Using flat text in design work is easy and works well for conveying details. However, you can add significant motion and energy to an image by giving your text depth. This Photoshop tutorial will show you how to orient your text to match lines in an image and create a depth-of-field focus effect to help blend the text into the environment.
Place your background image in Photoshop. For this project, it’s best to choose a photo with strong direction and lines that can help to create a sense of depth.
We will be working with re-sizing text so it’s important to work with a large font. In this step, we will create a larger canvas to give ourselves more room to work with the oversized font. Go to Image > Canvas Size.
Make the canvas fairly large (the larger the font, the less pixelation when we get into the later steps). When you’ve typed your sizes, Click “Ok.”
Select a legible font. We will be turning and reshaping this font later and complex fonts can tend to become difficult to read at an angle. Increase the font size to as large as you can without running off the sides of the canvas.
When you’ve typed a phrase you’d like to work with, go to Layer > Rasterize > Type. This will allow us to access more in depth transformation features.
Select your text layer and go to Edit >Transform >Distort
Use the nodes (small squares around the edge of your selected object) to drag your text into a shape that fits your image. In this image, I narrowed the end of the phrase to make it look like it was fading into the distance with the road. Click the check mark at the top of the page to finalize your changes.
When you’re happy with the placement of your text, go to Layer > Flatten Image. You may notice that there are extra layers in the layer panel – I was adding a shadow to the ground near the letters. This isn’t a necessary step but it helps the text look more natural in the setting.
Duplicate your layer by going to Layer > Duplicate. Click “Ok” in the dialogue box that appears.
With your copied layer selected, go to Filter > Blur > Lens Blur
The Lens Blur filter simulates the way a camera lens focuses. Increase the radius control to determine the amount of blur you add to your image. Don’t add too much blur that you can’t read your text. When you’re happy with the results, click “Ok.”
Go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All. This will add a layer mask to your image. A layer mask allows you to select which parts of an image are effected by a filter like Lens Blur.
Select the paintbrush tool and select black as your foreground color. Set your brush for a low opacity, large size, and low hardness (Hold Alt+Right click and drag your mouse left/right/up/down to quickly make changes to your brush size and hardness. The red circle in the image below shows the brush as it’s being resized using this process). When you’ve set up your brush, select the white box next to your blurred layer (this is the layer mask) begin painting over the areas that you want to remove the blur effect. Go slowly and check your progress as you continue to paint over the image. You want to create a subtle fade from the clear areas to the blurred areas. Extreme changes make the effect look less authentic.
Take a look at your progress. As you’ve been painting over the image, you probably noticed the small white box for the layer mask has been indicating where you have been painting.
After you’re happy with your depth-of-field effect, you can finish editing your image to taste.
When it’s done right, the effect can help lead the viewer’s eyes through the image by determining where the key focus areas are. It also creates a charming effect similar to Tilt-Shift Photography.