Written by Steve Patterson.
In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to place an image in text with Photoshop. But rather than just filling a single word or a single line of text, we’ll take things further and learn a simple trick that lets you instantly place an image into two or more Type layers at once!
In a previous tutorial, we learned how to create a basic image in text effect, where we placed the image in a single word. To create the effect, all we had to do was make a copy of our image, move it above the Type layer, and then clip the image to the text using a clipping mask. But what if you have multiple words, each on a separate Type layer, that you need to fill with the same image? How do you place an image into two, three or more Type layers at the same time? In this tutorial, we’ll look at the problem we run into, and the easy solution!
Here’s what the final effect will look like, or at least one variation of it, with three words, each on separate Type layers, filled with the same image. We’ll learn how to customize the effect by changing the background color, adding layer effects, and adjusting the transparency of the background, at the end of the tutorial:
The final effect.
Let’s get started!
How To Fill Your Text With An Image
I’ll be using Photoshop CC but any recent version will work.
Step 1: Open your image
Open the image you want to place inside your text. I’ll use this image that I downloaded from Adobe Stock:
The image that will be placed inside the text. Photo credit: Adobe Stock.
Step 2: Add your text
Add your text to the document and position it where you need it in front of the image. If we look in the Layers panel, we see that I’ve already added some text, and each word (“UNDER”, “THE” and “SEA”) is on a separate Type layer. The image itself is on the Background layer below them. I’ll turn the text on by clicking each Type layer’s visibility icon:
Turning on all three Type layers.
And here we see all three words in front of the image. You’ll want to use black as your type color for now, for reasons we’ll see in a moment:
The text added and positioned in front of the image.
Step 3: Add a Solid Color fill layer above the Background layer
Let’s add a background color for the effect. We’ll use a Solid Color fill layer. This will make it easy to change the background to any color we like, as we’ll see later. Click on the Background layer in the Layers panel to select it:
Selecting the Background layer.
Then click the New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel:
Clicking the New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon.
Choose Solid Color from the top of the list:
Adding a Solid Color fill layer.
In the Color Picker, choose white, and then click OK:
Choosing white as the background color.
Back in the document, our text now sits in front of a white background (which is why we chose black as the type color). We’ll learn how to change the background color at the end of the tutorial:
The document after adding the white fill layer.
And in the Layers panel, we see the Solid Color fill layer (“Color Fill 1”) sitting between the Type layers and the Background layer, which is why the fill layer is currently blocking the image from view:
The Layers panel showing the white fill layer.
Step 4: Make a copy of the Background layer
We need to make a copy of the image and move it above the text. Click again on the Background layer to select it:
Reselecting the Background layer.
Make a copy of the Background layer by dragging it down onto the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel:
Dragging the Background layer onto the New Layer icon.
When you release your mouse button, Photoshop makes a copy of the layer, names it “Background copy”, and places it directly above the original:
A “Background copy” layer appears above the original.
Step 5: Drag the copy above the Type layers
Click on the “Background copy” layer and drag it above the Type layers. A highlight bar will appear above the Type layer at the very top:
Dragging the “Background copy” layer above the Type layers.
Release your mouse button to drop the layer into place:
A copy of the image now sits above the text.
The problem: Placing one image into three Type layers
So far so good. But now we run into a problem. We have one image that needs to be placed not just in one word, but three, and each word is on a separate Type layer. How do we fill all three words with the image? If we had just a single Type layer, then all we would need to do to place the image inside the text is create a clipping mask. But watch what happens when I create one.
Creating a clipping mask
With the “Background copy” layer selected, I’ll click on the menu icon in the upper right of the Layers panel:
Clicking the Layers panel menu icon.
Then I’ll choose Create Clipping Mask from the menu:
Creating a clipping mask.
And here we see the problem. Photoshop clips the image to the Type layer directly below it, which does place the image inside the text. But because the image is clipped to only one of the three Type layers, the image appears in only one of the three words, which isn’t what we want:
The text appears only in the word at the top.
Why it didn’t work
If we look at the “Background copy” layer in the Layers panel, we see a small arrow beside its preview thumbnail pointing down at the Type layer below it (the layer that holds the word “UNDER”). This is how Photoshop tells us that the “Background copy” layer is clipped to the Type layer. But it’s clipped to just that one Type layer, not all three. We need a way to clip the image to all three Type layers at the same time:
The image is clipped only to the Type layer directly below it.
Releasing a clipping mask
Since that’s not the effect we want, I’ll undo the clipping mask by clicking once again on the menu icon in the upper right of the Layers panel and choosing Release Clipping Mask from the menu:
Releasing the clipping mask.
And now we’re back to seeing just the image:
The image is again visible after releasing the clipping mask.
Step 6: Place the Type layers in a layer group
The solution is to place all of our Type layers into a layer group. That way, we can clip the image not to a single Type layer but to the entire group at once! Click on the Type layer at the top to select it:
Selecting the top Type layer.
Then, to select the other Type layers as well, press and hold your Shift key and click on the bottom Type layer:
Hold Shift and click the bottom Type layer to select them all.
Click the menu icon in the upper right of the Layers panel:
Clicking the menu icon.
Choose New Group from Layers from the menu:
Choosing the “New Group from Layers” command.
In the New Group from Layers dialog box, name the group “Text”, and then click OK:
Naming the layer group.
Back in the Layers panel, the Type layers now appear inside a layer group named “Text”. Click on the arrow to the left of the folder icon to twirl the group open and view the layers inside it:
The Type layers are now inside a layer group.
Step 7: Select the “Background copy” layer
Now that the Type layers are inside a group, we can clip the image to the entire group. Click on the “Background copy” layer to select it:
Selecting the “Background copy” layer.
Step 8: Create a clipping mask
Click the Layers panel menu icon:
Clicking the Layers panel menu icon.
And then choose Create Clipping Mask from the list:
Creating a clipping mask.
This time, Photoshop clips the “Background copy” layer not to a single Type layer but to the layer group itself:
The image is now clipped to the layer group.
And because we’ve clipped the image to the group, the image instantly appears inside all three words:
The effect after clipping the image to the layer group.
Customizing the effect: Adding a Drop Shadow
Now that we’ve created the basic “image in text” effect, let’s look at a few ways to customize it. One thing we can do is add a drop shadow to the text. And since we want the drop shadow to affect all of our Type layers at once, we’ll apply it to the layer group itself. Click on the layer group to select it:
Selecting the layer group in the Layers panel.
Then click the Layer Styles icon (the “fx” icon) at the bottom of the Layers panel:
Clicking the Layer Styles icon.
Choose Drop Shadow from the list:
Choosing “Drop Shadow”.
The Drop Shadow settings
This opens the Layer Style dialog box set to the Drop Shadow options. Adjust the Angle, Distance and Size of the shadow to your liking. Angle sets the direction of the light source. Distance controls how far the shadow will extend outward from the letters, and Size will feather the shadow edges. Then adjust the brightness of the shadow using the Opacity slider at the top.
In my case, I’ll set the Angle to 75° to match the angle of the light beams in the water. Then I’ll set both the Distance and the Size to 30px, and the Opacity to 40%. Click OK when you’re done to close the dialog box:
The Drop Shadow options.
And here’s my effect with the drop shadow applied. Notice that because we’ve applied the drop shadow to the layer group, all of the Type layers inside the group are affected:
The result after adding a drop shadow to the layer group.
Customizing the effect: Changing the background color
Another way we can customize the effect is by changing the background color. Double-click on the color swatch for the Solid Color fill layer:
Double-clicking the fill layer’s color swatch in the Layers panel.
Then choose a different color in the Color Picker. I’ll choose black:
Changing the background color from white to black.
And here’s what the effect looks like with a black background:
The darker background helps bring out the image in the words.
Choosing a background color from the image
You can also choose a background color directly from the image inside the letters. With the Color Picker still open, move your mouse cursor over the image. Your cursor will change into an eyedropper. Click on a color to sample it and set it as the new background color. I’ll choose a dark shade of blue from the diver’s mask:
Sampling a color from the image.
And here’s what that color looks like as the new background:
The effect with a background color sampled from the image.
I’ll use the color I sampled, but I’ll choose a much darker shade of it:
Taking the sampled color and choosing a darker version of it.
Click OK to close out of the Color Picker, and here’s my effect with a dark blue background:
The darker blue makes the text easier to read.
Customizing the effect: Adding transparency to the background
Finally, let’s look at one more way to customize the effect, and that’s by adding transparency to the background color. This will let some of the original image show through. With the Solid Color fill layer selected, lower the Opacity value in the upper right of the Layers panel. The more you lower it from its default value of 100%, the more you’ll see the image through the background color. I’ll lower mine to 85%:
Lowering the opacity of the Solid Color fill layer.
This allows just a hint of the image to show through the blue background, creating my final effect:
The final “image in text” effect.
And there we have it! That’s how to place an image in text, and how to fill multiple Type layers with the same image, in Photoshop! Be sure to check out our Photo Effects and Text Effects sections for more tutorials!