Fill Text With an Image in Photoshop Without Rendering the Text

Quickly create a cool effect with text

Photoshop offers several ways to fill some text with an image or texture, but most of them require that you render the text layer, which means that you can't edit it once the effect is in place. This technique allows your text to remain editable.

These instructions apply to Photoshop CS5 and later. Some commands and menu items may differ between versions.

How to Fill Text With an Image in Photoshop

To create this effect, you'll create your text first and then drop the image in behind it. Here's what to do.

  1. Create a new document in Photoshop.

  2. Select the Type Tool and enter some text. The text will appear on its own layer.

    The keyboard shortcut for the Text tool is T.

    Photoshop on a Mac with the Text tool highlighted
  3. Drag the image you want to use to fill your text into your document.

    Dragging an image into a Photoshop document
  4. If the image doesn't completely cover your text, use the Free Transform tool to resize it. Press Command/Ctrl-T or select Free Transform under the Edit menu.

    Photoshop on a Mac with the Free Transform command highlighted
  5. Resize the image until it completely covers the text, and then click the checkmark or press Return/Enter to exit the tool.

    Hold down Shift while you resize to keep your image's proportions constant.

    Free Transform tool in Photoshop with the checkmark highlighted
  6. With the picture layer selected, go to the Layer menu and click Create Clipping Mask.

    Photoshop on a Mac with the Create Clipping Mask option highlighted
  7. The image will disappear other than what shows through the text. You'll also know the clipping mask worked because the image layer will have an arrow pointing down to the text layer.

    Photoshop on a Mac with the clipping layer indicator highlighted
  8. To edit the text, double-click the text layer. The words you typed will highlight, and you'll be able to modify them. Click the checkmark or press Return/Enter to save your changes.

    Photoshop on a Mac with the Text layer and checkmark highlighted
  9. Use the Move tool to reposition the image and text separately.

    The keyboard shortcut for the Move tool is V.

    Photoshop on a Mac with the Move tool highlighted
  10. Keep adjusting the text and image until it looks how you want it.

Tips and Tricks

Using this same process, you can produce several other effects. Here are some other things you can try:

  1. Instead of using an image for the fill, try a gradient. You can also use a pattern fill or paint on the layer with any of the painting tools.
  2. You can also use materials to give your text a different look. For example, you can make it look like metal, wood, or stone by inserting an image of one of those materials.
  3. Experiment with different blend modes on the grouped layer for other effects.
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