How to Create a Jagged Text Banner Image

I slapped the banner image together rather quickly, mostly using the PhotoFilter app on the iPad. The goal was to create a low-rez image, reminiscent of a hand-made zine.

Logo for

A close-up of the “m” shows the effect nicely:

Close-up "m"

I’m happy with the outcome, but regrettably, didn’t track my steps. Since then, I’ve attempted to recreate the process but can’t seem to figure out all the details. Here’s what I do remember:

  1. creating a basic red-on-white Helvetica image in Illustrator
  2. posting it as a 940px × 100px banner image on my sandbox site
  3. doing a screengrab of the image from the website in Safari on the iPad
  4. cropping it on the iPad using PhotoForge
  5. opening the image in PhotoFilter, and resizing it, making it 2-3 times larger–at this point, the red in the lettering had gone from solid to splotchy
  6. selecting the Oil Paint in PhotoFilter and processing the image, causing the borders of the letters to blur and saturating the splotchy spots further
  7. but now, here’s where it gets hazy …

I recall applying one or more filters that made the text very dark and then using the undo slider to back off, but not fully eliminate, the effect. (PhotoForge’s slider is a cool approach to undo because it allows you to merge the original starting-point image with the processed image, rather than choose between the two.) I might have applied the Auto Gamma feature twice. Or maybe it was Stipple? Maybe a combination of the two, or perhaps something else entirely? I remember that once I got the text looking really cool, there were some blue artifacts in the white portion of the image, so my final step was removing them using the paint bucket in Photoshop.

Since attempting to recreate the image, I haven’t been able to figure out what combination of filters gave me the dark jagged edge while keeping the interior bright red. This is unfortunate since it’s  what I like most about the image. If you figure it out let me know–I’d love to be able to create more images like this in the future.

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