Lettering in the Wild | Jamie Bartlett | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Getting Started


    • 2.

      Detailed Objects


    • 3.



    • 4.

      Creating Depth


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About This Class

In this class I’m going to show you how to incorporate your lettering into photographs using different masking techniques in Photoshop. You'll be able to apply what you learn to all kinds of photo environments. Anyone will be able to take this class and easily follow along with my step-by-step instructions. 

I can’t wait to see what you guys create.

Meet Your Teacher

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Jamie Bartlett

Graphic designer and left-handed letterer


Jamie Bartlett is a graphic designer and left-handed letterer working out of Denver, CO. She graduated from John Brown University with a degree in Graphic Design and now runs a shop for her hand lettered designs and fonts. Her work reflects everything she loves in life: a good cup of coffee, nerdy design terms, tandem bikes, road trips, and so much more.

Check out all Jamie's classes to learn her tricks of the trade. 

To see what she's up to now, follow her on Instagram and Dribbble.


  &... See full profile

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1. Getting Started: Hi guys, I'm Jamie Bartlett. In this class, I'm going to show you how to incorporate your lettering in photographs using different masking techniques in Photoshop. You'll be able to apply what you learned to all kinds of photo environment. Let's get started. First, we need to open up our photograph. You can use a photo you've taken yourself or a great resource is unsplash.com. Here you'll find a ton of free, high resolution photos that are free to do whatever you would like with. Once you have a photo, open it up and Photoshop. Here's the photo I'll be using for our first method. I'm going to put text on this yellow wall here behind the bike. Normally this might seem really difficult to do since we have all these tiny little details that would be really difficult to mask out by hand. So we're going to be using a technique that makes this kind of mask much easier to come up with. Now we need to add our lettering to this picture. So we'll go up here to File place Embedded, and here's my lettering. Will click Place and the check mark, and now you can get onto masking. 2. Detailed Objects: For this method, we're going to use the color range tool. The way it works is based on whatever is visible. I need to turn off my text layer and now we can go up to "Select", "Color Range". Color range allows us to make a selection based on the color. By default, your selection preview should be set to none. But if it's not, you can change it right here. We want the yellow of this photo to be selected. We take this eyedropper tool and we click on the yellow. You'll see that my preview switches to a black and white image. All the white is what's selected and all the dark and black areas are what's not in your mask, and the gray values in between will be semi-transparent. Up here we have a fuzziness slider. This is basically just a threshold to determine how much of the color is selected. We can bring it up and more of that yellow gets selected, but you can see down here, it's starting to blend into the ground. If you start to bring it all the way down, you can see we lose some of the yellow in the wall. We have to adjust it until we get the selection we want, right about there. Now that I think that I have the selection I want, I can always change my selection preview to one of these options. If I change it to grayscale, it's the same view that we have in this other window. If you change it to black matte, all the black is what's not selected and so on. I like using the grayscale. Another handy tip, if we want to add to the selection, we can always hold "Shift" and then we'll get the plus sign and we can click on some of these gray areas and that adds to it. There's still a little bit more gray up here, so I'm going to "Shift" and click up here one more time to add to it. Now I'm going to adjust the fuzziness down a little bit to get rid of that blending into the ground. That looks pretty good. We'll click "Okay" and there's my selection. Now I'll turn our lettering layer back on and click on the "Mask" button. Just like that, it looks like the text is behind the bike. Now let's say I want to reposition the text a little bit. We want to make sure we unlink our lettering layer from the mask because if we move the text right now, it moves the mask as well, and that doesn't work. If we unlink it and select our lettering, we can move our text wherever we want and the mask is preserved. Now let's change the color of our lettering. Double-click on your lettering layer and add a color overlay. You can click here to pick whatever color you want. I like that red, orange color. I'm going to click "Okay", "Okay" again and now it has a nice color to it. If you ever want to go back in and adjust the color, you just need to double-click on the "Color Overlay" in the layers palette and edit it there. Now to do one more thing, to make it look a little more like it's on that wall, we're going to set the blending mode of our lettering layer to multiply. But since we have added a color overlay, it prevents any of the blending modes from working. I need to group my lettering layer by pressing "Command G" on your keyboard and we'll set the group layer to be multiply. Now we get some of the background wall texture coming through. Just like that, we're able to make a complicated mask that would have been super hard to do by hand. Let's move on to a different type of scene. 3. Atmosphere: For this photo, I want to put my lettering behind this ridge of trees, but also make it look like it's in this layer of fog right here. I'm going to place my lettering, position it where I think I want it, press "Enter" and now we need to make a selection. We're going to start with the same color range method that we used in the last bottle but remember, we need to turn off our lettering layer and then go up to select "Color range", change it back to none, and click on some of these trees. Now let's adjust our fuzziness, bring it down so those clouds aren't showing up and now let's switch it to grayscale. All the little gray areas are not in our mascot. We're going to add those n by holding down "Shift" and clicking. Now that also added in a lot up here, so let's adjust our fuzziness again. We might need to just clean this up by hand, but we're mostly focused on this tree edge right here. That looks pretty good. We'll click "Okay", turn out lettering layer back on and add a mass to it. We need to invert our mask by pressing "Command I" on the keyboard. Now if I look at my mass by holding down "Option" and clicking on it, we can see the part of the mass that we need to get rid of. We can do that with our brush tool. Go over here and find your brush tool. We want to make sure our color is set to white and you can increase and decrease the size of your brush with the left and right "Brackets' on your keyboard. I'm going to make mine a little bit bigger and then you can start brushing out. Also I'm going to bring the hardness of my brush up a little. It's not so feathered and finish brushing all of this app. Also make sure your opacity is set to 100. That looks pretty good. Hold "Option" again, click on your "Mask" and that looks pretty good. The first step is done, we have our text behind that range of trees. I'm just going to unlink my mask and reposition my layer a little bit and now we want to make our text look like it's in that fog. First we're going to duplicate our photograph. With their photograph selected in the Layers palette, we'll press "Command J", and that makes a copy. We're going to be painting these clouds back on top of our lettering layer to make sure that your photo copy is on the very top and we're going to isolate the clouds with the color range. Go back to select color range, click on the "Cloud area" and let's adjust our fuzziness. Our text is only in this area, that's the main area we need to worry about. We'll turn it down just a bit so we lose some of the trees and that looks pretty good. Click "Okay", now we're going to add a mass to that layer. If you're happy with that, you're all done. Or if you want the lettering to show through the clouds a little more, you can always turn down the opacity of the fog layer. I'm going to turn mine down to 90 and there you go. Again, with color range, we're able to make some pretty complicated masks. 4. Creating Depth: For the last image, I'm going to be using this photo of trees. The lettering I'm going to be using for this image is actually two different layers. I'm going to open that PSD in Photoshop, and each of my words is two different layers. I'm going to select both of those, right-click on them, and duplicate them into my word's image. Now, for both of these, I'm going to add a color overlay, and for now I'm just going to make it white. To add it to my other lettering layer, I again hold Option, and drag the effect onto my lost text. For this photo, color range isn't a very good option because there's no way to distinguish which trees I want selected and which ones I don't. They're just so many and some of them are touching. Also, I want some parts of the same letter to go in front of the tree and other parts to go on back of the tree to make it look like the letter is wrapping around the tree. The easiest way to do that is by brushing up the mask by hand. For now I'm going to turn off the lost lettering and just focus on the word get. I'm going to zoom in by pressing Command and Plus on the keyboard, and reposition my text by holding down Space bar and dragging. Now, I need to add a mask onto this first layer. I will click on the Mask, find our brush tool, we'll make sure that the hardness is all the way up to 100 and we'll turn down the size, and click on My brushes palette right here, and turn the spacing down to probably around 10. We get really smooth brush strokes. Now, we need to paint black on the areas that we want head in. I will switch our color here to be black, and for this G, I want this part of the G to go behind the tree. I will make sure our brush is selected, zoom in a little more and I start painting out. Sometimes it's easier just to go over a little bit, and then zoom in even more and then if you switch back to white, you start painting in your mask again. A quick way to switch between the foreground and the background color is pressing X on your keyboard. We have that part behind the tree and now I want to put this part behind the tree. I'll switch our background and foreground color again and just start painting. This process is actually pretty fun. Zoom out to see how it's looking. It's pretty good for the G and now let's move over to the T. The E isn't going to be behind any trees. The T, I'm going to paint out this part. Let's zoom in, we're in position. Another helpful thing to do is change the opacity of your layer for now so that you can see where the tree and the lettering intersect. I'm going to reposition my text a little bit so that this corner right here aligns up with the tree. Go back to your mask, and keep painting. Let's turn the Opacity back up and see what that looks like. Zoom on out and now that I have the big trees masked off, I'm going to zoom back in and add in some finer details. If you turn your layers of opacity back down, you can see that there are some branches that would be overlapping text. This branch for example could be overlapping the E. I'm going to zoom in to that, turn my brush size down and just start masking those out. It seems like it would be hard, but once you get the hang of it it's pretty easy and if you mess up you can always paint it back in and try it again. Here's another branch I could add in. Let's do these ones on the G. You can add in as many branches as you want, it's as simple as that. Even those little branches just add a little more detail to it, that really make this image look great. Just keep going until you're happy. Another thing you can do to make your lettering look a little more like it's in the scene, is not to leave it 100 percent white. You can go back in to your color overlay and instead, you can sample one of the whiter colors from your image. Maybe make it a tiny more white so it stands out enough that you can read it, click Okay, zoom out and see what that looks like. That looks pretty good. Let me show you my final image with all the masks. I painted out all the branches, I even put it behind the ground here where the tree is. You can see I just had some fun playing with what part of the lettering goes behind the tree and in front of the tree. One more tip is feathering your mask once you have everything finished. If I click on My mask and zoom in, and we look at these little details on the tree, if you double-click on your mask, it will open up the properties panel for that mask. You'll see this feather slider. If you pan it to the right, it starts to feather your mask a lot. We just want to slightly feather ours so it's not so sharp. I'm going to do mine at 0.5 pixels. Just to soften it up and it helps to blend your lettering into the scene a little better. We'll zoom out, and we'll do the same thing for the lost text. Those are my techniques for incorporating my hand lettering into photos. I hope you guys had fun and I can't wait to see yours. Don't forget, you can always ask me questions on the Ask Me Anything discussion, I'm always here to help. Make sure when you guys are finished to post your final project to the project page. I can't wait to see what you guys create. I'll see you guys next time.