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If you're tired of looking at the pre-installed wallpapers on your computer you can create your own personalized desktop wallpapers instead. One of my favorite ways of doing this is adding inspirational photography quotes to photos. You can't do this in Lightroom, but you can in Photoshop. In this tutorial you'll learn where to find good quality fonts, and some basic graphic design principles that help make your desktop wallpapers look more professional.
These techniques can also be used to create graphics to share on websites such as Instagram and Facebook.
How to choose a photo to use as a desktop wallpaper
It helps if the photos you choose for desktop wallpapers have some of the following qualities.
Landscape format: Portrait format (vertical) photos simply won’t work on a horizontal screen.
Simple, bold composition: Some people have very cluttered computer desktops. A simple wallpaper helps you see what’s actually on your desktop.
Empty areas suitable for text: If you’re planning to add text to your wallpapers then there should be empty areas where you can overlay it.
Here are three wallpapers that I made. As you can see, the photos I selected meet the above criteria.
I’ll show you the techniques I used to create the text quotes in Photoshop below.
Tip: It helps if you create a Collection in Lightroom to hold any photos that you consider good enough to use as a desktop wallpaper. I’ve created two Collections – one for shortlisted photos and one for the photos used. With this system I can see right away which photos have been used to create wallpapers.
How to export photos for desktop wallpapers from Lightroom
It’s easiest to export the photos to a folder on your computer, then open them in Photoshop. This lets you set the size of the image on export.
Select the ones you want to use and go to File > Export. These are the important settings.
File settings: Set Image Format to JPEG, Quality to 100 and Color Space to sRGB. This gives you a high quality file to work with. sRGB is the best color space for your monitor.
Image sizing: For desktop wallpapers that can be used on any computer the best size setting is 2560 pixels along the longest edge. The resolution is unimportant, although it’s conventional to set it to 72 ppi for photos that are going to be viewed on screen.
Tip: Make a User Preset so that you don’t have to type these settings in again. Click the Add button and give the preset a name to save the settings for future use.
How to choose a font for your desktop wallpapers
You should already have a good collection of fonts on your computer, and plenty of those are suitable for wallpapers. But if you prefer to use something a little more interesting then explore the following options.
Adobe Fonts Website
If you’re a Lightroom Classic CC subscriber then as part of your subscription you also get access to the Adobe Fonts website. There are thousands of fonts for you to choose from, all included with your subscription and fully licensed for personal and commercial use.
Once you’ve picked a font, you can type some text into the Sample Text field (below) to see what it looks like.
When you activate a font it automatically appears in Photoshop. It couldn’t be easier.
Search on Google using the keywords “free fonts”. Lots of options will come up.
Tom Chalky website
If you don’t mind paying for good fonts then I recommend you take a look at designer Tom Chalky’s Ultimate Handcrafted Fonts Collection. For $39 you get 110 premium handcrafted fonts. I recently bought the bundle and used Tom’s fonts in my wallpapers.
Note: The fonts I used with these wallpapers are from Tom Chalky’s bundle, but if you want to follow along with these examples and you don’t have Tom’s fonts you can use fonts of your choice from one of the above sources .
How to add text with Photoshop
Now it’s time to add text to your photos with Photoshop. I’ll show you how I created the three different wallpapers so you can use the same techniques in your own graphics.
Desktop wallpaper #1: Justifying text
1. Open your photo in Photoshop and click the Horizontal Type Tool icon (the one that looks like a T) in the Tools panel on the left (or use the ’T’ keyboard shortcut).
2. Click and drag to place a text box over the photo. Photoshop automatically places it on a new layer.
3. Select your font (in this case I’m using the Tall Abbey font from Tom Chalky) and type in the quote. Go to Window > Paragraph and click the Justify All icon (below).
Depending on the sizes of your font and text box you’ll end up with something like this.
4. Now it’s time to make some creative decisions. For this quote I decided to spread the quote over four lines, make some of the text bigger so that each line is the same width, and increase the space between the letters. This last item is called tracking, and is used by designers to make font based designs look more interesting.
There are two ways to adjust tracking.
a. Select all the text in the text box, go to Window > Character and set tracking (marked below) to a positive value.
b. Select all the text in the text box, hold down the Option (mac) | Alt (pc) key and press the right arrow key to increase the tracking of the selected text.
Either way, you need to use your judgement to decide how much tracking to apply.
5. Now it’s time to decide which text goes on which line. Add a line break by placing the cursor after a word and pressing Return. You’ll also have to delete the space between the two words to make the word on the following line touch the edge of the text box. It should look something like this.
6. The text size so far is set to 120 pt (points). To make it look more interesting I increased the size of the word “exists” to 240 pt and “photograph” to 160 pt. It looks like this.
7. Changing font size affects the gaps between the lines of text (this is called leading). I’ve changed the text size, but not the leading, so now the word “exists” overlaps with the line above.
The leading field in the Character window tells you the current setting of any selected text.
Select the word you want to change the leading for (in this case the word “exists”) and increase or decrease it to get the desired line gap. You may have to adjust the leading setting of other lines of text to even up the gaps between lines.
To achieve this I set the leading for the word “exists” to 200 pt and the leading for the line “to end in a” and the word “photograph” to 120 pt.
This is how it looks after the leading adjustments.
Yes, there’s a shortcut for this too. Hold down the Option (mac) | Alt (pc) key and press the up and down arrow keys to change the leading of the selected text.
8. The next step is to add the quote author’s name. Place the cursor after the last work in the quote and press Return a couple of times. Set a small font size (I chose 60 pt) and type the author’s name. It looks something like this.
9. Go to the Paragraph window and Justify last centered icon (marked below).
This centers the last line (the one you just typed in). Adjust the tracking or leading if you want to change the appearance of the author’s name or the distance between it and the quote. Once you’re happy with that, you can move the text box around the photo until you find the best place for it.
Tip: Don’t place the text box too close to the top or the bottom of the photo, as it could get cut off when the desktop wallpaper is used on a widescreen monitor.
10. Save the file as a PSD so you can go back and change it, if required. Use Save As to save it as a JPEG that you can use for the desktop wallpaper. Setting Quality to 12 is fine for this.
Desktop wallpaper #2: Justifying text
The two fonts in this wallpaper are variations of the Bouncy Castle font in Tom Chalky’s bundle. I chose this font because the designer has created several variations of the same font that work well together. Here I’ve paired a calligraphy font (the one that looks like handwriting) with a sans serif font (one that doesn’t use decorative flourishes at the ends of characters). Using two different fonts together in this way helps create a more visually interesting design.
If you don’t have these specific fonts, you can pair any calligraphy font and sans serif font to get a similar result.
I used tracking to make the first four lines of the quote roughly the same width, instead of changing the text size. The settings are below. Using tracking this way let me keep the sans serif font small (36 pt) to contrast with the calligraphy font which was set to 90 pt.
We are making – tracking set to 430
to understand – tracking set to 400
mean to us – tracking set to 400
Desktop wallpaper #3: Curving text
The final wallpaper introduces a new trick – curving text.
The fonts I used for this wallpaper are called Bobby Rough and Magnite. Again I juxtaposed a sans serif font with a calligraphy font. The text is laid out differently – it isn’t justified, and I also curved the first word.
Curving text in Photoshop is easy. Start by placing the text you want to curve (in this case the word “your”) in its own text box. Select the text, then click on the Create warped text icon in the Options bar.
Set Style to Arc and use the Bend slider to adjust the amount of curve. For this wallpaper I set Bend to +17.
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