Distressing Type?

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c.gray's picture
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Joined: 21 Oct 2009 - 4:40pm
Distressing Type?
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Hi,

I'm looking for a good way to distress type. I've followed a few Photoshop tutorials online but have not found a method that I like. I want my type to look really beat up. I'm going to try printing the type and the doing a blender transfer to see if that gives me the right look, but I'm curious about how to do it digitally, too. Any tips or links to tutorials would be great. Thanks!

James Montalbano's picture
Joined: 18 Jun 2003 - 11:00am
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Build a time machine and go back to the early 90s. Scrub, wash and repeat.

Fionn's picture
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Joined: 24 Feb 2010 - 8:11am
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Print it out, bring fork to paper with a suitable amount of aggressiveness, scan it back it. Voila!

Blank's picture
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Joined: 25 Sep 2006 - 2:15pm
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Buy the Machine Wash filters from Mister Retro.

j's picture
j
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Joined: 30 Jul 2004 - 1:49pm
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Come on man, absolutely do not do it digitally.

Bob Evans's picture
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Joined: 18 May 2005 - 7:20am
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Crumple paper - flatten - use sandpaper - lay on sidewalk - walk on it - etc. The scan and attack it method gives the most unique - anything digital looks like the computer did it.

Indra Kupferschmid's picture
Joined: 8 Aug 2007 - 3:23am
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A quote from somewhere some time ago: "Apply, a free font of grunge goop for distressing type by layering: http://bit.ly/1ErBCn That sample isn’t very good, but the idea is nifty."

c.gray's picture
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Joined: 21 Oct 2009 - 4:40pm
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Thanks, all. This is really helpful. I like the idea of going at it with a fork or sandpaper. Sounds fun.

It needs to look more like a stamp that has faded, though, than something that has been abused.

Nick Curtis's picture
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Joined: 21 Apr 2005 - 8:16am
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It needs to look more like a stamp that has faded, though, than something that has been abused.

You could also try Inner Glow and/or Outer Glow, using Dissolve as the blending method. Then, combine that layer with a new, blank layer, apply Gaussian Blur, then adjust the levels to pure black and white.

Blank's picture
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Joined: 25 Sep 2006 - 2:15pm
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Come on man, absolutely do not do it digitally.

Depending on the final output distressing digitally yields better results. The advantage to manual distressing is that it provides infinitely more complexity in the kind damage done to the type. But that only matters if the end product will reproduce the distressed type as a raster graphic at a size that can reproduce the detail. If the text will only been seen at a distance, at a small size, or as a vector graphic it’s much more efficient to work digitally. And when making a font distressed digitally does not distort the proportions of letters. By the time a sheet of paper has been pulled through a hot laser printer, sanded, crumpled, etc. the letters can end up stretched in unsightly ways.

j's picture
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Joined: 30 Jul 2004 - 1:49pm
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Depending on the final output distressing digitally yields better results... etc.

That's a silly argument. You might have more control when faking wear digitally, and it might be faster if you've done it before and have developed a good process or have purchased some off-the-shelf filters (?!?!). But good distressed type visually mimics the physical qualities of real-life, usually ephemeral, objects (hand-drawn, typewritten, stamped, over inked, coarse paper, physically worn, etc.). The best (read: authentic and convincing) way to make it is to try to use a similar processes to what's being mimicked. In this case, for a worn, faded stamp, get a stamp made (can be done overnight) and then play around with watered down ink and different papers (smooth, rough, sized, damp, etc.). I promise you will get better results that way.

Bob Evans's picture
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Joined: 18 May 2005 - 7:20am
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"stretched in unsightly ways" is the idea behind distressed type isn't it. Distorting the letters is what it is about - running a piece of paper through a printing press back in the day used to distort what the metal type looked like too.

Andrew's picture
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Joined: 8 Jan 2007 - 10:28am
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Distressed type is like distressed jeans.

Andrew's picture
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Joined: 8 Jan 2007 - 10:28am
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Jennifer Dahl's picture
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Joined: 12 Sep 2005 - 10:58am
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.

Nick Shinn's picture
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Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
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...good distressed type visually mimics the physical qualities of real-life, usually ephemeral, objects...

Digital doesn't have to mimic analog.
e.g. Beowolf, Jesus Loves You All, Nebulae.
Any others?

Having said that, I applied the Roughen filter in Illustrator to Handsome, and came up with a result, the Handsome Rough font, that looks like the bleed of ball-point ink into paper at around a normal writing size, 14-18 pt.

Blank's picture
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Joined: 25 Sep 2006 - 2:15pm
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But good distressed type visually mimics the physical qualities of real-life…

No it doesn’t. Distressed type as used by designers is a digital conceit. Type in the real world isn’t tacked up and left to be beautifully abraded until it has a patina that just happens to look really nice when thrown into perspective, tinted the right shade of red, made transparent, and layered inbetween a backdrop and a model holding a beer can. All that matters is that it look good, and it doesn’t need to be produced by analog methods to pull that off.