Panel. On this panel, set the Font to Bw Nista International Bold and the Size to 265 pt.

Add DER using the text tool and change the settings on the Characters Panel

Step 2

Using the same Text Tool (T), add the rest of the sentence “KLANG VON MUSIK”. Put each word on a different layer.

Add KLANG VON MUSIK each word on a different layer

Step 3

Let’s create some harmony between the text layers. 

Stack the words on top of each other, leaving some space between them. It doesn’t need to be perfect—we can align the layers later on. Move them horizontally as you please to create movement and break from the rigidity. 

The only thing we should watch out for is any of the text layers being too close to the guides. We will be adding some details there.

Stack the words on each other and move them horizontally as you please to create balance

Step 4

Select the four text layers and, in the Options panel, select the Distribute Vertical Center button. This will even out the space between each text layer.

Use the Distribute Vertical Centers alignment button to even out the space in between the words

Step 5

We need to move the layers between the two Ink in Water layers to blend them into the ink. Select the four text layers and drag them towards the Create a new group button on the Layers panel. Move the group between the two Ink in Water layers. It is important to organize the layers in this manner. We will reveal only certain parts of the Ink in Water layer image that we want to come forward. 

Group the text layers and place them in between both ink in water layers

4. How to Blend the Text and the Ink Image

Step 1

On the Layers panel, select the Layer Mask created on the Ink in Water layer. Press Command-I to invert the layer from white to black. This will reveal the elements underneath. 

Invert the Layer Mask on the Ink in Water layer

Step 2

On the Tools panel, select the Brush Tool (B). Set the Foreground color to white and Background to black. You can interchange between these two by pressing X on your keyboard. This will come in useful later.

Right-click on the document to change the brush settings. Set the Size to 80 px. You can decrease the size of any brush as you are working on the document by pressing and increase by pressing ]. Finally, set the Hardness to 100%.

Set up the Brush Tool

Step 3

Make sure you are still selecting the Layer Mask created on the Ink in Water layer. 

Using the Brush Tool (B) and the tips from the step above, start brushing over some of the parts. This will reveal parts of the photo on the layer you are working on.

For this step, we need to keep in mind the shape of the ink. You will notice that the ink has a specific motion, creating soft shapes overlapping each other. In order to create the illusion that the text is blended in, we need the ink to wrap around the text. You can see it in the example below:

Using the brush tool brush over the parts of the ink image you want to reveal

Step 4

Repeat the step above for all the letters—there’s no right or wrong! 

Do this for all the letters there is no right or wrong

Step 5

Once all the letters are blended in, we need to add some shadows to bring back the depth. On the Layers panel, create a new layer by pressing Shift-Command-N. In the New Layer option window, name the layer Shadow. Click OK.

Move the layer over the grouped text layers.

Create a new layer named Shadow

Step 6

Select the Brush Tool (B) from the Tools panel. Right-click to change the settings. Set the Size to 80 px and Hardness to 0%. Head over to the Options bar and set the Opacity to 20%. 

Set up the brush tool

Step 7

Make sure you are on the new Shadow layer we just created. Using the brush we set above, brush over each letter. This will create a slight shadow over the letters and the illusion of depth to avoid the design being too flat.

The shadow might appear too light to the eye. A great trick is to turn the layer on and off by clicking on the eye icon. You will notice that in fact a very soft shadow is just enough. Adding small details like these can really make or break the end result.

Use the brush tool to create soft shadows over the letters that have ink over them

Step 8

Create a new layer by hitting Shift-Command-N. In the New Layer option window, name the layer Outside stroke. Click OK. Again, make sure this is placed over the text layer.

Create a new layer named Outside Stroke

Step 9

Activate the guides by pressing Command-;. On the Tools panel, select the Rectangle Tool (U). Draw a rectangle on the blue guides.

Using the guides created add a rectangle around the guides

Step 10

Head over to the Options bar. Set the Stroke to white and the Size to 25 pt. Press Enter.

Using the Options bar set the rectangle to only have a white stroke

Step 11

Head back to the Ink in Water Layer Mask and select the Brush Tool (B). We will repeat the technique we used with the letters. 

Set the Size to 80 px, Hardness to 100%, and Opacity of 100%. Start brushing over the top of the Ink in Water Layer Mask to hide the white stroke.

On the ink water layer mask use the brush tool to bring forward the ink over the stroke

5. How to Add the Final Text Details

Finally, we can add the last details to the poster. Select the Text Tool (T) and open the Characters panel if it’s not open. Head over to Type > Panel > Characters Panel to open it.

Below are the details I added with the type size and specific font weight on separate layers. 

  • 18.06
    — 20.06.2018 
    (BW Nista International, Size at 54 pt, Leading at 57 pt, Bold)
    (BW Nista International, Size at 30 pt, Leading at 32 pt, Thin)
    (BW Nista International, Size at 54 pt, Leading at 57 pt, Bold)

You will notice I’ve placed each of these layers on a different corner—this is to complement the main element and add balance to the poster. 

Add text details

6. How to Save a Web File

Head over to File > Save and save the file as you would normally. 

To save a JPEG for web file, head over to File > Save for Web or Shift-Option-Command-S. Select the file type you want to save the document in—I am choosing JPEG—and set 100 for Quality. Under Image size, you can change the pixel size of the image if you have any size constraints. 

On the bottom left-hand side, you can see a preview of the size of the file. This is useful when there are size constraints on a website and you need to lower the quality or the size of the image. 

Click on Save… to choose the location in the new window, and click on Save again.

Save the image for web

Congratulations! You’ve Finished This Tutorial!

In this tutorial, we've learned to blend typography and an image to create a compelling end result. Today, we've learned to:

  • Use Layer Masks to reveal or hide parts of an image.
  • Create a shadow layer to add depth to an image.
  • Successfully organize layers to create the illusion of dimension.

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