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Quick Tip: Simple, Glossy Text in 3 Easy Steps

posted by Matt Ward on Sep 3, 2009.

Quick Tip: Learn how to create a simple gloss effect in just 3 simple steps, using nothing buy layer styles. No complex layering of multiple text layers here.

Today’s Quick Tip is really quick. I’m going to show you how to give plain white text a really simple glossy treatment in Photoshop. This kind of effect is really popular in a lot of Web 2.0 type designs, and can also be useful when adding a bit of flair to a clean simple typeface for a logo or slogan.

So, let’s get started. First, we need a new document. I just created a 500px by 500px square document and filled the background with a dark teal colour. For a little extra depth, I added a black and white radial overlay, with the blending mode set to multiply and the transparency set to 24%.

Next, we need to add our text. For this example, I am just using the word “Simple”.

Add plain white text to your document

Add plain white text to your document

With the text layer selected in the Layers palette, add a new gradient overlay. This time, we want a linear gradient. The default should be black and white, so just double click the gradient bar to bring up a gradient dialogue box. Then click on the tiny black square and change the colour to a pale, pale blue (R: 174 / G: 203 / B: 205). Your text should now look like this.

A simple gradient adds a bit of depth

A simple gradient adds a bit of depth

Hard to see a difference isn’t it? The blue colour is so pale that the transition from the white is just not that obvious. We can fix this, though, by adding a simple white border around the text. So, with the text layer still selected, we’re going to add another layer style. This time, we want to use a stroke. Set the colour to white, the thickness to 2 pixels and the position to inside. This last part is important because it helps to maintain the shape of the text. Strokes set to outside tend to round corners, which we don’t want to do to a font with this kind of nice sharp edges.

Adding a simple white stroke can help offset the gradient

Adding a simple white stroke can help offset the gradient

Notice how the white of the stroke contrasts against the pale blue of the gradient, making it more obvious to the eye. So that’s two steps down. The next step is to add just a little extra depth with a subtle drop shadow. Again, with the text layer selected, add a new drop shadow style to the layer. Reduce the distance to 0, so that the shadow is evenly aligned behind the letters. Then set the spread to 5 and the distance to 7.

The final effect is "simple" but effective

The final effect is "simple" but effective

The darkness of the shadow contrasts nicely against the white of our stroke style, creating a nice overall effect that adds just a subtle degree of depth, while the now more obvious gradient gives a nice simple sense of glossiness.

I told you this Quick Tip really would be quick. I also recognize that, to many experienced Photoshoppers, this must seem pretty rudimentary. However, I know that when I was first starting out with the program, this would have been quite a revelation, so hopefully this can be of some use to beginners. After all, it’s a really easy way to add just a little something extra to your text. Like I mentioned at the outset, it’s ideal for glossy Web 2.0 effects, for some logo or slogan work, or even just for headers on your website or in your printed materials.

Of course, you can use these same steps to achieve different effects by playing with the settings. Go ahead and play around. That’s one of the great benefits of layer styles – they are non-destructive and completely editable. Better yet, your text is completely editable too. Because we are just applying styles to the text layer, we can easily select our text and make changes, and see the effect instantly applied to whatever we type.

I hope you enjoyed this Quick Tip, and that you can find a use for it. See you next time!

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About the Author

Matt Ward is a digital artist who lances freely under the moniker of Echo Enduring Media, and specializes in graphics design, illustration and writing. He is also the Creative Director for Highland Marketing, a creative direct marketing company based out of Waterloo, Ontario. You can follow Matt on Twitter

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Dec 3, 2009

Silver Firefly says:

Thanks. A great tip for beginners! Note I am not a beginner but I would have appreciated something like this when I first started out.

Jun 16, 2010

clippingimages says:

Nice tips for typography …thanks for sharing …

Dec 16, 2010

afaolek says:

Really nice tips. Thanks.

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