Note: You can print this (or any page) from your web browser by selecting File/Print. This information is provided for your personal use only and is not to be redistributed without permission of the author. This tip covers Photoshop 3 and Photoshop 4.
Laurie McCanna's Photoshop Tip #9
Set Your Type on Fire!
This is from the Department of Cheap Special Effects, also known as Cheesy Illustrator Devices, also known as Commercial Art R&D. What we'll do today is to create a flaming background for type. These instructions use the paint tools. It's also possible to create a flame effect using filters, but once in a while it's good to get your hands dirty while you work.
First, open a new file, about 200 pixels by 100 pixels. Make sure that your Layers palette is open, and add a layer called "type". If your Layers palette is not open, select Window/Show Layers. On the "type" layer, in a nice large, bold typeface, say somewhere around 50 points, type out a word. Remember (from the earlier tip, The Importance of Being Anti-Aliased) that you'll want to have the anti-aliased checkbox checked. You can center your type by dragging it, (in Photoshop 3) or using the Ctrl key while you drag the type (in Photoshop 4) or nudge it into place using the arrow keys in Photoshop 3, or the Ctrl+Arrow keys in Photoshop 4. If you like, fill the type with a gradient fill.
Still on the background layer, pick a dark red and set your airbrush to a medium to big brush size. If you're using Photoshop 4, and you're trying to do this on the type layer, you won't be able to unless you turn the Preserve Transparency option off for the layer you're trying to paint on. You can turn off the Preserve Transparency by selecting from the Photoshop menu bar Window/Show Layers, and deselecting the Preserve Transparency checkbox. Or, you can simply use the / key on your keyboard.
Scribble some vertical strokes randomly. If your strokes are looking wimpy, double click on the airbrush icon in the tools palette to bring up the Options for the airbrush. Drag the transparency slider up to about 80%. Now choose a smaller brush size, and use a bright red color. Make a few yellow strokes here and there on top of the red you've already painted.
Now click on the smudge tool - it's that hand with the pointing finger on the tool palette. You'll want to use a medium pressure and a medium brush. Start smudging vertically.
If you really want to make your type look hot, then flatten the image (using the flyout menu on the Layers palette), and use the smudge tool again, this time smudging the flames down into the type a little bit.
If you will be saving this as a gif, you'll want to index the colors first. Select Mode/Index/6bit/Adaptive/Diffusion in Photoshop 3, or Image/Mode/Adaptive/8bit/Diffusion in Photoshop 4.