How to place images in letters with Photoshop

How to Place Multiple Images in Text with Photoshop

Learn how to place multiple images in text with Photoshop by splitting your text into individual letters and placing a different image in each letter! A step-by-step tutorial for Photoshop CC 2020 or later.

Written by Steve Patterson.

In a previous tutorial, I showed you how to place a single image into an entire word with Photoshop. But what if you want to place a different image in each letter? As we'll see, it's actually very easy.

We'll start by adding some text. Then I'll show you how to split the text into individual letters and how to move each letter to its own layer. From there, you'll learn the fastest way to place your images into the document, and how to place each image into a different letter. And at the end, I'll show you a simple trick that lets you add layer effects, like a stroke or a drop shadow, to all of your letters at once!

To follow along, you'll want to be using Photoshop CC 2020 or later.

Here's an example of what the final effect will look like when we're done:

How to place images in each letter of your text with Photoshop
The final result.

Let's get started!

Download this tutorial as a print-ready PDF!

The document setup

For this tutorial, I've gone ahead and created a new Photoshop document with a simple white background:

The original Photoshop document.
The new document.

Rather than leaving the background white, I'll quickly change it to a light gray using a Solid Color fill layer.

In the Layers panel, I'll click the New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon:

Clicking the New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon in Photoshop's Layers panel
Clicking the New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon.

And I'll choose Solid Color from the list:

Adding a Solid Color fill layer to the Photoshop document
Adding a Solid Color fill layer.

Then in the Color Picker, I'll choose light gray by setting the H (Hue) value to 0 degrees, the S (Saturation) to 0 percent, and the B (Brightness) to 90 percent. Then I'll click OK to close the Color Picker:

Setting H to 0, S to 0 and B to 90 percent in Photoshop's Color Picker
Setting H to 0, S to 0 and B to 90% for light gray.

Back in the Layers panel, the fill layer appears above the Background layer:

Photoshop's Layers panel showing the Solid Color fill layer
The fill layer is added above the Background layer.

And in the document, the background is now a light gray. It's not a huge difference from the original white background, but it will look nicer once we've added our text and our images. Plus the fill layer will make it easy to change the color again later, as I'll show you how to do at the end of the tutorial:

The Photoshop document now with a light gray background
The document now with a gray background.

How to place an image in each letter of a word

So now that we've set up our document, let's add some text and learn how to place a different image into each letter.

Step 1: Add your text

First, select the Type Tool from the toolbar:

Selecting the Type Tool from Photoshop's toolbar
Selecting the Type Tool.

And then in the Options Bar, choose your font. Any font will work, but since we're placing an image inside the letters, larger fonts work best. I'm using HWT Artz which I installed from Adobe Fonts:

Choosing a font in Photoshop's Options Bar
Choosing a font in the Options Bar.

Set your type size to 72 points so we're starting with the largest preset size:

Setting the type size in Photoshop's Options Bar
Setting the type size to 72 pt.

And set the type justification to Center. This will make it easier to adjust the spacing between the letters if needed:

Setting the type size in Photoshop's Options Bar
Setting the type justification to Center.

Finally, set your type color to black so we can see the text in front of the background. Once we've filled each letter with an image, the color won't matter:

Setting the type color to black in Photoshop's Options Bar
Setting the type color to black.

Then click in the center of the document and add your text.

As we'll see, placing an image in each letter is really just a matter of repeating the same steps. So to keep things simple and avoid too much repetition, I'll type the word "FUN":

Adding the text to the Photoshop document
Adding the text to the document.

To accept it, click the check mark in the Options Bar:

Clicking the check mark to accept the text
Clicking the check mark.

Step 2: Resize and reposition the text

To resize the text and move it into place, we'll use Photoshop's Free Transform command.

Go up to the Edit menu in the Menu Bar and choose Free Transform:

Selecting the Free Transform command from the Edit menu in Photoshop
Going to Edit > Free Transform.

Then to resize the text, click and drag any of the handles.

In earlier versions of Photoshop, we had to press and hold the Shift key while dragging a handle to lock the aspect ratio in place. But in the latest versions, the Shift key is not needed:

Dragging the transform handles to resize the text in the Photoshop document
Dragging the transform handles to resize the text.

And then to move the text into the center, click and drag inside the transform box:

Dragging inside the transform box to reposition the text in the Photoshop document
Dragging inside the transform box to reposition the text.

To accept it and close Free Transform, click the check mark in the Options Bar:

Clicking the check mark to close Free Transform
Clicking the check mark.

Step 3: Adjust the letter spacing if needed

If you're happy with the spacing between the letters, you can skip to the next step. But in my case, the letters are a bit too close together:

The default letter spacing after adding the text
The default letter spacing.

To adjust the spacing, first make sure the type layer is selected in the Layers panel:

Selecting the type layer in Photoshop's Layers panel
Selecting the type layer.

Letter spacing is controlled by the tracking value which can be adjusted in the Properties panel. By default, the value is set to 0:

The Tracking option for the text in Photoshop's Properties panel
The Tracking option in the Properties panel.

You can enter a new tracking value manually, or just click inside the box to highlight the current value and then use the Up or Down arrow key on your keyboard to increase or decrease the value.

I'll press the Up arrow key once, which increases the tracking value from 0 to 20:

Increasing the tracking value to add more space between the letters in Photoshop
Pressing the Up arrow to increase the letter spacing.

And now the letters are a bit further apart:

The text after adjusting the letter spacing in Photoshop
The text after adjusting the letter spacing.

Step 4: Convert the type into shapes

At the moment, the entire word sits on a single type layer, which would be fine if we were placing a single image into the entire word.

But since our goal is to place a different image in each letter, we need a way to split the word into its individual letters, and then place each letter on its own layer. And we can do that by first converting the text into shapes.

In the Layers panel, right-click (Win) / Control-click (Mac) on an empty gray area of the type layer:

Right-clicking (Win) / Control-clicking (Mac) on the type layer in Photoshop's Layers panel
Right-click (Win) / Control-click (Mac) on the type layer.

And then choose Convert to Shape from the menu:

Choosing the Convert to Shape command in Photoshop
Choosing the Convert to Shape command.

This converts the type layer into a shape layer, indicated by the icon in the lower right of the thumbnail. And this means that even though the text still looks like text, each letter is now its own shape:

The type layer has been converted to a shape layer in Photoshop
The type layer is now a shape layer.

Step 5: Make a copy of the shape layer for each letter

Next, we need to make copies of the shape layer, one for each letter in the word. In my case, my word contains three letters, so since I already have one shape layer, I need two more copies.

To make the first copy, I'll click on the shape layer and drag it down onto the Add New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel:

Making a copy of the shape layer in Photoshop's Layers panel
Making a copy of the shape layer.

And then to make the second copy, I'll click on the copy I just made and drag it onto the Add New Layer icon:

Making another copy of the shape layer in Photoshop's Layers panel
Making another copy of the shape layer.

I now have three shape layers in total, one for the letter "F", a second for the letter "U" and a third layer for the letter "N":

A copy of the shape layer has been made for eacg letter in the word
Each letter will get its own shape layer.

Step 6: Turn off the copies

Of course, each of my shape layers contains all three letters, and what we really need is for each layer to hold a single letter. To remove the letters we don't need, we can just delete them.

First, turn off the copies of the shape layer by clicking their visibility icons, leaving only the original shape layer turned on:

Turning off the shape layer copies in Photoshop's Layers panel
Turning off the shape layer copies.

Step 7: Select the original shape layer

Then click on the original shape layer to select it:

Selecting the original shape layer
Selecting the original shape layer.

Step 8: Choose the Path Selection Tool

In the toolbar, choose the Path Selection Tool (the black arrow):

Selecting the Path Selection Tool from Photoshop's toolbar
Selecting the Path Selection Tool.

Step 9: Select and delete every letter except the first

Then press and hold the Shift key on your keyboard and click on every letter except the first one to select them.

In my case, I'll click on the second letter ("U") and the third letter ("N"). A path outline appears around each letter you select:

Selecting the second and third letter in the word
Selecting the second and third letter in the word, but not the first.

To delete the selected letters, press the Backspace (Win) / Delete (Mac) key on your keyboard.

And now only the first letter in the word remains:

Only the first letter in the word remains after deleting the other letters.
The result after deleting all except the first letter on the layer.

Step 10: Turn off the original shape layer

Do the same thing with the other shape layers, selecting and deleting the letters you don't need.

Turn off the original shape layer by clicking its visibility icon:

Turning off the original shape layer in Photoshop's Layers panel
Turning off the original shape layer.

Step 11: Select and turn on the next shape layer

Then click on the shape layer above it to select it:

Selecting the second shape layer in Photoshop's Layers panel
Selecting the second shape layer.

And click its visibility icon to turn the layer on:

Turning on the second shape layer in Photoshop's Layers panel
Turning on the second shape layer.

Step 12: Select and delete the letters you don't need

With the Path Selection Tool still active in the toolbar, press and hold the Shift key on your keyboard and click on every letter except the second one.

In my case, I'll click on the first letter ("F") and the third letter ("N"):

Selecting the first and third letter in the word
Selecting the first and third letter in the word, but not the second.

Delete the letters by pressing the Backspace (Win) / Delete (Mac) key on your keyboard. And this time, only the second letter in the word remains:

Only the second letter in the word remains after deleting the other letters.
The result after deleting all except the second letter.

Step 13: Turn off the current shape layer

Turn off the second shape layer by clicking its visibility icon:

Turning off the second shape layer in Photoshop's Layers panel
Turning off the second shape layer.

Step 14: Select and turn on the next shape layer

Then select the next shape layer above it:

Selecting the third shape layer in Photoshop's Layers panel
Selecting the third shape layer.

And turn the layer on by clicking its visibility icon:

Turning on the third shape layer in Photoshop's Layers panel
Turning on the third shape layer.

Step 15: Select and delete the letters you don't need

Press and hold the Shift key on your keyboard and click on every letter except the third one.

So in my case, I'll click on the first and second letter:

Selecting the first and second letter in the word
Selecting the first and second letter in the word, but not the third.

And then delete the selected letters by pressing Backspace (Win) / Delete (Mac).

If your word contains more than three letters, you'll need to repeat the same steps for each additional shape layer:

Only the third letter in the word remains after deleting the other letters.
The result after deleting all except the third letter.

Step 16: Turn all shape layers back on

To view the entire word again, turn the other shape layers back on by clicking their visibility icons:

Turning on all three shape layers that make up the word in Photoshop's Layers panel
Turning all three shape layers back on.

And we're back to the entire word, but now with each letter on its own layer:

Each letter in the word is now on a separate layer in Photoshop's Layers panel
Each letter is now on a separate layer.

Download this tutorial as a print-ready PDF!

Step 17: Open Photoshop's Preferences

Before we start placing images into the letters, let's take a quick look at a few options in Photoshop's Preferences that will make things easier.

To open the Preferences dialog box on a Windows PC, go up to the Edit menu. On a Mac, go up to the Photoshop menu. From there, choose Preferences and then General:

Opening Photoshop's General Preferences
Opening Photoshop's General Preferences.

Skip Transform when Placing

By default, Photoshop opens the Free Transform command each time we place an image into the document. Normally this is what you want.

But in this case, there's another step we'll need to complete first before resizing the image. So to avoid having to keep closing Free Transform, turn on Skip Transform when Placing. We'll select it manually when we need it:

Turning on the Skip Transform when Placing option in Photoshop's Preferences
Turning on "Skip Transform when Placing".

Resize Image During Place

Next, make sure Resize Image During Place is turned on. This way, if your images are larger than your document, Photoshop will automatically resize them to fit:

Leaving the Resize Image During Place option turned on in Photoshop's Preferences
Leaving "Resize Image During Place" turned on.

Always Create Smart Object when Placing

Also, make sure Always Create Smart Objects when Placing is turned on. This will automatically convert each image into a smart object so you can resize it without any loss in quality:

Leaving the Always Create Smart Object when Placing option turned on in Photoshop's Preferences
Leaving "Always Create Smart Objects when Placing" turned on.

When you're done, click OK to close the Preferences dialog box.

Clicking OK to close Photoshop's Preferences
Closing the Preferences.

Step 18: Select the first letter

We'll start by placing an image into the first letter of the word, and then we'll make our way from left to right.

Click on the first letter's shape layer in the Layers panel to select it:

Selecting the first letter's layer in Photoshop's Layers panel
Selecting the first letter.

And to make things easier, hide the other letters by clicking their visibility icons:

Turning off the other letters in Photoshop's Layers panel
Turning off the other letters.

Step 19: Place an image into the document

To add your first image to the document, go up to the File menu and choose Place Embedded:

Choosing the Place Embedded command in Photoshop
Going to File > Place Embedded.

Then navigate to the folder that holds your images, click on the image you want to place inside the letter, and click Place:

Selecting the image to place inside the first letter
Selecting the first image.

Photoshop places the image into the document, and the image temporarily blocks the letter from view (woman with tulips photo from Adobe Stock):

The first image is added to the Photoshop document
The first image is added.

Step 20: Create a clipping mask

In the Layers panel, the image appears on its own layer directly above the first letter:

Photoshop's Layers panel showing the image added above the first letter in the word
The image is added above the original shape layer.

To place the image inside the letter, click the Layers panel menu icon:

Opening the Layers panel menu in Photoshop
Clicking the menu icon.

And choose Create Clipping Mask:

Choosing the Create Clipping Mask command in Photoshop
Selecting the Create Clipping Mask command.

This clips the image to the layer below it, creating the illusion that the image is inside the shape:

The result after clipping the first image to the first letter in Photoshop
The result after clipping the first image to the shape layer.

Step 21: Resize and reposition the image inside the letter

To resize the image within the letter and move your subject into view, go up to the Edit menu and choose Free Transform:

Selecting the Free Transform command from the Edit menu in Photoshop
Going to Edit > Free Transform.

Then resize the image by dragging any of the handles, or reposition the image by dragging inside the transform box:

Resizing and moving the image inside the letter with Photoshop's Free Transform command
Resizing and moving the image inside the letter.

To accept it and close Free Transform, click the check mark in the Options Bar:

Clicking the check mark to close Free Transform
Clicking the check mark.

Related: How to Open Multiple Images as Layers in Photoshop

Step 22: Select and turn on the next letter

We'll do the same thing with the other letters. Back in the Layers panel, select the shape layer above the image we just added:

Selecting the second letter in Photoshop's Layers panel
Selecting the second letter.

And turn the layer on by clicking its visibility icon:

Turning on the second letter in Photoshop's Layers panel
Turning on the second letter.

The second letter reappears:

The next letter an image will be placed into in Photoshop
The next letter waiting for an image.

Step 23: Place a second image into the document

Add your second image to the document by going up to the File menu and choosing Place Embedded:

Choosing the Place Embedded command in Photoshop
Going to File > Place Embedded.

Click on your second image to select it, and then click Place:

Selecting the image to place inside the second letter
Selecting the second image.

The image is placed into the document and once again blocks the letter from view (bearded man photo from Adobe Stock):

The second image is added to the Photoshop document
The second image is added.

Step 24: Create a clipping mask

In the Layers panel, the second image appears on its own layer above the second letter:

Photoshop's Layers panel showing the second image added above the second letter in the word
The image is added above the second shape layer.

To place the image into the letter, click the Layers panel menu icon:

Opening the Layers panel menu in Photoshop
Clicking the menu icon.

And once again choose Create Clipping Mask:

Choosing the Create Clipping Mask command in Photoshop
Selecting the Create Clipping Mask command.

And now both letters are visible and the second image is inside the second letter:

The result after clipping the first image to the first letter in Photoshop
The result after clipping the second image to its shape layer.

Step 25: Resize and reposition the image inside the letter

Go up to the Edit menu and choose Free Transform:

Selecting the Free Transform command from the Edit menu in Photoshop
Going to Edit > Free Transform.

And then drag the handles to resize the image inside the letter, or drag inside the transform box to move your subject into view:

Resizing and moving the second image inside the letter with Photoshop's Free Transform command
Resizing and moving the second image inside the letter.

To accept it, click the check mark in the Options Bar:

Clicking the check mark to close Free Transform
Clicking the check mark.

Step 26: Select and turn on the next letter

Let's go through the steps one more time with the third letter. If your word has more than three letters, you'll need to repeat these same steps. And when we're done, I'll show you a quick way to add layer effects, like a stroke or a drop shadow, to every letter at once!

In the Layers panel, select the next shape layer above the image we just added:

Selecting the third letter in Photoshop's Layers panel
Selecting the third letter.

And click the layer's visibility icon to turn it on:

Turning on the third letter in Photoshop's Layers panel
Turning on the third letter.

The third letter appears:

Turning on the third letter in the Photoshop document
The next letter waiting for an image.

Step 27: Place the next image into the document

Go up to the File menu and choose Place Embedded:

Choosing the Place Embedded command in Photoshop
Going to File > Place Embedded.

Click on your next image to select it, and then click Place:

Selecting the image to place inside the third letter
Selecting the third image.

Photoshop places the image into the document (smiling woman photo from Adobe Stock):

The second image is added to the Photoshop document
The third image is added.

Step 28: Create a clipping mask

Click the Layers panel menu icon:

Opening the Layers panel menu in Photoshop
Clicking the menu icon.

And choose Create Clipping Mask:

Choosing the Create Clipping Mask command in Photoshop
Selecting the Create Clipping Mask command.

And the image is placed into the letter:

The result after clipping the first image to the first letter in Photoshop
The result after clipping the third image to its shape layer.

Step 29: Resize and reposition the image inside the letter

Go up to the Edit menu and choose Free Transform:

Selecting the Free Transform command from the Edit menu in Photoshop
Going to Edit > Free Transform.

And then drag the handles to resize the image, or drag inside the transform box to move your subject into view:

Resizing and moving the third image inside the letter with Photoshop's Free Transform command
Resizing and moving the third image inside the letter.

To accept it, click the check mark in the Options Bar:

Clicking the check mark to close Free Transform
Clicking the check mark.

And now all three of my letters have images placed inside them:

The result after placing an image in each letter in Photoshop
The result after placing an image in each letter.

How to add layer effects to the letters

At this point, the main effect is done. We've placed our images into the letters. But what if you want to add layer effects, like a stroke or a drop shadow? You could add the effects to each letter one at a time, but here's how to add them to every letter at once!

Step 1: Select the shape and image layers

In the Layers panel, click on the image layer at the top to select it. Then press and hold the Shift key on your keyboard and click on the original shape layer (the one that holds the first letter in the word) at the bottom.

This selects all of your letters and all of your images at the same time:

Selecting all shape and image layers in Photoshop's Layers panel
Click on the top image, then Shift-click on the bottom shape.

Step 2: Place the layers into a group

Click the Layers panel menu icon:

Opening the Layers panel menu in Photoshop
Clicking the menu icon.

And choose New Group from Layers:

Choosing the New Group from Layers command in Photoshop's Layers panel menu
Choosing the New Group from Layers command.

Give the group a name or just accept the default name ("Group 1") and click OK:

The New Group from Layers dialog box in Photoshop
Click OK to accept the default group name.

Back in the Layers panel, the letters and the images are now inside a group. You can twirl the group open or closed by clicking the arrow to the left of the folder icon:

The letters and shapes are inside the group in Photoshop's Layers panel
The letters and images are inside the group.

Step 3: Add your layer effects to the group

And since the letters are all inside the group, any layer effects we add to the group itself will be instantly applied to every letter at once.

Adding a Stroke

For example, I'll quickly add a stroke to the group by clicking the fx icon at the bottom of the Layers panel:

Clicking the Add Layer Style icon in Photoshop's Layers panel
Clicking the fx icon.

And choosing Stroke from the list:

Adding a Stroke layer effect to the group
Adding a Stroke.

In the Layer Style dialog box, I'll set my stroke Color to white, the Size to 14 pixels and the Position to Outside:

Setting the Stroke options in Photoshop's Layer Style dialog box
The Stroke options.

And the stroke instantly appears around all three letters:

The result after adding a Stroke effect to the layer group in Photoshop
The result after adding a Stroke effect to the layer group.

Adding a Drop Shadow

Still in the Layer Style dialog box, I'll select Drop Shadow in the column on the left:

Adding a Drop Shadow in Photoshop's Layer Style dialog box
Adding a Drop Shadow.

And in the options, I'll leave the shadow Color set to black and the Opacity at 35 percent. I'll change the Angle to 135 degrees, the Distance to 30 pixels and the Size to 15 pixels:

The Drop Shadow layer effect settings
The Drop Shadow options.

Then I'll click OK to close the Layer Style dialog box:

Closing the Layer Style dialog box
Clicking OK.

And we now have a drop shadow behind each letter:

How to place images in each letter of your text with Photoshop
The result after adding a Drop Shadow effect to the layer group.

Related: Add a Long Shadow to your Text with Photoshop

How to change the background color

Finally, what if you want to change the background color behind the letters? Back at the beginning of the tutorial, we changed the background color to light gray by adding a Solid Color fill layer above the Background layer. To change the color, double-click on the fill layer's thumbnail in the Layers panel:

Double-clicking the fill layer's thumbnail to change the background color
Double-clicking the fill layer's thumbnail.

Then choose a new color from the Color Picker. Or, you can sample a new background color directly from one of the images.

I'll sample a light skin tone from the man's forehead:

Sampling a new background color from one of the images in the letters.
Sampling a new background color from one of the images in the letters.

Then I'll click OK to close the Color Picker.

And now my background is filled with the new color:

The images in letters effect in Photoshop with a new background color
The new background color.

And there we have it! That's how to place multiple images in text with Photoshop!

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!


Be the first the know when new tutorials are added!