How Did They Do That? – Blurred Layered Graphics

Written by Idea File Staff

This effect can be done with many types of elements. The staff of the 2006 Epic of Lee’s Summit West High School in Lee’s Summit, Mo., used it to help illustrate their theme, “Not So Obvious.” See more about this yearbook in the Caught Our Eye feature in this issue.

01. In Photoshop, create a new document using the appropriate size and dpi (they used 7.33 x 2.5 inches at 600 dpi). A grayscale setting was used to emphasize the lack of color on this part of the graphic. Click Save.

02. Select your font and font color. Here shades of gray were used. Varying these with each layer adds to the visual depth.

03. Create a large text box, almost as big as the graphic. Type the text in several random places within the box. This will keep the number of layers you are working with relatively small later on. Use spell-check.

04. Rasterize the layer: Layer > Rasterize > Layer. Click Save.

05. Blur the layer : Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Alternate the blur on different levels, in this case between 1.0 and 3.0 radius on the pixels.

06. Repeat steps 3-7 as needed to get multiple layers with different text, degrees of blur, bold/regular font, and levels of gray/black text.

07. Move your layers as needed to create the layered effect, and use additional blur. Click Save. Keep the .psd file in case you need to tweak the layers later.

08. When the background is set, flatten the layers and save the graphic as a .jpg

09. Import the graphic onto the InDesign page using Image Placer.

10. Using InDesign, pick the same font used in the graphic, choose a color (blue in this case) and insert a text box over the top of the Photoshop graphic. Type in the colored text and move as necessary. (Photoshop can be used to create the background graphic and add the color elements, but since the Epic staff used this graphic 40 times with different blue text each time, this method allowed them to reuse the same base graphic with slight changes.)

Idea File Staff

Idea File Staff reports are posts compiled by the Walsworth Yearbooks Marketing Department, covering a wide range of yearbook topics.