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Jose is a graphic designer and photographer from Baguio City, Philippines. He is an advocate of using Adobe Fireworks for designing application interfaces for Web, desktop, and mobile platforms. He has written several other tutorials for Adobe Fireworks on his blog. Follow him on Twitter to see what he's been up to lately.
One of the visual effects that is a mainstay in my Web design toolkit is the letterpress effect. Used properly, it’s a quick way to make text blend better with the layout, as if it were machine-stamped onto the background. Think of what a home appliance marquee or a professional business card looks (and feels) like, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Letterpress is a venerable technique of printing that involves “pressing” a plate of movable type onto a sheet of paper to produce an effect that is impressed (where the text is pressed down onto the paper) or embossed (where the text is raised above the surface of the paper).
In all the years that I’ve been using Adobe Fireworks, I have always had to perform one task in every project: remove the background from a logo. Most of the time, it’s because the client doesn’t have the original raw file that their previous designer used to create their company’s logo, or because I need to work with a bunch of affiliate logos that I downloaded from the Web and not all of them have transparency information.
With a rectangular or elliptical logo, I just trace over it with a shape and turn it into a mask. But when tracing a mask is impractical (as with complex shapes or text-based logos), I used to follow a method that I devised for extracting logos in Adobe Fireworks that doesn’t rely on the dreaded Magic Wand tool. This method took advantage of a few Live Effects to remove the background and retain the logo form. It was simple, but also primitive: it worked perfectly only when the contrast between the logo and background was already ideal and the logo form had only one color. Otherwise, I ended up with jagged edges.