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Using Text To Shadow Itself In Photoshop

Written by Steve Patterson. In this Photoshop text effects tutorial, we’re going to see how easy it is to add some visual interest to text in Photoshop by using a copy of the exact same text to shadow itself.

Photoshop text shadow effect. Image © 2009 Photoshop Essentials.com

 

Let’s get started!

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Step 1: Create A New Blank Document

First, let’s create a new blank Photoshop document. Go up to the File menu at the top of the screen and choose New, or simply use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+N (Win) / Command+N (Mac). Either method will bring up Photoshop’s New Document dialog box. Enter in whatever size you need for your document. I’m going to enter a Width of 6 inches, a Height of 4 inches, and a Resolution of 300 pixels/inch, but again, you can enter whatever size you need. I’m also going to set my Background Contents to White so that white appears as my background color in the document. Click OK when you’re done to exit out of the dialog box. Your new blank document will appear on your screen.

The New Document dialog box in Photoshop. Image © 2009 Photoshop Essentials.com
Create a new blank Photoshop document.

Step 2: Select The Type Tool

Next, select the Type Tool from the Tools palette, or press the letter T to select with the keyboard shortcut:

The Type Tool in Photoshop. Image © 2009 Photoshop Essentials.com
Select the Type Tool.

Step 3: Select A Font, Size And Color For Your Text

With the Type Tool selected, go up to the Options Bar at the top of the screen and choose whichever font you’d like to use. I’ll use Tahoma Bold at a size of 60 pt. You, of course, can use whichever font you prefer, and the size you choose may be different depending on the font you choose, as well as on the size of the document you’re working with:

The Type Options in the Options Bar in Photoshop. Image © 2009 Photoshop Essentials.com
Select a font and font size in the Options Bar.

Then, to select a color for the text, click on the color swatch in the Options Bar.

Choosing a text color in Photoshop. Image © 2009 Photoshop Essentials.com
Click on the color swatch in the Options Bar to change the text color.

This will bring up Photoshop’s Color Picker. Select a nice, bright color for your text. I’ll choose a bright red color. Once you’ve chosen your color, click OK in the top right corner of the dialog box to exit out of it:

The Color Picker in Photoshop. Image © 2009 Photoshop Essentials.com
Choose a color for the text from the Color Picker, then click OK to exit out of it.

Step 4: Add Your Text

With the font and text color chosen, click inside the document and add your text. I’ll type the word “SHADOW”. When you’re done, click on the checkmark in the Options Bar to accept the text and edit out of text editing mode:

Typing the word 'SHADOW' into the Photoshop document. Image © 2009 Photoshop Essentials.com
Add your text to the document, then click the checkmark in the Options Bar to accept it.

Once you’ve added your text, your Layers palette will show the text on its own layer directly above the Background layer.

The Layers palette in Photoshop showing the text on its own layer. Image © 2009 Photoshop Essentials.com
The text appears on its own layer above the Background layer.

Step 5: Duplicate The Text Layer

We’re going to use the exact same text to shadow itself, and to do that, we’ll need a copy of the text, which means we need to duplicate our text layer. Make sure you have the text layer selected in the Layers palette (selected layers are highlighted in blue), then press Ctrl+J (Win) / Command+J (Mac) to duplicate the layer. A copy of the text layer will appear above the original:

A copy of the text layer appears in the Layers palette in Photoshop. Image © 2009 Photoshop Essentials.com
The Layers palette showing a copy of the text layer above the original.

Step 6: Select The Original Text Layer

Since our original text layer is below the copy, we’ll use the original text layer for our shadow effect. Click on the original text layer in the Layers palette to select it:

Selecting the original text layer in Photoshop. Image © 2009 Photoshop Essentials.com
Click on the original text layer in the Layers palette.

Step 7: Choose A Darker Version Of The Text Color To Use As The Shadow

With the original text layer selected in the Layers palette and the Type Tool still selected, click again on the color swatch in the Options Bar at the top of screen and select a different color from the Color Picker. We’re going to use this color as a shadow effect for the text, so choose a darker version of your original color. Here, I’m choosing a darker red:

Choosing a darker color in the Color Picker. Image © 2009 Photoshop Essentials.com
Choose a darker version of the original text color with the Color Picker.

When you’re done. click OK to exit out of the Color Picker. It won’t look like much has happened in your document window just yet because the copied text layer is over top of the original text layer and hiding it from view, but we’re going to fix that in the next step.

Step 8: Select The Move Tool

In order to create our shadow effect, we need to move the original text slightly so we can see it below the copy of the text that’s sitting above it. Let’s move the original text down and to the right. Not too much, just enough to create a shadow effect. To move the text, we’ll need Photoshop’s Move Tool, so select it from the top of the Tools palette or press the letter V on your keyboard to select it with the shortcut:

The Move Tool in Photoshop. Image © 2009 Photoshop Essentials.com
Select the Move Tool.

Step 9: Nudge The Original Text Layer Down And To The Right

We needed to select the Move Tool, but we don’t actually need to use it to move our text. You could click inside the document and drag the text down and to the right with your mouse, but in this case, an easier way might simply be to use the arrow keys on your keyboard to nudge the text. Press the Down arrow key a few times to nudge the original text downward, then click the Right arrow key the same number of times to nudge it to the right. I’m going to press my Down arrow key 10 times, then the Right arrow key 10 times, to nudge my text and create my shadow effect:

Creating a text shadow effect in Photoshop. Image © 2009 Photoshop Essentials.com
Use the arrow keys to nudge the original text down and to the right to create the shadow effect.

Remember, you still need to select the Move Tool first even if you’re going to use the arrow keys to move an object.

If you want, you can create a second shadow simply by following the same steps. Duplicate the original text layer by pressing Ctrl+J (Win) / Command+J (Mac), then click on the original text layer in the Layers palette to reselect it. Switch back to the Type Tool (since the Move tool is currently selected), click on the color swatch in the Options Bar and select an even darker shade of the color from the Color Picker. Select the Move Tool, then use the arrow keys on the keyboard to nudge the text down and to the right.

Here’s my text after following the steps to add a second shadow effect:

Photoshop text shadow effect. Image © 2009 Photoshop Essentials.com
The effect after adding a second, darker shadow.

And there we have it!

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