Part One - Creating the Composition
In Photoshop, open a New File that is RGB 8-bit, 12X18 inches @ 300 ppi, filled with white. Name it <sec-name-value-graphic.psd>. (Note that it is RGB and not Grayscale.)
Set guides 0.5-inch from each edge. These will define the outer boundary for forms in the composition. Save.
With the white background active, fill the "boundary" (or border) with black. This is the area that can't be cut by the laser cutter.
Use the type tool and type layers to create ten large letters - in black. These should come from your first and last names. If you don't have ten distinct letters in your name, choose additional letters to get ten total. Create one letter per type layer, so that you will be able to move them around independently. The exact font(s) and letter sizes are up to you.
You can use a single font or multiple fonts. You can rotate letters if you want.
Create an additional blank layer on which you will create your "bridging elements."
Have letters touch each other, and add "bridging" elements so that everything is connected. The bridging elements should be black areas created on the "bridging" layer. You want discrete, not-too-large negative spaces bounded by the black letters, bridging areas and border.
When you're satisfied with your composition, do a "save as" with the filename <sec-name-value-graphic-layers.psd>This file will have 12 layers total - a white background, a "bridges" layer, and ten letter layers. Keep it intact so that you easily make revisions if necessary.
Now, flatten your <sec-name-value-graphic.psd> image. It will have only a background layer that is a composite of all your elements.
Duplicate the background layer. Name this layer "laser cut." Using the magic wand tool (set for zero tolerance and no feathering), select all of the negative spaces and do Edit/Clear to make them transparent.
Make the background layer active and fill it with white.
Some of the negative spaces in the composition will be left white; some will be filled with one of three grays - light gray (HSB: 0,0,65) medium gray (HSB: 0,0,35) or dark gray (HSB: 0,0,20).
Use these four values: white and three grays - to create a tonal arrangement that is both balanced and dynamic.
To fill a space with gray: make the "laser cut" layer active and using the magic wand, select the space. Keeping the selection active, make the background layer active. Edit/Fill with a "color" - one of the three specified grays. This gray will be deposited on the background layer.
Make the "laser cut" layer active again and select another negative area. Fill onto the background layer. Continue doing this until the composition is complete.
When you're done, save one more time. This PSD file will be submitted to AW Express.
File <sec-name-value-graphic.psd> due in AW Express on Tuesday 2/6.