Semester Two Final- 8X10 Type Portrait (FinalLastFirst)-Unity


Students will take high-resolution photos of themselves to use for this project. Here are your choices:

  1. Self Portrait (yes, a “Selfie” works)- taken w/ Smartphone or  Camera,
  2. Any printed pic of you (not too small) I can scan it here
  3. Family member or Significant Other- as close to 8X10 as possible

Type Portrait by Madison Aguilar

Remember that you must only take a head shot, not a full body photo. If you forget and photograph your body, just use the crop tool (C) to crop out just your head and shoulders. We need a high res photo (at least 200 DPI).




Look at this final project from last year. You can see how much work was put into it. Look at the attention to detail! It is obvious just how much the artists loved her subject!

This student did 3-4 weeks of play! SHE DID NO ‘WORK’. Do you get it? When you put what you love into your assignments, you find the secret to life: Shift your mind-set and you shift your reality. It’s only hard if you think it is.


Art by student Vincent Conception.

Notice how the words used in the portrait actually describe the person in the portrait.

Unity is the Principle of Design where everything works together!


Getting started: Open your photo in Photoshop, then turn the Rulers on (Control + R). Using the rulers and the Crop Tool (C) plus Image-Image Size re-size the photo to 8 inches by 10 inches or vice versa. The image must be 8 inches by 10 inches!

Lock the background layer, then right click it to duplicate it- all your work will be done to the duplicate! Choose Filter-Artistic-Cutout. Move the sliders until the photo looks the way you wish.


The photo after applying the Cutout Filter- make sure you have all three parts: highlights, mid tones, and dark shadows!

One of these will serve as the base layer for an interpretive photo using letters and words.

notice how text has replaced the photo

Watch this Tutorial on how to turn your photo into a work of art.

Your text portrait should use a photo that is taken straight on (squared) to the camera.

Before you begin work on the photo, perform a Levels adjustment on it so that it has a strong amount of lights, darks, and mid tones.

Perform a Levels Adjustment. Choose Control + L or go to Image- Adjustments-Levels. If you feel confident to do it yourself, slide the sliders until the image is balanced, darks and lights. If not, have Photoshop do it by clicking Auto.

Check the histogram as you do your Levels adjustment to be sure that the white and black icons are just touching (see below) the edges of the “black mountain” AKA the histogram.

Make sure you practice “acceptable touching” in your levels adjustments!

Once you have your portrait, open the image in Photoshop, and use the Filter-Cutout to transform the image into its light, grey, and dark shapes. You will have to adjust the sliders as you add the filter, so play around with them before you accept the transformation.

We want to see only the values (lights and darks) of the portrait. In the layers palette, lower the opacity of the portrait, so that as you begin to create text to replace your features and outlines, you can see where the words need to go.

Now create a new layer by selecting the Type Tool (T) and clicking where you wish to type. Notice how this tool creates a new layer just for the Type you are creating. This is where you will begin creating words and phrases, quotes, song lyrics, and anything else you wish to include. The text must be on its own separate layer, not on the same layer as your portrait! You may find yourself creating several text layers in order to keep them organized in your layers palette (and in your head). Here are some suggestions to organize your text layers:

  1. Create layer sets (click the button at the bottom right of your layers palette) called “eyes”, “nose”, and “mouth”- a new layer set for each part
  2. Create layers for black, grey, and white text to separate them
  3. place groups of layers inside layer sets (see image below for what layer sets look like). Place your grouped layers inside a layer set by dragging and dropping them inside a folder. You need only click on the triangle next to the folder to open or close the folder. This will make your individual layers visible or invisible in your layers palette.

Cutout Filter applied, and Freeform Pen Tool (with Type inserted) being used to outline parts of the image…

First choose the Freeform Pen Tool (P). Careful, as it is hidden under several other versions of the Pen tool. Now carefully click and drag, drawing a line with the pen tool that follows the curve of any outline in your image (like I have for the glasses in the image below).

Next, choose the Type tool and position the cursor to the leftmost edge of the path you just created. You should see the cursor change to a blinking line as it moves directly over the path, letting you know that you may now type a phrase or sentence directly into the path you have created! Once the type is complete, you may use the move tool (V) to slightly move its position if you need to, then right click the title of the layer itself and choose “Rasterize Type” to convert the letters from Vector to Raster (pixels). If you create multiple paths using the Pen Tool and some Type and wish to Merge them, simply right click the top layer and choose “Merge Down”. Grouping your layers under a single folder is another option as a way of keeping all text layers done for the person’s hair in a folder called hair.

Now it’s time to experiment with the use of the Type tool (T).  You may use your type horizontally (like the Jimi Hendrix) or move the letters along a path like the Dave Grohl portrait. Notice how the letters move along the major edges and boundaries of the face and head sometimes.

Choosing Font Style

You must find the Font that fits your style (personality) as you begin to work on this project. Pay attention to the edges of the letters, are they straight or curved, soft or masculine? How thick or thin are they? Which Font fits you?

Choosing Font Size

If the area is a large one (like his hair), you see that you have the option of using larger font in that area. In the smaller areas (teeth, shadows under the eyes), the artist has chosen a smaller font.

Choosing Font Value

Notice certain parts of the image use a dark black font, while other areas require a gray font. Use their original photo to help you find the places that are the darkest darks- this is where you will use your darkest letters.

You may then choose a creative way to work your name into the composition, thinking about how or where to use the negative space or the edges of the image. Most of the time the artist will sign their work in the lower right-hand corner of the image, but that does not mean you have to…

Save this image as FinalLastFirst and email it to yourself. Upload your image to your Edmodo account so I can grade them. This project is due June 8th for all Seniors, and June 15th for all others. That means you have 3 weeks for seniors (4 for everybody else) to complete this project. Use your time well.


Artwork by student Jose De Luna.


Your final project is worth 200 points, so put time and love into it! You will be graded on the following:

  1. Have you successfully drawn a likeness (does your drawing look like the photo?) of your face in lines of text? Does your type portrait look like the photo? The likeness is Unity! 50 points
  2. Have you used large text in large areas, smaller fonts in smaller areas of detail? 25 points
  3. Have you used lighter fonts in the areas of highlight in your image? Have you used your darkest font in the areas of darkest shadow? Do your Fonts have something in common?- That is also Unity! 25 points
  4. Have you been creative about using words, phrases, song lyrics- have you free transformed, distorted, stretched, and moved your text to enhance the image? 50 points
  5. Have you used your class time well? Have you worked from bell-to-bell? Did you have good attendance in the last month of class? On time to class? 50 points

I will grade them from the Folder on the server called Final. Don’t forget to turn in your Rubric as well as the project.


Original photo before using the Type Tool


After drawing over the photo using the Type Tool


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