Tutorial Tuesday – Ribbon Typography Tutorial

by . May 20th, 2014

Today on Tutorial Tuesday, we teach you an easy way to achieve a ribbon typography like effect with your text! This tutorial used a mix of Illustrator and Photoshop, but can be done with just Photoshop. The look in itself is inspired by some of Jessica Hische’s pieces – namely this and this.

Jessica Hische is sort of a really large source of typography inspiration for me. You can check out Jessica Hische’s portfolio here and follow her on Twitter. She also recently just finished an AMA that makes for an interesting read.

I chose the word ‘Youth’ because I was listening to Youth by Daughter on loop as I was making this.

PART 01: Creating the base. 

Create your piece. I’m not going to get too in-depth about this part, because you’ll most likely be applying this effect to a different set of words, a different kind of hand lettering or a font. The image below was made in Illustrator using a calligraphic brush and drawn on with a Wacom Tablet. Some of the points of my handwriting were modified and edited for readability and a consistent x-height although-out. After that it was expanded, and some of the points were modified – until I had a good base for the type. This step alone took me about two hours. Mostly because I tried getting the points as stylistic as possible without sacrificing legibility and keeping to some typography rules. I tend to get very obsessive when it comes to type, so there’s that.



PART 02: Defining the shadows. 

Set the colors. I loaded the piece up in Photoshop. I took the time to sort of work out a color scheme for the piece. I decided to use a pale yellow in the background and then I used the paint bucket tool (G) to fill in the piece with a muted blueish green. I then started to work on the text itself.

I first locked the pixels of the layer with the type. Above it, I created a New Layer above that, right clicked and selected ‘Create Clipping Mask’.

Before you start, think about the way you want your ribbon to overlap against each piece and think about how the light is going to play against the text. To create the ‘shadows’ – I alternated between using the polygon lasso tool and the lasso tool to cut out “sections” of the ribbon. UsI set my foreground color to a darker shade of color than the text. I then used the Gradient tool and then used the Foreground to Transparent setting on the Gradient panel. gradientpanel


Now apply the gradient to one end of the selection, and then apply it to the other end.  You want to create the illusion of lighting. If there are some parts that are too dark, you can delete and modify portions using the same technique. Be very mindful of the overlaps and the general flow of the ribbon. Locking the layers of the bottom layer in place ensures nothing spills over, so don’t worry about being too precise with your selections.





PART 03: Defining lighting

In order to accentuate shadows, you have to have light. Create a new layer above the one, and make sure it’s clipped to the shadows layer.  Using the same technique as above, but instead changing the style of gradient to ‘Radial’ and the foreground color to a high contrasting blue – I again, cut up sections of the type that would be highlighted. Here’s the near end result.

This is what my layer’s panel looked like:



PART 04: Polish. 

This part is definitely optional! I experimented with the layer blending modes, and the curves a little. I also added a background and some shadows. After a few more tweaks this was my end result:


final piece

If you want more effects like this, you can also check out our last tutorial where we taught you how to apply a Vintage Coloring effect to your photos! Please feel free to show us your work! Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.You can also hit us up on our FacebookTwitter and Google+ profiles. Lastly, our RSS Feeds is open for subscription so that you can stay creative!