Advertisement
  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Photoshop Actions
Design

How to Create a Typography Dispersion Action in Adobe Photoshop

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

In this tutorial you will learn how to create an amazing typography dispersion effect. First we are going to create and define a few patterns and brushes. Then we are going to create a typography effect from our subject, and then disperse the letters in the direction we choose. After that we are going to make some final adjustments.

I will try to explain everything in so much detail that everyone can create it, even those who have just opened Photoshop for the first time.

The effect shown above is the one I will show you how to create here in this tutorial. If you would like to create the effects shown below, using just a single click and in just a few minutes, then check out my Typography 4 Photoshop Action.

Action final results

What You'll Need

To recreate the design above, you will need the following photo:

1. How to Get Started

Step 1

First, open the photo that you want to work with. To open your photo, go to File > Open, choose your photo, and click Open. Now, before we get started, just check a couple of things:

  1. Your photo should be in RGB Color mode, 8 Bits/Channel. To check this, go to Image > Mode.
  2. For best results, your photo size should be 1500–4000 px wide/high. To check this, go to Image > Image Size.
  3. Your photo should be the Background layer. If it is not, go to Layer > New > Background from Layer.
Checking image mode and size

Step 2

We are going to create a typography dispersion effect in the downward direction, so we need to expand the canvas on the bottom so we have more space for the effect, and also a little bit on the left and right sides. Go to Image > Canvas Size and use the settings below:

Expanding canvas

Step 3

Now we need to make this expanded canvas area seamless. Choose the Magic Wand Tool (W) and click once over the white area to select the whole white area we have just added. Go to Edit > Fill and select the settings below. After that, press Control-D on your keyboard to remove the selection.

Filling selection with content-aware

2. How to Create Patterns and Brushes

Step 1

In this section we are going to create the patterns and brushes we'll need. Go to File > New to create a new file, name it Typography Pattern 1, and use the settings below:

Creating new file named Typography Pattern 1

Step 2

Now choose the Horizontal Type Tool (T), click anywhere inside the canvas, and type a single letter. You can use any font, font style, and font size. I have chosen Arial font, Regular font style, and 31.47 px size. After you type a letter, hit Enter on your keyboard and use the same method to add several letters. Here is what I got:

Creating typography pattern 1

Step 3

Now click on the Background layer eye icon next to its thumbnail to hide it. Go to Edit > Define Pattern to define a pattern and name it Typography_Pattern_1. Keep this file open.

Defining pattern named Typography_Pattern_1

Step 4

Repeat the first two steps in this section, but in Step 1 name the new file Typography Pattern 2, and in Step 2 use different letters with the same font, font style and font size you used for the previous pattern. Here is what I got:

Creating typography pattern 2

Step 5

Now click on the Background layer eye icon next to its thumbnail to hide it. Go to Edit > Define Pattern to define a pattern and name it Typography_Pattern_2. Keep this file open as well.

Defining pattern named Typography_Pattern_2

Step 6

Repeat the first two steps in this section, but in Step 1 name the new file Typography Pattern 3, and in Step 2 use different letters with the same font, font style and font size you used for the previous two patterns. Here is what I got:

Creating typography pattern 3

Step 7

Now click on the Background layer eye icon next to its thumbnail to hide it. Go to Edit > Define Pattern to define a pattern and name it Typography_Pattern_3. Keep this file open as well.

Defining pattern named Typography_Pattern_3

Step 8

We are going to create brushes now. Select the Typography Pattern 1 document, go to Edit > Define Brush Preset, and name it Temp as we will remove this brush in the next few steps.

Defining brush named Temp

Step 9

Press B on your keyboard, right-click anywhere inside the canvas, select the Temp brush, and hit Enter. Then go to Window > Brush and inside the Brush window use the settings below:

Changing brush settings

Step 10

Now we are going to define this brush with new settings as a new brush. Go to Edit > Define Brush Preset and name it Typography_Brush_1. Press B on your keyboard, right-click anywhere inside the canvas, and Alt-click on the Temp brush to remove it.

Defining brush named Typography_Brush_1

Step 11

Repeat all the steps from Step 8 to Step 10 to create two more brushes from the two other documents Typography Pattern 2 and Typography Pattern 3. Of course, name those two new brushes according to their serial number. Then close all documents except your photo document.

Defining two more brushes

3. How to Create the Base

Step 1

Now we need to create the base that determines which part of our photo will be turned into typography. So the base will actually be our subject. Go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer and name it Base.

Creating new layer named Base

Step 2

While the Base layer is selected, fill your subject with a color. You can do it in various ways. For example, you can create a selection of your subject using the Pen Tool (P), Magic Wand Tool (W), Lasso Tool (L) or some other tool, and then just fill the selection with a color. Or you can choose the Brush Tool (B) and brush over your photo using a hard or soft brush.

Creating the base

4. How to Create Typography From a Subject

Step 1

In this section we are going to create a typography effect from a subject that we have defined with the Base layer. Control-click on the Base layer thumbnail to make a selection of that layer, select the Background layer, and go to Layer > New > Layer Via Copy. Then hide the Base layer by clicking on the eye icon next to its thumbnail.

Creating new layer via copy

Step 2

Now go to File > New to create a new file, name it Text, and use the settings below. You can use different values for width/height, but make sure that document is at least as big as your photo document.

Ceating new file named Text

Step 3

Choose the Horizontal Type Tool (T) and type the text so it covers the whole document. You should use the same font and font style that you used for creating patterns and brushes. Also, the font size should be the same or very close. 

Feel free to make changes to your text, like increasing or decreasing leading, tracking and more. If the content of the text does not matter to you, you can use a text generator to speed up the process.

Typing the text

Step 4

Now choose the Move Tool (V), click and hold inside the canvas, and drag the text layer from the Text document to your photo document and position it so it covers the whole subject. Double-click on this layer name and rename it Text.

Dragging the text layer to photo document

Step 5

Control-click on the Layer 1 thumbnail to make a selection of that layer, and then go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection.

Making layer mask using selection

Step 6

Now select Layer 1 and drag it above the Text layer. Then go to Layer > Create Clipping Mask. Double-click on this layer name and rename it Text Color.

Creating clipping mask and renaming layer to Text Color

Step 7

Now we are going to create a solid color background. Select the Background layer and go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color to create a new solid color fill layer, name it Background Color, and use the settings below:

Creating new solid color fill layer

Step 8

Select the Background layer and go to Layer > New > Layer Via Copy to duplicate that layer. Then drag this layer just below the Base layer, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, and use the settings below:

Adding gaussian blur filter to Background copy layer

Step 9

Now go to File > Save As to save your document as a new file. You can name it however you want, and you can save it anywhere you want, but keep in mind that you will need to select that file later to apply a filter. Then right-click on the Background copy layer and choose Delete Layer.

Saving document as a new file and deleting Background copy layer

Step 10

We need to correct the edges of the subject slightly. Select the layer mask of the Text layer, go to Select > Select and Mask, and use the settings below:

Selecting and masking layer mask of Text layer

Step 11

Right-click on the Text layer name and choose Convert to Smart Object. Then go to Filter > Displace, use the settings below, and choose OK. After that you will get another window, and there you can choose the file you have previously saved and click Open.

Adding displace filter to the Text layer

Step 12

Now we are just going to group some layers. Select the Background Color layer, Shift-click on the Text Color layer, go to Layer > New > Group from Layers to create a new group from these layers, and name it Subject Typography.

Creating new group from layers nameds Subject Typography

5. How to Create Dispersed Letters

Step 1

In this section, we are going to create letters that we are going to disperse later. First we need to create another base layer that determines which areas will be dispersed. Select the Base layer, go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer, and name it Base 2.

Creating new layer named Base 2

Step 2

Control-click on the Base layer thumbnail to make a selection of that layer and go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection.

Making layer mask using selection

Step 3

Now select the Base 2 layer thumbnail, choose the Brush Tool (B), pick a soft or hard brush, and start brushing over the areas you want to disperse.

Creating the base 2

Step 4

Select the layer mask of the Base 2 layer, right-click on it, and choose Apply Layer Mask.

Applying layer mask of Base 2 layer

Step 5

Control-click on the Base 2 layer thumbnail to make a selection of that layer. Choose the Lasso Tool (L), right-click anywhere inside the canvas, choose Make Work Path, and use the settings below:

Making work path

Step 6

Now click on the eye icon of the Base 2 layer next to its thumbnail to hide it. Select the Subject Typography group and go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer. Leave the default name Layer 1 because we will delete this layer in the next few steps.

Creating a new layer named Layer 1

Step 7

Choose the Pen Tool (P), right-click anywhere inside the canvas, choose Fill Work Path, and use the settings below:

Filling work path with Typography_Pattern_1
Custom Pattern is Typography_Pattern_1.

Step 8

Now Control-click on the Layer 1 thumbnail to make a selection of that layer, select the Background layer, and go to Layer > New > Layer Via Copy to create a new layer via copy, and name it L_1 (abbreviation of Letter_1). Then right-click on Layer 1 and choose Delete Layer.

Creating first letters layer

Step 9

Now repeat all the steps from Step 6 to Step 8 as many times you want, depending on how many letters layers you want to create, using Typography_Pattern_1. I have repeated it nine more times, so I have ten letters layers in total.

Creating more letters layers

Step 10

Now we are going to create more letters layers but with other patterns, so we have different letters. Repeat all the steps from Step 6 to Step 8, but in Step 7 use the settings below instead of the settings you used the previous time.

Filling work path with Typography_Pattern_2
Custom Pattern is Typography_Pattern_2.

Step 11

Now repeat Step 10 as many times you want, depending on how many letters layers you want to create, using Typography_Pattern_2. I have repeated it nine more times, so I have 20 letters layers in total.

Creating more the letters layers

Step 12

Now we are going to create more letters layers with our last pattern, so we have different letters. Repeat all the steps from Step 6 to Step 8,  but in Step 7 use the settings below instead of the settings you used the previous time.

Filling work path with Typography_Pattern_3
Custom Pattern is Typography_Pattern_3.

Step 13

Now repeat Step 12 as many times as you want, depending on how many letters layers you want to create, using Typography_Pattern_3. I have repeated it nine more times, so I have 30 letters layers in total.

Creating more letters layers

Step 14

Now select the first letters layer, go to Filter > Displace, use the settings below, and choose OK. After that you will get another window, and there you can choose the file you have previously saved and click Open.

Displacing letters

Step 15

Select the next letters layer and press Control-F to apply the previous filter with the same settings. Use the same method to apply this filter to all other letters layers.

Displacing other letters

Step 16

We are going to group all the letters layers now. Select your top letters layer and Shift-click on the last letters layer to select all letters layers, go to Layer > New > Group from Layers to create a new group from selected layers and name it Letters. Then drag the group just above the Subject Typography group.

Creating new group from layers named Letters

6. How to Disperse Letters

Step 1

In this section, we are going to disperse the letters we have just created. So all you have to do now is to choose the Move Tool (V), select the letters layer that you want to move, and move it in the direction of your choice. I want to create a dispersion in the downward direction, so here is what I got:

Dispersing the letters

Step 2

Now we are going to transform some letters to create depth. Select the letters layer that you want to transform, choose the Lasso Tool (L), right-click anywhere inside the canvas, and use the settings below:

Transforming the letters

Step 3

I have transformed a few more letters layers. Feel free to transform as many layers as you want, and also to use different values for width/height. Here is what I got:

Transforming a more letters

Step 4

Now to give more depth and focus to the effect, we are going to blur some letters. Select the letters layer that you want to blur, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, and use the settings below:

Adding gaussian blur filter to letters

Step 5

I have blurred a few more letters layers. Feel free to transform as many layers as you want, and also to use different values for Gaussian blur. Here is what I got:

Adding gaussian blur filter to more letters

Step 6

Now make some final changes to the dispersed letters, so you can move, transform and blur letters layers as you like. Also feel free to move or transform the whole Letters group and also change the layer order in the Layers panel. Here is what I got:

Making final changes to the letters

7. How to Create a Missing Letters Effect

Step 1

In this section, we are going to create a missing letters effect. Select the Text layer and go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All to add a blank layer mask to this layer.

Making layer mask to Text layer

Step 2

Select the layer mask of the Text layer and press D on your keyboard to reset the swatches. Choose the Brush Tool (B), right-click anywhere inside the canvas, pick some of the typography brushes we have created at the beginning of the tutorial, and hit Enter. Then start brushing over the areas where you wish to create a missing letters effect. You can also use a soft brush for the edges. Here is what I got:

Creating missing letters effect

8. How to Make Adjustments

Step 1

In this section, we are going to make some final adjustments to the effect. Firstly we are going to add a nice color look. So select the Letters group and go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves to create a new curves adjustment layer just below the Base layer, and name it Color Look.

Creating new curves adjustment layer

Step 2

Now double-click on the Color Look layer thumbnail and use the settings below:

Changing settings of curves adjustment layer

Step 3

Now we are going to add a subtle filter. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Photo Filter to create a new photo filter adjustment layer and name it Photo Tint.

Creating new photo filter adjustment layer

Step 4

Double-click on the Photo Tint layer thumbnail and use the settings below:

Changing settings of photo filter adjustment layer

Step 5

Now we are going to add a subtle contrast. Press D on your keyboard to reset the swatches, go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map to create a new gradient map adjustment layer and name it Overall Contrast.

Creating new gradient map adjustment layer

Step 6

Change the blending mode of the Overall Contrast layer to Soft Light and drop the Opacity to 8%.

Changing blending mode and opacity of Overall Contrast layer

Step 7

Finally we are going to add sharpening to the whole effect. Press Control-Alt-Shift-E on your keyboard to make a snapshot, and then go to Filter > Other > High Pass and use the settings below:

Adding high pass filter to Layer 1

Step 8

Double-click on the Layer 1 name and rename it Overall Sharpening. Change its blending mode to Hard Light and drop the Opacity to 82%.

Changing name blending mode and opacity of Overall Sharpening layer

You Made it!

Congratulations, you have succeeded! Here is our final result:

Final result

If you would like to create the effect shown below, using just a single click and in just a few minutes, then check out my Typography 4 Photoshop Action.

Action final results

The action works so that you just brush over the areas that you want to disperse in letters, play the action, and the action will do everything for you, giving you fully layered and customizable results.

You can choose from five different dispersion directions:

  • Right
  • Left
  • Up
  • Down
  • Middle

And each direction comes in three optional letter sizes:

  • Small
  • Medium
  • Large

The action is made so that every time you run the action, you will get a unique result even if you use the same brushed area. The letters will always be differently arranged and deployed. The subject typography is a fully editable text layer. You can use your own text, change the font, font style, letter spacing, line height, etc. The action will also create 10 preset color looks for you.

It comes with a detailed video tutorial that demonstrates how to use and customize the look of your action to get the most out of the effect.

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.