Deke’s Techniques: Creating leafy letters in Photoshop

Published by | Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques video, Deke turns ordinary text into…a shrubbery! This relatively simple technique combines a text layer and a leafy photo to make letters that appear to be made from foliage.

Deke begins by creating a mask using the standard Myriad Pro text. Then, using the Refine Mask command (in Photoshop CS5 or later—later meaning Photoshop CS6 beta), he renders his text to have a realistic, botanical effect. The refinement supplied by the Refine Mask feature allows the leaves to gracefully manifest around the letter edges, providing some transparency and detail. He follows up this relatively simple procedure with some key layer effects (Drop Shadow and Inner Glow) and voila, leafy letters! It’s a quick, easy technique that has an abundance of potential uses.

It’s good to keep in mind that you don’t have to use text for your mask—really, any shape outline will do.

If you’d like to go full topiary, Deke also has a member-exclusive tutorial this week called Creating topiary type, where he explains how to create the full grown from the ground look. All you need is a photo featuring some nicely textured plant life, and your Photoshop garden can grow to whatever shape you desire. Since Deke is lounging in Hawaii this week, I decided to use this technique to create the tropical topiary you see below. Applying the technique to a different set of files only required a few adjustments in the Refine Edge panel and a slightly different green for the Inner Glow layer style.

Example of topiary type created in Photoshop

Deke will return from his island sojourn with another free technique next week.

Interested in more?
• The entire Deke’s Techniques weekly series on
• Courses by Deke McClelland on
• All Photoshop courses on

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery
• Photoshop for Designers: Layer Effects
• Photoshop Masking & Compositing: Fundamentals
 Photoshop CS6 Beta Preview

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One Response to “Deke’s Techniques: Creating leafy letters in Photoshop”

  1. Trent Festini says:

    finally had to quit browsing when I finally found your site! THX !

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