Deke's Techniques 371: Creating Secret Message Type in Photoshop

Create Secret Message Type in Photoshop

In this week's free Deke's Techniques episode, Deke transforms ordinary type into mysteriously almost-disappearing type effect in Photoshop. It reminds me of the invisible ink we used to employ to pass each other meaningless secret messages when I was a kid.

The effect begins with what is actually a drop shadow applied to text that has been made, well, invisible by reducing its Fill Opacity to zero, leaving only the mysteriously blurry shadows behind. The edges are then firmed up with a Levels adjustment later. Next, Deke applies his secret recipe of layer styles and blend modes to add color and textural mystery. Finally, some custom kerning of the letters randomizes their relative positions.

Because the result is created primarily with layer effects (and without actually disturbing the original letters), you can edit this text and retain the effect. This comes in handy for Deke's follow-up technique (presented in a member-exclusive movie), which puts his original and alternate text into animated GIF rotation.  

An animated GIF reveals the secret message again and again.

Because, as any kid who ever had a set of invisible ink pens knows, the reveal of the secret message is always more interesting than any actual meaning!

If you're not a member of, but would like to look within to seek your own answers to Photoshop (and Illustrator's) secrets, you can sign up for a free week's trial at Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 367: Using Photoshop CC's New Flame Generator

Using Photoshop's New Flame Generator

In this week's free Deke's Techniques episode, Deke employs Photoshop CC's new flame generator to set a giant letter Z on fire. In the video, you'll see how Deke works his way through the generator's dialog box to apply automatically generated flames along this now blazing path:

The new Flame Generator in Photoshop helps you set your paths on fire.

For members of, Deke's got an exclusive movie this week in which he revisits the flames that surround his superhero, The Blue BBQ. With the new Flame Generator, he can create custom flames for the 'Q that don't rely on lifting the fire image from an existing photograph.

If you're not a member of and would like to check out the exclusive video, you can ignite a free week's trial by going to Fire up, dekeBlazers! Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 363: Develop a Portrait of Your Little Joker

Delvelop a Portrait of Your Little Joker

In this week's free Deke's Techniques video, our Halloween homage continues as Deke takes a scarily washed out iPhone photo of an otherwise awesome costume (and model) and turns it into something suitably sinister.

As you can see in the image on the right below, Sam's got the attitude and the make up to really pull of his supervillain alter ego. But the lighting, image quality, and happy suburban kitchen background spoils the ominous mood a bit.

But with help from Photoshop CC's Field Blur filter, Deke manages to turn the comfortably domestic background into something much more mysterious. Then, he uses Camera Raw applied as a smart filter (another CC wonder) to enhance and energize the photo.

Our little Joker, before and after enhancing the iPhone portrait.

If you're a member of, you can watch an exclusive movie this week in which Deke shows you how he created those creepy character lines in Sam's face to take him from a kid in a costume to a truly frightening mini-villain. If you're not a member of and would like to check it (along with over 360 other Deke's Techniques out), you can get a free week's trial by signing up at

Happy Halloween, my creepy dekeSters! No joke. Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 360: Turning Yourself into a Dark Elf for Halloween (or Just Because It's Tuesday)

Turn Yourself into an Elf using Photoshop

It's mid-October and dekeGouls and Goblins know what that means, time for Deke's Techniques to go all Halloween on us. Or more precisely, on our children. This year, Deke seems to be particularly interested in creating virtual costumes for the kids, starting with this week's transformation of mild-mannered gentle giant teenager Wheeler into a foreboding dark elf we like to call Wheeler Prime. Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 358: Painting Away "Clarity Halos" Caused by Camera Raw

Painting away halos caused by the Clarity setting in Camera Raw

In this week's free Deke's Techniques episode, Deke not only removes some unattractive artifacts from his overzealous use of the Clarity slider in Camera Raw, but he actually coins a new phrase---clarity halos---to describe said problem. 

Cranking the Clarity in Camera Raw (or Lightroom, for that matter) can give your image some instant pop, but sometimes it leaves behind an unsightly vestige. Because Clarity uses big radius sharpening, if you're applying it to high-contrast areas you might get more than you bargained for, like the white areas in the tree on the left in the image below.

To fix this problem, Deke uses a wily combination of a blue multiplied layer and that useful but elusive (to me, anyway) Layer Style setting known as Underlying Layer. You can see the effective results in the center image below.

Then, of course, because he's Deke, he obsessively uses the tonal brushes (Dodge, Burn, and Sponge) on a specifically merged section of the image so that the sky looks exactly the way he wants it to. That's the appropriately named image on the right below.

Fixing "clarity halos" caused by Camera Raw

For those of you who are members of, there's yet another---dare I say, final---movie on this landscape project, in which Deke selectively sharpens the photo, which---given all the stress he's put it through---takes some subtlety of thought and purpose. If you're not a member of, you can get a free week's trial by signing up at more » 

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