How to Place Multiple Images in Text with Photoshop
Learn how to place multiple images in text with Photoshop by splitting a word into its individual letters and filling each letter with a different image! A step-by-step tutorial.
In a previous tutorial, I showed you the basics of how to place an image in text with Photoshop. And in that lesson, we placed a single image into an entire word. But what if you want to place a different image in each letter? That's exactly what we'll learn how to do here.
We'll start by creating a document and adding some text. Then I'll show you how to divide the text into separate letters and place a different image in each letter. Once the main effect is done, we'll learn how to change the background color behind the text, or make the background transparent, and how to quickly add layer effects, like a stroke or a drop shadow, to every letter at once! And at the end, I'll show you how to make sure that your text is perfectly centered in the document.
Here's an example of what the final
images in text effect will look like when we're done:
Let's get started!
Which version of Photoshop do I need?
To follow along, you'll want to be using Photoshop 2021 or later. You can get the latest Photoshop version here.
How to place images in text with Photoshop
In this first part of the tutorial, we'll create the main effect by filling each letter in the word with a different image. Then once the main effect is done, we'll look at a few ways to enhance it.
Step 1: Create a new Photoshop document
I'll start from the beginning by creating a new document and adding the text. But if you've already done that, you can skip ahead to Step 5.
If you’re on Photoshop's Home Screen, create a new document by clicking the Create New button:
Or if you’re in Photoshop’s main interface, create a new document by going up to the File menu and choosing New:
Then in the New Document dialog box, enter your settings. I’ll set the Width to 3000 pixels and the Height to 1800. The Resolution is 300 pixels per inch. The Color Mode is RGB. Background Contents is set to White. And the Color Profile is sRGB:
Then create the new document by clicking the Create button:
Step 2: Add your text
To add the text, select the Type Tool from Photoshop's toolbar:
And then in the Options Bar, choose your font. Since we’ll be placing images into the text, larger fonts will work best. I’m using HWT Artz which I installed from Adobe Fonts:
Set the type Size to 72 points so we’re starting with the largest preset size:
And to make it easier to center the text in the document, set the Justification to Center:
Set the type color to black by clicking the color swatch:
And setting the R, G and B values in the Color Picker to 0. Of course, once we’ve placed images into the text, the color won’t matter. Click OK to close the Color Picker:
Then click in the center of the document and add your text. I’ll type the word
Click the check mark in the Options Bar to accept it:
Step 3: Resize and move the text with Free Transform
To resize the text, go up to the Edit menu in the Menu Bar and choose Free Transform:
And then resize the text by dragging the handles. If you press and hold the Alt key on a Windows PC or the Option key on a Mac while dragging a handle, you’ll resize the text from its center:
Then click and drag inside the transform box to move the text into position:
Click the check mark in the Options Bar to accept it.
Step 4: Adjust the letter spacing (optional)
In my case, the letters are a bit too close together:
To fix that, I’ll go to the Properties panel:
Then down to the Character options:
And I’ll click inside the box for the Tracking value:
On my keyboard, I’ll press the Up Arrow key once to increase the tracking value from 0 to 20. Then I'll press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) on my keyboard to accept it:
And that spaces the letters a bit farther apart:
Step 5: Convert the type into a shape
At this point, we’re ready to place our images into the text. And in the Layers panel, we see the text on a type layer:
If we were placing a single image into the entire word, we could leave the text as standard type. But we want to place a different image in each letter. So we need a way to split the word into its individual letters. To do that, we’ll convert the type into a shape.
With the type layer selected, go up to the Type menu in the Menu Bar:
And choose Convert to Shape:
You’ll know that the letters are now shapes by the path outlines around them:
And in the Layers panel, the shape icon in the preview thumbnail tells us that the type layer is now a shape layer:
Step 6: Make a copy of the shape layer for each letter
We need to place each letter on its own separate layer. And to do that, we need to make a copy of the shape layer for each letter in the word. In my case, I have three letters. So since I already have the first shape layer, I need to make two more copies.
To make the first copy, click on the shape layer:
And drag it down onto the New Layer icon:
Release your mouse button, and the first copy appears above the original:
Then click on the copy and drag it down onto the New Layer icon:
Release your mouse button, and the second copy appears. I now have three shape layers, one for each letter. If you have more than three letters, make as many copies as you need:
Step 7: Delete the unwanted letters on each shape layer
Next, delete the letters you don’t need on each layer, starting with the original shape layer.
Deleting all but the first letter on the first shape layer
First, turn off the layers above it by clicking their visibility icons:
Then click on the original shape layer to select it:
In the toolbar, select the Path Selection Tool:
And then simply click on each letter you don’t need and delete it.
On this layer, we only need the first letter. So click on the second letter to select it. You’ll know that it’s selected by the path outline around it:
Then to delete the letter, press the Backspace key on a Windows PC or the Delete key on a Mac:
Then click on the third letter to select it:
And press Backspace (Win) / Delete (Mac) to delete it. If you have more than three letters, continue deleting the others until only the first letter remains:
Deleting all but the second letter on the second shape layer
We need to do the same thing with the other shape layers. So first, turn off the original shape layer by clicking its visibility icon:
Then turn on the shape layer above it:
And click on the layer to select it:
On this second layer, we only need the second letter in the word. So click on the first letter to select it:
And press Backspace (Win) / Delete (Mac) to delete it:
Then click on the third letter:
And press Backspace (Win) / Delete (Mac). Only the second letter should remain on the second shape layer:
Deleting all but the third letter on the third shape layer
Turn the second shape layer off:
Then turn on the third shape layer:
And click on the layer to select it:
This time we only need the third letter. So a faster way to select the first two letters at once is to simply click and drag over them. You don't need to drag around each letter entirely. Just drag over a section of them:
Then with both letters selected, press Backspace (Win) / Delete (Mac). And now we have just the third letter on the third shape layer:
If you have more than three letters, you’ll need to continue with these steps for each additional shape layer. But in my case, I have all the layers I need, and if I turn all three shape layers back on:
The entire word reappears:
Step 8: Place the first image into the document
So with each letter on its own layer, we’re ready to add our images. We’ll start by placing an image into the first letter.
Click on its layer in the Layers panel to select it:
And then turn the other letters off for now by clicking their visibility icons:
We want the image to appear on a layer directly above the letter it’s being placed into. So make sure you have the first shape layer selected. Then to add an image, go up to the File menu:
And choose Place Embedded:
Navigate to the folder that holds your images. Select the image you want to place into the letter, and click Place.
The image opens in the document (woman with tulips from Adobe Stock). And if the image is larger than your document size, it’s automatically resized to fit:
Notice that Photoshop also opens the Free Transform command so we can resize the image further. But we have another step to do first, so for now, click the check mark in the Options Bar to accept it:
Step 9: Create a clipping mask
Also notice in the Layers panel that Photoshop added the image on its own layer directly above the first letter, which is exactly where we want it:
To place the image into the letter, click on the Layers panel menu icon:
And choose Create Clipping Mask:
The clipping mask hides any part of the image that’s not sitting directly above the letter, which creates the illusion that the image is actually inside it:
Step 10: Resize and move the image inside the first letter
Then to move and resize the image within the letter, go up to the Edit menu and choose Free Transform:
Drag your subject into view inside the letter:
And drag the handles to resize the image within the letter. You’ll probably need to go back and forth between moving and resizing until it looks right:
When you’re done, click the check mark in the Options Bar to close Free Transform:
Step 11: Place the second image into the document
Then just repeat the same steps to place your images into the other letters.
In the Layers panel, turn on the second letter:
And then click on the layer to select it so that Photoshop will place the next image directly above it:
Go up to the File menu and choose Place Embedded:
Then select your next image and click Place:
The image opens in the document (beared man from Adobe Stock). And again Photoshop opens the Free Transform command which we don’t need just yet:
So click the check mark in the Options Bar to accept it:
Step 12: Create a clipping mask
In the Layers panel, we see that the image was added above the second letter, right where we need it:
To place it into the letter, click the Layers panel menu icon:
And choose Create Clipping Mask:
The clipping mask places the image inside the letter:
Step 13: Resize and move the image inside the second letter
Go up to the Edit menu and choose Free Transform:
And then drag your subject into view inside the second letter:
And drag the handles to resize the image as needed:
When you’re done, click the check mark in the Options Bar:
Step 14: Place the third image into the document
I have one more letter to go. So in the Layers panel, I’ll turn the third letter on by clicking its visibility icon:
And I’ll click on the layer to select it so that Photoshop will place the next image directly above it:
Then I’ll go up to the File menu and choose Place Embedded:
I’ll select my third image and I’ll click Place:
When the image opens (smiling woman from Adobe Stock):
I’ll close Free Transform by clicking the check mark in the Options Bar:
And again in the Layers panel, we see the image on its own layer above the letter:
Step 15: Create a clipping mask
I’ll click the Layers panel menu icon:
And I’ll choose Create Clipping Mask:
This places the image inside the letter:
Step 16: Resize and move the image inside the third letter
Then I’ll go back to the Edit menu and back to Free Transform:
I’ll drag the woman into view:
And I’ll drag the handles to resize the image:
I’ll accept it by clicking the check mark:
And now every letter in the word has a different image placed inside it:
Placing the letters and images into a group
At this point, the main effect is done. We’ve placed all of our images into the text. But there’s a few more things we can do. We can change the background color, or remove the background completely and make it transparent. And we can add layer effects like a stroke or a drop shadow. I’ll show you how to do each of these things in a moment.
But first, let’s take all of the image layers and shape layers that make up the effect and place them into a group. This will make everything else we're about to do easier.
Step 1: Select all shape and image layers
First, in the Layers panel, click on the top image layer to select it if it’s not selected already:
Then press and hold the Shift key on your keyboard and click on the original shape layer at the bottom, the one for the first letter. This selects both layers plus every layer in between:
Step 2: Select
New Group from Layers
Then to place them into a group, click on the Layers panel menu icon:
And choose New Group from Layers:
Step 3: Name the new group
Give the group a name. I’ll name mine
Text and images. Then click OK:
And back in the Layers panel, all of the layers we selected are now inside the group. You can twirl the group open and closed by clicking the arrow next to the folder icon:
How to remove the background behind the letters
So what if you want to remove the background behind the letters and make it transparent?
All you need to do is turn off the Background layer by clicking its visibility icon:
And now we have a checkerboard pattern for a background which is how Photoshop represents transparency:
That’s not what I want though, so I’ll turn the Background layer back on:
How to change the background color
To change the color of the background, click on the Background layer to select it:
Then click the New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel:
And choose a Solid Color fill layer:
Option 1: Choosing a color from the Color Picker
To choose a new background color, you could select one from the Color Picker. The default color is black which often works well, but you can choose any color you like:
Option 2: Sampling a color from an image
Or you could sample a color from one of the images. Just move your mouse cursor over an image and click on a color to sample it. You can keep clicking on different spots to find the color that works best.
Here I've clicked on the woman's yellow dress inside the third letter:
In my case, I want something that won’t distract from the images. So in the Color Picker, I’ll choose a light gray by setting the Saturation (the S value) to 0 percent and the Brightness (the B value) to 90 percent. When you're done, click OK to close the Color Picker:
And here's my result with the light gray background:
Back in the Layers panel, the fill layer was added above the Background layer. You can turn the fill layer on and off by clicking its visibility icon:
Adding a stroke around the letters
Let’s finish things off by adding a stroke and a drop shadow to the letters. We'll start with a stroke. But rather than adding the effects to each letter one at a time, we can add them to every letter at once by applying them to the group.
Step 1: Select the layer group
First, in the Layers panel, click on the group to select it:
Step 2: Add a stroke
Then click the fx icon at the bottom:
And choose Stroke from the list:
Step 3: Choose the stroke color
This opens the Layer Style dialog box. In the Stroke options, click the color swatch:
And choose a color for the stroke from the Color Picker. I’ll choose white by setting the R, G and B values to 255. Then click OK:
Step 4: Change the position to Outside
Change the Position of the Stroke to Outside so it appears around the outside of the letters:
Step 5: Adjust the stroke size
And then drag the Size slider to set the stroke width. I’ll set mine to 16 pixels:
Since we applied the stroke to the group, it appears around every letter at once:
Adding a drop shadow behind the letters
Finally, let's add a drop shadow. And then I'll show you a quick tip for centering your text in the document.
Step 1: Select
Drop Shadow from the Layer Style dialog box
With the Layer Style dialog box still open, click on the words Drop Shadow in the column along the left:
Step 2: Adjust the shadow's angle, distance and size
One way to adjust the shadow’s angle and distance is to simply click and drag in the document:
Or you can enter specific values in the Layer Style dialog box. I’ll set the Angle to 120 degrees and the Distance to 50 pixels. Then to soften the shadow edges, I’ll increase the Size to 25 pixels:
Step 3: Close the Layer Style dialog box
When you’re done, click OK to close the Layer Style dialog box:
And here's the result with the stroke and the drop shadow added. Again, since we applied the drop shadow to the group, it was added to every letter inside the group at once:
Back in the Layers panel, we see our Stroke and Drop Shadow listed below the group:
Tip! How to center the text in the document
Here’s one final tip if you want to make sure that your text is centered in the document.
Step 1: Select the group
First make sure the group is selected:
Step 2: Select the Move Tool
Then select the Move Tool from the toolbar:
Step 3: Open the Align and Distribute options
In the Options Bar, click the Align and Distribute icon (the three dots):
Step 4: Set the Align To option to Canvas
Set the Align To option to Canvas:
Align Toto Canvas.
Step 5: Click Align Horizontal Centers and Align Vertical Centers
And then click the icons for Align Horizontal Centers and Align Vertical Centers:
And here's the final result with the text perfectly centered:
And there we have it! For a similar effect, learn how to place an image in a shape with Photoshop, or how to add transparent text to an image. And don't forget, all of our Photoshop tutorials are available to download as PDFs!