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The 'Mike Ryan' Signature Tutorial

Mike Ryan

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This tutorial is available as a PDF. Click here to view or download it



The 'Mike Ryan' Signature Tutorial

Learn the basics of creating a 'Mike Ryan' signature

Overview:As by request (or should I say multiple requests) I have given in and decided to write a tutorial outlining the basic steps I take to construct a simple, yet stylish signature. Using the skills in this tutorial you can find yourself making great signatures in no time.

Skills Required: You must be familiar with Alpha Masking, layer blending, layers, working with alpha blending, and you must understand how different blur types work to create signatures. Overall, this tutorial was written for the intermediate Paint.NET user. I have tried to include as many screenshots as I fealt needed, however this may not be enough for beginners.

Plugins Required: Through out this process, I will be using the Alpha Mask Import, multiple effects from BoltBait's Plugin Pack, a few effects from Pyrochild's Plugin Pack, Color Tint, and Drop Shadow. It is also recommended that you have the Custom Brushes plugin installed when creating your signature, however this is optional and will not be included in the tutorial.

What makes up a signature? A signature is usually a visual representation of you. Usually, signatures contain representations of the person either through colors, stock images, or a combination of both. By utilizing color and stock imagery, you can personify your signature to represent qualities about you.







Let us Begin

Part A: Setting up your Work Environment












› Begin by opening up Paint.NET and creating a new image. Basic regulations on these forums state that a signature must not be any bigger than 500x150 however I believe this is to large for a signature. I like to use a default 500x120 for all of my signatures. This allows for small expansions here and there through out the life time of your signature.

› Next, begin by pressing CTRL+A then hit the Delete key. This should leave you with a completely transparent background. As by personal preference, I always leave this layer blank to do some basic color testing at the end of signature creation.

› Then, create a new layer. Name this layer 'Signature Body'. This is where we will construct the basic body of our signature.

› From here, your image should appear as it does on the right. If not, please repeat the previous steps

Part B: Constructing the Body







› Using pure black and white, we must now construct the body of our signature. This is the major part of your signature as the style of the shape you are using adds a lot of personality to your signature. For instance, using line cut outs as such in my current signature adds a bit of technological influence. Rounded corners also add a lot more to a signature then the casual straight corner cutout.

› Please note that when constructing the body, black is meant to represent where transparency is meant to exist. White should represent the actual body of the signature.




› Also note that you should only use black and white. We will use other tools to color your signature down the road such as Color Tint and Brightness/ Contrast.

› Duplicate this layer and name the duplicate 'Color Base'.

› After you have built the body of your signature, open up Alpha Mask found in your object sub-menu. If there is already a file directory in the plugin dialog.




then reset Alpha Mask.

› Set your plugin to remove black. This should cleanly remove the black from the image leaving pure white. Set the original layer - Signature Body - to hidden. We are keeping this layer for archiving purposes only, including Alpha Masking later down.

› Hit CTRL+Shift+I on the Color Base layer.

› From here, your image should appear similar as it does on the right. If not, please repeat the previous steps.

Part 😄 Developing the Color Schemes




› The first thing that needs to be completed is that we need an alpha mask. We will be making our alpha mask from the Signature Body layer.

› Select your Signature Body layer. We don't have to make it visible, however go ahead and press CTRL+A and then CTRL+C.

› Go to File-> New... The image dimensions should already be set to the size of your selection, so hit OK.

› Hit CTRL+V. The image should now represent the Signature Body.

› Go ahead and save this image as something like Signature Body Alpha Mask and be sure to save it as a PNG.

› Alright, shift back over to the actual signature itself. Duplicate the Color Base layer and rename it to 'Primary Signature Color'.

› Next, use the Brightness/ Contrast tool found in the Adjustments drop down menu to turn your black base into a nice medium gray. This will allow us to tint this color into the appropriate color without having to rely on an alpha mask. Cheap tricks = less work.

› Next, as commented in the previous step, use Color Tint found in your Color sub-menu to tint this layer. Alternatively, you can use a tool such as curves, layer blending modes such as overlay, or any other form of color tinting process imaginable. This layer, Primary Signature Color, will actually blend into the image below it so try to avoid blacks here.

› In order to blend this layer into the layer below, I am going to use BoltBait's Gaussian Blur+ found in your Blurs sub-menu. Adjust the settings to only blur the Alpha Channel and set the blur to at or around 35.




› Now we need to run Alpha Mask. Open it up and browse to the image we saved previously. This should clean up this layer from any unwanted alpha changes.

› From here, your image should appear similar as it does on the right. If not, please repeat the previous steps.

Part 😧 Text and Glassy Highlights






› From here, we need to finalize the signature. We have already created a decent body of a signature and have included some rather simplistic blending. So, create a new layer and name it 'Signature Text'.

› This is where I am suppose to let you go wild. However, I do have some guidelines for you to remember:

- Use a readable font. If your font cannot be read, then what is even the use of the font?

- Use a font color similar to the Primary Signature Color used. Usually, a darker version works best with glassy highlights we will be adding soon.

- Use alignment. Usually, centered text (as in on the image itself) looks best. Use tools like Align Object or Layer Rotate/ Zoom for near perfect results[*:33tf7oaz]Alright, once you have finished the text it is time to add a glassy highlight. This adds more interest into the design and creates complexity. However, I think you will find this part is not complex at all.

› Remember the Color Base layer? Go ahead and duplicate that layer and name it 'White Glare'. Hit CTRL+Shift+I and move this layer all the way to the top.

› Create an elliptical selection that will cover the part of the Color Base we are deleting.






› Hit delete. Got to the Object sub-menu and select Feather. Be sure true feather is not on and use the default settings. Alternatively, I highly recommend Basic Antialias for this. However, Feather is most commonly used so that is what we will be using.

› Next, go to Adjustments-> Transparency. Bring the transparency way down to give it that glare feeling.

› From here, your image should appear similar as it does on the right. If not, please repeat the previous steps.

Part E: Finalizing the Signature

› Well, congratulations! You have finished this tutorial. I hope you have gained something from it ;) From here, go ahead and delete any invisible or unnecessary layers. Then flatten. I recommend saving the final image as a PNG so that no detail is lost. As well, applying a drop shadow can also be a good thing.Thank you for reading through this tutorial, and again I hope you have gained something from it.









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I really wanna do this tutorial, but I'm no good with alpha masking and anything.

Now I'm trying out alpha mask and stuff like that.

Umm, can you make me a signature similar to the one in your result in the tut?

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Thanks, really nice and useful tutorial, taught me how to use Alpha Mask :)


I kind of messed up the body, should have used the feather-tool or smth, dunno... :D.

Tried to make it look like metal by adjusting brightness and contrast at the already flattened image ;)

Greets, phre :D

PS: Yay, 1st post after hours of reading tuts :P


< Seeing is believing >

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  • 2 months later...
  • 1 year later...
  • 7 months later...

Plugins Required: Through out this process, I will be using the Alpha Mask plugin, multiple effects from BoltBait's plugin package, a few effects from Pyrochild's plugin package, Color Tint, and Drop Shadow. It is also recommended that you have the Custom Brushes plugin installed when creating your signature, however this is optional and will not be included in the tutorial.

Hi, I would love to give this tutorial a shot, but I constantly get a 404 Error ("Sorry, the forum you requested does not exist"), when I try to use the download-links!

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The links point to the old forum, and that was the problem. When you find this happening you can use search to locate the plugin, or go use the Plugin Index (link in my sig).

<links updated>

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  • 4 years later...

Tutorial images restored and the text cleaned up. Enjoy.

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