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Free Photoshop Type & Lettering Tutorials

It's a jungle out there...

Fonts FestivalFor the kick-off of this years Fall Fonts Festival, it's only appropriate that Photoshop Madness take you to some good tutorials on working with type in Photoshop. One thing is for sure -- if you search, you think there are thousands of free Photoshop type and lettering tutorials available online. If you follow the links, you'll quickly discover how difficult it is to find meaningful tutorials! We discovered some rather disturbing trends.

In an initial search we discovered that some 7,000 sites which claim to offer "Photoshop text tutorials" but didn't actually have any "Type" or "Text" tutorials. More than just a few didn't have any tutorials at all. Period. A large percentage were either hijacked or "kited" domains, steeped with "Photoshop" keywords, but consist completely of Google ads for tutorial sites. Anything you click brings revenue to the owner of the domain, but takes you to another kited tutorial link farm. This is not good. Much like the "clip art" and porno spam sites, "tutorials" have become another commodity.

Then there are the replicator sites. These list thousands of tutorials -- slickly coded and automated -- but don't actually have any of their own content. Like some of the clip art rings you get trapped in, they just link to their own, or other replicator sites. One such site even interjected a second page. (Promising it would be the tutorial!) Instead, you scour amongst all the ads to find a single line link saying "read the tutorial" -- which THEN takes you to the other tutorial site. Sheesh.

Finally we get to some real tutorials. Some of the big-name sites like to stretch your experience across as many as a dozen pages -- all doubled up with Google or other "affiliate" ads. One very popular site -- you'd recognize it because it's got "Photoshop" in its domain name -- hit us with 15,089 characters of code just to deliver a 453 word tutorial; only about 2,881 characters. That works out to a 5-to-1 noise to content ratio -- or, for every ONE bit of real content, you download FIVE bits of junk you didn't want and weren't looking for. 54 of the words on the page were the word "Google" (as in "Google Ads") -- in terms of screen space, roughly 80% of the page devoted to Google ads.

Don't get me wrong. I've got nothing against Google Ads -- as you can see over in that column. However, you'll note, we keep them where they belong, and NOT at the TOP of the content, nor sprinkled down through the content. Each time you click one, we receive a few pennies. I do have a problem with greedy hacks who fool and mislead the reader just to make a few pennies. That's not only in poor taste -- it's dishonest, and against Google AdSense policy.

Then there are the FAKE tutorials.

These are the search engine teasers that say you're really going to learn something awesome, but then the tutorial goes like this:

Step 1: start a new document (and some rhetoric about starting a new doc)
Step 2: Get the text tool (as if you didn't know what "T" means)
Step 3: Type in your word (Duh. That's what we're here for, right?)
Step 4: Pull down the "Styles" button (the only real technique in all)
Step 5: Select "Blah, Blah" (one of the options, like "drop shadow)
Step 6: Finished... isn't that awesome?

These are FAKE because just operating the straight, and more obvious functions of Photoshop doesn't constitute a tutorial. After all, Adobe put them there so you wouldn't need a tutorial, and any dumb ninny could make "awesome" graphics. But what you will also discover about FAKE tutorials is there are probably lots and lots of ads.

Most of the FAKE tutorial sites were in countries like Pakistan, Romania, Russia, Iran, and a TON are in India. Most were started since 2005, or a few since 2003. It's like India just discovered Photoshop, and is now showing the world all the tips and tricks we've all known since the mid 1990s -- except they are there for the Google ads, not to teach you anything.

When tutorials teach the WRONG way

Most disturbing however, seems to be a growing wave of tutorial sites that will say most anything -- whether right or wrong. Looking specifically for type or text tutorials we discovered a whole slew of misinformation. As one example, we found more than a dozen tutorials that actually teach the WRONG way to outline text. Bad. Never mind this author's bad taste -- some beginner will wander into these sites from a search engine search and take that information as the truth -- and never know the difference.

Here's just one of many that teaches the WRONG way to outline type:
www.empiredezign.com/version2/portfolio/pages/tutorials/funtext.htm
-- in defense of the author, it does teach some use of layer styles. We won't show you the worst of the offenders, since we don't even want to give them a free link!

NOTE THISHERE, I've written the CORRECT WAY TO OUTLINE TYPE, just in case you'd want to skip the others and get the real poop!

Now, I can understand why so many people who actually manage to find us, write in with glowing compliments that they've finally found a good tutorial site.

And Now, The Good, Bad & The Ugly

The following are just some of the acceptable tutorials we found. These are culled from 600 links we found. (Actually we have about fifty or sixty more, for another issue.) While all are not necessarily outstanding, they all teach something of value. We spent about ten hours culling down the list to these. I hope you appreciate our efforts. Unfortunately only a few are without ads. So, grin and bear it.

Photoshop Link You can help...

When you find a really good Photoshop tutorial or resource PLEASE share it with other Photoshop Madness readers... visit our tutorial submission page (anonymous or not!) and post it -- or just slip me a note at my contact page.

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Thanks for reading...

Fred Showker
Editor / Publisher, DT&G Magazine

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