Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

SMD Grassy Textured Text Tutorial

By special request…

The following tutorial will be written for the basic to intermediate understanding of Photoshop. If any steps are not clear or need to be elaborated, please feel free to ask. For the sake of brevity, let’s begin.

Step 1

Begin in Adobe Illustrator. Create your vector.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 01

Step 2

With the vector selected, go to Effect — 3D — Extrude and Bevel.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 02

Step 3

Adjust the settings in the dialog box to your liking. You have many options to manipulate. The x,y,z coordinates, Perspective depth, Extrude depth, Bevel settings, Capping, and Shading settings. The settings I used and the results are shown below.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 03SMD Textured Text Tutorial 04

Step 4

Next, after the Extrude and Bevel has been applied, Expand the Appearance.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 05

Once the Object has been expanded, you should see something similar to what is shown below.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 06

Step 5

Deselect the Object. Choose the Direct Selection Tool from the toolbar. (The white arrow as opposed to the solid black arrow). With the Direct Selection Tool, select the face of the vector object and change the color. This will aid in the selection process later on in this tutorial.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 07

Step 6

Now it’s time to begin moving this object into Photoshop. Open Photoshop. Create a New Document. Select the face of your vector in Illustrator. Copy. (CMD-C) Paste the copied vector into the Photoshop Document.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 08

Continue this process for the remaining back and side elements, individually copying from Illustrator and Pasting into the Photoshop Document.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 09

Step 7

Once you have completed pasting and aligning your elements into the Photoshop document, it’s time to create some order in the Layer’s Palette. I have ordered each letter into its own subfolder, the face being above the background.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 10

Step 8

It’s time to bring in some texture. Open your texture file and copy and paste the texture into your Photoshop document. (click on the image to visit the source)

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 11SMD Textured Text Tutorial 12

Step 9

Now that you have chosen the texture you will be applying, it’s time to put it aside for one moment and create our selections. (We moved the texture into the document now instead of later so you can see up close how your texture will relate to your vector.)

Let’s begin with the face. Either by using the magic wand tool, or by command clicking on the appropriate layer’s thumbnail, create a selection that encompasses the face of your “vector.”

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 13

Now using the Lasso Selection Tool, we want to “roughen” the selection a bit. While holding the SHIFT key, begin to add to the edge of your selection, mimicking your chosen texture.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 14

Now, Save the selection by going to Select — Save Selection.

Picture 8

Name the saved selection appropriately. I named this selection S-Face.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 15

Repeat this step for the remaining faces.

Step 10

Next, we need to create and save selections for the back of the “vectors.” Load the face selection for the appropriate back we will be working on. Next, COMMAND–SHIFT–Click the thumbnail in the layers palette for the chosen back.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 16

Add to this selection, again, mimicking the chosen texture. Save and Name this selection and then repeat for the remaining “vectors.”

Step 11

Now it’s back to the texture we moved in. Duplicate the layer, CMD-J. Move the duplicate layer to the appropriate subfolder for the “vector” you will be working with. Resize the texture accordingly to meet your desired effect.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 16

Copy and paste this texture, tiling the texture to cover the entire “vector.”

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 17

With every texture layer highlighted in the layer’s palette…

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 18

… Merge these layers.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 19

With all the textures now resting in one layer…

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 20

… it’s time to make the texture seamless, losing it’s tiled and repetitive appearance. Using the Clone-Stamp Tool…

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 21

…with a soft brush, clone away the gaps, seams, and noticeable repeating patterns.

Step 12

Now that the texture is ready for use, it’s time to load a selection.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 22

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 23

Now, with the selection loaded, and the texture layer highlighted in the layer’s palette, press CMD-J to duplicate the layer. (With the selection active, pressing cmd-j should duplicate the texture layer only where the selection is active giving the results shown below)

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 24

Repeat this step for the back using the saved back selection.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 25

Repeat this step for the remaining “vectors.”

Step 13

Now it’s time to work on the beginning stages of shading. If the pasted back “vector” is a smart object, it’s time to rasterize the layer. With the layer highlighted, press CMD-U. This will bring up a Hue/Saturation dialog box. Bring the saturation all the way to the left completely desaturating the layer.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 25

Step 14

With the “shade” back layer still highlighted, load the back selection. Using the clone tool, bring the shade all the way to the edge of the selection. (Remember, the selection is mimicking the texture while the shade layers edge is still crisp and clean. We want to have the shade layers edge match the texture’s layer edge.)

With the edges matching, and the selection still active, we will want to use the blur tool to help remove any banding (the hard color breaks between shades) that Illustrator may have created.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 27

Once that’s done, set the shade layer to Multiply. You may want to adjust the layer’s Opacity setting depending on your desired darkness.SMD Textured Text Tutorial 28

Repeat step 14 for the remaining “vectors/shapes.”

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 29

If you are not satisfied with the Multiply setting for the shade layers, you may want to experiment with different transparency modes. I found for my needs, that Linear Light worked better for the outside letter, while Multiply was satisfactory for the other two.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 30

Don’t forget to name your layers appropriately to it’s contents. This will help keep all future edits a little simpler. (We no long need the original face layers for each individual shape. Feel free to disregard these layers.)

Step 16

For a little fine-tunning, break out the burn, dodge, and sponge tool. This takes experimentation to get just right, but by using these three tools, you can really add to the depth of your design.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 31

You can use these tools on the texture and the shade layers, giving you different results. You can also determine the exposure (strength) level of the tool, along with the brush size. You can even dictate whether the tool affects the shadows, midtones or highlights. These tools are only limited to your experimentation, and experimentation is extremely encouraged to find suitable results.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 33

Step 17

Grass Time! Open the Grass Texture. Place, Import, Copy and Paste, just get that grass texture into the document. Resize the grass to match your needs. Make sure the grass texture is large enough and covers the entire face of your shape, “individually.” DO NOT tile and repeat the grass texture like you did with the dirt texture. Click here for the grass file source.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 35

Step 18

With the grass texture covering your first shapes face, load the saved selection for the face that was used for the dirt texture.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 36

Now, using the Lasso Selection Tool, add to the selection, mimicking the grassy texture. It doesnt need to be perfect, but try following the blades of grass as closely as possible without being obsessive about it, unless you just feel the need to burn an exuberant amount of time.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 37

No need to save this selection, unless you just want to. With the selection active, and the grass texture layer highlighted, Duplicate the layer, CMD-J. Again, this should only duplicate the grassy texture layer where the selection was active.

Okay, now comes the tiresome part. Go back to the grassy texture layer, the one before the selection duplication was applied. Flip or rotate this layer, careful that you are still completely covering the shapes face. Now, repeat the entire face selection creation and duplication process. In total, there will be two grassy textured layers for each shapes face. They need to have different selections from each other, this way the blades of grass on the edges of each layer are different from one  another.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 38

Repeat this ENTIRE STEP for the remaining shapes faces.

Step 19

Inside each subfolder, your layers should be ordered with two grass layers, a dirt face layer, a shade layer, then a bottom/back dirt layer.

For the top grass layer, we want to add a bevel/emboss layer effect. Experimenting with the settings are essential, my settings used are shown below.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 39

For the second grass layer, we want to apply a different bevel/emboss layer effect along with a color overlay layer effect. Again experimentation, but my settings used are shown below accordingly.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 40SMD Textured Text Tutorial 41

Here is a view of how my layers are ordered and where the layer effects are applied.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 42

(As you can see, I went back duplicated and modified the shading layer. Again experiment to find the best results. I also went back and worked with the burn and dodge tools a a bit more. After applying the grass texture I saw more areas that needed a little help.)

Step 20

Here are the results thus far.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 43

I tried to keep this tutorial short and sweet, but as you can see, there is much more that can be done. However, that exceeds the scope and purpose of this tutorial. Adding a ground shadow and some dust are near essential. Adding elements like falling dirt or blowing grass can help add movement and excitement to the image. Background colors and additional elements can help aid in the mood of your image. Afterwards, using color correction layers and sharpening techniques such as the highpass filter can add to the image as well.


I hope you’ve enjoyed the tutorial, if you have any questions, or would like to add any tips of your own, please feel free to message me or add a comment!

To view the final image at a larger size, click here.


SadMonkey’s Fake Embroidery Tutorial

Here’s a nice little tutorial to produce a “Fake” Embroidery Design in Adobe Illustrator. The tutorial requires at least an intermediate understanding of Adobe Illustrator.


First things first, you need a vector. Whether it’s a circle, a number, or your name, you need a vector to start off. The fewer nodes (anchor points) the better. Live traced and expanded images that have not been cleaned up will produce undesirable effects.

The document used in this tutorial is an 11″ x 8.5″ (The settings used in the tutorial regarding stroke widths and brushes may need to be modified for your documents settings and your personal desired effect.)



Once you have your vector ready to go, it’s time to get started. (Make sure there are no strokes at all on your vector object. For the start, FILLS ONLY) First thing we need to do, is open the Layer’s Palette. Organizing the vectors in the layers palette will make the following steps MUCH easier. Label your one and only layer so far. I’ve labeled mine “Front Blue Solid” (since this layer will be the front foremost blue solid shape, I kept the naming convention simple) Create a new layer above the solid layer. This layer will be the “stitch” or the stroke in relation to the blue solid. I labeled this layer “Front Blue Stitch.” Copy CMD-C your vector from the solid layer. Paste in front, CMD-F. With the vector still selected, move this vector to the stitch layer.


As of this moment your original vector should be on the “solid” layer and a copy on the “stitch” layer. With the vector on the stitch layer still selected, we want to add a stroke with no fill. (If it currently has a fill with no stroke, hit SHIFT-X to toggle the fills) We want the stroke color to be a little brighter and a little lighter than the fill color on the solid vector. For now, the default stroke settings will be fine.



Next, we need to make a new brush, our “stitch” brush. To help gauge on the approximate size you need the brush to be, zoom into your graphic. With the Elliptical Shape Tool, make a very narrow oval.


Open the brush palette accessible from the Window Menu. With the newly created oval still selected, click on the little icon on the top right of the brush palette and select New Brush.


A new window should appear. Select New Pattern Brush.


The size is completely up to you, I started off with Scale 100% and Spacing 10%. Underneath Colorization, chose the method of “Hue Shift.” This allows us the ability of changing the color of our brush. When finished, click OK. Now you should see the new brush appear at the bottom of your brush menu in the Brush Palette.



Now, we want to apply the new brush to the outline/no fill vector. To do so, with the vector selected, simply click on the new brush in the brush palette.


Now, you, like myself, may not be to happy with the size of the brush. To change this, adjust the Weight of the stroke using the Stroke Palette. I changed mine from 1pt to .75pt. Now it’s better, but still not great. We can modify the brush settings by double clicking on the brush preview inside the Brush Palette. This should bring up the Pattern Brush Options dialog box again. Modify the Scale to 80% and the Spacing to 20%.


Once we’re finished, click OK. A new window should appear asking if you want to “Apply to Strokes”, “Leave Strokes” or “Cancel.” Click “Apply to Strokes.”



Alright, the size appears to be good, but now it’s time for a little clean up. You’ll notice that at all the “hard” corners/points, the brush isn’t there.


Now, this looks bad all zoomed up close, but once you back out to normal view, it may not only be “not bad,” but it may be just right, depending on what results you are wanting. I, personally, am not happy to leave it as is, so I cleaned it up a bit. (This is why it’s good to start off with a “clean” vector. Imagine this happening on a hundred different nodes!) Now why you may try something fancy and come up with a corner for your brush, there is a simpler way, although it may be a bit more time consuming if you have a lot of nodes to clean up.

To make the brush go all the way around, you need to “remove” the hard corner. Using the Pen Tool on your tool bar, you will see a little black arrow on the bottom right corner, click the arrow and hold. A pop-out with three more pen options will appear. These three pens add points/nodes, take away points and allows angle/bezier manipulation. All we need to do is, simply smooth out the hard corner. If the closest points to the one we need to manipulate are a fair distance away, you may need to add a point on each side of the point we will be manipulating. This will prevent the stroke from dramatically changing paths.


As you see, the gaps in the brush coverage are now gone. In this screen shot I am in the middle of smoothing out that final point using the bezier (angle adjustment) tool.


Now we need to repeat these steps for our next layers. First, create two new layers in your layers palette. They should both be underneath the two “blue” layers. Label the upper one “White Stitch.” Label the next layer “White Solid.”


Now select the vector inside the “Front Blue Stitch” layer. Copy and Paste In Front. Move this copy to the “White Solid” Layer. We are using the vector in the Front Blue Stitch layer for this instead of the solid because of the bezier corrections we applied in the previous step. While this will not save us from all future corrections it will save us a few redundant corrections later on.


With the new copy selected in the “White Solid” layer we want to change the stroke/nofill to fill/nostroke. Make the fill color white. Now we want to “enlarge” this shape. Select a bright red color and apply it to the stroke. (If the stroke came back with the stitch pattern, you will want to return to the default stroke settings or use a round brush. We DO NOT want the stitch pattern for this step.) Increase the stroke width by several points. In the stroke palette, chose to have rounded edges and rounded corners. This will remove any unfavorable miter effects.



Once you have the stroke width on the white solid layer to your liking, we are going to want to turn this into a solid shape. Go to your Menu bar and select Object – Flatten Transparency. Make sure “Convert All Strokes to Outlines” is checked. Move the” Raster/Vector Balance” slider all the way over to the right,100. Click OK.


Your selection should appear similar to what is below.


Using the Pathfinder palette we want to “Unite” the entire object. We can easily do this by clicking on the Unite Button (the top left box in the pathfinder palette) while holding down the ALT key. This should give you one complete solid shape.



Before doing anything else, make sure our new solid inside the “White Solid” layer is in fact, a white fill with no stroke. Copy this object. Paste In Front. Move this new copy to the “White Stitch” layer. Remove the fill, adding a light grey stroke.



Apply the Stitch Brush to this vector using the same settings that were used on the final “Blue Stitch” layer.


Again, you’ll notice the gaps at the hard corners. It’s time to get out the trusty pen tool, and start cleaning them up.



Back to the layers palette. Create two new layers below the “white” layers. The first is “Red Solid.” The next is “Red Stitch.” Copy the White Solid Layer. Paste in front. Move this copy to the Red Solid layer. Change the fill to a dark red. Move this object down and to the right.



Copy the Red Solid Layer. Paste In Front. Move this copy to the Red Stitch Layer. Remove the fill. Add a stroke with a little brighter and lighter color red than the solid layer. Apply the Stitch Brush. Clean up gaps if necessary.



Back to the Layers Palette. Under the red layers, create two new (and final) layers. Name the first “Bottom Blue Solid” and the next “Bottom Blue Stitch. Then, select all, CMDA.


Next Copy then Paste In Front. Move all new copies to the “Bottom Blue Solid” layer. Once you have moved all new copies to the blue layer, remove all the strokes. Now, Unite using the Pathfinder palette.



Now we need to make this layer expand. Repeating Steps 7-9, add a stroke, adjust the weight to your liking, flatten transparency, unite, and you have your bottom blue solid layer.



Copy the Bottom Blue Solid layer. Paste in front. Move copy to Bottom Blue Stitch Layer. Remove fill, add stroke color and weight identical to the top blue layers. Apply the Stitch Brush, using the same settings as well.


Fix the gaps.



It’s looking pretty good so far isn’t it? Well, we’re not done yet. Now we need to expand the appearance of each Stitch Layer. We will do this one by one. For starters, lock every layer in your layers palette leaving the only editable layer the Bottom Blue Stitch Layer.


With the stitch selected, from the menu bar, go to Object – Expand Appearance.


Continue doing this for each Stitch layer.


Now that every stitch layer is “Expanded” …


…we want to start “randomly” deleting ovals. Again, make sure every layer is locked except for the working layer. Using the Direct Selection tool (the white arrow) from the toolbar, begin selecting ovals and deleting them.


Continue doing this for each stitch layer.



SadMonkey-Stitch-36By deleting random ovals, it gives the appearance of a “real” embroidered stitch.


And that’s it. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial. I tried to keep it as rudimentary as possible without overkill. If you get lost, or have a tip on how to make it better, please feel free to add your advice to the comments section. Remember, depending upon your final dimensions, your settings may need to change, too thin of a stroke or stitch pattern and the effect could be lost.

For a larger view of the final design please visit SadMonkey’s Flickr Page.

SadMonkey’s 3D Toy Text Tutorial

This tutorial will show you how to create a 3D text design WITHOUT having to use a 3D program such as Cinema 4D or Blender. All you need is Adobe Illustrator CS2 (or higher) and Adobe PhotoShop CS2 (or higher). You will need a basic to intermediate understanding of each program for this tutorial, but I will try my best to be as thorough as possible.


First, we begin in Illustrator. We will be using Illustrator to create the basic structure of our design using the 3D Extrude and Bevel Feature. Create a new document and set it at 24″wide x 18″tall. Create your type keeping in mind your basic layout and depth order. (What will be in front, middle and back of the design) Final color is not necessary at this step, however you will want to use a lighter color for your elements, stay away from the darks. You will also want to make each basic element a separate color for selection ease later on in this tutorial.

SadMonkey Design 3D Text Tutorial Step 01


Now we will want to implement the 3D Extrude and Bevel Feature. This can be found under Effect-3D-Extrude and Bevel.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 02

There are many different ways that you can be manipulate your designs with this dialog box. We can rotate the image along the x,y, an z axis. We can set a perspective level, extrude depth, bevel options, and shading options. You will want to play around with this dialog box until you achieve the results you are looking for. Using the perspective and extrude depth in tandem can give you quite an extreme sense of depth, which is what I am going for in this tutorial. I have chosen not to use the bevel function. This will make later steps much less complicated. I have increased the blend steps to a higher level for a smoother blend around the shading.SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 03

Continue using the 3D function on each element until you are satisfied with your overall layout. We’ll be making it “pretty” in a few more steps, so don’t worry about that too much right now.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 04

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 05


Now that we have a basic layout that we are satisfied with, it’s time to move this thing into Photoshop where we can start to have some fun. Open Photoshop, and create a new document matching the size you set in Illustrator. I prefer to copy and paste each element from Illustrator into my newly created document in Photoshop. Using CS2 and higher will allow you the option of retaining Illustrator editing capabilities by keeping each pasted item as a smart object. This will also allow flexibility in moving and resizing each element to perfection without any loss of quality or clarity.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 06

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 07

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 08

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 09


The absolute very next step… We need to set up some basic organization in our layer’s palette. For this design, I initially have created 3 folders. Label each folder as to it’s contents. For the DESIGN letters, I have labeled the first folder DESIGN. The second folder MONKEY, and the final folder SAD. You will want to order your folders and elements according to your layout needs. The most front elements at the top of the palette. The most behind elements, at the bottom. Notice each layer is labeled as well. Everytime you create a new layer, make sure to label it immediately. If you find yourself with layer 23 and layer 57, you’re gonna develop quite a headache trying to sort through it all.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 10


Now lets put our attention onto the very most behind layer, the SAD layer. Grab your magic wand tool, “W”, and select the face/frontside of the text. (You should now have marching ants along the perimeter of your text’s face) Without losing this selection, create a new layer, CMD-SHIFT-“N”. Name this layer “SAD Face” or “SAD Front” or some derivative thereof to give you an idea that this is the front side of the SAD element.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 11

With the ants still marching and the empty, newly created layer selected, we are going to fill the selection. To fill, hit SHIFT-DELETE.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 12


Next we will want to work on the sides and back of the text. Create a new layer under SAD Front but above the SAD Smart Object Layer. Name this new layer SAD Back. This will hold the color for the back of the text. CMD Click on the SAD Smart Object Layer Thumbnail in the layers palette. This should give you marching ants around the entire outside perimeter of the SAD element. We want to fill this selection on the SAD Back Layer. Use the same color you used for the front. I know, It now appears to be some funky shaped solid block of color, but it’s about to make sense using the next step.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 13

(Note: This image is after the selection has been made, but before the back fill has been applied)


Now for the shading. Duplicate the SAD Smart Object Layer. Rename the Layer to SAD Shade. Rasterize the layer. Under menu, Layer-Rasterize-Layer. Make sure this shade layer is below the SAD Front layer and above the SAD Back Layer.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 13

With the layer highlighted in the layer’s palette, click CMD-“U” to bring up the Hue/Saturation Dialog box. We are going to want to completely desaturate this layer.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 15

After this layer has been desaturated, set the layer’s transparency mode to multiply with an opacity level around 60%.


Now it’s time to start working on a little bit of shine. Still working in the SAD folder, highlight the SAD Front layer. Double click the thumbnail to bring up the layer effects palette.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 15

We will begin by working with the stroke. Click stroke bringing up that dialog box. We want the position of the stroke to be on the inside, and the fill type to be gradient.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 16

We want to give the stroke a shiny metallic feel. This can best be achieved by placing a hard stagger of lights and darks near both ends and a few softer steps in the middle, like so.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 17

And while we have the layers effect dialog box open, we’re going to add a Gradient Overlay. Set the Gradient Overlay to Screen Blend Mode and lower the opacity to around 35% at a 90 degree angle.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 18

(Note: You will see that Satin has also been checked. Originally I had intended on using this to aid in the overall design, however a few steps down, I decided to remove this effect. So instead of having you add Satin, then remove it later on, you should just disregard it for now. Feel free to experiment. Sometimes it adds a nice touch, but for this design, it was a big NO) If you’re interested, below is the setting I used for the satin effect.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 19

You should now have something along the lines of this.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 20


Now you are going to need to repeat Step 5 – Step 8 for the MONKEY layer.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 21


Before moving any further and repeating these steps on the DESIGN Letters, lets set up a nice background to begin anchoring these elements just a bit. For this background, I simply created a new layer, moved it to the bottom, filled that layer with a solid blue and played with the burn, dodge, and sponge tool until I had something I was pleased with.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 22

I did this step now because I knew I wasn’t going to be happy with the colors I had originally planned on using for the DESIGN Letters. Getting the background down now, allows us to see the relationship between the background and the current letters in use. It also lets us move forward with a little more color confidence. Since I wasn’t confident in my previous choice, I double clicked each individual DESIGN smart object thumbnail. This allowed me to change the color of each DESIGN letter in Illustrator without causing any more unnecessary modifications and steps. I changed each letter to white.


Now that you see some of the steps it’s going to take to get our DESIGN letters prepped it would serve us well to add a few more folders to our layers palette. Inside the DESIGN folder we are going to want to add 6 new sub folders. We want a “D” folder, a “E” folder and so on… We will want to place each layer in it’s folder accordingly.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 23


Now we are going to want to apply steps 5 – 8 to each individual letter. Adding a Front layer, and a back layer. You may not need a shade layer. I was happy with the white shades that illustrator produced, so I duplicated the smart object layer, rasterized it, and left it as is. That serves as my back layer. (You may need to go in with your brush tool to smooth out any unsatisfactory banding that illustrator may have produced)

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 24

If you need it, here are the settings I used for the layer effects for the DESIGN letters. They are pretty much the same that were used for the SAD and MONKEY layers, only the colors have changed.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 25

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 26

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 27

Your result should be similar to this.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 28


Okay, we’re getting close now. Just a few more things to go. Now we’re going to make the faces/fronts all shimmery. Let’s go back to the SAD folder. Highlight the SAD Face layer. Duplicate the layer. Rename the duplicated layer to SAD Front SHINE. Remove the layer effects completely from the SAD Front SHINE layer. Move this layer underneath the SAD Front layer. With the SAD Front SHINE layer highlighted we are going to run the plastic wrap filter on it. Filter-Artistic-Plastic Wrap. Depending on your colors, font choice and other variables, your settings will differ. Find what looks best to you. It may take a little practice to get it just right.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 29

Apply the filter to the SAD Front SHINE layer. Highlight the SAD Front layer and lower the fill percentage to 0% (Note: not the opacity, but the fill. The opacity affects the whole layer, the fill affects the layer contents but not the layer effects.) Now, the stroke and gradient overlay are still visible on top of the newly plastic wrapped SAD Front SHINE layer.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 30


Repeat Step 13 on the MONKEY layer.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 31

(Note: the settings may need to differ a bit from the SAD layer. Again, it all depends on your preference and variables in play.)


Okay, it’s time to add some shadows to anchor all the elements down so they’re not floating away. The first shadow I went after was underneath the MONKEY layer. It was the simplest and gave me a good reference to follow for the DESIGN letters. I simply created a new layer underneath the MONKEY Back Layer. You can name it MONKEY Shadow. I chose a dark grey color, a large round brush with 0 hardness and simply brushed in a base. Set the layers blend mode to multiply and fiddle with the opacity level of that layer until you find a good result.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 32


That was easy, now we gotta add shadows to the DESIGN letters, still simple, but a little more involved… just a bit. I will use the letter G for this process, but it will need to be repeated for each letter. First go the the G folder. Create a new layer and name it G Base Shadow. CMD Click the G Base thumbnail. This should give you marching ants around the entire G. We want to fill this selection with the same color we used to brush in the previous shadow in the MONKEY folder.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 33

Now we want to deselect. Move this layer below the G Base Layer. Nudge the shadow down and to the left. (Be sure to remember exactly how many pixels you go down and how many pixels you go left, you’re going to repeat this process exactly for the other layers.) Apply the Gausian Blur Filter to this shadow.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 34

Set the layer to Multiply and the same opacity percentage as the previous shadow layer in the MONKEY folder. It needs to stay consistent. Repeat this step to the remaining DESIGN letters.

You may need to erase a little of the shadow from some of the letters that are “standing up” and not “laying down.” To do this, select your eraser tool with a fairly large size and 0% hardness. Gently, erase away the parts of the shadows where the letter is not supposed to meet the ground.


Now you should have something that looks a bit like this.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 35.5


Almost there, but we need to finish the shadows off. This will take a little practice, but shouldn’t be too difficult. Again, I will use G as the example. So, back to the G folder. Duplicate the G base layer. CMD click the thumbnail (again, marching ants) and fill this layer with your shadow color. Deselect. Grab your Dark Arrow from your tool box,”V”, make sure your “Show Transform Controls” check box is checked in your toolbar. This should give you a transform/bounding box which allows you to resize and transform your selection. Holding down the CMD key, you can select the corner points and manually distort and move each corner one at a time. We are going to want to “distort” this layer to “lay flat” on the ground. You need to pay attention to your angles to keep everything uniform.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 36

Once you have the shape the way you like. We will need to blur the shape. Use the same Gaussian Blur settings used on the previous shadows.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 36

Again, apply the same layer settings, multiply, opacity settings, etc… You may find the shadow still a tad too harsh. I good way to soften the long shadows is either to use a clipping mask or the eraser tool. Both give the same effect, the clipping mask is re-editable. Either one you chose, the process is the same, select a large size brush with zero hardness and a lower opacity setting. Gently brush across the top end of the shadow gradually and slightly lightening the shadow with each pass.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 38

Repeat the shadow steps accordingly to each remaining letter, and we’re pretty much done.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 39


Now you can call this job done, but I never call my jobs “well” done before I apply a few sharpening and color corrections, regardless of the job.

First thing, I merge all layers into one layer by hitting ALT-CMD-SHIFT-“E” . I then duplicate this layer, run a high pass filter at 1.6. Set that layer to a transparency mode hardlight. I duplicate this layer once more. Then I go back to the ALL MERGED layer, and duplicate once more. I run the high pass filter on this one at a higher setting, generally between 5.0 and 8.3. I set this layer to softlight with an opacity level between 65% and 80%

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 40

Next, I generally use the Selective Color Adjustment Layer Option. I play a bit with the settings to bolster my color just the way I like them.

SadMonkey - 3D Text Tutorial - 41

And now… I… WE ARE DONE!

I tried to make this tutorial pretty detailed so even the most novice could follow. If you feel any points would benefit from some extra clarification, please feel free to let me know.

ENJOY! A full-size version of the finished design can be found at SadMonkey’s Flickr Page.

SadMonkey’s Photo Stencil Tutorial

The following tutorial will cover in brief detail, how to create a 2 layer “photo” stencil in Adobe Photoshop.  The tutorial is meant for at least intermediate knowledge of Photoshop.

Step 1

First, you will want to completely desaturate your image giving you a monochromatic image. Next, for a two color stencil, you will want to create two separate layers. The top layer will be the darks, the second layer will be for the midtones. You can easily do this by putting your magic wand tool to use on the grey-scale image. Select the darks. With an active selection, activate your dark layer in the layers palette, and fill with black. Repeat the step for the midtones.


Step 2

Now you will want to clean that dirty selection up. Using the pen tool outline your dark colors. The pen tool gives you sharp, clean edges and leaves you with the flexibility of adding your personal style. The amount of detail is up to personal preference. To may make it easier, when outlining, lower your opacity level so you will be able to see exactly what your doing and where you are going around the image.


Step 3

You will want to continue using your pen tool and outline your midtones. Be nice to yourself, change the color to something different from what you used for the darks. It also helps if your midtone pen/shape layers begin underneath the dark pen/shape layers. (It’s not necessary, but it helps) For the final effect later on, you want to be sure that you create your midtones to where there is not a dark layer that will not have a midtone layer underneath it.


Step 4

Okay, before we do anything else, hide the magic wand filled layers, only leaving your pen selections and solid white background. Go back, and make sure all your opacity levels are now back to 100%. Rasterize all layers. Making sure all your dark layers are on top and in order, merge all the dark layers onto one layer. Next, merge all your midtone layers into one layer. You should now have, one dark layer, one midtone layer, and your white background. If you are happy with the results, you can now delete your magic wand layers.


Step 5

Now you are going to want to go image hunting. Feel free to use whatever you wish. I like to use images that tend to me synonymous with my characters. For example, with this James Bond image, I am using a hand gun, a wrist watch, a bow tie and a martini glass. Once you’ve found your images, open them in Photoshop, isolate them, and bring them into your stencil document. Make several copies of each item varying the size and orientation of each image to help randomize our coming effect.


Step 6

Next, make a mess with the images. Go crazy making copies all over until the entire canvas is covered. Make sure the ENTIRE canvas is covered and there are no peepholes showing through. Once the entire canvas is covered, merge all those layers into one. (Be mindful not to merge your background, or stencil layers… only the new images you brought in.)


Step 7

This will be what we use for our dark layer. In your layers palette, with this new layer selected, CMD-click on your dark stencil layer. This should make a selection of the entire dark layer. (Little ants should be marching on your screen) With the ants marching, and the new layer still selected, click on the quick mask button on the bottom of your layers palette. (It’s the grey little square with the white circle in the middle of it)


Step 8

You will want to repeat steps 5, 6, and 7 for what will become your midtone layer. (Be sure to pick new images and maybe change up your pattern for this to be layer)


Step 9

Now you should have two new layers. Your new collage dark layer and your new collage midtone layer. Feel free to hide your pen/stencil layers now. (You may not want to delete them. Beginning off, you may want to reuse them for recreating your clipping mask if you are unhappy with your results in the following steps)

We are now going to want to make our dark layer “dark” and our midtone layer ” a midtone.” Beginning with the dark layer, click on the preview thumbnail in your layers palette. Make sure your thumbnail is selected and not the clipping mask. Bring up your hue/saturation dialog box by hitting the CMD key and the “U” key. Check the box marked colorize. (This will give the entire layer a nice and clean mono-chormatic touch) Then move the sliders around making this layer all dark and pretty. sadmonkey-bond-tut-09

Step 10

Repeat the step for your midtones on the collage midtone layer.

Step 11

Now your dark layer and your midtone layer are ready for some fun. It’s time to break out the brushes. If you don’t already have a sweet collection of spray paint, watercolor, and splatter brushes the world wide web is full of them. For starters, try visiting or and see what you can find.


Step 12

Okay, we’re just about finished. Only a few final touches and we can call this baby done. Once you have made a mess that you’re happy with, we’re gonna want to merge all the visible layers. You can flatten the entire image, but I prefer to merge all visible layers by pressing Alt-Cmd-Shift-“E” This still allows you the ability to go back and edit your file without having to hit the undo button a gazillion times or having to save and open a new document.


Step 13

Now, we’re gonna duplicate this new layer by pressing Cmd-“J” and run the high pass filter on it. With the new layer on top in the layers palette and selected, go to Filter-Other-HighPass. For this one, I ran the filter at 5.3. Then I changed the layers transparency mode to soft light and changed the opacity level to 85%.

Next I went back to the all merged layer, duplicated it again, ran the high pass filter on it again, but instead of using 5.3 as the setting, I changed it to 1.6. Then I set this layers transparency mode to hard light at 100% opacity. I duplicated this layer 2 more times.  This gives us a base layer of the all merged image, with one 5.3 highpass layer set to soft light 85% with three more high pass layers each set at 1.6, hardlight, 100% opacity.


Step 14

For our final touch, under your adjustment layers, we will want to use the selective color option. This will allow us to fine tune our colors, darken the darks, lighten the lights, adjust the hues and saturations, so on and so forth…


And that’s pretty much it. Depending on your file size, colors, image, layout and all your other variables… EXPERIMENT. There are no “one size fits all” setting or settings. Keep modifying your document until you get the results dialed in just the way you like.

SadMonkey Design-bond

Well there you have it. Let me know what you guys think.

Creating Type along a Path in Illustrator

When using Illustrator you can easily find yourself frustrated after several hours of fruitless work trying to accomplish what should be a simple task. Illustartor is a very powerful tool, but can be a bit daunting of a program when you don’t have someone to show you the simple little tricks that are almost necessary for a fluid workflow. One such task can be typing along a path.

The first step in typing along a path in Illustrator is having a path to type on.


To type along a path, you need to select the “type tool” for this function. To do so, move your cursor over the “type button” on your “toolbar”. Click and hold the little black arrow on the bottom right corner of that button. A fly-out menu should appear that will look similar to the one in the image below. To type along a path you will want to select the “type tool” that has the “T” on top of a path.


With this tool selected you will want to click somewhere along your path. The location you click is where the type will begin. If your text is left justified, then where you click will be your left anchor point. If your text is center justified, then your click position will be the center anchor point where your text will originate from.  Don’t feel to worried about clicking in just the right spot. Your text justification and anchor points can be moved after you have placed your type. We’ll get to that in another step or two. So, with the appropriate text tool selected, when you click on your path it should change colors and a text cursor should appear.


You can now begin typing.

Picture 5

Now lets say you wanted the text on the other side of the path. You may notice the little thin blue line sticking up from somewhere along the path. Actually, you will see three lines, your left and right margins, along with a control center point. With your direct selection tool (the little white arrow) you can click on the center point. Once you have clicked the line, you can hold it, move it, and flip it to the other side of the path. This control line allows you to move the text and more importantly allows you to control what side of the path you want to your text to be on. The left and right lines can also be moved allowing you to modify your right and left margin areas.


Now as long as you do not outline your text (not stroking, but outlining, removing all text editing capabilities, thereby turning the text into a shape without any font information, CMD-SHIFT-O) you can revisit and modify your text positioning at any point. Once you have your text where you like it, well, you’re done! You’ve successfully typed along a path and modified its positioniong to your needs.


I’ve hopefully made this quite clear and easy to understand. If I haven’t been clear, or if you would like any of the process elaborated on, please feel free to ask.

A Complete Logo Package

In interest of your clients needs and your ability to provide a truly professional logo design package, you need to take your clients future into consideration. There may be a few avenues you may have not considered. It is almost a guarantee your client has not thought about all the ways of how their logo will or can be used. Or, what will need to be done in order to exhibit a high quality logo throughout all mediums.

It is very unlikely that a logo will only be used in one medium, uniformly, without deviation. It is likely that your new logo will someday need to go on a ballpoint pen, a giant one color banner, screen printed on apparel or embroidered. One logo, very likely, will need multiple versions that will be compatible with a multitude of different mediums. While there may always be special circumstances that arise sometime in the future, most of them can be handled before the logo design is ever finalized.

Any logo design package should consider at least a few of the below listed possibilities if not all of them.


With the prevalence of multimedia formats now available and the increase of cost effective print rates, most clients will want a logo that “really looks special” or “that really stands out.” Meaning a full color version with all the bells and whistles. While in the past this was largely avoided by most designers, it has become quite acceptable and even put into practice by most of the largest organizations around.

A full color logo will most likely serve as the clients primary mark that will go on all available full-color mediums.



The next thing to consider is a spot color version of the logo. The number of colors used should be discussed with the client and built accordingly with potential budgetary restrictions in mind. A multiple-color spot version may be attractive for high quality apparel prints, and a 1-color or 2-color spot version may be needed for the more economical prints. Remember every spot color incurs extra cost when printing, so multiple color variations may need to be included in your logo package to accommodate all of your client’s needs.



Another option that will most undoubtedly be needed is a one color version of the logo. A one color version will go on just about any medium. You will most likely need to design two different versions of a one color logo. One that will be used on light mediums, and another that will be used with dark mediums.


While sometimes, just inverting the logo may work for a reverse print, it’s not always the best solution and should be taken under consideration.



A Greyscale option should be designed as well. Very rarely will a color logo translate well when printed in greyscale. Too often colors end up bleeding together, becoming indistinguishable from each other. For example, most reds will appear black. A logo with red and black, without a proper conversion, will end up with less than desirable effects. You SHOULD design one that has been converted to incorporate the full range of the greyscale value.



A simplified small logo version of both one color versions will need to be designed as well. I’ve never came across a client or an organization who DID NOT use their logo on a ballpoint pen or some other promotional item. Most ballpoint pens and many other promotional items have a strict, small imprint area. Most likely no larger than .75″ x  .5″ and no smaller than a 1/4 stroke, or 6pt type. Now these specifications do vary slightly vendor to vendor, but these are pretty standard measurements that a small logo will need to be compatible with.



While this package does not cover every need that may arise for your client, it does offer a pretty comprehensive plan for any future requirement. Other things to be aware of would be embroidery, embossed and debossed versions, or even animated versions. Your clients needs and your ability to learn new mediums are the only limits to where and how a logo can be designed and used.

If it is not done now, it most likely will need to be done in the future at some point. It may be done by a lesser professional resulting in a loss of quality for your client and logo, or it may incur more additional cost in the long run to develop all these needed versions individually. To protect your client from problems and unnecessary cost in the future, it is best to discuss all potential uses of the logo at the beginning of the design process.

Remember, you are not creating just a pretty little image, you are creating an identity that will be used by a company in all forms of communication, promotions and marketing. Used in a wide range of mediums and products. If the logo does not look professionally cohesive in every way, then the logo will fail to do its job, and the whole process of desiging a professional logo has been lost!

High Pass Filter

The high pass filter is often an overlooked, if not unknown, tool in Photoshop. When used correctly, the high pass filter can add that extra touch that takes your project from looking good to looking great!

Below is a quick and easy explanation for the high pass filter in Photoshop.

Step ONE

Open up your image using photoshop. The image used in this tutorial can be found at


Step TWO

Duplicate the Layer. If the image has multiple layers, you may need to merge or flatten all layers before duplicating your main layer (image).



While the top layer is selected go to “Filter>Other>High Pass”


A dialog box with a preview window and a slider will appear.


The setting for the pixels radius will vary from image to image. The image size and resolution, the quality of the image, and your desired effect will all be factors that can change these settings between images. This image has been downsized to about 1800 pixels wide and the jpeg artifacting is very low making this a decent quality image. For minor sharpening and highlighting a lower setting may be desired. For a more “hdr” or “painterly” effect, a higher radius may be used. Experimentation is the key. If this is your first time using this filter, it’s okay if your image appears unusable. It will all come together in the next step.


Once the high pass filter has been applied, your image should appear grey and quite unusable. Next, with the new layer that we just ran the filter on, we will need to change the Blend mode to one of three settings: Overlay, Soft Light, or Hard Light. I have chosen to use Hard Light.


Now you should be able to see an improved difference from the original.


While the difference is slight, we can begin to see the use of this tool. But that is not all, we can take this filter much further. If we duplicate the high pass layer two times, we can see a much greater difference.



You may wonder why we duplicated the layer two times instead of running the high pass filter at a higher radius. At first, this sounds like a no brainer, but if you give it a try, you will see that you get quite a different effect.



You may notice, that the image now appears a little smudged or blurry. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it wasn’t what we were hoping for. However, this can provide new and different results.

The high pass filter and its results are only limited by your experimenting. For example.

If you go back to step four. We had an unaltered layer. We duplicated that layer. Ran the high pass filter at a low radius setting. Set that layer to a blend mode “hard light.” Then we duplicated that layer twice. This gave us a very sharp image. We can go a step further. If we select the original layer that has not been altered, duplicate it, run the high pass filter at a higher radius setting. Set that layer to soft light, we will end up with something like this.



As you can see, the High Pass Filter offers as a powerful tool for your images. Don’t forget, in addition to the blend modes, you can also adjust the opacity setting to your layers. You can also incorporate the use of quick mask and multiple other tools to attain the exact look you are  wanting.

I hope you’ve found this little tip helpful. If you find yourself confused or would like any step elaborated on, please let me know. Until next time…