How to hand letter your pictures in Photoshop

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A really nice looking effect can be achieved inside Photoshop with only a few elements: a good typeface, the picture you want to develop and some basic knowledge of layer blending modes. Today we are going to learn how to hand letter our pictures inside Photoshop for creating stunning pictures we can share with our beloved ones.

First of all, we need a good looking typeface in order to achieve this effect. Depending on the theme of the picture is the category in which we can label our typeface. For example: at warm, cozy scenes like home interiors or family pictures we will go for hand-script typefaces that are really rounded at their bowl. This kind of fonts are often labeled as casual hand script typefaces and may remind users of the common day writing in such events like a letter to a relative far away from us.

In case of formal events like business, we would then use fonts like some Old Style Serif, and modern advertisement often use Sans Serif fonts (the difference between this two categories is that Sans Serif don’t have small ornaments like Serif fonts does; in order to illustrate this compare a widely known font such as Times New Roman, which is a Serif font, to a Calibri font, that is a Sans Serif).

Then we need the font to stand out at the composition, so such decisions as placement, the height of the font, kerning (the space between characters), color and weight (bold vs light) of the font really matters. Rush decisions can end up in showing a lack of knowledge regarding the skills of the designer; so for this case, we are going to apply a text with a proper typeface into a cozy picture, in order to demonstrate the difference between those elements.

For this tutorial purpose, I am going to work out with this picture. Open the image in Photoshop and quickly switch to the Text tool.

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If you don’t want to expend a great deal looking for fonts inside of Photoshop (which I know by experience it is really frustrating since you don’t have a proper preview) you can pre-select the font via various methods; my two favorites are:

  • Text editors like Microsoft Word provide a good preview of fonts prior using them
  • Font managers like Bitstream Font Navigator, which is included in the package of Corel Draw suite.

At the text box created write the text you want to apply to your picture, then open the Character window for further editing.

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As you can see in this window you have several options, but most important options in here are the ones related to Kerning (V/A icon), which is done manually after each letter you write, and Tracking (VA icon), that can be applied to selected text. These two options will transform the appearance of your text by setting spaces between characters, and for some occasions, this may be an appealing effect.

At the Blending Mode options, you can apply several effects to your text depending on what you aim to get as a final result. For this text, I am first going to apply a Bevel & Emboss effect (choosing Inner Bevel).

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Then, a Drop Shadow effect, increasing the distance of the shadow itself.

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We can also play with the Layer Blending modes for getting interesting results such as what we can appreciate in here.

First the result of using Linear Burn as the layer blending mode

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Then a common mode that is Overlay

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And finally a not-so-common Subtraction mode.

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Also notice you can apply the Warp effect to your text by using the T plus an arc tool at the upper bar with the text tool enabled.

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Here is my final result for this postcard, and you can always add some cool looking effects such as torn edges, logos, etc. for increasing the feeling of a postcard.

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NB: Consider visiting sites such as Fonts.com for getting a good variety of fonts for your library. The site provides a tool for helping users quickly decide which kind of fonts they want to use by categorizing them in terms of the shape of the typeface.

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