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What’s the Word?: A Photoshop Tutorial

Good Morning scrappers! Tamara here back with a fun new tutorial on Word Art! Recently, while teaching my Art of Clustering class, I had a student ask me “how do I shadow word art?” which, in my opinion, is a GREAT question… especially when some of the words are typed and some consists of an alpha. I can see how this would be confusing to some, because if you shadow for the alpha, the typed words look wrong..and if you shadow for the typed words (which in my opinion should have NO shadow) then you lose the depth that you need in your title work and wordart! There is a quick and easy solution when it comes to shadowing your wordart that will let you adapt it  to fit your needs and have it appear as a beautiful accent on your page!

Mye is so wonderful when it comes to creating a kit that scrappers not only want, but NEED!! With almost every kit, she adds a little word art..and that is PERFECT for those of us who are title challenged. The great thing about word art is that it can take a LOT of the thought process out of coming up with a title…all the work is done FOR you!! Sometimes, though, the wordart needs a little help..not to say that the designer didn’t do a great job already, but when she (or he) creates a kit, they are creating with a sort of generic shadowing in mind, so that everyone can use the product, and that MAY not be exactly what you need.

In the photo below, I added the wordart, as it was created, to my page. It has no shadow, BUT, this particular wordart consists of a basic element and alpha. This is what I would consider one of the easiest wordarts to work with.

You can add a basic drop shadow to this wordart and it would look ok. You can see in the example below that by adding a shadow behind it, it pops it from the page and gives it some depth.

However, now that I added the shadow to reflect the distance I want it to have from the paper, the middle of my wordart looks flat and boring. Since Mye had no idea how I planned on using the wordart, then she can not shadow it the way I need it to be shadowed. BUT, I don’t really want to have to go in and try to recreate what she already did- especially when it is perfect for my layout and it is already done!!  Instead, I go in search of the matching alpha that she included in the kit and I add it right on top of the middle alpha that is over the flower.

It took me all of three minutes to add the alpha, resize it to fit her title work and add my shadow.   It added the depth that the wordart needs and allows you to see the title work more clearly now. If I had tried to recreate the whole wordart as she had it..I could have spent 30-45 minutes getting it just right.  By adding these few adjustment, you have now customized the title work to your liking in half the time it would have taken you to do it yourself. I almost ALWAYS make an adjustment to my wordart or predecorated papers in this way, making sure to “pop” something off of the page by using a matching element and some clever shadow work!

Some wordart consists of  a variety of fonts and alphas. My rule of thumb, when it comes to journaling and typeface fonts, is NO shadows. When you write on a piece of paper, it does NOT leave a shadow, so I try to mimic that when I shadow my layouts. If you shadow your fonts…please reconsider it. It is a sure fire way of making your page look digital instead of the desired paper like look we all strive for.

In the photo below, you can see what happens when you use a general shadow for the WHOLE wordart.  The shadow size is perfect for the “Spring” word, but it makes the smaller cursive wordart look like it is floating and the flower elements just look way too far off the page to be in the norm.


 But, if you use the appropriate shadow for the small cursive writing and the flowers, then you lose some depth in the word “spring” that can really add emphasis to your title work.

This is when you need to customize the shadows on your page to fit the  wordart you are working with!

When I shadow my alpha, I try to always think about a paper layout. For instance,  if I add my alpha onto a paper layout, I would glue it directly down to the background, so my shadow would just be a small paper or chipboard  shadow.  Sometimes, when I want to get fancy, I add those little glue dots (you know the ones that will raise your alpha) behind my title. On a paper layout, the shadow would would look lighter and fuzzier around the edges indicating the distance away from the background paper, so when I want to replicate the distance in a digital layout, I need to adjust my shadow settings to reflect the distance. You need to decide, BEFORE you shadow your wordart, HOW you want it to look and then go from there. On this particular wordart, I want the cursive writing and the flowers to have a small shadow indicating that it is closer to the background paper and the larger alpha in the word “Spring” to look like I have added some glue dots underneath it to give it some depth and add focus to it. I want it to jump from the page and catch the viewers eye!

To shadow the wordart correctly, first, select it in the layers palette on the right hand side of the page.  Then select your Polygonal Lasso Tool from the Tools Panel. (Keyboard Shortcut: L) You can scroll through all of your lasso tools by holding shift and hitting L.  I use the polygonal lasso tool because I like its straight lines. It makes it easier to cut in tight spaces. You can, however, use whatever lasso tool you feel comfortable with.

Once you have it selected, you will need to zoom into your layout so that it fills your screen.Click on your layout and begin to outline the part of the wordart you want to change. Since I want the majority of my wordart to have the smaller shadow, I choose just the word “spring” to lasso because I want the shadow on it to be larger.

It is OK if you overlap a little because we will not be actually moving the wordart yet..but try to stay as close as possible when outlining it. Right click INSIDE the marching ants and Layer via Cut. You will not notice a change in the wordart, but now your “spring” word is on a new layer and you are free to shadow it how you want.

When you have made all the changes you want to the shadowing, you can then merge the two layers for ease of moving them.

And that is how YOU can make a quick and easy fix to an already made wordart! As long as you remember to add no shadow to fonts in a wordart,  then you are free to to cut and shadow as many things as you want in order to fit YOUR needs.

I hope you find this tutorial useful! I remember being so confused by wordart when I first started out, so I am hoping you can see the benefits of it and can learn to use it in your scrapping arsenal!  Have a great week!


comments +

  1. […] more : HERE clustering, fun-new, opinion, shadow-word, student-ask, […]

  2. Lyvian says:

    TY Mye! Shadow is something I was forgetting to apply in my alphas. Hugs, Lyvian

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I'm Mye De Leon

I'm a mom with a desire to give the best for her family and turned a lettering hobby into a multi6-figure business. These days, I eat strategy for breakfast and turn other businesses into successful empires.

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est 2009

I'm Mye


My business is to help your business generate more revenue so you can be who you want to be.

I'm Mye


My business is to help your business generate more revenue so you can be who you want to be.