I wanted to make something like the AwolNation Megalithic Symphony's album cover with the cliffs made into letters.

So far I've gotten no where mainly because when I try and use the pen tool and make a mountain picture into part of a letter it looks super ugly. How would you go about making this? Example: 1) Finding a cliff picture 2) Pen-ing the character 3) etc.

Awolnation Megalithic Symphony Album Cover

  • Sorry, it sounds like you already know the basic steps. You'll need to be much more specific.
    – Scott
    Sep 29, 2013 at 19:51
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    I don't understand how this is too broad. Steps are basically: 1) find cliff picture, 2) create clipping mask to make characters shapes, 3) paint over shading and highlights so it looks like an actual standalone structure (maybe using one darkening and one lightening layer clipped by the same mask?), 4) in an unclipped layer(s), paint in or copy from image (whichever works best) details that hang out from the mask, like vines, waterfall, birds, mist etc. The key thing is, in the painting step, use judgement - not too much or too little - and be clear in your head where your light sources are. Sep 30, 2013 at 12:08
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    @user568458 Re-opened. You should post that as an answer!
    – Yisela
    Oct 1, 2013 at 4:04
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    It's too broad in that it's basically "how do I do illustration/do photo manipulation". While there are certainly steps that can be outlined to achieve the above, it's really more about 'practice, practice, practice + a bit of talent and skill'
    – DA01
    Oct 1, 2013 at 7:31

1 Answer 1


Once you have your cliff picture, the pen tool will indeed cut the shapes out of the original image so that they appear as letters. After that, how well the final image appears depends on how much embellishment and detail you choose to add to it. Suggestions:

  • Shade the letters: Select > All over your cut-out letters, switch to the move tool (shortcut v) and move them slightly, add a new layer, and while the selection is still there, use the brush tool with black and a faint transparency to shade in parts of the letters.

  • Add peripheral decoration: The example you posted looks so great because the artist has taken a great deal of time to add additional elements around the letters. To do so, you can select portions of the image (perhaps with the polygon lasso tool) like noticeable trees and rocks, copy them, and paste them arranged around the edges.

  • Include overlaid effects: Even if your letters don't look perfect, a great way of hiding inconsistencies is to include another layer of some other image, and then changing its blending effect. In your example, clouds are transparent over the letters, but other blending effects can be used.

Unfortunately there is no clear-cut way (no pun intended) to make these letters easily. The more time you put into polishing the image and adding extra images, the better it will look. Hope some of that helps!


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