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Stamped Effect in Photoshop

By Nick Ustinov
Open a new RGB image. Type your text in black on a new layer. If using Photoshop 4.0, hit Ctrl-E (Cmd-E on Mac) to merge down the layer. In the channels palette, drag one of the channels to the "new channel" icon. This will create channel 4, which looks identical to the other channels. That's okay.
Duplicate channel 4. Now you have channel 5. Run a gaussian blur over it. The amount of blur is dependant on the size of your image. For this 200x200 image, I used a blur of 2 pixels.
Use the stylize/glowing edges filter on the channel. Make it look similar to the edges in the image below.
Switch to channel RGB. Create a new layer and fill it with 50% gray (edit/fill). You'll be using the "lighting effects" filter to create the stamped look. If you haven't worked much with lighting effects, don't get frustrated and give up. Once you learn how to use it, you'll find it is one of the most useful filters for all kinds of text effects.

For this effect, I used two spotlights, yellow and a blue. Create a blue spotlight shining down from the upper left. When you get it looking about right, hold the alt/opt key and click on the blue dot in the middle of the light. This will duplicate the light. Make your new light yellow and move it a few pixels away from the blue one. Slightly change the angle of the yellow light until the image is bathed in a medium white light with blue and yellow around the edges. For the light type and properties, I used the following settings:

Intensity: 100
Focus: 50
Gloss: 100 (shiny)
Material: -100 (plastic)
Exposure: 0
Ambience: -50
Texture Channel: #5
White is high

The next step is to tweak the background. Pay close attention here.
To more or less isolate the text from the background, go back to the channels palette and select # 5. Use select/new selection /channel 4 and invert the selection (ctrl /cmd+shift+i). Fill the selection with white then deselect (ctrl /cmd+d), and invert the channel (ctrl/cmd+i).
Now, go back to the layer you were working on (should be layer 3) and load channel 5 as a new selection. You'll probably have to contract it by a few pixels to get it just right (select /modify /contract). The sky is the limit for the background texture. I used filter /texture /grain with an intensity of 20, a contrast of 10, and a horizontal grain type to get the finished product below.

This article first appeared in November 1998.

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