Create Fun Titles using a Type Mask

A Type Mask can be a helpful tool when creating layout titles or other text. The Mask allows the area of an image to show through the text, creating an interesting effect.

For this tutorial, I am using Photoshop CC2017; however, the Type Mask is also available in other versions of Photoshop. It is also available in Photoshop Elements (PSE), although it works slightly differently in that program. (Edit: A reader told me that in CS6, the whole photo was masked in red, as it is in PSE, so it looks like the change might have taken place when CC was released.)

In Photoshop:

  • Click on the Horizontal Type Mask. It is nested with the other Type Tools. Click on the triangle in the lower right corner of the Text Tool to access the fly-out menu shown below.

  • In the top Options Bar, choose the Font Name and Size that you want to type with.
  • Click on your image and type your title. The words you type will appear masked in red.

  • Prior to hitting ENTER, position your text where you would like it to be. Once you’re satisfied with its placement, hit ENTER or click on the checkmark in the Options Bar to commit. The text will appear as a selection.

  • Hit CTRL + J to copy the selection. The selection will be placed on its own layer.
  • Add a Drop-Shadow to selection, and you have a nice title on your image. I really like this technique because it adds an unobtrusive, yet attractive, title to your image.

If you would like a more dramatic title, you can take just a few more steps to accomplish that.

  • Add a layer of white beneath your image.
  • Lower the opacity of your image to about 50%, or whatever looks good to you.
  • Follow the instructions above to create your title and position it where you want.
  • Add a drop shadow to your title. I also added a small, white, inside Stroke. I love how the photograph shows through the text!

In Photoshop Elements:

The difference between Photoshop and Photoshop Elements is that in Photoshop, the text itself will be masked.  In Elements, the entire document will be masked. When you hit ENTER in PSE, the red mask will disappear, and you will be left with the text selected, as in Photoshop.

If you would like to try example 2, follow the instructions above to get the duplicated text layer.

  • Click on Styles (underneath the Layers Panel) and add a Drop Shadow.
  • Go to the Layers Panel, and click on the FX on the text layer to open the Style Settings.
  • Add your Stroke as desired.

Experiment with Text Masking, and I’ll bet you can come up with even more creative titles!

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Comments (6)

  1. Thank you Karen for this interesting tut, this was new to me. I work with Photoshop CS6 and the entire photo was masked, same as in elements.

    June 30, 2017 at 9:55 am
    • Karen

      Thanks for this information. That’s good to know. Looks like the change was made in CC then! I’ll amend the tutorial. Thanks!

      June 30, 2017 at 10:39 am
  2. I’m having trouble with the link to the pdf copy of the tutorial. Is it me and my computer? Or is the link not working? Thanks. Love, love, love this Fun Title! Now, why didn’t I ever think of that??? smile

    July 1, 2017 at 11:13 am
    • Karen

      Nope! Looks like I didn’t get it linked properly. I’ve fixed the link. Thanks for letting me know!

      July 1, 2017 at 11:33 am
  3. Clareene

    Wow, love this technique! Of course, even if someone did a bad job it would still look great. it’s Yosemite!! …Hugs…

    September 7, 2019 at 8:54 pm
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