Lesson 4 – Editing Your Lettering in Photoshop CC


Welcome to Lesson 4! Congratulations on making it this far! We’ve covered a lot of ground so far and you’ve already done so much: learned about the tools of the trade, different lettering styles, experimented with how a brush pen behaves, and created your first word!

I’m going to keep you on your toes and change things up a bit now. We’re going to leave our pens and paper behind and see what can be done with one of the most ubiquitous and powerful pieces of software in the design and art world – Adobe Photoshop CC.

Because this is a bit of a bigger topic than what we’ve done so far I’m going to break this lesson into 2 parts.

Lesson Goal

We’re going to create a piece of lettering art with our brush pens, bring it into Photoshop, remove the background, change the colour, and place it over a photo. The finished version of what we'll be making is just up the top of this page, next to the title.

The first thing I want to say is this:

Don’t be intimidated.

Photoshop can seem overwhelmingly intimidating! I remember vividly the first time I used it – all I wanted to do was draw cartoons and there were menus and layers and alien-looking tools everywhere! I accidentally turned a layer off and thought I’d lost my file forever.

The problem here is that Photoshop is so powerful, so malleable, that it can be used for almost countlessdesign/art/photography/lettering/movie-making/animating tasks, and its menus and functions reflect this.

Let’s stay calm though, as I have great news for you! This is the secret – we want to use Photoshop for LETTERING! Which means we can ignore 99% of Photoshop’s tools and functions, and focus only on those that matter to us. Woohoo!

However, this lesson does assume some basic understanding of Photoshop – what layers are, how to open and save files, the general theory behind working with images. If you’d like me to create a tutorial starting from the very beginning, covering all the basics of Photoshop and working up let me know in the comments!

Let’s get started.

Create your word

The first thing to do is to draw a word! Using your new skills in creating shapes with your brush pen, choose a moderately short word and draw it with your brush pen. I’ve chosen the word ‘imagine’.

Don’t be discouraged if your word doesn’t come out how you’d like it to the very first time – remember this is drawing a word, not writing it, and it may take a few re-draws until you’re happy with it! I filled 3 pages in my sketchbook with ‘imagines’ before I was happy, tweaking and changing each one as I went!

Great! Now that you have your word, take a photo of it – an iPhone-level camera is perfect. The trick here is to try and get an even balance of light – no shadows cast by your head or your hand holding your phone! Here’s what mine looks like, completely un-edited, it even has my thumb in the corner:

Start Photoshopping

Transfer this photo to your computer in whichever way is easiest for you and let’s get this Photoshop show on the road! First things first, let’s get this guy into Photoshop! I’m just going to drag mine directly on top of the Photoshop icon.

Remove the background

We now want to cut out just the lettering part from the photo. For this we’re going to use the Polygonal Lasso tool. Select it either by pressing the (L) key on your keyboard, or clicking this icon in the icon list on the left side of your Photoshop window.

With the Polygonal Lasso tool selected, click a rough outline around your word, making sure to join up your selection with your original starting point.

With your selection still active (the blinking outline around your word), open the Edit menu using the button in the menu at the top of your screen, then click Cut, and finally, open the Edit menu again and click Paste. Alternatively, feel free to use the corresponding Copy and Paste keyboard shortcuts if you prefer!

You’ll notice a second Layer has appeared in Layers panel on the right hand side of your screen. This is a good thing, and we only want to keep one of these layers! Drag the layer that does not have your cut out lettering piece on it (it will most likely be called Background) into the tiny Photoshop rubbish bin icon in the bottom right of your screen:

Awesome! This is a huge lesson, so we’re going to break it up into two parts. Let’s leave this as is and pick up tomorrow to finish it off!

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about any of these steps, and I’ll see you tomorrow for your final lesson!