Textured Text

How to run a filter on a type layer

I've been up to my ears in Photoshop text for the past few days. I'm writing a book on Photoshop, you see, (Photoshop: The Missing Manual) and the chapter I turned in at 4:03 am this morning was "Photoshop and Text." I can already see a pattern emerging: My weekly tutorials will now be themed according to that week's chapter. Now that I think about it, what a great weekly teaser that would be! One technique per chapter, or so.

With that in mind, this week's teaser is texturizing text with a filter. Grungy, distressed type is super popular and the fastest way to create it is by using a filter. However, running a filter requires that the type layer be rasterized, or rather, converted to dots. This effectively renders the type uneditable, unscalable, and completely unchangeable. Therefore I submit to you, dear grasshoppers, a work around. Read on!

Step 1: Press T to grab the Type tool and set some text. Be sure to pick a nice thick font in order to have maximum surface area on which to run the filter. Use the Free Transform tool to rotate the text if you'd like. Summon it by pressing Command + T (PC: Ctrl + T). Press Return when finished.

Step 2: Create a selection of the text itself by Command (PC: Ctrl) clicking the type layer. Marching ants will dutifully surround the text, like so:

Step 3: Add a layer mask to the type layer by clicking the tiny circle within a square button at the bottom of the Layers palette.

Notice how the text selection pops into the mask:

Step 4: Trot up to the Filter menu and choose Distort > Ocean Ripple. Enter 8 for Ripple Size and around 4 for Ripple Magnitude, as shown below. TIP: You can choose any other type of filter from this handy (and rather large) dialog box. Press OK when finished.

Filters that work the best include the Artistic and Distort sets, along with Sketch > Torn Edges. Here, the Ocean Ripple filter was applied three times by pressing Command + F (PC: Ctrl + F). Text looks pretty kewl, doesn't it?

See you back here next week for more graphic fun. So say we all!