Parade of Hearts: A Photoshop Layer Effect Love Story

The other day when I was thinking about ways to not acknowledge Valentine’s Day, I took a heart-shaped path created in Adobe Illustrator and started applying a bunch Photoshop layer effects to it—effects I basically lifted four Deke’s Techniques (and one from our friend-in-Photoshop, Nigel French)—all of which were originally designed as text effects. 

But it had occurred to me that any layer effects you pile onto text in Photoshop can be just as easily applied to a shape. For the most part, I just took the instructions from Nigel and Deke, inserted the heart-shaped path we drew in Illustrator a few weeks ago into a new shape layer, and applied the layer effects to my shape instead of text. Here are the results:

Although reminiscent of sitting around making valentines with doilies, glitter, and glue in my youth, this was much more fun and required much less clean up. Also, my mom never let me use flames.

And any shape will do, so if you want to turn your shamrocks to gold, your easter eggs to chocolate, or set a decidedly unsuspecting snowflake on fire, you’re set for every holiday as long as you can create (or find) a path shape to use.

Read on to see my notes and get links to the video instructions I used. Note, all but one of these techniques are documented in movies that are actually unlocked for everyone at, (and if you need a free trial week for the fire project, you can sign up for one one at

My Heart Is Green with Envy (or Are Those Leaves?)

Adapted from Deke’s Techniques 115: Creating Leafy Letters

Because the text in Deke’s original technique served as a layer mask, this was just a matter of substituting a heart shape for those letters and otherwise following Deke’s recipe exactly. 

The S.S. Heart of Gold (or Is That Wonder Woman’s Bustier?)

Adapted from Deke’s Techniques 5: Rendering Type in Gold

Whether you’re thinking Douglas Adams or DC Comics, this one is really simple to adapt from Deke’s type treatment. All I had to do was increase the stroke to fill in the, uh, breastplate. Because I wanted to switch it to a white background, I adapted the drop shadow with a touch of yellow.

Hearts Ablaze

Adapted from Deke’s Techniques 008: Creating a Molten Letter Effect and Deke’s Techniques 009: Setting Type on Fire.

This was probably the most intense of the former text effects, adjustment wise. But eventually I just used fewer flames than Deke originally had surrounding his letters. And ultimately, pretend fire is artistically forgiving once it’s masked properly. (The fire video is one you’ll need a subscription to watch.)

Melting Chocolate (or What Happens When You Get Too Close to Hearts Ablaze)

Adapted from Nigel French’s Photoshop for Designers: Text Effects, Chapter 3: Illustrated Text, Making Chocolate Text

With Nigel’s permission, I threw this one in the mix, because, uh, it’s chocolate. I skipped Nigel’s white chocolate coating and threw the whole thing into a convenient spot in this red satin background from Fotolia. I added a little bit of textured drop shadow to help the heart sink into it’s surroundings.

Your Cold, Cold Heart (or At Least Photoshop Will Always Be There for Me)

Adapted from Deke’s Techniques 001: Creating Ice Type

I did have to tweak the settings for this one, especially during the application of the Wind filter, because icicles drop differently from the V of the heart than they would from big block letters like Deke used in his example. But again, it was relatively simple to adapt on the fly. And it’s not really how I feel about romance, just Hallmark-instigated command-performance romance.

Regardless of which of these best reflects your own day of schmaltzy romance, I hope it was a good one and you feel the Photoshop Love from dekeOnline.

Next entry:Deke’s Techniques 198: Aligning Variations to Make a Perfect Composite in Photoshop

Previous entry:Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Mastery Nears Completion


  • Ideas and more ideas…

    Now if you create Diamonds, Clubs, and Spades to go along with that, you may have something there.

    1) Then create a Deke’s Slot machine. Deposit tokens and get Visual and Audio excitement. Winners get to see Training Tutorials of the Techniques.

    KIds of any age are welcome. This is not Gambling, since the odds of winning “Knowledge” are “One out of One” when viewing the “One on One” videos.

    2) Use them for Digital Card Games, like Flash cards for Learning. Such as Match-Up 52 Shortcut-Keystrokes to what they do.

    Some day I hope to talk about many more ideas for you and Lynda. Thanks for the great work and inspirations.

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