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How to Stylize and Warp Type in Photoshop Elements 9 Images

12 of 12 in Series: The Essentials of Creating Artistic Effects in Photoshop Elements 9

You can warp, distort, enhance, and stylize your type in Photoshop Elements. If you’re not careful, your creative typography can outshine your image. If you’ve tried your hand at creating a type mask, you know that Elements is capable of much more than just throwing a few black letters at the bottom of your image.

Adjusting type opacity in Elements

Layers are a digital version of the old analog transparency sheets. You can change element opacity on layers to let the underlying layer show through in varying degrees. This is also possible on a type layer.

To change the opacity of a type layer, simply select the layer on the Layers panel, click the arrow to the right of the Opacity percentage, and drag the slider. The lower the percentage, the less opaque the type (and the more the underlying layer shows through).

You can vary the opacity of type layers to allow the underlying layer to peek through. [Credit: Cor
Credit: Corbis Digital Stock
You can vary the opacity of type layers to allow the underlying layer to peek through.

Applying filters to type in Elements

One of the most interesting things you can do with type in Elements is apply special effects, such as filters. You can make type look like it’s on fire, underwater, or on the move. The only caveat is that type has to be simplified first before a filter can be applied. Be sure to do all your text editing before you get to the filtering stage.

Applying the filter is as easy as selecting the simplified type layer on the Layers panel and choosing a filter from the Filter menu.

Applying a motion blur to type can make it appear as fast as the car. [Credit: Corbis Digital Stock]
Credit: Corbis Digital Stock
Applying a motion blur to type can make it appear as fast as the car.

Painting type with color and gradients in Elements

Changing the color of text is as easy as highlighting it and selecting a color from the Color Picker. But what if you want to do something a little less conventional, such as apply random brush strokes of paint across the type? Again, as with applying filters to text, the only criterion is that the type has to be simplified first. After that’s done, select a color, grab the Brush tool with settings of your choice, and paint.

Bring your type to life with color (top) or a gradient (bottom).
Bring your type to life with color (top) or a gradient (bottom).

If you want the color or gradient to be confined to the type area, select the text by either Ctrl-clicking (cmd-clicking on a Mac) the layer containing the text or locking the layer’s transparency on the Layers panel.

You can also apply a gradient to your type. Here are the steps to follow after simplifying your type:

  1. Select the Gradient tool from the Tools panel.

  2. On the Options bar, click the down-pointing arrow next to the Gradient Picker to access the Gradient Picker drop-down panel.

  3. Choose your desired gradient.

  4. Position your gradient cursor on the text where you want your gradient to start; drag to where you want your gradient to end.

    Don’t like the results? Drag again until you get the look you want. Remember that you can drag at any angle and to any length, even outside your type.

Warping type in Elements

The best part about the distortions you apply with the Warp feature is that the text remains fully editable. This feature is fun and easy to use. Click the Create Warped Text button near the far-right end of the Options bar. (It’s the T with a curved line below it.) This action opens the Warp Text dialog box, where you find a vast array of distortions on the Style pop-up menu with descriptive names such as Bulge, Inflate, and Squeeze.

After selecting a warp style, you can adjust the orientation, amount of bend, and degree of distortion by dragging the sliders. The Bend setting affects the amount of warp, and the Horizontal and Vertical Distortions apply perspective to that warp. You can also view the results while you adjust.

You can also use the Transform command, such as scale and skew, to manipulate text.

Text remains fully editable after applying distortions with the Warp command.
Text remains fully editable after applying distortions with the Warp command.
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