Okay, so last night I decided to play with Photoshop and create a logo for this site. I am not a graphic designer. I am not a Photoshop pro. I am not very visually creative at all, really. But I had this idea of using a fountain pen for the “i,” and I wanted to see how it would look. This is what I came up with:
I think it isn’t bad. Then this morning I thought: duh. I’m starting a blog. I should have documented how I made this. So I had to redo it today.
Naturally, I can’t remember just how I stumbled into the final product last night, so today’s result is a bit different:
Here is a recreation of how I got to this point using Photoshop CS 5 (And, by the way, a massive and angry rant about Adobe is just around the corner, but I digress). Again, keep in mind I don’t know what the hell I am doing–there is probably a far easier way to do this, and someone has no doubt created some actions that would make all of this possible in a few clicks, but here is how I did it this am. Took about 10 minutes, then add another hour for the documentation (and I still forgot to take screenshots of the history list before I saved the file and the history disappeared.
First, I went to my friend Brian Gray’s SmugMug page. Brian and his wife Andrea are the proprietors of Edison Pens, where Brian makes beautiful and high quality pens, including some reinventions of classic filling systems. I’d be happy to tell you more about Edison pens, or you can make inquiries to Brian, of course. Brian is also an excellent photographer, and his pen photos not only look great, but they show off the features of the pens very well. And he uses white backgrounds, which is important for my purposes. After looking through the images and discovering about 10 pens I want to buy NOW, I picked this image of a Pearl pen (one of my favorite designs of Brian’s–I have two) because the purple color suited me, and there is just enough pattern in the acrylic to add some interest to my logo without being too busy. Since I wanted the pen to stand for the letter I, thinking the nib itself would suggest the dot over the i, the shorter, proportionally thicker barrel of the Pearl worked better than, say, a Morgan or a Herald (two other Edison models I admire).
So, first things first, I had to get this pen in the upright position. After some trial and error, a clockwise rotation of about 57 degrees got me the result I wanted.
Next I had to crop out the cap of the pen, and, by the way, the rectangular crop box also gave me a decent reference point showing I did have the pen more or less vertical.
Once cropped, I had to give myself some working room, so I expanded the canvas a bit vertically and a lot horizontally, making sure in the canvas resize I positioned the original canvas in the middle left position.
Then came the tricky part. I had to get rid of the shadows from Brian’s initial photo. I set the magic tool (or whatever it is called) at a tolerance of 20, and I captured most of the gray. I had to do a little touch up, as a bit of the left edge of the nib was sucked up in the selection (I did this with the masking tool, but a more careful trial and error of the tolerance setting probably would have worked as well. Also one could just mess with the eraser). Since I was only preparing this for the web and for email, I didn’t get too precise with this. I smoothed the edge under the select menu with a border radius of 1 pixel (I think 3 would have been better) and hit delete. Okay, note that in some versions of Photoshop the delete key just, well, deletes. But in more recent versions, it calls up the fill menu. If so, choose fill at 100% opacity with the background (white) color. A bit of touch up with the eraser, and I had this
For my name, I simply chose the paint tool, picked a size, used the picker to select one of the darker tones in the pen, and wrote my name.
Trust me, it took FAR more time to write all this and crop the screenshots than it did to do it.
Okay, so far this is cool, but it is in this next bit that I do things the way I sort of thought them out–I am sure there are more straightforward ways to create a drop shadow than how I do it, but this is my process, more or less.
The first thing in my thinking is to regard the background layer–and at this point I only had one layer–like a canvas, and you can’t get rid of the canvas. So I make a duplicate copy of that layer. I select all of the white area, and hit delete. Nothing looks different, but what I really have is a layer on top that is only the purple stuff (pen and my name), and a layer on the bottom that has that plus the white of the canvas.
With the white area (now clear) still selected, I select inverse under the Select menu. Now I only have the purple stuff selected. I chose feather (7 pixels) under Modify Selection. Now I make the backround layer active and create a duplicate layer again, which I sandwich between the first duplicate and the background. I make this new, middle duplicate my active layer, and hit fill. This time, I choose the foreground color (purple, from when I wrote my name), and set the opacity at 50%.
Next, I select the move tool, and offset this middle layer to the right and down, and a magic drop shadow appears (the 50% fill being between the clear part of the top layer and the canvas of the background)
Except I notice I have this crappy fringing around the pen and the handwriting. I think it has to do with feathering (or not) my selection when I eliminated the white of the top layer. Shit. Shit. Shit. Dammit. But I am not doing this damned logo a third time, so F it. If you wand to get rid of the fringing, feather your selection of the white stuff. Or don’t feather it. Or something. But the more I look at this, the more I think maybe this white fringing actually makes this image look more like a “thing” you know? More like an intended look relative to my first logo. Yeah, maybe I like this.
Then I used the type tool to add the dotcom, which automatically creates a type layer. I used a default dropshadow for type Action to create that shadow, and I messed around with the transparency of the layer (I think it ended up at 75% or so). I couldn’t decide whether I liked the drop shadow on the type or not, so I ended up backing up to the pre-action spot in the history panel to get this finished product.
Sort of. See, when I look at this, I get that the nib of the pen is the dot of the I. But I think maybe it just looks like Shari with a pen in front of it. So I added a dot. I don’t like it with the dot. But it might communicate better. And I really can’t decide which of these images–last night’s or this morning’s with the fringe–I want to keep. Dammit. I am not good at making decisions like this.
Then I wrote all of this and though, hmm. How about a splat?