Lesson 5 – Finishing Your Lettering in Photoshop CC


You’ve made it! It’s the final lesson of your five day Lettering Studio immersion, and boy we’ve covered a lot!

In this lesson we’re going to be picking up where we left off in yesterday’s lesson and finishing your first Photoshop lettering piece.

Here we go!

Remove the background

Great! So here’s where we left off yesterday. The next step is to begin removing the actual letters from their paper background.

Click Image > Adjustments > Levels in the top menu. This will bring up the Levels control panel. Move the sliders until the yellow-ness of your paper becomes as white as you can make it. I usually move the far right slider towards the middle, and then the middle slider slightly to the right. This makes your paper pure white, and your brush strokes as dark as possible. This contrast is exactly what we want! Check it out here:

Now that our image is entirely either black or white, we can tell Photoshop to remove anything white so that we’re left with just our brush strokes! Double-click on the thumbnail of your layer in the layers panel. This will open the Layer Style panel. At the bottom of this new panel you’ll see two sliders. Grab the right hand handle of the top slider and slowly slide it to the left, until all the white’s disappeared from your image. Just a small movement is needed here – it won’t take much!

There’s a second step here, to make sure you catch every last bit of distortion and white/grey particles from your photo. Holding the Alt/Option key, click and drag the same slider again – only half of the handle will move this time! Drag this down to about halfway.

We’re almost there!

This has only blended the white background, technically it’s still there, just hidden. So the last step here is to properly remove it.

All you need to do is click the New Layer icon – it’s right next to Photoshop’s rubbish bin icon down the bottom right. You’ll notice an empty new layer appear above your brush strokes layer. Right-click this new layer, and click Merge Down. And that’s it! It will look like nothing has changed, but this step is crucial, especially once we bring in a background image in the next step!

Add a background photo

We’re right at the fun stuff now! We have our brush strokes in Photoshop, separated from the paper they were originally drawn on, and ready to be placed over a photo! I’m going to use an image from Unsplash, one of the absolute best websites for royalty-free photography. This is the one I’ve chosen, but get creative here! Choose a photo that matches the word you chose to draw!

Bring your chosen photo into the same Photoshop document your lettering is in either by clicking File > Place Embedded or by dragging it directly in, and make sure to confirm its placement by clicking the tick up the top of your Photoshop window.

You may find that your photo’s layer is on top of your lettering layer, so just click and drag them into the correct order if this is the case.

Colour your lettering

Last step! We’re going to colour our brush strokes to match the photo we’ve chosen!

Make sure your lettering layer is selected by clicking on it in the layers panel, and then click the tiny ‘fx’ button down near the rubbish bin. On the menu that appears click ‘Color Overlay’. This will bring up the colour panel. Click on the small rectangle of colour and experiment to your heart’s content!

How cool is this! Instant colouring of your brush strokes, doesn’t matter that you originally drew them in black ink! Ahh the magic of Photoshop.

Experiment until you find a colour that works well with your chosen background photo (I’ve gone with a white), and then click OK to confirm.

WOOHOO! You’ve done it! You can now use Photoshop in your lettering process! I’m so excited for you! Feel free to make any final adjustments or movements to each layer, and then this image is ready to be exported and put on Instagram/Facebook/Pinterest – anywhere!

I’d absolutely love to see your creations, so leave them in the comments below! I’ll put mine right here. I’ve added some shadows to my piece to make the letters look layered – This, and so much more, is covered in the Brush Lettering video course.

I hope you enjoyed all five of these lessons and are now excited by what you’ve created. I had so much fun taking you through it all!

Never fear though, this isn’t goodbye; check out the rest of the Lettering Studio courses and walkthroughs to continue your hand lettering journey!