Back to the Future Titles Photoshop Tutorial from David Occhino Design
Time: 60-90 minutes
This is a free Adobe Photoshop™ tutorial from David Occhino Design.
If you have intermediate Photoshop and Illustrator skills, the Back to the Future movie titles are not difficult to re-create. This step-by-step guide will demonstrate a few simple tricks that simulate the bold, adventurous look of the famous Back to the Future movie titles, originally designed by artist Andrew Probert.
Back to the Future Movie Titles Tutorial by David Occhino Design
Prerequisite Photoshop skills:
create, copy, lock and rename layers
create and rename layer groups
copy and paste image data
create, move and rename layers
work with selections, select and deselect
use the paint bucket, gradient fill and brush tools
B) Create a Photoshop file with the dimensions you need.
C) Using the Paint Bucket tool , fill the background with 50% gray (808080).
D) Name and save the file and exit Photoshop.
Step 2: Type the text in Illustrator
A) Open Adobe Illustrator and set up a new file. An 8.5" x 11" file will work fine.
B) Using the Type tool and the Time Travel Back font at 120 pt., type the top word in black (000000).
C) Use the Type tool create a second text layer. Using the Time Travel Forward font at 120 pt., type the bottom word.
D) Select both type layers (Fig. 2) and convert the text to paths (Object: Expand...).
Step 3: Adjust the text
A) Using the Free Transform tool , scale the lettering to the size you want.
B) Using the Direct Selection tool , select the bottom word and use the Move tool to raise the bottom word so that only a narrow gap of space separates the top and bottom word (Fig. 3).
Step 4: Add perspective to the text
A) Using the Direct Selection tool , select only the top word. Apply a Free Distort (Effect: Distort & Transform: Free Distort) and set the envelope:
B) Select only the bottom word. Apply a Free Distort (Effect: Distort & Transform: Free Distort) and set the envelope:
Your artwork should look similar to Fig. 4.
Step 5: Customize the lettering
To achieve a custom hand-lettered look, modify the letters in the Time Travel font by making minor adjustments to the letter shapes to add balance.
A) Use the Direct Selection , tools to modify any letter shapes of the letters as needed. In this example, the capital "R" was made to extend into the capital "A."
B) Once all adjustments have been made, select all the text. With the Pathfinder window open (Window: Pathfinder), click on the "Unite" option:
This unifies the lettering paths.
Step 6: Create the text outlines
A) With the lettering selected, add a black stroke and change the fill to transparent (none). The thickness of the stroke will depend on the size of your artwork. Use Fig. 6 as a guide.
D) Save the Illustrator artwork (to be on the safe side) and then copy all the lettering so that it can be pasted in Photoshop. Keep the Illustrator file open as you'll be coming back to it.
Step 7: Add the lettering to Photoshop
You be adding to new layers to Photoshop that you'll use for the creation of the final artwork.
A) Paste the Illustrator data that you just copied into a new layer in Photoshop. If it doesn't paste, go back to Illustrator, select the artwork, return to Photoshop and paste (Fig. 7).
If you find that the artwork isn't the preferred size, delete the Photoshop layer, return to Illustrator and use the Free Transform tool to scale the artwork to the correct size, copy it, and then repaste.
You now have the outlines of the letters in Photoshop. Rename this layer "Lettering Outlines."
B) Return to Illustrator and select the artwork. Set the fill color to black and the stroke to none (zero). Copy this solid text, go back to Photoshop and paste the solid lettering into a new layer and rename the layer "Lettering Fill." Be sure that the "Lettering Fill" layer is under the outline later (see Fig. 7a).
C) Quit Illustrator: you won't need it for the remainder of this project (unless you decide to tweak the lettering further, and in that case, be sure to delete all the vector art layers in Photoshop and repeat steps 7A-C.)
Step 8: Create the fill gradient
A) Rasterize both of the Lettering layers (Layer: Rasterize: Smart Object) and lock the transparent pixels of both layers:
B) To prepare for the gradient fill, set the foreground and background colors:
Foreground: Dark Red (920f0c)
Background: Orange (fa9902)
C) With the "Lettering Fill" layer active, use the Polygonal Lasso to make a selection area of just the top word. Then, using the Gradient Fill tool , create a gradient that matches that in Fig. 8 above. After this, invert the selection (Select: Inverse) and create the same gradient — but reversed — for the bottom word.
Step 9: Prep the outline for painting
A) To prepare for the gradient fill, set the foreground and background colors:
Foreground: Blue (495989)
Foreground: Silver (e3e5ed)
C) With the "Lettering Outline" layer active, use the Polygonal Lasso to make a selection area of just the top word. Then, using the Gradient Fill tool , create a gradient that matches that in Fig. 9. After this, invert the selection (Select: Inverse) and create the same gradient — but reversed — for the bottom word.
C) Fill the background layer with black (000000).
Fig. 10 - click image to enlarge
Step 10: Paint the outline highlights and shadows
This next step takes a while to complete, but the effort is well worth it.
A) With the "Lettering Outline" layer still active, use the Polygonal Lasso to select a single segment of the outline for painting (Fig 10a, frame 1).
B) With this small segment selected, use a soft-edged Paintbrush tool add highlights and shadows to the segment. Use the same Blue (495989) and Silver (e3e5ed) to paint the segment as shown in Fig. 10a.
C) Continue this painting process with all the line segments in the outline. To see a larger image that shows the details of all the highlights, click here.
For most purposes, your artwork will be completed after the painting of the highlights and shadows. However, if you want to pull out all the stops on this project, you can continue your design journey with the following optional steps.
Fig. 11 - click image to enlarge
Step 11: Optional enhancements
While the classic background is suitable, you might choose a different approach. In our example, a custom illustration of a clock face with lightning bolts was used. A canvas texture was added, giving the artwork an authentic painted look. A drop shadow was added to make the text pop above the background (Fig. 11).
If you would like to use the custom illustration by artist David Occhino, click here for a low-res version which can be used only for non-commercial, non-business-related purposes only. To use the artwork for a commercial or business project, contact us.