Fill Text with Images in Photoshop

Previous articles have showed you how to fill type with artwork using InDesign and QuarkXPress and get results like this:

But sometimes you want (or need) to create something similar in Photoshop. Here’s how to do so quickly and easily.

Step 1
Open a landscape photo with definite color. Avoid something with too much of one solid color in one area, or with the same color as the background of the page you’ll eventually be placing the word on. The image below (© / KONRADLEW) is a good candidate for this technique.

Step 2
Select Photoshop’s Text tool and click somewhere in the photo. This will create a new text layer. Type in the text you want the image to show through. If necessary, change the font size to something larger by either selecting the text and changing the size on the Options palette, or by clicking-and-dragging a corner of the text with the Move tool. (Make sure Show Transform Controls is selected up in the Options palette). For manual resizing, hold Shift to maintain proportion, and press Enter to apply changes.

Step 3
Change the typeface to a strong, thick font. I chose Impact.

Step 4
Next, double-click the Background layer to convert it to a normal layer. Name it something — I’ve called mine Layer 0 — and press OK.

Step 5
In the Layers palette, click-and-drag Layer 0 above the text layer.

Step 6
Carefully hover your cursor in between the two layers in the Layers palette and press Option (PC: Alt). The cursor should turn into a different icon, with two circles. Click once.

Your text should now contain the pixels of the photo, but the shape of the text.

Step 7
Select the Move tool and click-and-drag the text layer around the canvas. This lets you place the text so that the best part of the photo shows through.

Step 8
If you save the file as a JPEG, Photoshop adds a white background. To preserve the transparency, save the file as a transparent GIF. To preview what a background will look like with the text, click Add New Layer on the Layers palette, and click-and-drag the new layer to the bottom. Then, click the Foreground color and select a color for the background, such as white. Press Option-Delete (PC: Alt-Backspace) to fill that layer with the color.

Step 9
Let’s try something slightly different example. For this example, I’ve used an image by David Freund, ©

Step 10
Now you’ll add three text layers separately. Select Photoshop’s Text tool, click in the photo, and enter the word “Ocean.” Resize the text as desired.

Option-Click (PC: Alt-Click) to duplicate the text and then select the Text tool to change the text to “Surf”. Option/Alt-Click again to change the text to “Sea”. Position the words as you see below, then select all the text layers in the Layers palette and go to Layer > Merge Layers (or press Cmd-E (PC: Ctrl-E).

Step 11
Double-click the photo layer to make it a normal layer. Click-and-drag the merged text layer below the photo layer. Option-Click (Alt-Click) with the cursor in between the two layers. Add a white layer as you see below, or keep the background transparent.

Step 12
You can also add text with a clipping mask to part of a design, as in the example below by Henk Badenhorst (©

Create the clipping mask the same way you did for the first two examples, but also duplicate the photo layer by pressing Cmd-J (PC: Ctrl-J) after selecting it in the Layers palette. Then, drag that new copy of the photo layer to the background, and select the area for the text to show by clicking-and-dragging around that area with the Marquee Selection tool. Finally, press Delete (PC: Backspace) to delete those pixels. You may want to drag a guide from the top ruler to see where the selection should be while temporarily turning the visibility of the copied photo layer off to see where the text begins.

Step 13
Just another example to spark your own creativity, this time using an image by Josef Volavka (©

Chad Neuman is an internationally published freelance magazine writer, graphic designer, photographer, and educator from Florida. Subscribers to his mailing list receive very occasional updates and free vector art/graphics. Subscribe through his Web site at


Posted on: March 11, 2009

40 Comments on Fill Text with Images in Photoshop

  1. good info. Wish all tutorials would state which ver of PS can apply lesson.All people have not upgraded to PS4 yet

  2. Good explanation – just what i require to learn the how-tos of these techniques. Keep up the good work
    Richard, London

  3. Richard; thank you, it is a fun technique!

    Guest: I used Photoshop CS3 for this tutorial, but it will work with CS2 as well, so you do not need CS4 for this technique.

  4. I love this tutorial. I’m going to have a lot of fun playing around with it. The directions were easy to follow too.

  5. Good explanation and great examples!

  6. Thanks for the insight. BTW this works on Photoshop Elements 7 as well.

  7. at first it was hard to understand. But i love how this shows you what you are supposed to be seeing on you screen!
    <3 photshop i think it is the best invention since peanut butter

  8. Thank you so much, so informative

  9. thank you thank you thank you! way easier then I thought i’d be

  10. I can’t find the filters. Where are they. BTW the information is great! 😀


  12. I’ve always wondered how to do this!

  13. thank you much!! really helped me! :)*

  14. I thought this would take a lot more steps. very clear, thanks!

  15. What photoshop version did you use?

  16. Thanks sorted me out quickly. I had done it before but forgotten the routine. It’s brilliant, thank you and well explained

  17. Thanks for this! Simple and straightforward.:)

  18. wow…thank you

  19. Thanks a lot. Very helpful.

  20. Meynard Landrito

    August 26, 2015 at 12:33 am

    Short, sweet, and all I need to know. Thank you, Chad!

  21. This is fun. I’ve done this technique, and tutorial in Photoshop Tips & Tricks numerous times over the years … first in version 3.5, then in version 6, and then in version CS. It’s good to see it’s still being carried on for those who do not know it.

  22. anyone knows what is the font used in the “Ocean Sea Surf” picture ?

  23. Hi! Thanks for the great info – you gave much simpler than methods I’ve previously tried… Whooo-hoo! 🙂
    Just a quick note, in PS CC 2015, when hovering the cursor between the layers & holding down the ‘ALT’ key briefly, a down arrow & white square appear, not a 2-circle icon as mentioned. Click the space bar & the magic happens. 😉
    If you can’t get that to appear, simply right click, scroll down & click ‘Create Clipping Mask”.
    Thanks Again!

  24. i have nothing to say that about this awesome post. this is a really effective and more informative idea. thanks a lot for this best post. I need just one idea can you tell me plz which software used for this work?

  25. Why not in to 2 steps only
    1. place your photo above the text.
    2. on LAYER PANEL right click (your photo) then choose CLIPPING MASK

    • This worked fantastic for me with one exception. I had to select the layer then go to the layer tab and select Create Clipping Mask. Thumbs Up!

  26. I am looking for an app to do this with photos? Can anyone help me.

  27. Thanks a ton! Creating a new logo and this is pretty handy, thanks for the guide mate!

  28. Thanks for this tutorial!

  29. This helped a lot. Thank you!

  30. Thanks for this tutorial!


    June 28, 2017 at 1:51 pm


  32. thank you for this awesome tips.
    with the help of it i can now create logo for my blog.

  33. This is what I’ve been trying to do for a while! Thanks! So simple in Word, but that’s not photos. One thing to know, is you can also do this when you already have another background–for instance a Christmas card photo. Just add a layer and insert your photo for text and continue with the directions, treating the first layer you made as layer 0. It also works just the same with the paintbrush function.

  34. Thank you.
    Really clear instructions – and ‘as if by magic’ … the picture text appears. Thanks so much.

  35. Great tutorials..i like it that you gave a number of examples how to manipulate text and image in cs..Keep up the good work chad.

  36. does anyone know how the last one was done?

  37. theo fenraven

    May 5, 2018 at 10:33 am

    Exactly what I was looking for. Thank you!

  38. Priyanka Anasuri

    July 15, 2018 at 11:00 pm

    Very Nice.

  39. Wow i was looking for this long time

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