189. Emboss Text
Before You Begin
183 Add a Text Caption or Label
184 Bend Text
187 Create Metallic Text
188 Create Text That Glows
190 Fill Text with an Image
A popular effect when working with text is to use embossing. Embossing creates a pleasant, almost invisible effect to text. If you watch network television, you're no doubt familiar with the "logo bug" in the lower-right corner, which was an effect introduced by MTV in the early 1990s. It's the most prominent example of embossed text today, and you can produce a similar effect quite easily using the Emboss filter.
Add Text Select the Type tool from the Toolbox and add text to your image. See 183 Add a Text Caption or Label for more information on adding text.
Open an image in the Editor in Standard Edit mode and save it in Photoshop (*.psd) format. On the Layers palette, select the layer below which you want the text layer to appear. The text layer will be inserted above the layer you choose.
You will want to use a large font size to make the embossing more apparent. A faceted font, such as one with a strong serif, shows off the embossing effect more. Your text's foreground color is only important in that it will be used as the shadow color for your embossed text. The reflected light color will be a light shade of gray, and the flat surface color will be 50% gray. There's a reason for this color scheme, as you'll see momentarily.
Simplify Text Layer
In the Layers palette, select the text layer. Choose Layer, Simplify Layer from the menu bar to convert the text layer to a raster layer.
Because the Emboss filter works only with image layers (and text layers are vector layers), you must first simplify the text layer by converting it to an image layer. After the text layer has been simplified, you can no longer modify the text options (that is, you can't change the font style or size). See 96 Simplify a Layer for more information on converting text layers to image layers.
Apply Emboss Filter
With the text layer still chosen, select Filter, Stylize, Emboss from the menu bar. The Emboss dialog box appears. Enable the Preview check box.
In the Angle field, specify a value between 180 and 180 degrees to indicate the angle from which simulated light is directed toward the surface. You can use the twister control to point toward the light source. In the Height field, indicate the height of the simulated bevel, in pixels.
In the Amount field, specify the relative degree of contrast between the light side and the dark side of the embossing. At 100%, the filter applies pure white on the light side and a pure, untainted foreground color on the shadow side. At less than 100%, the light side is colored more softly and the background color is applied to the shadow side more diffusely. At greater than 100%, a blur effect is used to extend the area of both light and shadow sides into the gray area.
To finalize your choices, click OK.
Apply Blend Mode
The reason the Emboss filter uses 50% gray for its surface color is not because gray is a particularly fashionable color or this year's beige. It's because the results of the filter are intended to be blended with underlying layers, generally using one of the blend modes from the fourth group in the Mode drop-down list in the Layers palette. For a crisp embossing effect, choose Overlay. For a more emphasized effect, choose Linear Light. The 50% gray disappears, leaving just the embossed region.
If needed, increase the brightness and contrast of the text layer to make the embossed text more visible.
View the Result
When you're satisfied with the image, save the PSD file. Then merge the layers together and resave the result in JPEG or TIFF format, leaving your PSD image unflattened so that you can return at a later time and make different adjustments if you want.
The term embossing seems to have overtones of something chunky or bold, when in fact embossed seals on heavy paper are often subtle. For this simply produced example, the Screen blend mode lets the embossed text play a reduced role. It reminds the viewer of the context of this image, while helping to keep the composition simple and quiet, like the setting itself.