Sky writing effect in Photoshop

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Have you ever seen jets writing messages in the sky, like words written on clouds? And what if I tell you this effect can be achieved inside Photoshop? This cute looking effect works amazingly well for postcards, for some wedding exterior photos, etc. So today we are going to learn how to create a Skywriting effect in Photoshop.

First of all, you can approach this task in two ways:

  • For editing an existing photo (which will be this tutorial main goal)
  • For creating a card; in that way we will be starting with a white canvas and working with gradients, creating a new sky-like ambient.

Since for this tutorial, we are going to work with an existing photo, open it up in Photoshop.

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For this really good looking effect, all you need to do is first create a text. Make sure you write a message that is compelling for the scene you are writing the text, as well as working with care with the selected font.

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My recommendation for the font is to always work with CAPS, since the message will be easier to read, and always work with simple fonts, as the result will be more realistic. Script fonts and fonts with too much ornament won’t apply for this effect when we create the clouds around it for two reasons:

  1. Real jets don’t create such neat results with script fonts, as they are flying while doing it.
  2. Do you really think it is a wise idea to use a too ornamented font for a clear sky picture?

Write now the text you plan to use. Make sure to open the Character menu for making a space between letters, as this will actually match the approach jets make when writing messages on the sky.

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I will now increase the size of the font prior applying the effect; then, hold down CTRL and click on the text layer. This will make a selection of every character written.

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Click on the Paths tab and then click the upper icon; select the option Make Work Path.

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For the Tolerance value, the default at Photoshop CC 2015 is 2,0 px, change that value to 0,5 px.

Zoom into the image and hide the Text layer for now. Call up the Brush tool with the shortcut B and use F5 to bring in the brush options.

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Make the Size value to 30 px, Hardness 0% and Spacing 25%

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Check Shape Dynamics and inside make adjustments with the following values:

  • Size Jitter: 100%
  • Minimum Diameter: 0%
  • Angle Jitter: 0%
  • Roundness Jitter: 30%
  • Minimum Roundness: 25%
  • Flip X/Y Jitter

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Now check Texture, and at the upper box, click it in order to change the textures shown to Pattern. In there, select Clouds.

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Size should be between 130-170%, check ‘Texture Each Tip’ and the Mode is Color Burn.

Check Transfer and make Opacity Jitter to 20% and Flow Jitter to 50%

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Finally, check Smoothing (which by default is enabled) and save the brush preset with any name you like (I set mine’s to Clouds).

Close the Brush Properties and invert the colors with the X shortcut, making White the active color (if you were working with other colors rather than Black and White, hit D first to reset to the default). Then create a new layer and move back to the Paths tab.

In there, click again on the upper box option and select Stroke Path. Change the tool to Brush and make sure Simulate Pressure is unchecked. For erasing the path selected, click anywhere on the Paths panel.

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A common mistake can be having a too big sized brush; meaning we need to go backward, adjust the size of the brush, and then reapply the Stroke Path tool. In my case I used a brush with a size of 50 px, this will mostly depend on the size of the text you have.

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Rename the layer where we created this effect and erase the original text layer as we don’t need it anymore. Then we need to adjust the size and perspective of this text created with the Transform tool to make it look more natural.

Reduce the opacity of the layer to around 50% and for extra detail, you can always photo merge a jet writing a text to bring more realism to the picture.

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And here is our final result. Hope you liked this tutorial and see you next time!

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