Making an Image Out of Words With Photoshop

If you’ve got a message, you could just set it as text. Or you could get creative, and replace part of an image with the words you want to convey. It’s a dramatic effect, and not too difficult to complete.

Step 1: Choose your picture

It’s important to choose an image with a large, single area that you’ll replace – in this case, the football player’s shirt. You couldn’t replace an entire object such as a horse, because you’d be unable to fit the words in the legs.

Step 2: Cut out the background

Because the words will replace the shirt, you need to cut it out from the image. And in order to patch it successfully, you’ll need to cut out more than just the shirt. The best solution is to select the whole football player and make a new layer from him.

Step 3: Cut out the shirt

Now you need to separate the shirt from the rest of the image. Don’t delete it, but cut it to a new layer so you can use it to overlay the text on later.

Step 4: Patch the background

The easiest way to patch the background is to select a clear portion to the right, and make a new layer from it. Then stretch it to fill the gap, and use a Layer Mask to paint out the edges so it blends seamlessly with the original. This is much easier if the background is out of focus, as this one is.

Step 5: Add your text

Reveal the shirt once more, and set your text over the top. This is the trickiest part of the whole process. Make each word a separate text block, and scale the words using Free Transform so that they overlap the edges of the shirt.

Step 6: Group and make a layer mask

To make it easier to preview the effect, select all your text layers and make a new group from them. Then select the pixels on the shirt layer by holding Command/Ctrl and clicking on its thumbnail in the Layers Panel. On the text group, choose Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection. Now the text group will be limited to just the shirt area.

Step 7: Text to selection

To make a selection from all the text, duplicate the text group and use Command E/Ctrl E to merge the group into a single layer. Hold Command/Ctrl and click its thumbnail to load the new layer as a selection.

Step 8: Convert the shirt to text

Switch to the cutout shirt layer, and use Command J/Ctrl J to make a new layer from the existing text selection. Then hide the original shirt layer, and you’ll be left with just the texture words. If you find logos and so on interrupting the text, edit the cutout shirt layer first to remove these.

Step 9: Add a shadow

This is an optional step, and it depends on the image background. In this case, adding a shadow with Layer Styles helps to lift the text from the background.

Step 10: Brighten the text layer

It’s likely that your new textured text layer will in places be too dark to read easily. Here, I’ve used the Curves dialog to brighten it, making it stand out more clearly from the background.

Posted on: July 2, 2018

Steve Caplin

Steve is a freelance writer, artist and designer, and the author of over a dozen books, including the popular How to Cheat in Photoshop series and the Amazon #1 best-seller Dad Stuff. His training videos can be seen on, Retouch Pro and elsewhere.

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