Finals Week with Photoshop

It’s hard to believe that I’ve already arrived at the end of the semester, and I am almost done with my VIC 5325 course. Coming into this class, I had very little prior experience with Photoshop, and my web design knowledge was limited. Fifteen weeks later, I feel that I have learned so much and I cannot wait to further develop my skills and continue my training.

For my final Design Showcase, I was assigned to create a e-card that the University of Florida could send out to its students. Our focus this week was in lighting effects, which I didn’t even realize you could utilize in Photoshop before this week. This has been one of my favorite lessons, because working with light effects gives you so much more flexibility with an image and can really transform your final product.

Instead of focusing on a holiday, I wanted to take a different approach with my e-card. Because I know so many students (myself included) are pushing to get through that end-of-the-semester workload, I decided to create an encouraging e-card wishing students good luck on finals. As just about every college student has experienced, finals week is brutal: from balancing projects to cramming for exams, all-nighters are almost a necessity, and coffee becomes your new best friend, even if you don’t normally drink it.

I began by finding an image that I wanted to use for the base of my card. I found a great image on Unsplash of a coffee cup next to a bed, which felt like a great finals set-up. After a while, I know I take to my bed, hunched over my textbooks, to get everything done. The image was a little bright, so I applied an adjustment layer and lowered the saturation until I felt that the image had a nice feel. I also used the color replacement tool to make the coffee cup orange, keeping in line with the gator colors established by the brand. To create a nice, contrasting space for my greeting, I applied a blue gradient at the top of the image, and mirrored it with a smaller one on the bottom for balance.


I chose to use the typeface Palatino because it is the standard font used in the university’s logo and wanted to ensure that my e-card looked like it came from the school. I placed my greeting on two lines, off-centered, making the “Good luck” text the largest to make it stand out. I applied a drop shadow to all of the text on the card, excluding the logo, to help with readability. On the logo, I used an outer glow. I felt that an inspiring quote would be a nice touch to give students a small token of support in the last minute stress of the week.

Once I had placed everything accordingly, I added my lighting effects. I  first used a white, three-spotlight effect, angling all three to highlight the coffee cup. I adjusted the ambiance to a high degree, ensuring that you could still see the entire image. I also used a soft omni light on the quote, but this one I tinted a slight orange color. This second lighting effect just slightly adjusted the image’s tone, making it slightly warmer.

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