Extracting Typography from Flattened Images

Elements being “baked” in, is often used as a 3D term when texture art is finalized and uneditable on a 3D model. The same thing happens when flattening all the layers in a Photoshop file, which is exactly what we see in images online, in print etc. Sometimes you don’t have the exact font, so being able extract typography or other elements from otherwise flattened art can really be a timesaver.

You might think that the magic wand is the savior tool for this job, but sometimes finer details get lost especially in smaller typography. Often times you’ll end up with artifacts around the edges. The following is a technique that won’t work for everything, but is a nice weapon to have in your arsenal to be used at your disposal.

Marquee select the flattened text and paste it on a new background. Ctrl+Shift+U to Desaturate.

Now in the layers panel change the Blending Mode from the “Normal” default to Screen. This will pull out the black values.

Now hit Ctrl+L to pull up the levels panel. The following image shows exactly what I altered to pull the white down. It may be defferent for you depending on the image you’re using. It’s going to require a bit of push and pull to find a balance between pulling the white out and making the edges too aliased and jagged. This is about to where the best compromise that I could find was.

The result:

We still have a couple more tricks to employ. Go to the top menu and navigate through Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast. Pull down the brightness some, and pump the contrast just a touch.

To replace the drop shadow we can simply add a layer style, because remember this image is still a rectangle. All we really did was pull all the visible surrounding value from the text white as much as possible. We snubbed the magic wand tool earlier but here is where we’re going to be able to put it to use. Click on the text with the Contiguous option clicked off. Ctrl+V to copy and Ctrl+V to paste. This will create a new layer. Drag this layer beneathe the image that provided the source.

Now double-click it to open the Layer Styles window. Click the checkbox for “Color Overlay” and use the color picker to select a dark blue to black.

Select the Move Tool and tap the arrow key once down and once over to the right.

Now navigate Filter>Render>Gaussian Blur.

Now we’ve got the drop shadow back.

This is an example to show how we’ve extracted the text and can still use it layered on top of a different background. The only difference here is the color of the shadow is a purple to match the background.

By Mark Rivera

Mark is an animator and ad designer for WebProNews. He has a passion for illustration and 3D art.

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