Nothing Pink Can Stay

I’m loving the exotic hair color, but what I’m not loving is how fast it fades. Three weeks in, and the bright pink made it to a salmon-ish color, thanks to the pink fading and revealing the orange undertones of my bleached hair. I used the second half of the tube of magenta and left it on for a good two hours, so I’m freshly fluorescent again. I’m thinking once this pink fades, I’ll make my way to purple, then from there to blue. I figure as my dark roots grow out, I’ll want a darker color on top so it isn’t that drastic of a difference.

Before and after:

Faded salmon, then bright pink again.

Faded salmon, then bright pink again.

This should get me through to Arizona; then I’ll go purple after we move.

Speaking of the move, we’re packing and cleaning a little bit every day. Sometimes, we have helpers.

Cats. In Boxes. Surprising!

Cats. In Boxes. Surprising!

We have everything booked, from cat airfares (they’ll ride in the cabin, under the seats in front of us, as our carry-ons) to the moving cube for our stuff, to moving dudes on both ends. I feel as ready as I’ll ever be, I guess.

We’ve culled a lot of stuff out — a lot of clothes and kitchen stuff went to Goodwill, and we donated lots of books to the library. I still kept tons, of course. Here’s a peek at the paperbacks I’ve kept. You can tell some of them are older and crustier than others.

Beat-up paperback books.

Beat-up paperback books.

Some of them, the pages aren’t even stuck to the spine anymore. And yet I can’t get rid of them! Though they are a challenge to read.

We had a credit left at a place up in Winter Park called The Wine Room — they have hundreds of wines in the Enomatic wine dispenser machines. So we cruised up there and had ourselves a few tastes, and found a couple of new wines we really liked.

Enomatic wine machines.

Enomatic wine machines.

Although some of the descriptions didn’t sound all that appetizing:

Wine flavored with asphalt?

Wine flavored with asphalt?

Somehow, “crushed rock, loamy earth, and asphalt” aren’t the flavors I’m usually looking for in a wine. We decided to pass on sampling this one. I like my wines mild, and a little sweet. Found a couple of Rieslings to get a full bottle of, once we’ve moved. (There are a lot of things that are being put on hold right now, and added to the “once we’ve moved” list. The less stuff I have to pack and have transported, the better.)

We cruised out to IKEA locally here, to decide which bed frame we want to get once we land in Arizona. It’s pretty much going to be [1] get the apartment keys; [2] set up the cats in a closed-off area with litter box, food, and water; and [3] go to IKEA to get a bed. We’re getting the Sultan Hanestad mattress, which is the newer version of our old Sultan Huglo which I love.

While we were there, I saw these light fixtures. Does anyone out there like them? They look kind of like wadded up tissues to me.

IKEA crumpled tissues lights.

IKEA crumpled tissues lights.

Eh, maybe if you had the right other decor in your house. Though I can’t imagine what that decor would be.

Last but not least, I finally found a place that serves gluten-free fish and chips. And it was right in my backyard the entire time! A place called Cookes of Dublin, in Downtown Disney, makes all of their fried stuff (fish, shrimp, onion rings, even mozzarella sticks) fresh to order, so you can get it in the gluten-free batter and fried up in a separate dedicated gluten-free fryer.

Gluten-free fish and chips.

Gluten-free fish and chips.

I haven’t had fish and chips in years. And it was great!! Plus, they mix a little bit of chopped parsley in with the gluten-free batter, so you always know for sure that you got the right stuff. We’ll probably have to stop by one more time before we leave the area, because who knows when we’ll find GF fried fish again?

So, that’s where we’re at. Busting ass and stressing out, but soon we’ll be rid of Florida for good, and launched on a new and exciting adventure!


The day after Disney, I dyed my hair pink.

I’ve been looking forward to this for months. I have only colored my hair a couple of times since starting with the mouse over eight years ago, and even then it had to be a natural-looking color. I missed the crazy shades! I mostly used to do reds and oranges, or just bleached blonde, and thought about those colors this time around. But I finally decided that I’d do a color I’ve never done before: pink.

To start with, here’s a before picture:

before - dark hair

With extra bonus helper sink cat!

On the 10-scale of hair color, black is a 1 and lightest blonde is a 10 (there’s a color chart later in this post). My natural color falls right around a 2, even though it looks mostly black in this picture. (I took most pictures in the spare bathroom, because it has a nice plain white door right behind the mirror. The lighting in there isn’t 100% awesome, but I adjusted as well as I could.)

I washed my hair the night before, so it was free of products but also had some time to build up a little bit of scalp grease. Ew, that sounds gross. But seriously, don’t color freshly-washed hair; you need a little oil on your head to protect your tender head skin from the chemicals.

Behold, my supplies:

pink hair coloring supplies

I browsed the Sally Beauty Supply aisles thoroughly, torn between the Manic Panic and other brands. I ended up going with Ion, a brand I’ve used before (though for more “normal” colors) and liked. All of the unnatural colors are “semi-permanent,” so it’ll be interesting to see how long the color sticks around before I need to freshen it up.

With hair as dark as mine, it needs to be lightened significantly before it can take any really good color. So it was a two-step process: bleach, then color the lighter hair. I got a blue-based lightener, because my hair tends to go really orange and brassy when it gets lighter, and the blue is supposed to counteract that.

And yes, it’s really, actually blue.

blue bleach

Mix the blue powder with cream developer (I went with a 20-volume, recommended by the lightener packaging for when you’re working right at the roots) until it’s the consistency of pancake batter, then brush it on all over. I had Scott assist briefly, to make sure I got the small hairs on the back of my neck, and didn’t have any big drips or smudges on my skin.

The lightener packet recommended 30-50 minutes, depending on how light you want to go, and how tortured/thick/stubborn your hair already is. My hair was virgin and uncolored, so I was comfortable going with 50 minutes to get it as light as possible. The goal was to take me from a level 2 up to a level 7/8.

hair color chart

According to the packaging of the pink color I chose, I didn’t need to shoot for a level 10 to get good results; it recommended a 7.

So, after 50 minutes, I rinsed out the bleach and ended up with the following:

middle phase: bleached hair

Yeah, it’s still a little on the orange side, but not much. There’s only so much that the blue goo can do. If I’d gone for a non-colored lightener, it would have been WAY orangier, believe me. Been there, done that. Spell check is telling me that “orangier” isn’t a word, but I’m rolling with it.

Also, if you compare to the chart, it’s definitely lighter than a 7. I’m lucky, in that my hair is pretty dark, but it always bleaches out really well. Maybe it’s because I was blonde as a child, who knows?

Every time I bleach my hair, I’m tempted to stop there. It’s a kind of cool color. I could get a toner and use it, which would take out more of the gold tones and put it more toward platinum. Hmm, maybe in the future. For now, it was project pink all the way.

I let my bleached hair dry thoroughly before putting on the magenta dye. Some recommend waiting a couple of days between bleaching and coloring, while others insist it should be done right away, while the hair follicle is wide open. I figure, if they do it right away in the salon, and I’m using salon-quality supplies, I’d be just fine coloring immediately.

On with the pink sludge!

all pink sludged up

The instructions that came with the color said to leave it on for 20-40 minutes. However, a lot of the young people with their YouTube how-to videos appear to leave their color on for 2 or more hours. Since the color is just pure color (as opposed to store-bought boxes of hair color, where you mix a developer in with the color), you could leave it on overnight if you wanted to, and you’d be perfectly OK (well, you’d have a hell of a messy pillowcase to clean, but other than that, OK).

I rinsed after 40 minutes. And yeah, when I refresh the color, I’ll definitely leave it in for longer, because it’s way lighter than I expected it to be — more of a candy pink than a deep magenta.

I took some shots in the spare bathroom, but the color was hard to get right. Here’s the best representation, in natural light by a window:

the final pink hair

And even though it isn’t the color I thought it would be, I really dig it! It’s definitely not Disney-appropriate, which is a great reminder every time I look in the mirror that I don’t have to go in to work next week.

A couple of notes:

If you’re going to put a crazy color on your hair, rub some petroleum jelly on your skin along the hairline first. Because these colors stain like crazy! Here you can really see along my hairline where my skin had Vaseline on it, and where it ended and the color got on my scalp:

color stains the scalp meat!

(You can also see that my accuracy along the hairline was not all that great. There are also spots on top of my head where I missed the roots by a quarter-inch, and some areas that barely got the pink dye. These are all because of doing it with my own two hands, and not being able to see parts of my head directly. It’s hard when you’re using a hand-held mirror to look at the reflection of the back of your own head in the bathroom mirror, y’know?)

Anyhoo, the scalp line is no biggie, since I wear my hair over my forehead, and the stains will wash away after the first couple of shampooings. (I even got a color-protective shampoo, to replace the bar soap I usually wash my hair with. Yes, I wash my hair with bar soap. My hair is baby-fine, and just lays there limply in the Florida humidity unless I torture it a little bit.)

These color dyes are really thick. You can thin them out with some hair conditioner, but whatever you do, DO NOT thin them out with the developer solution you used with the lightener. Bad mojo there. You can also thin out the dye with a lot of conditioner, to get more of a pastel look.

Use non-metal bowls. I like to go with glass — easy to see that you’ve mixed everything up from the bottom, easy to clean, and non-reactive with the chemicals you’re using. And don’t wear anything too precious, because you WILL get bleach on it.

I plan on accompanying this color with an undercut, which I’ll probably do today or tomorrow. Not sure if I’ll end up with 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch on the sides — I’ll start out with the longer and see how I feel, then go shorter if the mood strikes. I kind of can’t wait for the roots to start growing out — nearly-black on the sides and pink on top will probably look really cool.

When refreshing the color, I may try Manic Panic or Special Effects or one of the other big brands, to see if I like them better. Anyone out there have a favorite brand?


Tiny lenses … for my phone

(Title sung to the tune of “Tiny Bubbles,” which is totally stuck in my head right now.)

So while reading an article on BoingBoing the the other day, I experienced that thing where you go from not knowing an item exists to wanting it desperately, all in a span of 30 seconds. The item in question: a set of tiny clip-on lenses for your cell phone.

Tiny lens clipped onto my phone

Immediately, I dashed over to Amazon. The author of the BoingBoing piece had ordered his set for about three bucks, but they took a month to arrive from China. Since we’re moving in a little over a month, and I felt the need for immediate gratification, I spent twice as much and bought a six dollar set with Prime shipping.

(Here is the set I bought; looks like they aren’t available on Prime anymore. But if you search for “clip on cell phone lenses,” there are a gajillion choices available, some Prime.)

Tiny cell phone clip-on lens set

The set comes with three lens options: fish eye, macro, and wide angle. And it’s a little confusing at first, because in order to use the wide angle feature, you have to have the macro and wide angle lenses attached to each other. Somehow they work together to create magic. Many reviews on many different options on Amazon have complaints that people only received two lenses, but they didn’t realize that two of the three arrive attached as a unit.

They even include little lens caps (although the back side is still open to the elements) and a carrying bag (which I had to re-sew along the bottom, as the stitching wasn’t that great).

So, onward to testing! Above, you can see the fish eye lens attached to my phone. Apparently, you can put these on over a case, but I put them straight onto my phone (yes, my phone itself is that strange orange color). The hardest part is getting them centered over your camera’s lens, but you can put just the clip part on by itself, center it, then screw on the tiny lens you want to use.

Macro shot of fish-eye lens

First, let’s talk about the macro lens. At first, I thought it wasn’t working right, but I figured out that you have to get REALLY close to things. If it’s blurry, you’re still too far away. You gotta get right up in your subject’s grill.

Closer.

CLOSER.

macro lens: shift key

THIS CLOSE.

Seriously, you gotta get close. It’s almost like a tiny microscope that clips onto your phone. I took a picture of the wrinkly old-lady skin on the back of my hand, but I’ll save you all from that. I don’t even want to see it, so I can’t imagine you’d want to.

Here’s where I move on to the wide-angle lens, and tell you that I don’t really have any good shots with it.

Cheddar in the wide-angle lens

Of course, this is a good shot, because it’s of a sweet baby kitty. But generally speaking, it doesn’t seem like using the wide angle lens is all that different from taking regular pictures. Maybe my phone already takes pretty wide angles? At any rate, it doesn’t seem to give me much extra space along the sides, but it does warp the image a bit, giving it a rounded look, as you can see from the pattern of our living room rug.

I’ll experiment more with it — maybe there’s something I’m missing here.

Anyhoo, onward to the fish eye lens! A negative Amazon review of this one cracked me up — someone complained that it left “a black rectangle around the outside.” Because, I guess, they expected their image files to come out round.

Trouble in the fish eye

A couple of issues with the fish eye lens: the blue color of the lenses I chose, and difficulty focusing.

I found that in most of my fish-eye pictures, especially ones in bright light, there was a ring of blue around the outside, since that’s the color I bought the lenses in. So if you want an all-black ring around your pictures, I’d advise getting a set of these in black. I didn’t even think about the possibility that they’d capture a wee bit of the edge of the lens.

Not the best focus job in the world.

The second part is the focus. Sometimes I was able to get things to focus really well, and other times, no matter what I tried, things came out kind of blurry. I’m not sure if this is a case of unsteady hands, or a smudge on the lens (the little bag they came with doubles as a cleaning cloth, which is handy, but I felt like I was constantly having to wipe these lenses for smudges and fingerprints while we were outside).

Other shots, though, came out relatively crisp and sharp:

Our beloved Tower, for the last time before we move.

Or, at least, sharp in the center of the picture. I expect things to get a little blurry around the outside, due to the warped nature of the whole thing. But it was hard most of the time to get things in sharp focus in the very middle of the shot.

The fish eye will definitely merit a lot more experimenting, with close-up and distance stuff, as well as low light versus bright light. I don’t think the blurriness problem is necessarily an issue with the lens itself, since I did get a couple of shots that were on the sharper side — I think it’s a matter of learning how to use it correctly.

So, overall: fun and cheap! The macro is the best of the bunch so far. They also make other lenses, like a hilarious tiny telephoto lens. And you can find an option where you stick a magnetic ring around your phone’s camera, then just attach the lenses via magnet, instead of with a clip.

Cheddar in the wide angle


The end of the mouse is in sight.

I’m at the two-weeks-left point of my job, and boy howdy am I ready to be done. I really like the job, don’t get me wrong, but I’m holding off on doing so many things right now. One thing I’ll say, I don’t know if I’ll ever find a cooler job — I’ve listened to so much music that I broke my headphones.

Thank goodness for duct tape.

Thank goodness for duct tape. No point in getting a new pair, since I’ll only be there a short while longer.

One of the things I’m holding off on is coloring my hair. Disney has a set of appearance guidelines called “The Disney Look,” and one of the points is to have hair in a “natural” shade. I miss the crazy colors I used to be able to do! So the day after I no longer work there, I’ll be bleaching, then coloring my hair with this stuff:

MAGENTA!

I’m most likely also going to give myself an undercut, because, why not?

We have our move date set; on September 9th, we’ll be flying ourselves and the cats out to Arizona. Where they apparently don’t have things like this in the grocery stores:

A Wal-Mart in Florida.

I’m looking forward to a time when I find this kind of thing weird and cool again, instead of just looking at it and thinking, Eh, that’s totally normal.

In other news, there are a couple of new bouncing baby books in the Meyer household! Scott’s fourth book, Master of Formalities, came out on July 7th (on Kindle; the paper version and audio book will be released on July 28th). It’s completely different from his other three books, and the quickie descriptions is “Downton Abbey set in the Dune universe.” I loved it, but then again, I’m probably a biased reader.

Scott's books: 4 so far!

You can check out Master of Formalities over at Amazon: USA, UK, Canada. You can also see all of his books at his Amazon author pages on the USA and UK sites. (His Magic 2.0 books are all on sale right now for $2.00 each on the Kindle, so there’s that, too!)

But wait, there’s more! I also had a book come out this month: Unsung Villains, which is the sequel to my first book, We Could Be Villains. Now I have a matched pair! I have some thoughts about the third in the series, but right now I’m thinking about writing something else before I move on to book 3. And of course, all writing is going to wait until after we’ve moved across the country.

Valentine & Hart, Books 1 & 2

Note: These copies are test proofs, so the actual covers aren’t as dark. Pertinent links: Unsung Villains is available on Kindle and paper at Amazon USA, UK, and Canada.

And to celebrate, right now (through July 21st), my first book, We Could Be Villains, is on sale for 99¢ in the US Kindle store, and 99p in the UK Kindle store.

I hope to get back to this blog and write a lot more, once I don’t have a day job anymore. After we move I’ll be putting myself through online school for graphic design, and I’ll probably have a lot of fun projects and things to share. Plus, I’ll have much more available time, since I won’t be away from home for 9 hours every day.

One last snappie before I sign off:

SO CLOSE.

SO. DARNED. CLOSE.


Photodump: 2015 so far, and things to come

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Sorry, any of those who are following the minutiae of my life! Things have been very busy of late, and they’re only going to get busier very soon.

Back in February, we took a trip out to Phoenix, Arizona. We went for a couple of reasons: first, all of my immediate family has migrated there from Seattle, so we were able to visit my parents, as well as my brother and his family.

tiki gods and lemons

My parents have a thriving lemon tree in their backyard, with a few friends keeping it company. The bulk of the landscaping is pale gravel, which I really dig. Lawns are not my thing.

The other reason we went there was to scope the place out. We’ve been here in Florida for over 8 years now, and it still doesn’t feel like home. We have no urge whatsoever to buy a house here and settle down. As soon as we went back west, where the time zones run later and the TV stations all start with the letter K, it felt right again. We went into a Safeway grocery store, and I almost cried with joy.

SO, we’re moving to Phoenix in September. We’ll be able to find a place to live starting about 60 days out, and are currently planning other aspects of the move. (Current plan: ABF U-Pack ReloCube for our stuff, transport company to take the Fiat over, and we’ll fly out nonstop with the cats.)

We’ve started into doing things here for the last time. Scott’s brother came out to visit this month, so we went on our last trip to the Universal parks.

really, Universal?

I went as ready as I thought I could be. They always make you put your purse in a locker, so I wore shorts with deep pockets, put my phone, wallet and keys in those, and even brought safety pins to pin my pockets closed to keep my stuff safe. And YET! Now on a few rides, Universal doesn’t allow you to take any of that stuff on the rides — you have to go through metal detectors, and if you’re carrying any personal belongings, you STILL have to go put them in a locker.

That trip to Universal also taught me that my equilibrium has become so bad with age, I can’t really do the big roller coasters anymore. I’ll stick with Disney-grade rides from now on. (And when we’re in Phoenix, we’ll be a 5-hour drive to Disneyland. Which thrills me more than I can say. It’s still a way better park than any of the ones we have here in Florida.)

Brother-in-law brought my birthday card, which had been mailed a month before, but met with some peril on the way:

birthday card

Ouch. The machine did a near-perfect job of tearing off the name and address, while leaving the envelope sealed. It’s impressive, in a way. Though it looks like someone gave it an F grade.

After Universal, we went to the Magic Kingdom with brother-in-law. Everything there was much more my speed. One nice thing about both Universal and Disney is that they have some decent gluten-free options in the restaurants. At Universal, many of their burgers can be put on a gluten-free bun (they still haven’t quite perfected the texture, but they do the job of holding the fillings in just fine). At Disney, I got the GF chicken strips, which are not only good, but I think they’re better than the regular ones.

Disney gluten-free chicken strips

Let’s see, what else is going on? I’m currently working on the 4th draft of my next book (beta reader feedback is coming in these days, and I’m making edits based on their comments/suggestions/critiques).

The cats are lovely, as always:

Cheddar and Trouble and a box

We have a large cardboard box in our living room, because Cheddar just adores it. Sometimes she’s inside it, but most of the time she lays on top of it. Trouble isn’t as thrilled with the box, but then again, she’s a crotchety old 17-year-old. She’s seen it all, man.

Oh, and we had a great celebrity encounter recently, when our friends Jen and John from Cake Wrecks took us along to see the Mythbusters Live show, where we also got a backstage meet-and-greet with Jamie and Adam.

Mythbusters!

The show was a fascinating thing: a weird hybrid of comedy, science demonstrations, Q&As, and more.

So that’s what’s going on these days! If you’re wondering what I’ll be doing for a job, after we move I’ll be taking a few months to do a few things: I’m going to put myself through an online certificate program for graphic design, since my knowledge is mostly self-taught and mostly at least 5 years old at this point. I’m going to get Scott’s social media sites whipped into shape (we could do so much more with his Facebook and Twitter accounts). And by that point, my 2nd book should be out, and I’ll be able to start on my 3rd. Which I believe will be in a different universe completely.


I really enjoy drawing weird things.

The Holiday Doodles continue on, though I scaled them back from 7 days a week to Monday through Friday. It gives me a little more breathing room, and they’ve always felt like a work/school kind of thing to me.

One big change this month is that I’ve gone from drawing them on 4×6 notecards with a pencil and pen to drawing them completely on the computer. Less wasteful of paper, and I can re-do the final black lines as many times as I want, instead of having to get the rough sketch just right, then pray that I draw it correctly with the pen.

Previously, here’s an example from last April of the pencil sketch process:

eeyore-sketch

I also photographed the final drawings, then used Photoshop to lighten them up and boost the contrast so I could then import them into Illustrator. (We do have a scanner/printer, but I hate the scanner. Takes forEVER, when it decides to work. Because it’s an HP machine. NEVER AGAIN, HP.)

Now, I do the rough sketches in blue:

February 20's sketch

February 20’s sketch

This was for Love Your Pet Day combined with Clean Out Your Bookshelves Day. The choice of blue is a throwback to the use of no-photo blue pencils for rough work; you could do the black final art right over the top, and specific camera/scanner settings would make the blue pretty much invisible, so you didn’t need to erase.

After I go crazy with the rough sketch, I throw a new layer on top, switch my pen to black, then do the final drawing. Right hand with the pen on the graphics tablet, left hand with two fingers resting on Ctrl and Z (undo).

February 23rd - a cupcake playing tennis

February 23rd – a cupcake playing tennis

I think it’s really giving me cleaner, more consistent lines. I tried doodling using the computer a couple of years ago, but at that time I found I preferred paper and pen. I don’t know what changed, but something certainly did.

I also believe that doing these doodles is making me a better illustrator. I’ve done Mario a few times before, but this one is by far my best one.

Mar. 10: Mario Day! Also, bagpipes.

Mar. 10: Mario Day! Also, bagpipes.

(Also, I would totally play the bagpipes if they were made to look like a power-up mushroom.)


I Can’t Believe This Hasn’t Been Done Before

The Lady Is a Trap

The Lady Is a Trap

And yet, my Google searches turned up nothing. This is what happens when I listen to a lot of standards/American songbook stuff.


Photoshop Text Effect Tutorial: Road Stencil

I’ve been learning a ton of new tips and tricks from following Photoshop text tutorials lately. As we were driving to the grocery store the other day, I looked down at the chipped up, grimy, beat-to-hell turn arrow and text on the road and thought, that’d be a cool thing to create in Photoshop! I looked around for a tutorial, but couldn’t find one. So I made one! Note: this is done in Photoshop CS4; things might be in slightly different places in different versions.

sign7-brown

Here are the elements I scouted around for online. Major thanks to everyone who makes these things available!
Font: Boston Traffic
Pattern 1: Seamless Asphalt Texture
Pattern 2: Whitewashed Blue and Beige Grunge Patterns
Brush: Dust Particles Brush Set
Object: Tire Treads
Object: Left Turn Arrow

First, you’ll want to make a pattern out of the asphalt texture. Open that image file and go to Edit > Define Pattern. Done!

Decide how large you want your image to be. For a lot of the tutorials I’ve been following, I’ve been doing them small—around 400×600 pixels. (Then I don’t have to do any resizing to post them here on the ol’ blog.)

Create your base layer and color it in black. Or whatever solid color you like; we’ll be laying a pattern over the top, so you won’t see that color anymore. Go to your layer styles (that little “fx” option at the bottom of your layers window) and choose “Pattern Overlay.” Select your newly-created asphalt pattern, and scale it so that it has a realistic look. I went down to 25% on this 400×600 sample.

sign-1-pattern-overlay

Why not just use the fill bucket to fill that first layer with the pattern? Unscaled, the gravel in the asphalt looks HUGE. It’s like when you see a miniature boat filmed for a movie; the boat looks accurate, but the water underneath it looks wrong. You want to scale the pattern so that whatever you put over the top of it doesn’t look weirdly out of scale.

Next up, type in your text. I found the font Boston Traffic and loved it immediately; it already has jagged, irregular edges, event though we’ll jack those up even more a little bit later. Fiddle with the font size, distance between lines, and distance between letters until you get a look you like. Here are my settings.

sign-2-plain-text

Once you get the type where you want it, rasterize it. (Right-click on that layer and choose “Rasterize Type”.) We’ll be doing some erasing in a moment, and you can’t do that when it’s still type.

Back to the layer styles we go! Here are the settings, applied to the rasterized type layer:

sign-3a

sign-3b

sign-3c

sign-3d

sign-3e

The pattern I used in this part is the blue crème #42 from the webtreats collection, but you could use any pattern that just adds an element of dirty grunginess. Adjust the opacity of that pattern to add as much (or as little) grime as you want. I like it pretty grimy, since I’m also going to dirty things up a lot.

sign4a-layers

Next, let’s erase away some of the text. Not a lot, just enough to show some wear and tear. This is one of the thousands of reasons I love the dust particle brushes from wegraphics: they’re good for a thousand and one uses. Fire up the eraser (at 100% opacity), pick one of the dust brushes you like, scale it to an appropriate size (for this 400×600, I scaled my brushes to around 700 pixels) and just give it one tap.

sign4-pockmarks

Boom! Pitted and aged.

Now, while you’re erasing, you can also take some nibbles away from the sides of the letters, to give them even more wear and age. No need to go overboard—just make some of the straighter edges not so straight.

Now, let’s add in the tire tread. Open up the tire tread image file and select a tread you like. I picked the fourth one from the left, because it has that gross blobby portion in the bottom half. Select whichever tread you want, copy it over into a new layer, then resize and rotate it so that it’s a good proportion to the text. Change the layer’s style to Linear Burn, and bump the opacity down to about 65%. You can also put a little bit of Gaussian Blur on it, to take away some of the sharper edges. (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur; I went with a radius of 0.8 pixels.)

sign5-tread

Now, the pavement itself looks too clean and new. Create a new layer underneath the text, and go to town with those dust particle brushes. Pick a few shades of dark gray and tap the brushes to put down a splattering of grime. Photoshop also comes with a few spatter brushes, so experiment with those. You can play with the layer styles here too; change the style from Normal to Overlay to Linear Burn and see what you like.

sign6-grime

You can also add in some browns, for oil and dirt and dust and coffee spills. I created a new layer for brown and set the layer style to Overlay, then smeared around three or four shades of brown, some stacked on top of each other.

sign7-brown

For some, it’s done. For others, it just wouldn’t be complete with a little gradient around the outside, to give it a kind of hip Instagram-style filtered look. So here’s that, if you want it. It’s a totally optional step. As shown, I created a new layer over the top of all others, filled it with a radial gradient, black to transparent, reversed so that the black is on the outside.

sign8-gradient

I set the layer style to Overlay, and knocked opacity down to 50%. And there you have it, if gradients are your thing! (You could also do that gradient in a dark brown. Or any other color that floats your boat.)

sign9-done

You can also do the exact same thing with objects, instead of text. Here, I took the standard road sign arrow, chopped a piece out of it to give it that stenciled look, and then applied all of the same settings, layers, and whatnot.

sign10-arrow

So there you have it, stenciled road text! Now I’m headed out on the internet to find more tutorials to follow.


More Photoshop Text Tutorials!

So I’ve really started poking around the internet, and it’s amazing the kind of things you can do with Photoshop effects. Why have I only spend all of this time using it to graft people’s heads onto other people’s bodies, and other boring uses?

Previously, I showed my results from following a few tutorials online. Well, I’ve discovered a few more tutorials that I found do-able, and here are the results!

(Side note: I’m using Photoshop CS4. There are a number of tutorials out there for the far newer CS6, which has some new 3-D features and other glitzy things that I can’t do. Sad face, but I’m not about to shell out a gajillion bucks for a few new features.)

A 3-D style sign on the wall.

A 3-D style sign on the wall.

This is the ultra-glossy text effect tutorial from Wegraphics. It felt like a kind of metallic sign hanging on the wall to me, so I adjusted my text accordingly.

Carved wood.

Carved wood.

Here’s the first video I followed, as opposed to a series of screenshots and instructions: using PS text effects to give the impression of letters carved in wood, from Ice Flow Studios. I had to pause and skip backward a few times, but overall the following-a-video experience was a good one. A+, would learn from again.

Yes. Let's.

Yes. Let’s.

Next up was a pretty easy way to put a photo inside your text, from Photoshop Essentials. It’s a good step toward knowing how to do old-fashioned postcards. Although I believe there’s a tutorial out there for that style of postcard, as well.

Yay, sparkly things!

Yay, sparkly things!

This is a tutorial for a dynamic particle explosion from the Photoshop Lady. It includes a link to her free brush set of dust particles, which I can see coming in handy for a thousand and one uses. I’ll admit, this tutorial forced me to look up a second tutorial, because the instructions just said to “add a Gradient Map adjustment layer,” so I had to figure out how that was done. Fortunately, Googling that very phrase got me what I needed.

Scorching hot Mickey!

Scorching hot Mickey!

Last up is the magma hot effect from Tuts+. I figured I’d try a simple object instead of text, and I think it still worked quite well. It makes the mouse even more of a badass than he already is.


Playing with Photoshop Text Effects

I’ve had Photoshop on my computer for years, but I’ve mostly used it for, y’know photos. And doodle-related stuff. If I was using it to put text on something, I might put an outline around the text. Or a drop shadow. That was about the limit of my Photoshop text experience.

Recently, I’ve had my eyes opened that you can do some really cool text effects in Photoshop.

We bought a package of vintage and retro text effects (they were on a hella good sale, which sadly ended a couple of days ago). I took a look, and as is usually the case when seeing something cool and artist, I wondered if I could learn how to do that kind of thing.

Here’s a sample from the package we bought:

Vintage/retro text effects package sample

Vintage/retro text effects package sample

It’s pretty cool. Textured background, textured letters, lots of shading and shadows and groovy crap like that. So since I had nothing better to do with my day off today, I’ve searched around the internet for tutorials and how-to guides for some Photoshop text effects.

There are a ton of sites out there with “50 great text effects” and such. I browsed through those until I found things that looked cool. Here are some of the things I learned to do today:

The letter M. ON FIRE!

The letter M. ON FIRE!

Here’s a flaming letter, from a tutorial over at 10 Steps. You do a bunch of manipulation of the text itself, then you actually put a layer of a photograph of fire over the top, and manipulate that too!

Just call me Ms. Fancy Pants.

Just call me Ms. Fancy Pants.

For a lot of these, I put in text that seemed to fit the style. This is a totally fancy-pants tutorial from Tuts+. (I will confess, I only made it halfway through this one; their final product is way cooler than mine. But I did this one just before lunch, stopped at the mid-way point, then decided to just save it and move on.)

Looks like nail polish to me.

Looks like nail polish to me.

This is a glossy emblem tutorial from Hongkiat — they’re a great source for lots of tutorials. I changed a number of the settings, including the color, and used a different background. But I really like the look of this one; it has a kind of fluid look, like someone filled in the words with wet fingernail polish.

Shiny!

Shiny!

Here’s a really cool light burst effect, thanks to a tutorial from Designer Freelance. I thought it was quite shiny. The shadow of the text stretching along the ground made me extra happy.

I am a mature adult.

I am a mature adult.

Last but not least is my favorite of the lot, this light burst from Photoshop Essentials. And no, it isn’t just my favorite because of the text I used. Although I’m delighted by that, too. What can I say, my inner child is a 13-year-old boy.

I’m excited to try more tutorials, because in each one, I learn about a text effect or filter or other Photoshop trick I’d either never used before, or I’d never used it quite that way. I’m sure I’ll get around to doing more this evening, since there’s nothing else to do today.

So happy Photoshopping friends! Merry Christmas to all, and to all, poopy farts!