Anything Photoshop or Photography


Painted image of wood boats at the Hilton Hawaiian Village on the Big IslandThis week I want to cover a very simple thing – creating a signature block for your images, but more importantly, how to make it show up without being over-powered by the image. The image above is of one of the wood boats at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island in Hawaii – one of the most relaxing things you can do at the hotel, especially at night when the stars are out! Anyway, I did not want to place my signature block in the right corner as I felt it would have ruined the effect I was looking for. Instead it was placed in the left corner, but had to be brought out a little to see.

Creating the Signature Block

A few months ago I went to my local photo club meeting where one of the members showed everyone how to make a nice signature effect for your images. I decided to upgrade my basic copyright symbol and name (last line of my signature brush) that I have used for years to create the one above. To do this, these are the very basic steps – probably a review for most of you – but worth the time to do.

1. Open up a New Document in Photoshop. I used a 10 x 8 inch document with 240 dpi. I believe you can make this much smaller, but this worked for me.

2. Select Text Tool and create your line of text. Since I wanted to create an overlapping text design, three text layers were created, each using the same font and sizes. The font I used was Easy Street Alt ESP. The first letter was set to 100 pt. and the smaller ones to 40 pt. I wanted to space the lettering so they would overlap evenly, so the letters were adjusted using a few of these tricks:

  • Highlight two characters in text line and press ALT + -> key to increase the space between them
  • Highlight two characters in text line and press ALT + <- key to decrease the space between them
  • To change word spread, highlight the text and ALT + right or left arrow keys like above

A fourth line of text was created using the Dom Casual BT font and the last line that is my copyright line uses Freehand 575 BT font. See my Adding Copyright Information to Your Image blog to add a copyright symbol to brush. The Move Tool was used to line up the different layers of text to create the one used above. And you are not limited to using just one brush for your photos or using only text layers for your signature. You can write on the layer with the Brush or Pencil Tool to get an authentic signature in your brush.

3. Flatten the image by going to the fly-out menu in the upper right corner of the Layer Panel.

4. Go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset and voila! you have your custom brush listed at the end of your Brush Presets Panel. If it is too large, you can either Free Transform (CTRL+T) it and recreate it at a smaller size. Also, you can just save it as a Tool Preset. To do this, in Options Bar set the correct size for brush and go to the far left brush icon and click – press the little bottom icon on right that Creates a New Tool Preset. Now anytime you select the Brush Tool, you can click on the icon and it will always be listed with that size setting. I keep it as a Tool Preset since I use it on almost every image. Image painted in Photoshop of Yellow and White Trees

Adding Layer Style to Make Name Brush Stand Out

Now that you have a preset of your photography brush set up, you need to make it so that the brush does not get lost in the photo. The image above is one I actually created in Photoshop. You can see the signature block would have not shown up well if I had not added something to smooth out the area behind the lettering. This is how I do this.

To create the Layer Style, add a New Layer to an image, select your signature brush and apply one once. Then open the Layer Style by double-clicking on the layer in the Layers Panel. Click on the words “Outer Glow” in the left-hand list. Change only these settings – Blend Mode: Normal, Opacity 34%, Spread 15%, and Size 20 px. Click on New Style button and name and save – mine is SJ Sig Out Glow.

To apply the Layer Style to your signature layer, do this:

1. Create a New Layer and add your signature brush to the layer in the color you would like it to appear.

2. Double-click on the layer to open up the Layer Style dialog and click on Styles in the upper left-hand list – your new layer style should be listed at the bottom. Click on it to apply and click on the checked Outer Glow words in the left-hand list.

Or open up the Layer Style Panel and at the bottom will be the new style – click on it to apply. Then double-click on the Outer Glow line attched under the layer to open up this section.

3. First click on the color swatch and sample in your image to a color that will make your signature show up. In the case above, the bluish-gray tone was chosen. Now adjust the opacity, spread and size to make it as noticeable as you want. Sometimes it takes a couple different colors to get it to blend in correctly, but it does a very nice subtle job of enhancing your signature. The Opacity was set to 89%, Spread 18% and Size 35 px on the image above. Note that in this image it says Painted By in the signature block – a new brush was created for my images created from scratch.

For the top image, a light pink tone was added at 72% opacity, Spread 41%, and Size 65 px – different settings than on the bottom image. I know this seems really basic, but it is an important part of every image. You do not want the signature to be overwhelming but you do want it to be noticeable. Hope you can use these tips to create a very nice signature block on your images…..Digital Lady Syd

2 responses

  1. Marilyn Spicer

    Thanks for the painting tips. I have a Corel Painter brush created with my signature but my problem is I don’t know what size to make my signature on various output sizes. I have done some digital art and the signature was so small it looked odd and then another the signature was too big and looked egotistical. Any advice?

    03/04/2014 at 6:20 pm

    • Hi Marilyn. The advantage of using your signature in a brush format on an additional layer on top of your image is that you can make it as large as you want. Since I paint over my images in both Painter and Photoshop using an 8-bit image and a lower res, like 150 or 200 dpi, the signature size often has to be reduced at the end. You can either change the size of the brush and re-brush your signature, or you can Free Transform it (CTRL+T) to get the size that looks right. I just created a signature layer that I saved as a PSD file in Painter and opened the file in Photoshop. A signature brush using the Painter layer signature was created using the Rectangular Marquee Tool and the Define Brush Preset. It was only 260 pixels in size, but can be increased all the way up to 5000 pixels in Photoshop CC and 2500 pixels. I even tried this in Photoshop Elements 10 and it works. I know that many Painter fans finish up their images in Photoshop, and I think this is one good reason to do so. Also adding other layer style effects to your signature like a stroke or emboss can help with a signature that is lost in the image a bit. Hope this helps with your issue. Digital Lady Syd

      03/05/2014 at 2:12 pm

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