One of the most common Photoshop questions I see floating around out there on the internet looks something like, “How do get an image you show through text?” Or maybe it’s something like, “How do I turn text into an image?” Either way, whoever is asking these questions basically wants to know the same thing; they would like to know how to set up a clipping mask. Now, I know I already went through this in a post I wrote a while back that had to do with video, but I’m not sure I ever discussed the much more common and straightforward application of one of these things with static elements. I think I’ll do just that today.
In today’s post, I’m going to demonstrate how to go about making a photograph show through some text inside of Adobe Photoshop. To accomplish this, I’ll make use of the two-step clipping mask process. This is a super simple technique that can definitely assist you through your entire design career, so please read on below. I’ll first set up the mask with a photo and then I’ll set it up with some additional text.
Okay, I’ve already gone ahead and set up an empty document in Photoshop. I then used the Horizontal Type Tool to write the word LION in its own layer.
Here’s the output of that.
As you can see, I created a document with a white background and black text, although, the colors of these things don’t matter. I just chose them because they were clear.
I also have a photo of an actual lion in another tab in Photoshop. Before dragging that over to the text document, I’ll resize it so the image is only 700 pixels wide. When I do this, the width of the photo will match the width of the text document. Here’s the resized photo of the lion.
At this point, I’ll go ahead and click and drag the layer from the Layers panel of the lion image tab and drag it up and over to the tab of the text document. When the visible file changes from the lion image to the text document, I’ll continue dragging the lion image down and drop it on top of the text. And finally, I’ll align the photo so it matches the edges of the text document. Here’s what I’ll have in the Layers panel of this all encompassing document.
So, as you can see, I have the lion image layer, the text layer and the background layer. That’s all I need.
Applying the Clipping Mask
You’re going to love this because it’s so easy. As I mentioned above, making the text look like it’s a cutout of the photograph takes only two steps. The first one is actually finished already. Basically, it has to do with ordering the photos. In this case, since I want the text to be the primary player and the lion photo to show through the text, the lion photo needs to be on top, above the text layer. The second step actually creates the clipping mask. To do this, I’ll hover my mouse pointer over the divider between the lion and text layers. Then, I’ll press the Alt key on my keyboard. When the pointer changes into an arrow, I’ll click. That’s it. It’s that simple.
How do I know if it worked? Well, the lion image thumbnail will be indented and there will be a visible arrow to the left of it. Take a look.
Also, the file now looks like it should. A really cool layer effect.
How cool is that?
Working with Text on Text
I’ve seen some pretty neat stuff out there and when people create clipping masks that include text on text, I think it’s the neatest. So, in case you’re interested, I’ll show you how to do something like that right now. It requires exactly the same steps.
The first thing I’ll do is to hide the lion image layer by clicking on the small eye icon to the left of the thumbnail in the Layers panel. Then, I’ll use the Horizontal Type Tool again to paste in a paragraph of random text. I’m using random because this is only a demonstration. Obviously, if I were creating a real graphic, I’d be more careful. I’ll make this pasted text black.
Finally, I’ll change the color of the LION text to white. I’ll end up with something that looks like this:
I’ll also arrange the layers so the random text is on top, the LION text is beneath that and then the background layer is on the bottom. The Layers panel looks like this:
Again, I made it so the lion image isn’t visible, so just ignore that layer.
So, to make it so the random text appears as a cutout in the shape of the word LION, I’ll simply follow the instructions I gave earlier. I’ll hover my mouse pointer over the area between the random text layer and the LION text layer and press the ALT key on my keyboard. When I see the arrow appear, I’ll click. This is what I’ll get:
Now that’s pretty neat.
I hope I clearly explained how clipping masks work in Adobe Photoshop and gave some entertaining examples along the way. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this post, please leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!