Thursday, May 10, 2012

Unexpected Body Swap - A Design Experiment

More of an experiment than a cap.

Before I put this cap up for you to see in a larger format, I want to talk about it a bit.

I wasn't planning on anything like this.  I was still searching for some images to use in a cap for smitty.  When I saw this image, I almost skipped right by it.  It's not that it's bad, it just doesn't give me that 'smitty' feel.  But the layout of the image kept me coming back.  It was perfectly designed for text to go into the lower right hand corner.  Here is what I had in mind:


Nothing really fancy or new, just a good layout.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was even better... I could add the text 'into' the photo like I did for "Interactive Art".  The problem is that the text wouldn't quite fit as easily.   I still gave it a try and finally had to give up as I just coudln't make the text fit into the space I had.


I really do like the way this text wold be.  But to do this type of manipulation on the text requires me to make in un editable.  You can see where the text flows off the page on the right hand side.  if I could edit the text, I could just end the line near the edge of the photo... but I to do that I would have to determine where those line breaks would go BEFORE distorting it into this form.  It just felt like a lot of work for little reward.

But instead of giving it up, I wanted to try a third option.  I couldn't really fit the text at the angle I wanted, but that's not ts say that I couldn't fit it and make it look like it was lying down on the counter.  This too required me to make the text un editable, but it wouldn't require changing the layout.


I don't think it has the same immersive feeling as the 2nd example, but it is better than the first example.  Thankfully the text naturally had the last line a little shorter than the previous lines, otherwise I would have had to make it either smaller (and harder to read), or overlay the cutting board (and therefore feel less 'in' the photo).

I should also say that this story was meant as filler.  I put maybe 3 minutes into the story.  So don't judge the story itself.  But I'm curious which cap looks best.  For the purposes of this, assume that the text wasn't cut off in the 2nd example.  Does it look best?  Or am I simply chasing my tail, and the first one (the 'standard' design) look best?

Lemme know what you think!


Versions based on Anne Oni Mouse's comment:



Version based on Kyra's comment:




All thanks for this version has to go to Anne Oni Mouse.  The problem I was having was in Photoshop you can only transform text using the free transform tool (make it bigger, smaller, or rotated), or skew (move the individual sides, but keeping them paralell to each other).  You cannot use the 'distort' or 'perspective' tools. These let you alter each individual point on a text box.

If you look, what I'm after is making the text have the same perspective as the counter top.  The text closer to the reader should be bigger. So merely rotating the text (what I did in versions 4 and 6) wouldn't give the same effect.

Now the skew tool CAN work, but it won't rotate the text.  But after reading what Anne Oni Mouse suggested, I realize she was exactly right.  Rotate the background to give me an edge of the counter to line up to, then I can 'skew' the other sides of the text box to give it that distorted perspective look!  All I have to do then is rotate the background and the text together back to background's original alignment.

And the result is... well in all honesty its hard to read.  The perspective differences is just a bit too much to keep the text that legible.  BUT.... I now have it written down how to do this.  This 'cap' was nothing more than a design experiment, so in the fugure when I want this effect but forget how, I can always come back here and read up on it!

Thank you both to Anne Oni Mouse and Kyra!  You were both a big help!


Here is what Dee was talking about:

I did a quick job of this, and you can see it in the guy's leg as that area had to be cloned.  Tilting the image and leaving it tilted isn't exactly what I would look for.  I think its a little distracting having the background off kilter.  And it didn't really help with the text.  The perspective is still hard to read, and as you can see in the 'straight' text version, I had to cut the last few words, and have the text overlay her just a bit as well.

But still, thank you Dee.  It didn't occur to me to tilt the image first.


  1. 1. You are doing some great stuff at the moment. 2. You are right that the second version is most clever and creative. Could you turn the image, fit the text to it while it is editable, then turn the image to the correct orientation? Just an idea - not sure what you use.

    1. 1. Thank you! I really appreciate you saying that!

      2. I think I see what you are getting at. I'm using Photoshop, so I can definitely do that (or alternately, just rotate the text to line up). This way is FAR easier to line the text up as I can add in spaces, and carriage returns to make each line fit where I need it to be. The only problem I have with it, is that the text is on a plane equal to the viewer, and not on a plane equal to the counter top. It fills the space up just fine, but it's just not the effect I was going after.

      another version of that is making the text 'box' the same shape as the counter top. Of course, I like that version even less.

    2. Hmmm, quite hard to get that perspective if I'm understand you. You are looking for the text to appear as if the top is further away than the bottom of the text. Version 4 is, so far my favourite.

  2. You've definitely got the skills! Having the text slanted in the second picture makes it a bit difficult to read personally. Its odd that I can read upside down pretty well, but its at just the right angle there that I have trouble following it. Plus when I try tilting my phone it decides to reorient the entire screen xp

    The third one is definitely much easier to read and still a very impressive design!

    Did you try running the text parallel to the other edge of the counter? It looks like you might have better spacing that way.

    1. Thanks Kyra. I'll admit I never considered what it would look like on a mobile device. I can't imagine any of them being really 'easy' to read that way.

      I'm not sure if I understood what you meant by 'running the text parallel to the other edge', but I made 'VERSION 6' based on what you said. Is that what you meant?

    2. Sorry, I need to be less vague, but yes, that was what I meant.

      Looking at the text in v.3 I thought it would have fit well rotated about 90°. So many versions now! I wonder how many you'll who up with :p

  3. I would suggest rotating the photo so that the edge of the counter top near her is parallel to to to bottom of the square caption. That might give you enough room to make your words fit that way, especially if you clone tool the edges.

    I am sending you sort of what I was talking about by snagging your first version of the caption and enlarging, quick cloning and rotating it.

    BTW, out of the ones you posted, I liked version 5 the best.

  4. Hey, you gave it a shot at least, and I don't think that if people had seen the original that they would have noticed that the picture was tilted.

    I'd also probably have just clone-tool wiped away the cutting board and made the text right justified.