Colorful Overlapping Letters Text Effect in Photoshop
In this tutorial, I show you how to create an overlapping letters text effect in Photoshop, with colors that blend together where the letters overlap! As we’ll see, not only is this a fun and colorful effect, but it’s also very easy to create. We just add some text, convert the letters into shapes, change the color of each letter, and then move the letters closer together to overlap them. To blend the colors in the overlapping areas, we use one of Photoshop’s layer blend modes. Let’s see how it works!
Here’s what the final “overlapping letters” text effect will look like when we’re done:
How To Create Overlapping Text In Photoshop
I’m using Photoshop CC but every step is fully compatible with Photoshop CS6.
Step 1: Create a new document
Start by creating a new Photoshop document. Go up to the File menu in the Menu Bar and choose New:
New Document dialog box, set the Width to 1600 pixels, the Height to 800 pixels, the Resolution to 72 pixels/inch, and the Background Contents to White. Click Create or OK (depending on which version of Photoshop you’re using) to close the dialog box and create the new document:
” alt=”Choosing the font and the type size for the text effect” width=”670″ height=”100″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/type/effects/cc/overlapping-text/font-settings-options-bar-photoshop.png” />
Choosing the font and the type size.
Make sure your type color is set to black so we can see the text in front of the white background. If it’s not set to black, press the letter D on your keyboard to reset it. We’ll choose different colors for each letter after we’ve converted our text into shapes:
” alt=”Adding the initial text for the effect” width=”704″ height=”359″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/type/effects/cc/overlapping-text/add-text-to-document-photoshop.png” />
Adding the initial text to the document.
To accept your text, click the checkmark in the Options Bar:
” alt=”Choosing Free Transform from the Edit menu in Photoshop” width=”282″ height=”144″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/type/effects/cc/overlapping-text/choose-free-transform-photoshop.png” />
Going to Edit > Free Transform.
Photoshop places the Free Transform box and handles around the text. To resize it, press and hold your Shift key as you click and drag any of the corner handles. Holding the Shift key as you drag locks in the original shapes of the letters so you don’t distort them. Make sure that when you’re done, you release your mouse button first, and then release the Shift key, or you’ll get unexpected results.
To move the text into the center of the document, click and drag inside the Free Transform box. When you’re happy with the size and position of the text, press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) on your keyboard to exit out of Free Transform:
Layers panel, the text appears on a new Type layer above the Background layer:
” alt=”Converting the text into a shape with the Convert to Shape command in Photoshop” width=”248″ height=”131″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/type/effects/cc/overlapping-text/photoshop-convert-type-to-shape.png” />
Going to Type > Convert to Shape.
Back in the Layers panel, the Type layer is now a Shape layer, which means that our text is no longer editable:
” alt=”Path outlines appear around the letters after converting the type into a shape in Photoshop” width=”704″ height=”359″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/type/effects/cc/overlapping-text/path-outline-around-text-photoshop.png” />
The text has been converted to a shape.
Step 5: Move each letter to its own layer
To overlap the letters and blend their colors together, we need to place each letter on a separate layer. Grab the Path Selection Tool (the black arrow tool) from the Toolbar:
” alt=”Changing the Select option for the Path Selection Tool in Photoshop CC to All Layers” width=”375″ height=”101″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/type/effects/cc/overlapping-text/path-selection-tool-select-all-layers.png” />
Changing “Select” to “All Layers” (Photoshop CC only).
Back in the document window, click anywhere on the white background to deselect the letters. Then, click on the first letter on the left to select it. A path outline will reappear around just that one letter:
” alt=”The New Shape Layer via Cut command in Photoshop” width=”257″ height=”120″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/type/effects/cc/overlapping-text/new-shape-layer-via-cut-photoshop.png” />
Going to Layer > New > Shape Layer via Cut.
It won’t look like anything has happened, but in the Layers panel, we now see that the first letter has been moved to its own Shape layer above the original:
” alt=”How to move Type letters to separate layers in Photoshop” width=”273″ height=”382″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/type/effects/cc/overlapping-text/letters-moved-to-separate-layers-photoshop.png” />
The Layers panel showing each letter in the word now on its own layer.
Step 6: Change the Blend Mode of the letters to Multiply
In a moment, we’re going to change the color of each letter and move the letters closer together so that they overlap. Since we want the colors in the overlapping areas to blend together, we need to change the blend mode for each Shape layer. Photoshop lets us quickly change the blend mode for multiple layers at once.
Click on the top layer in the Layers panel to select it. Then, to select the other Shape layers as well, press and hold your Shift key and click on the original Shape layer directly above the Background layer:
Multiply blend mode once we start overlapping the letters:
” alt=”Clicking the Layers panel menu icon in Photoshop” width=”282″ height=”186″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/type/effects/cc/overlapping-text/layers-panel-menu-icon.png” />
Opening the Layers panel menu.
Then choose New Group from Layers:
” alt=”Naming the new layer group ‘Letters'” width=”413″ height=”130″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/type/effects/cc/overlapping-text/new-group-from-layers-photoshop.png” />
Naming the layer group.
Back in the Layers panel, the Shape layers now appear in a group named “Letters”. Click the triangle to the left of the folder icon to twirl the group open:
” alt=”Double-clicking on the first Shape layer thumbnail in the Layers panel” width=”274″ height=”182″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/type/effects/cc/overlapping-text/double-click-shape-thumbnail.png” />
Double-clicking on the top Shape layer thumbnail.
This opens Photoshop’s Color Picker. I’ll choose a light blue. To use the same color I’m using, set the R value to 30, the G value to 117 and the B value to 197:
” alt=”The color of the first letter has been changed to light blue” width=”700″ height=”105″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/type/effects/cc/overlapping-text/color-effect-first-letter.png” />
The first letter is now light blue.
To change the color of the second letter, again double-click on its thumbnail in the Layers panel:
” alt=”Choosing a light green in the Color Picker for the second letter” width=”544″ height=”386″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/type/effects/cc/overlapping-text/color-picker-second-color-photoshop.jpg” />
Choosing a light green for the second letter.
Click OK, and now the second letter appears in green (or whichever color you chose):
” alt=”Each letter in the word is now a different color” width=”700″ height=”107″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/type/effects/cc/overlapping-text/text-letters-color-changed.png” />
Each letter is now a different color.
Step 9: Add a gradient to the layer group
The text is definitely looking more colorful, but we can enhance the colors even further by applying a gradient to the layer group itself. Click on the “Letters” layer group at the top of the Layers panel to select it:
” alt=”Clicking the Layer Styles icon in the Layers panel in Photoshop” width=”274″ height=”168″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/type/effects/cc/overlapping-text/layer-styles-icon-layers-panel-photoshop.png” />
Clicking the Layer Styles icon.
Choose Gradient Overlay from the list:
” alt=”Choosing th Black, White gradient in the Gradient Overlay options in Photoshop” width=”309″ height=”256″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/type/effects/cc/overlapping-text/choose-black-white-gradient.png” />
Choosing the Black, White gradient.
Set the Blend Mode to Overlay, the Opacity to 100%, the Style to Linear, and the Angle to 90 degrees, and then click OK:
” alt=”The letters in the text now appear filled with gradients” width=”700″ height=”107″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/type/effects/cc/overlapping-text/text-effect-gradient-colors.jpg” />
Adding a Gradient Overlay to the group is a quick way to turn flat colors into gradients.
Step 10: Select the Move Tool and set it to Auto Select Layers
At this point, all that’s left to do is move the letters closer together so that they overlap. Select the Move Tool from the Toolbar:
” alt=”Turning on Auto-Select Layer for the Move Tool in Photoshop” width=”408″ height=”101″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/type/effects/cc/overlapping-text/move-tool-auto-select-layer.png” />
Turning on Auto-Select and setting it to Layer.
Step 11: Drag the letters together so they overlap
Click on a letter with the Move Tool to select it. The Shape layer for that letter will highlight in the Layers panel. Then, drag the letter over to the letter beside it until part of the letters overlap. Hold Shift as you drag to make it easier to drag straight across. Here, I’ve clicked on the second letter (the green “O”) and I’ve dragged it over and slightly into the first letter (“C”). Notice that in the areas where the two letters overlap, the colors from each letter are blending together:
” alt=”Overlapping the third letter in the text with the second letter in Photoshop” width=”700″ height=”200″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/type/effects/cc/overlapping-text/moving-third-letter.jpg” />
The overlapping text effect is taking shape.
If you do accidentally select and move two letters at once, press Ctrl+Z (Win) / Command+Z (Mac) to undo your last step. Click anywhere in the white background to deselect the letters, and then click on the letter you need to select it.
Moving the remaining letters
Continue dragging the remaining letters together until they all overlap. Again, remember to click once on a letter to select it, release your mouse button, and then click a second time to move it. You can also nudge letters left and right using the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard. Here’s my result after overlapping the remaining letters. The only problem is that, after moving the letters closer together, the word now looks too small in the document. We’ll finish off the tutorial by learning how to resize it next:
” alt=”Selecting the layer group in the Layers panel” width=”274″ height=”169″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/type/effects/cc/overlapping-text/select-layer-group.png” />
Selecting the layer group.
Press Ctrl+T (Win) / Command+T (Mac) on your keyboard to quickly select Photoshop’s Free Transform command. Then, just as we did earlier, press and hold your Shift key and drag any of the corner handles to resize the text. Move the text to reposition it by clicking and dragging inside the Free Transform box:
” alt=”How to create an overlapping letters text effect in Photoshop” width=”800″ height=”171″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/type/effects/cc/overlapping-text/photoshop-colorful-overlapping-text-effect.jpg” />
The final effect.
And there we have it! That’s how to create an overlapping letters text effect, and how to blend the overlapping colors together, in Photoshop! Be sure to check out our Text Effects sections for more tutorials!