Cutout Text Effect in Photoshop Elements

Add depth and dimension to text in Photoshop

With Photoshop, you can apply multiple effects to shapes and photos. But you can also use some of these same tools with text because the program treats letters as more shapes you can modify.

A cool effect you can create is a three-dimensional one in which text appears to be punched out of another service. Here's how to do it.

These instructions apply to Photoshop Elements 15 and later and Photoshop CS5 and newer. Some menu items and commands may be different between versions.

A Macbook Air running Photoshop

How to Create a Text Cutout in Photoshop

The general process of cutting out letters in Photoshop is to create the text and then delete it so that a lower layer shows through. Here's what to do.

  1. Create a new document in Photoshop.

  2. Make a new layer solid color fill layer by going to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color.

  3. Type a name for the new layer in the Name text field and click OK.

    You don't have to name the new layer, but it might make it easier to keep track of it.

    New Layer dialogue box in Photoshop with the OK button highlighted
  4. Choose a color for the new layer and click OK.

    Color selection window in Photoshop with the OK button highlighted
  5. Select the Horizontal Type Mask tool by clicking the Text tool and then clicking the type mask tool in the toolbox.

    Depending on your design, you might want to use the Vertical Type Mask Tool instead. You can also use the keyboard shortcut T to select the Text tool and press Shift+T to cycle through the different options.

    Photoshop on a Mac with the Horizontal Type Mask Tool highlighted
  6. Click inside the document and type some text.

    A document in Photoshop with text highlighted
  7. Highlight the text to select it and choose a bold font and a large font size.

    When you're happy with the type selection, click the checkmark or press Enter/Return to apply it.

    Text font and size menu in Photoshop
  8. Press delete on the keyboard to "punch out" the text selection from the top layer, then Deselect or use the keyboard command Ctrl+D.

    If you get an error message when you try to delete the selection, make sure the fill layer isn't locked and that you've selected the "mask" section (the square on the right side of the layer).

    A text punch-out in Photoshop
  9. To complete the effect, add a drop shadow to the text layer. Select the fill layer, and then click the Effects menu at the bottom of the layers window and select Drop Shadow.

    You can also find this option by going to Layer > Layer Style > Drop Shadow.

    Photoshop on Mac with the Drop Shadow option highlighted
  10. Adjust the settings in the menu to achieve the effect you want. Click OK to continue.

    The objective of a Drop Shadow is to show elevation. In this case, the shadow will give the text an embossed effect. In either case, subtlety should be your goal. The higher the object casting the shadow is above a surface the larger and fainter (opacity) it is on the edges.

    In some versions of Photoshop, you can click and drag on the element in your document and move it around instead of using the sliders in the menu. The settings will adjust automatically.

    Drop Shadow menu with the OK button highlighted
  11. To make a different background color, select the Paint Bucket by clicking it in the tool menu or using the keyboard shortcut G.

    Photoshop on a Mac with the Paint Bucket tool highlighted
  12. Click the Foreground Color to select a new color. Click OK to save.

    Color Picker foreground color menu with the OK button highlighted
  13. Select the Background Layer and click anywhere on the document with the Paint Bucket Tool to change the color.

    Photoshop on a Mac with the Background layer highlighted
  14. You've now completed the text punch-out effect.

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