As those of you who work regularly in Photoshop know, inverting is a precarious proposition. Consider this: Have you ever drawn a path outline with the pen tool? In the spirit of making things obvious, Photoshop represents the path by inverting the composite image. Where the image is white, the path appears black; where the image is black, the path appears white. And where the image is gray, the path is the inversion of gray, which is—oh, that’s right—gray! And because you can’t see gray-on-gray, the damn thing goes invisible. And your typical image is gray, or near gray, a lot.
So obviously, Photoshop’s design choice where path outlines is concerned is a mistake. But now let’s put you in charge of the design choice. And let’s imagine that you want to create text that inverts in front of a composite image. And you don’t want to make the same mistake Photoshop makes. While working inside Photoshop. What do you do?
You make text that inverts unambiguously. Where the image is white, the text is black; where the image is black, the text is white. And where the image is gray, or near gray, the text provides as much contrast as possible.
That’s what this week’s technique is all about. And as if that wasn’t rambling enough, here’s the official description from lynda.com (which Colleen tells me is much less self-inverted and ambiguous):
You’ve probably been there. You’re working with a high-contrast photo or composition, with lots of lights and darks, and it’s your job to lay text over it. Readable text. So do you choose dark text or light? Either one risks becoming unreadable when it hits an object behind it that doesn’t provide enough contrast. And please, whatever you do, don’t compromise with that medium gray text that’s completely unsatisfying no matter where it lands.
Enter this week’s free technique from Deke, in which he shows you how to conveniently set type so that it automatically inverts everything behind it. By setting up your text this way, you no longer have to make the (compromised) choice to leave the text in some state of questionable readability or the (tedious) choice to stop and manually reset the text color as you move it around. By mathematically telling Photoshop what you want it to do when (with a blend mode and couple of well-placed adjustment layers), you’ll create automatically reversing yet entirely editable text.
And for members of the lynda.com Online Training Library, Deke’s got an exclusive movie this week, “Creating auto-inverting line art,” in which he shows you how to do the same inverse effect with line art (in this case a scanned signature), applying a similar technique but first having to separate (and invert) the lines that make up the image.
We’ll be back next week with another free technique from Deke.
Let me know what you think! And also, is the video quality better? (I implemented a new YouTube feature that might help.)