How to Use Photoshop to Make Text Look Old Like it Came From an Old Typewriter
By Filonia LeChat
Pundits and taste makers love to say that “everything old is new again,” and the yearning for nostalgic ways of communication crosses over even into the world of digital design. With Adobe Photoshop, you’re able to mix the old – a typewriter text look – with the new. A typewriter-style font may be the perfect way to grab attention for your website, corporate newsletter or even marketing collateral. With Photoshop, you won’t need white out and reams of paper to get something that’s just your type.
Launch Photoshop and set up a new design space with your preferred dimensions. Choose “White” from the “Background Contents” menu so that your end result looks as if it was typed on a sheet of typing paper. Click “OK.”
Click the “Type” tool, the “T” icon, on the Tools palette. Click the font menu and select one of Photoshop’s included typewriter-style fonts, such as Courier New.
Click the design board and type the message, such as “It was a dark and stormy night.” Adjust the text size as desired.
Right-click the text layer, which is symbolized by a “T” in a white box on the Layers palette. Choose “Rasterize Type.” Note that the “T” in the white box changes to a gray and white checkerboard grid.
Click the “Edit” menu and choose “Puppet Warp.” You’ll see your lettering becomes speckled gray. Click one letter and move it slightly up or down or apart from the others, creating the slightly uneven look that can come from typewritten lines. Press “Enter” to set the warp.
Move other letters as desired until finished with Puppet Warp.
Click the “Edit” menu again and choose “Distort.” When the lines surround the text, click the left or right side and slowly drag it out. The letters become slightly separated and wider. When satisfied, press the “Enter” button to set the distortion.
Click the “Filter” menu and select “Noise.” Click “Dust & Scratches,” which pops up a window with the same name.
Drag the “Radius” and/or “Threshold” slider bars to the right, experimenting with the look. This will add marks to the document, as if it has been sitting collecting dust for a while. Click “OK” when satisfied.
Click the “File” menu and select “Save As.” Enter a name for the document if you didn’t set one when you created the file. Choose a graphic file format from the “Format” menu, such as “JPG” in which to save the document, locate where to save it on your computer and click the “Save” button.
You can also perform this process on existing text on an existing file, though a font that’s very far from a typewriter font, such as the silly Comic Sans or flamboyant Showcard Gothic, probably won’t take on an actual typewritten appearance. Just make sure you open a PSD file, the proprietary Photoshop file format, so that you can access the text layer. The instructions are the same – simply pick them up in the step where you rasterize the text layer.
Another way to get a very good likeness of typewriter lettering is to use a font made to look that way. While Photoshop comes with several, you’ll find many more options available online, and some at no cost. Take care when downloading anything to your computer to only download from reputable, non-virus sites. Once you’ve downloaded the font, add it to your computer’s font collection, then re-open Photoshop. It will then appear in your fonts list.
These instructions apply to Photoshop CS6 as well as CS5. Earlier or later versions of the software may present several changes.
Fionia LeChat is a technical writer whose major skill sets include the MS Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher), Photoshop, Paint, desktop publishing, design and graphics. LeChat has a Master of Science in technical writing, a Master of Arts in public relations and communications and a Bachelor of Arts in writing/English.