Creating Type and Text Effects Flash

Whenever you set out to create a Type or Text effect, you’ll want to make sure that the text you’re working with is the final copy. Do this before you apply any effects, because once you’re done, the text will no longer be editable. Thus, if changes need to be made, you’ll have to redo both the text and the effect.

Text with an outline
The text used as a mask in the previous example didn’t stand out as sharply as it might. The effect could be helped a lot by adding a faint outline to the letters. Here’s how to do it:

  1. First, turn off the visibility of the sky, which is the Masked layer, and then unlock the Text Mask layer and copy the contents. Then relock the Text Mask layer.
  2. Add a new, normal layer beneath the Sky layer. If you inadvertently create a Masked layer, use the contextual menu to access the Properties dialog and assign the layer as a normal layer. Rename the layer Outline. Then paste the copied text in perfect alignment with the Text Mask by using Edit➪Paste in Place.
  3. Select the text on the Outline layer and then break it apart using Modify➪ Break Apart. Then, with the text still selected, choose Modify➪Shape➪ Expand Fill. In the ensuing Expand Fill dialog, enter a value of 3 pixels, and check that the Direction is set to Expand. Click OK.
  4. Check to ensure that none of your letters have been obliterated by this process; sometimes, if the expand value is too high, the letterforms become corrupt.
  5. Reactivate the masking, as previously described. If you’ve done it right, your letters should now have a thin outline.The effect of adding a thin outline to the text that has been used as a mask shows below.
  6. Adding a thin outline to text that has been used as a mask helps to sharpen the letters.

    Adding a thin outline to text that has been used as a mask helps to sharpen the letters.

Text with drop shadows
Drop shadows are special effects that can be added to text to make the text stand out. There are many ways to achieve such effects. We discuss two of them here. Type some text. Then, with the text still selected, copy the text with Edit➪Copy.

  1. Paste the copied text onto the Stage. Then, select it and change its color to something appropriate for a drop shadow perhaps dark gray, or something slightly transparent.
  2. Now, position the shadow on the Stage, and then send it to the back of the stacking order (behind the original text) with Modify➪Arrange➪Move Behind or Modify➪Arrange➪Move to Back.
  3. Finally, select the original text and position it over the shadow text. Move the text and the shadow around until the shadow effect is optimal. To join the shadow and the text, select both and use Modify➪Group.
  4. But that shadow is too crisp, and it doesn’t look convincing. So:
  5. For a softer shadow, repeat the preceding steps, and then break apart the shadow text using Modify➪Break Apart.
  6. You may find that it’s easier to manage Text Effects if you move the Text and the Shadow onto separate layers.
  7. Soften the shadow’s edges by selecting Modify➪Shape➪Soften Fill Edges.

Either leave the settings in the Soften Edges dialog at their defaults, or play around with them to obtain an ideal, soft shadow. Another alternative is to reduce the Alpha value to 75 or 80 percent. The result shows below.

Drop shadows make text stand out from the page.

Drop shadows make text stand out from the page.

More text effects
Text effects aren’t limited to plain drop shadows. Any of the effects and modifications can also be applied to text. You can skew, rotate, and scale text just like any other item. Break text apart and the use the Soften Edges and Expand Shape commands to invent your own effects. Or break text apart to apply fills.

Glowing text
You can also give text a glowing look with a method similar to the Drop Shadow effect. First, break apart the shadow text. Then apply a light-colored fill to it. Now, soften the edges just increase the distance in the Soften Edges dialog, and make sure that the Direction is set to Expand. Then, move this modified text squarely behind the original text. Or modify this technique to create an embossed look by using a dark fill for the shadow text.

Gradient fills in text
Adding gradient fills to text can also make it stand out. Here’s how:

  1. Select the text and then break it apart with Modify➪Break Apart (Ctrl+B or Command+B). The text appears as selected shapes on the stage. Be careful to keep these shapes selected.
  2. Choose the Paint Bucket Tool and select a gradient fill from one of the Gradient drop-downs of the Fill Panel.
  3. Apply the gradient fill to the selected shapes of the broken-apart text. The gradient will fill the text as if it were one shape. To add the gradient to each text character individually, deselect the text and apply the fill to each character.
  4. A similar effect can be accomplished by choosing a Bitmap Fill, instead of a Gradient Fill, from the Fill Panel.


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