PI5 Trio of Text Tricks


Cutout Text

This tutorial shows how to do three of my favorite PI text tricks: 
(1) Gradient border text; (2) Cutout text; and (3) Transparent text.

Start by creating a new True Color file 300 pixels wide by 100 pixels high. Select the Text tool. In the Attributes toolbar, select Script MT Bold (or another font with a fairly broad surface area), size 40. Click the Style button and choose Bold.  The Mode should be 3D Round. The color of the text doesn't matter.

Click in the base image. When the Text Entry box opens, type your text and click OK.

enter basic text

Click in the color box and select Gradient Fill.

select Gradient Fill

When the Gradient Fill dialog box opens, select the Radial Gradient Fill type and a Two color gradient.

Click in the beginning color box and choose a dark purple. Click in the ending color box and choose a pale pink. Click OK to close the box.

Gradient Fill dialog box

Even though you have applied a gradient fill, the text looks like it has been filled with a solid purple color.

immediately after apply gradient

Slowly drag the Border slider to the left so that the text is pink in the middle and purple on the edges, creating an outlined effect.

drag border slider down

Adjust the Border slider until you get just the effect you want. I liked this version best, with a little more of the dark color showing around the edges.

finished gradient border text

Try your own color combinations for Two color gradient fills, or experiment with Multiple color fills. To do so, when the Gradient Fill dialog box opens, select Multiple color and click in the associated color box to open the Palette Ramp Editor.

Palette Ramp Editor

The best palettes for gradient border text have a good bit of contrast from light to dark colors, and that have the light color on the right side at the 3 o'clock position, like the one shown above. If the palette you pick isn't arranged like this, drag the control point for the light color into the correct position.

Here's the Multiple color gradient border text that resulted from the palette shown above.

multiple color gradient border

As you can see, the gradient border can be applied to path objects too, as shown here.

applied to a path object

The second trick is Cutout text. Start by creating a new True Color file 450 pixels wide by 150 pixels high. Select the Text tool. In the Attributes toolbar, select Script MT Bold (or another font with a fairly broad surface area), size 90. Click the Style button and choose Bold.  The Mode should be 3D Round. The color of the text doesn't matter.

Click in the base image. When the Text Entry box opens, type your text and click OK.

type in text

While the text is active, choose Object, Convert Object Type, From Text to Path. Select the Path Drawing tool. From the Attributes toolbar's Mode dropdown list, choose Continue Draw.

select Continue Draw from Mode

Now your text looks like this.

continue draw mode

Click on the Shape button and select Rounded rectangle.

select rounded rectangle

Click on the Options button and select Even-Odd Fill. Doing so leaves every other overlapping area "empty," creating the cutout effect.

select Odd-Even fill

Carefully draw a rounded rectangle shape around the text. It should look like this.

draw path around text

From the Attributes toolbar's Mode dropdown list choose 3D Round. Don't be alarmed if you get something like this, full of creases and grooves.

3D Round: Note creases

In the Attributes toolbar, drag the Border slider way down to flatten out the creases on the object.

drag Border slider down to flatten creases

While the object is still active, right click on it and choose Shadow to open the Shadow dialog box. To create a very small, right-falling shadow that enhances the cutout look, enter these values and click OK.

shadow for cutout text

Here's the finished cutout text with shadow added.

shadow added to cutout

If you wanted to blend the cutout text into a web page background, you could do so easily. Before adding the Shadow, while the entire object is still active, choose Selection from the Mode dropdown list.

change to a selection

Now you can fill the the selection so that it matches your web page background. Simply choose Edit, Fill to fill with a color, gradient, texture or image.

fill selection with a color or texture

After filling the selection, right click and Convert to Object. Then choose Object, Shadow, to add the same slight shadow to enhance the cutout.


To use this on a web page, right click and Merge All. Then use the standard selection tool to select close to the text and hit the Crop button. Save it and insert it into your web document.

The last trick is Transparent text placed on an image. I'm using one of the stunning examples from a friend's underwater photo CD. If you'd like to use this image of a colorful tropical reef shrimp, you can get it here.

Open the image up in the PI work space. Select the Text tool. In the Attributes toolbar, select Verdana (or another font with a fairly broad surface area), size 60. Click the Style button and choose Bold.  The Mode should be 2D. The color of the text doesn't matter.

Click in the base image. When the Text Entry box opens, type your text and click OK. Drag the text to position it in the desired location within the base image.

add text to image

While the text is active, from the Attributes toolbar's Mode dropdown list, choose Selection.

change text to a selection

To create the outline around the now invisible text, we'll use Paint on Edges. But first, it's necessary to have the Paint tool set up correctly for the command. Select the Paint Brush tool. In the Attributes toolbar, choose a Round brush, Size=2 and Soft edge=2. Right click in the color box and choose Eyedropper to open the Eyedropper dialog box.

Eyedropper dialog box

Position your cursor in the preview window and you'll see that it turns into an Eyedropper. Click on a color (see arrow, above) in the image to select that color. I've selected a bright coral color, RGB=255, 85, 15. Click OK to close the box.

Now that you have selected the color and other Attributes for the Paint Brush tool, choose Effect, Paint on Edges and the outline will appear around the Transparent text. Click here to view image full size.

paint on edges applied

Experiment with different sized brushes and Soft edges for the Paint on Edges command. In the example shown at left, I used a brush size of 4 and a Soft edge of 50 to get a softly blurred, glowing outline.  (View Turtle example full size)

another example

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