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Add Hanging Letters on an Image using Photoshop

photoshop_text_00Inspired by the cover image of Rich Harringtons recent post An In-Depth Look at Selling, Budgeting, and Planning Video Projects in this tutorial Ill be looking at how to take text and manipulate it so that it looks like its hanging from ropes. Ill be exploring how to change the text to shapes, moving and rotating them and adding Layer Effects.


The Background

For this example Ive headed over to my friends at Fotolia to get an image of the lens of a camera. This doesn’t want to be the focal point of this so I made it into a Smart Object and gave it a touch of Gaussian Blur.

The Letters

For the next stage I need the letters to be shapes. Ive already done a post on how to do this here; Text To Shape in Photoshop

In this example Im just going to rearrange them using the Direct Selection tool and Ctrl+t (PC / Cmd+t (Mac) to turn them slightly.

Ill do this to each letter to give them a feel of randomness

The Shape and Colour

Despite me selecting and moving the individual letters Photoshop still sees them all as one shape. In the Layers panel we can see theyre on one layer and opening the Paths panel will reveal just one path. As a whole I can re position my word and I can colour it through the shape options;

In this case Ive selected one of the Shape Tools (1) then chosen to change its colour (2) to a gradient (3), then Ive chosen a pre made gradient from the list (4)

Adding Definition

To add a little depth to my letters Ill add a little Bevel and Emboss. To do this I make the Shape layer active then double click next to its name;

Choosing Bevel and Emboss Ill change the settings as follows;

Then click OK

The Hole and its Bevel

Making the hole in the text is a lot easier than it might first appear. To do this Ill add a reveal all mask to the text layer;

Then, with a small, 100% hardness round brush Ill click down where I want the hole.

The bevel is added around the mask. This is governed by one small check box that you can find back in the Layer Effects;

In the Blending Options theres a checkbox, by default its off. If this were on now we would get a plain, unlevelled hole, so Ill leave it unchecked.


While were in the Layer Styles, lets add a drop shadow.

Id like the letters to look like theyre quite near the background. This would mean that the shadow is quite well defined and clear, so Ive kept the Spread at 0. This will all be down to your own taste of course.

The Ropes

The trick here is to add one rope and then duplicate it across. Ive gone back over to Fotolia and got myself a rope and extracted it from its background using a mask.

Then Ive dragged it over to the working image and done something counter intuitive, Ive dragged the mask to the trash can. I get a dialogue box asking what Id like to do, Im happy with the mask so Ill Apply it. This leaves just the rope on the layer.

Ill receive the rope using Ctl+T (PC) or Cmd+T (Mac) so that it fits in the holes.

Press Enter to accept the change.

Next add a mask to this layer, this is why I got rid of the last one, and using a black brush again round off the ends to make them look like they go through the hole.

Add a Shadow to the Rope

Just as I did before Ill add a shadow to the rope, this time it will be at a different angle, so I need to make sure that the Use Global Light in unchecked.

The reason for the change in angle here is so that the shadow doesn’t fall on the lettering too much and suggest that the rope is in front of the lettering. Using the check box Layer Mask Hides Layer Effects we could mask them out, but Ill make it as easy on myself as possible.

Duplicate the ropes

All that remains is for me to duplicate the rope and move it to the next letter. To duplicate press Ctrl+J (PC) or Cmd+J (Mac) and with the Move tool move them into place.

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