Type & Fonts

Tutorial | Comic Book Explosion for Digital Scrapbookers

Boom! Pow! Ouch. I *heart* comic book explosions! Is there a better way to make your mouth an action word? Nope. No other way.

Would you like to know how to build a comic book explosion title for your digital scrapbook page like the one seen here? Of course you do – BAM! Check out the steps below for both Adobe Photoshop & Photoshop Element’s Users. Click on the images to increase their size.

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Tutorial: How to Create Acrylic Text using Adobe Photoshop

Have you ever wondered how to create “see through” text? Today I’ll share my techniques for creating transparent, raised, acrylic-looking text using Adobe’s Photoshop. Adobe Photoshop Elements users will want to scroll down for additional *notes* as steps to achieve a similar look are quite different.

As you scroll down the tutorial, click on the screenshots for larger, more detailed images. Here is the effect we’ll re-create today:

Photoshop Users


Step 1: Choose Font | Type Text

I chose the cool, collected and standard font Futura Medium. Most any font will work. But the results you’ll achieve are dependent on your font choice and size.

The color of the font does not matter so pick hot-lips red, or anything that suits your mood. My text is set at a size of 28 points.

Step 2: Reduce Fill Opacity

Once you’ve chosen your font and typed your text, completely reduce the Fill Opacity of the layer. Now that’s FILL OPACITY. Not OPACITY. There is a difference so be sure you’re teasing the correct slider. It’s located at the top of the Layer’s Panel. You will no longer see your text once you reduce the fill opacity. But that’s exactly what we want to do!

Step 3: Open Layer Styles Menu | Add Custom Styles

Now, double click the layer and open the Layer Style’s menu. From here, we’ll add the settings to “acrylic-ize” our text.

First, the Drop Shadow. The settings I used are below. Notice the blend mode of “Linear Burn”. I usually set my drop shadows to this blend mode. Peppermint, owner of One Little Bird Designs, offers a mind-blowing Shadowing Tutorial on the importance of this blend. Be sure and check that out.

The actual values of the Shadow, and the Inner Bevel + Satin below, are completely dependent on the font style and size chosen. So you might need to adjust the values to suit your tastes. Keep that in mind as you play.

Next, add the Inner Bevel. My settings are similar to embossing techniques I’ve discussed in my Embossing Effects video tutorials.

And finally, the Satin. Satin is an under-utlized style in Photoshop. Used creatively, it alters the lighting of an object helping to define reflections, metallic, or otherwise “sleek” surfaces. For our example, we’ll use Satin to vary the color of the Acrylic. A deep gray creates a dark tone; a lighter gray will look more translucent.

Step 4: Verify Results | Tweak if Necessary

Click OK once you’re happy with your results and marvel! The set of steps outlined above can be changed at any time by revisiting the Layer Style’s menu. To test your text, layer it over something colorful. If you can see the layer’s below AND see your translucent text too, then you go girl!

Here’s my final layout with Acrylic Text within. I’m still finishing up my Disney Album folks. Sigh. One day!

Practically Perfect by Sahlin Studio and Ju Kneipp
Artistic Photo Masks Set Two by Simply Tiffany Studios
LoopDaLoops by Anna Aspnes
Southern Sayings Bonus Word Art by Simply Tiffany Studio 

Adobe Photoshop Elements Users


After a bit of “tinkering” in PSE 8, I developed a set steps that presented an “acrylic” look. But, personally, I don’t dig the end result. It’s not as acrylic-y as I’d prefer. But I’ll share my steps, sans the fancy screenshots, with hope that experienced Elements users will play and perhaps find a better solution.

Step 1: Type text. I chose the font Futura Condensed and set the size to 36 pixels. Choose a grayish-brown color. I chose HEX code: 3b3731.

Step 2: Reduce the opacity of the text below 30%. Results will vary.

Step 3: Add a “Low” drop shadow using the Effects panel. Open the layer’s Style Settings and adjust the Size and Distance to smaller values.

Step 4: Add a “Simple Inner” bevel using the Effects panel (or toggle on the Bevel in the layer’s Style Settings). See the screenshow below for my exact settings.

And my results from this setup:

If you get a chance to play with this technique in Photoshop or Elements, show me your results in the comments section below! And check out my tutorial center for more tricks and techniques.