Sometimes, when it comes to getting a picture to convey a particular emotion, or augmenting the theme of the background you juxtapose it against, nothing works quite as well as a few choice words. These could either be in the form of a quirky caption, or an insightful banner, or just about anything that adds to the significance of the picture in terms of the context you want to present it in. However, many photographers and editors have shied away from ‘tagging’ their images for years, for fear of their pieces of art turning into tacky caricatures, by merely adding a not-so-impressive effect that detracts from their image's artistic value. In recent times, the revolution called Photoshop has literally swept these cynics of their feet, offering an array of features that would have otherwise been considered impossible to attain with more conventional digital photo-editing softwares.
Photoshop not only allows you to caption your image, but also blend the text in, so that instead of standing out as a jarring addition to your photograph, it merges in as an integral part of the frame. To do this, Photoshop uses a technique called Anti-Aliasing, which smooths the edges of the text you type, by partially filling in the pixels along the edges. What's more, you can even choose the extent to which your text is smoothened from ‘strong’ to make your text appear heavier, to ‘sharp’ which makes the letters more prominent, but not crude.
Experts who have worked with Photoshop ever since its inception recommend that for very small text, which is under the size of 10 to 12 points, you use the setting called ‘None', which does not apply the feature at all. This is because at very small sizes or at low resolutions, the anti-aliasing feature modifies text inconsistently, bringing about less than desirable results. To choose an option that isn't as sharp as the ‘sharp’ option creates, but is also more distinct as compared to the ‘smooth’ alternative, try the aptly labeled ‘Crisp’ option. To select, or de-select, anti-aliasing, you first need to go into the ‘Type’ layer in the Layer Palette and then click on the relevant option from the Anti-aliasing Menu. You can find this menu in the options bar, or in the character palette.
A swift way to reach for the Type tool is with the letter ‘T’. This brings the Type Tool options to the Options bar, from where you can use the ones you want to work with. The first two buttons let you choose between creating a Type Mask, or a Type Layer, which you can, depending on what you're more comfortable with. If you have a large amount of text you want to fit into your image, the best way to go about it is to create a Type Layer, click and drag a rectangle or square to size your text and fit it in the section of the image where you want the text to be featured. If you plan to type directly onto the document, you can save on a lot of time and effort by referring to the I-beam that appears on the image. The small horizontal line that cuts across the beam indicates the baseline, which you can use to align your text with the image, even as you're working on it!
If you aren't very certain about the font you want to use for your image, you can simply type it up and then highlight the text to switch between fonts and styles. To format individual segments of the text, you can drag them to the preview section and adjust the style and font until you arrive at an alternative that suits your image perfectly. Photoshop also allows you to vary the color of your text on a per character basis and even apply multiple colors to your text with the use of a single layer. You can either choose from the vast array of colors that the Color-Picker has to offer, or even pick one off the image itself! To do the latter, you can leave the color-picker window open and then move your cursor to the part of the image which has the color you are looking for.
Once you are satisfied with the text you have added, you can exit the typing mode by hitting the ‘Enter’ key on your ‘Numeric Keypad', click on any other tool in the toolbox or simply click on the check mark in the Options bar. For last minute touch-ups, look for the ‘T’ in the thumbnail area of the Layer's Palette and double click it, which will bring the text back into the editing mode. You can also move your text around, after you have added it, or even scale it to size. Only remember to hold down the ‘Shift’ key when you are doing so, to retain the text proportions. If you choose to make your text taller or wider, you can still use the ‘Free Transform’ mode and not use the ‘Shift’ key.
Photoshop has endless avenues for both amateur enthusiasts and professionals to explore. Although the learning curve can be steep and hard to grapple with, take your time with the software and be as creative as you can when using it. With a little practice and loads of determination, turning everyday plain-Jane images to digital masterpieces will be a forte you have firmly etched out for yourself!
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