Absolute beginner tutorial
Welcome to this absolute beginner tutorial, if you are new to creating signatures this is the tutorial to start with when you have zero knowledge! In this tutorial you will learn:
- What brushes are, where to get them and how to use them.
- How to add color to your background.
- Where to get renders, what renders are and how to use them.
- How to blend your render with the background.
- How to create focus and a feeling of depth in your signature.
- How to add text and a border
Sound pretty good doesn't it? So lets get started, but before we start here is an idea of what you will be making:
Using only the techniques learned in this tutorial you will be able to create signatures like this in only 10 minutes!
Download the .psd
As a Premium member you can download the .psd file of the signature
It is fully labeled, this way you can exactly see what I did when creating the signature, even steps that I didn’t explain in the tutorial.
Never again you will get stuck because you don’t understand something in the tutorial, just take a look inside the .psd file and boost your signature making skills with new technique’s and ideas!
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Creating the background
First create a new document, for the canvas size I choose 380 X 140, normally anything from [300-400] X [100-150] is a good choice.
Make sure you have the colors black and white set as your foreground and background color (Hit the D key if this isn't the case), then go to Filter>render>clouds to create your first layer.
Where to get grunge brushes
Once downloaded to your computer you will need to add the brushes file into: C:\Program Files\Adobe\Your photoshop version\Presets\Brushes,
now you might need to restart photoshop to load them.
Select the Brush Tool (B), now load one of your downloaded grunge brushes by doing the following:
Make a new layer (CTRL+SHIFT+N) and with black as your color selected simply click on your canvas to brush, don't overdo it just a few times is fine.
Select a different brush from your brush pack and switch your foreground color to white, now create a new layer again and brush a bit on this layer.
After a few layers of using a brush pack you can switch around to a different brush pack, to keep your signature interesting. I loaded one of my favorite brush packs, Jashin brushes set 12 and I continued by adding new layers, every time switching from a black to white and changing brushes
The background is now finished, time to add some color onto our background!
You can open the brightness and contrast adjustment screen by going to Layer > New adjustment layer > brightness and constrast on the top of your screen, you can also use the shortcut icon that is located on the bottom of your layers panel.
Adjusting the contrast in your signature can improve the background a lot:
Coloring the background
Coloring your background can be done in a lot of ways, here I choose to use maybe not the easiest and quickest technique, but it does give great colors matching your render.
What are Renders
Renders are images that are cut out from the original image, this way you can use them in your signature without having to spend time cutting out the part you want (for example a game character) from its background, saving you lots of time!
Where to download Renders
You can find lots of renders in our Render Section, the easiest way is to just download some free render packs so you quickly have a great collection of quality collection and you will never need to spend time searching the web for some good renders.
Another great place to get individual renders is Planet Renders.
So first we need to find a nice render, I choose to use the following Render
Opening your render
Renders are almost always saved as a .png with a transparent background, when you simply copy and paste the render from your browser into photoshop you will notice that the transparent background has been gone.
To prevent this you will first need to save your render on your computer, after that you can safely open it in photoshop. Right click > open with photoshop, then copy the render and go back to your original document, now you can paste in your render while the background remains transparent.
Add the render on a new layer inside your document, then duplicate it once (right click on the layer > duplicate layer) and move both layers so they fill the whole canvas like this:
Now select both layers at the same time using CTRL now right click on the layers > merge layers and go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur
Set this layers blending mode to overlay and you are finished coloring your background!
Adding your render
Now its time to add in your render, scale it down and place it in the right spot.
First add your render into your document again, like described before. Now go to Edit > Transform > Scale and drag the handles to make your render smaller so it fits into your canvas. (Note: Hold SHIFT while scaling to keep the original ratio, else your render will look strange).
Try placing (you can move the render around using the move tool (V) ) and scaling your render in a smart way, I will show you some ways not to do it first:
The most important and interesting parts on our render are his face and the tattoo, so they should be the center of the render.
The render is way to small, making it hard to know where to look at, the background or the render?
And this is the correct way, the interesting parts on our render are in the middle and the background isn't distracting, the main focus point in the signature now is our render.
Blending your render
Since we just pasted the render onto the background it often looks like the render just floats on the background.
Thats why we need to blend our render with the background. In this signature its actually already looking decent because of the way we colored our background to match with the render, we could have gotten away by just skipping this step, but I will show you one of the easiest blending techniques. After all you are here to learn new things right, not just to recreate someone else his signature!
Select the Eraser Tool (E) and use the following settings:
With the eraser tool selected go around your render erasing bits of the outline, so your render and background "flow" into each other nicely, here is an example to show you the difference:
See how it makes your render look better? (its not a huge difference in this signature, but in some signatures it can drastically improve your signature!)
Focus, depth and lighting
Focus, depth, flow and lighting are the most important things that make a signature really good, but they are very hard to explain and master so thats why I will not go into detail about these, I will however quickly show you some of the basic techniques. If you want read more tutorials on this subject check out some of the tutorials on the sigtutorials.com forum.
Things that are farther away from you tend to be vague, while things that are closer to you have much more detail. This effect can be reproduced in signatures using the blurring of things in the background, and sharpening things in the front.
Another huge factor is the light in your signature, you will need to make sure it is coming from the right direction by looking at the shadows on your render. Good lighting can really improve your signature and make your render stand out more.
Before we can begin with this step we will need to add everything on one layer, we will do this by first creating a new layer (ctrl+shift+n), now go to Image > Apply Image and click ok.
First we will take out our sharpen tool and sharpen your render to make it stand out more, you can use the following settings:
Then select your blur tool and blur the sides using the same settings as used for the sharpen tool, your signature should now look like this:
Now its time to use the Burn and Dodge Tools (O). Use the burn tool to make the sides darker and use the Dodge tool to make the render stand out more, you can again use the settings I used for the sharpen tool
Adding text and a border
As you can see our signature is almost done by now, of course you can add a million kind of cool effects to your signature to improve it, the signature we made is is nice, but nothing impressive compared to the things you can create with more advanced techniques! Still I hope you learned the basics of creating a signature using renders and brushes.
Ok enough talking, let's add a border! As with everything in a signature this can be done in multiple ways, here we will use one of the easiest (and probably best looking) ways to create a border.
Create a new layer above all your other layers, and hit CTRL+A, this will select the complete canvas.
Now go to Edit > Stroke and use the following settings to create a border around your selected area.
Text is one of the hardest things in creating signatures, it often happens that you make a great signature but you have no idea what to do with the text. My advice would be to just keep your text as simple as possible for now, when you are starting out you just need to make sure that your text doesn't ruin your signature and is placed in the correct place. You can worry about creating uber sexy text when you get better 🙂
The best spot to place your text is near your render, don't make your text overlap the important parts in your render but also make sure that you don't tuck your text away in a corner.
A rule often used by designers is to create a grid of 3x3, the places where those line interact should be the places where you must place your most important items, like for example your render and text. As you can see in this signature 2 of the spots are taken by our most important things in our render, the face and the tattoo. This leaves 2 spots open for our text, I choose the bottom left spot since it would look the best.
Now take out your Text Tool (T) and choose something like Arial or Verdana as your font (remember keep it simple, no fancy fonts it will often look bad!). Now type the text you want and make sure that you set the color to something that matches with the rest of your signature. I also added a second subtext, this is not necessary but somehow it will always make your text look much better!
Here is the final signature:
This is the end of the tutorial, I hope you understand the basics of creating signatures by now. If you got any questions feel free to ask them below, if you want feedback on the signatures you created make sure to post them in our show off section and various other designers will help you to improve your signatures!