Photoshop Tutorials
The Design Center, Photoshop Department: Type In Your Face   / face.html

TYPE... in your face

with Al Ward

continued from previous page

Now that the type is in place, we need to somehow make the subject appear to be made of type.

Certainly we could use select and delete, but I am increasingly leery of destroying layer information. A mask will allow us to keep the model's face intact. Create a layer mask for the model layer just above the background.

Rather than starting with white/reveal in the mask, select the mask and fill it with Black to hide the layer.
(Now open diagram 17 to see Fill settings)

Now Command/Control+Click on the type layer to generate a selection of the type. Render the type layer invisible, and return to the Layer Mask.
(With the type active; select the black layer mask and use "fill contents white" to knock the type out of the photo via the layer mask... below.)

white type
As shown above, by filling the selection with white in the layer mask, you reveal only the portions of the layer that are in the shape of our text. (Which was still selected)

Create a new layer beneath the masked layer. Deselect the type, (Cmd/Ctrl D) and fill the new layer with Black.

The resulting effect should be looking something like this.

As you can see, by taking away so much of the image, the face is barely discernable and the color appears, well, nearly non-existent. No worries -- we can fix that in a couple steps.
Before we work on enhancing the color, I want to make a quick adjustment and make the eye visible. For what reason? I just think it would look cool.

Now the eye...

the eyeTo make the eye reappear, set white in the foreground color and then paint over the eye in the mask.
      Select the mask and "reveal" the eye again by painting with white over that area in the mask. You may want to adjust the hardness and size of the brush, being careful not to extend too far beyond the eye.

Notice in this diagram image how I've painted white directly into the mask to reveal portions of the eye as seen at right. Once you're done, it should look like this.

Adjusting Color

With the eye revealed, I'm content to begin correcting the color and contrast of the digital face. To do this, I'll primarily use duplicates of the layer itself, and Blending Modes. First, duplicate the face layer. Set the Blending Mode of this new layer to Overlay, 100 % opacity.

Duplicate the layer again to brighten it up further, only set the Blending Mode to Screen and the Opacity to 60% or so (set this to taste -- it will vary from photo to photo).

The image can be additionally enhanced with the inclusion of a Levels adjustment layer, keeping an eye on the image while moving the sliders. I'll leave the result up to you -- this adjustment is in no way written in stone. In my example, the color and contrast has been increased considerably.

Fine tuning the image

selectionIt occurs to me that, in this image at least, it may look better without the neck, hair, etc revealed. With the Polygonal Lasso, I'll select those areas and fill the masks for the face layers with Black. Filling the actual layer with black will work also -- just be careful the selection is not too jagged.

Now, click here to see my final image. (Large file, wait for it to load.)

As a parting shot, here's what my Layers Palette looks like at the final step

Learning Photoshop

Once you get past the learning curve and understand the tools at your disposal (and how to apply them), design of this nature becomes about 10% technique, and 90% imagination. Imagination and Photoshop are the spokes that keep my wheels turning, and I hope this tutorial helps spark the creativity in you as well.

If you enjoyed this effect, I encourage you to check out my website ( as well as the books listed below.

Take care, and I'll see you at

Dig deeper into Photoshop image editing with Al Ward's Photoshop for Right-Brainers: The Art of Photo Manipulation. Al has been on the Photoshop scene for some time with other books like the Photoshop Productivity Toolkit; and Photoshop Most Wanted (two editions) with other leading authors like Colin Smith and Scott Kelby.


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