How to Make Title Cards in Photoshop for TV and Film

How to make title cards in Photoshop with an alpha mask is a question I hear a lot from designers. So I decided to create this tutorial that documents the step-by-step process.

So if you’re an Art Director or Graphic Designer with a client that just signed off on creating your first TV commercial, or perhaps a budding film director, editor, or just someone who wants to learn how to use an AVID, Premier, or even Photoshop to create a cool video, this how-to article on how to make title cards is for you.

A couple quick things to point out before we begin.

The below information was written as a guide to quickly walk you through the process of creating broadcast title card graphics.

It’s based on the premise you have, at least, a fair amount of experience using Photoshop so it doesn’t cover every single action.

Creating title cards for videos, film, or TV commercials doesn’t require any fancy plug-ins, actions, or filters. Although I used Adobe Photoshop CS3 (on a Mac) to create the graphics displayed below, the process is straight forward and uses basic features that have been around since, at least PS 5 or 6.

Update: The same features are available in Photoshop CC.

The difference between creating standard title cards vs. those with an Alpha mask (or channel) is the title cards with the Alpha mask will allow the masked graphic to overlay other images or footage. e.g. the client’s logo superimposed over a product. So if all you need is a standard art card, you can follow the same steps outlined below–but skipping steps four and five.

Lastly, although the following eight steps use dimensions for TV title cards, the process is exactly the same for creating art cards for film projects.

How to Make Title Cards in Photoshop (with Alpha Mask)

Step 1: Create a new Photoshop document

Select: File > New >

Select “Film & Video” from the “Preset” drop-down menu

Select “NTSC D1 Square Pixel” from the “Size” drop-down menu.

Select “OK”. This will create a 720 x 540 document (with guides).

Create new Photoshop document using NTSC D1 Square Pixel Preset
Create new Photoshop document using NTSC D1 Square Pixel Preset

Step 2: Place your .EPS or .AI Graphic into your new document

Select: File > Place
Place .EPS Graphic into Document
Place .EPS Graphic into Document

Step 3: Scale Graphic as Required

TIP: Make your graphic a bit larger than you need. You can always scale it down in AVID without image quality loss.

After scaling the Placed graphic, add any additional text or graphics required for shameless self promotion.

Scale Graphic As Required. Add Any Additional Text
Scale Graphic As Required. Add Any Additional Text, etc.

Step 4: Load Selection/s

Select your graphics and/or text so we can create an alpha channel which is needed when you (or or editor) import the image into AVID.

Hold down the “Command” key while clicking on the layer your graphic is on. The graphic will be surrounded by the ever popular “marching ants”.

Another option is to make sure the graphic layer is selected and then Select: Select > Load Selection

If you have multiple layers to be selected (such as the graphic and text shown in the below sample), just (Shift + Command + click) on each layer.

Load Selections
Load Selections

Step 5: Save Selection

Select: Select > Save Selection (This creates an Alpha channel)

The dialog box will prompt you to give the new Channel a name. I used “graphic” but you can name it anything you want. Select “OK”

Save Selection

Step 6: SAVE AS

Select: File > Save As >

From the “Format” drop-down menu, select “PICT File”. Make sure the “Alpha Channels” box is checked.

Save Selection Creates an Alpha Channel
Load Selections

Step 7: Click: “Save”

From the subsequent “PICT File Options” dialog box (Resolution: 32 bits/pixel Compressions: None), select “OK”.

Step 8: Import into AVID or Adobe Premier

Import with inverted alpha channel. This is a preset you can select for the import function.

And there you have it, you’re good to go. You now have a crisp and clean title card graphic with a masked background to overlay over other graphics which is to become a customized title in Adobe Premiere Pro.

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