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 a word into its individual letters and filling each letter with a different image! A step-by-step tutorial.

Written by Steve Patterson.

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.

To follow along, you'll want to be using Photoshop 2021 or later.

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

How to place images in text with Photoshop
The final result.

Let's get started!

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:

How to create a new Photoshop document from the Home Screen.
On the Home Screen, click 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:

How to create a new Photoshop document in Photoshop.
In the main interface, go to File > 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:

The settings in Photoshop's New Document dialog box.
The new document settings.

Then create the new document by clicking the Create button:

Clicking the Create button in Photoshop's New Document dialog box.
Clicking the Create button.

Step 2: Add your text

To add the text, select the Type Tool from Photoshop's toolbar:

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

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:

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

Set the type Size to 72 points so we’re starting with the largest preset size:

Setting the font size in Photoshop's Options Bar.
The type size option.

And to make it easier to center the text in the document, set the Justification to Center:

Setting the type justification to center in Photoshop's Options Bar.
The type justification option.

Set the type color to black by clicking the color swatch:

Clicking the color swatch to change the type color in Photoshop's Options Bar.
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:

Setting the type color to black in Photoshop's Color Picker.
Choosing black in the Color Picker.

Then click in the center of the document and add your text. I’ll type the word FUN:

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

Click the check mark in the Options Bar to accept it:

Committing the text by clicking the check mark in Photoshop's Options Bar.
Clicking the check mark.

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:

Choosing Free Transform from Photoshop's Edit menu.
Going to Edit > 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:

Dragging the transform handles to resize the text.
Dragging the transform handles to resize the text.

Then click and drag inside the transform box to move the text into position:

Centering the text in the document.
Centering the text in the document.

Click the check mark in the Options Bar to accept it.

Closing Free Transform by clicking the check mark in the Options Bar.
Clicking the check mark to close Free Transform.

Step 4: Adjust the letter spacing (optional)

In my case, the letters are a bit too close together:

The letters are spaced too close together.
The letters are spaced too close together.

To fix that, I’ll go to the Properties panel:

Going to Photoshop's Properties panel.
Going to the Properties panel.

Then down to the Character options:

Going to the Character options in Properties panel.
Going to the Character options.

And I’ll click inside the box for the Tracking value:

Clicking inside the Tracking box in Photoshop's Properties panel.
Clicking inside the Tracking box.

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:

Increasing the text tracking value to 20.
Increasing the Tracking value to 20.

And that spaces the letters a bit farther apart:

The letter spacing has been increased after adjusting the Tracking value.
The letter spacing has been increased.

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:

Photoshop's Layers panel showing the type layer above the Background layer.
The type layer above the Background 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:

Opening the Type menu in Photoshop's Menu Bar.
Opening the Type menu.

And choose Convert to Shape:

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

You’ll know that the letters are now shapes by the path outlines around them:

A path outline appears around each letter after converting the type to a shape.
A path outline appears around each letter.

And in the Layers panel, the shape icon in the preview thumbnail tells us that the type layer is now a shape layer:

Shape layers have their own icons in the previous thumbnail.
Shape layers have their own icons in the preview thumbnail.

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:

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

And drag it down onto the New Layer icon:

Making a copy of the shape layer.
Making a copy of the shape layer.

Release your mouse button, and the first copy appears above the original:

The first copy of the shape layer.
The first copy of the shape layer.

Then click on the copy and drag it down onto the New Layer icon:

Making a second copy of the shape layer.
Making a copy of the copy.

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:

The second copy of the shape layer.
The second copy of the shape layer.

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:

Turning off the shape layers above the original.
Turning off the shape layers above the original.

Then click on the original shape layer to select it:

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

In the toolbar, select the Path Selection Tool:

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

Clicking on the second letter to select it.
Clicking on the second letter to select it.

Then to delete the letter, press the Backspace key on a Windows PC or the Delete key on a Mac:

Deleting the second letter on the layer.
The second letter has been deleted.

Then click on the third letter to select it:

Clicking on the third letter to select it.
Clicking 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 the third letter on the layer.
The third letter has been deleted.

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:

Turning off the original shape layer.
Turning off the original shape layer.

Then turn on the shape layer above it:

Turning on the second shape layer.
Turning on the second shape layer.

And click on the layer to select it:

Selecting the second shape layer.
Selecting the second shape layer.

On this second layer, we only need the second letter in the word. So click on the first letter to select it:

Selecting the first letter on the second shape layer.
Selecting the first letter.

And press Backspace (Win) / Delete (Mac) to delete it:

Deleting the first letter.
The first letter has been deleted.

Then click on the third letter:

Selecting the third letter on the second shape layer.
Selecting the third letter.

And press Backspace (Win) / Delete (Mac). Only the second letter should remain on the second shape layer:

Deleting the third letter.
The third letter has been deleted.

Deleting all but the third letter on the third shape layer

Turn the second shape layer off:

Turning off the second shape layer.
Turning off the second shape layer.

Then turn on the third shape layer:

Turning on the third shape layer.
Turning on the third shape layer.

And click on the layer to select it:

Selecting the third shape layer.
Selecting the third shape layer.

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:

Dragging over part of the first two letters to select them.
Dragging over part of the first two letters to select them.

Then with both letters selected, press Backspace (Win) / Delete (Mac). And now we have just the third letter on the third shape layer:

The first two letters in the word have been deleted from the third shape layer.
The first two letters have been deleted.

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:

Turning all three shape layers on in Photoshop's Layers panel.
Turning all the shape layers back on.

The entire word reappears:

All three letters in the word are again visible.
All three letters are again visible.

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:

Reselecting the first shape layer in Photoshop's Layers panel
Reselecting the first shape layer.

And then turn the other letters off for now by clicking their visibility icons:

Turning off the shape layers above the original.
Turning off the shape layers above it.

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:

Opening the File menu in Photoshop's Menu Bar.
Opening the File menu.

And choose Place Embedded:

Choosing the Place Embedded command in Photoshop.
Choosing the Place Embedded command.

Navigate to the folder that holds your images. Select the image you want to place into the letter, and click Place.

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

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:

The first image opens in the Photoshop document.
The first image opens.

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:

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

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:

The image was added above the first letter.
The image was added above the first letter.

Learn how to open multiple images as layers into Photoshop!

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

Clicking the Layers panel menu icon.
Clicking the Layers panel menu icon.

And choose Create Clipping Mask:

Choosing the Create Clipping Mask command.
Choosing the Create Clipping Mask command.

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:

The image appears inside the letter after creating the clipping mask.
The image appears inside the letter after creating the clipping mask.

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:

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

Drag your subject into view inside the letter:

Dragging the image into position within the letter.
Moving the image into position.

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:

Resizing the image within the letter.
Resizing the image.

When you’re done, click the check mark in the Options Bar to close Free Transform:

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

Download this tutorial as a print-ready PDF!

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:

Turning on the second shape layer.
Turning on the second shape layer.

And then click on the layer to select it so that Photoshop will place the next image directly above it:

Selecting the second shape layer.
Selecting the second shape layer.

Go up to the File menu and choose Place Embedded:

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

Then select your next image and click Place:

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

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:

The second image opens in the document.
The second image opens, and so does Free Transform.

So click the check mark in the Options Bar to accept it:

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

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:

The image was added above the second letter in Photoshop's Layers panel.
The image was added above the second letter.

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

Clicking the Layers panel menu icon.
Clicking the Layers panel menu icon.

And choose Create Clipping Mask:

Choosing the Create Clipping Mask command.
Choosing the Create Clipping Mask command.

The clipping mask places the image inside the letter:

The second image appears inside the letter after creating the clipping mask.
The second image is now inside the second letter.

Step 13: Resize and move the image inside the second letter

Go up to the Edit menu and choose Free Transform:

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

And then drag your subject into view inside the second letter:

Dragging the second image into position within the letter.
Moving the second image into position.

And drag the handles to resize the image as needed:

Resizing the second image within the letter.
Resizing the second image.

When you’re done, click the check mark in the Options Bar:

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

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:

Turning on the third shape layer.
Turning on the third shape layer.

And I’ll click on the layer to select it so that Photoshop will place the next image directly above it:

Selecting the third shape layer.
Selecting the third shape layer.

Then I’ll go up to the File menu and choose Place Embedded:

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

I’ll select my third image and I’ll click Place:

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

When the image opens (smiling woman from Adobe Stock):

The third image opens in the document.
The third image opens in the document.

I’ll close Free Transform by clicking the check mark in the Options Bar:

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

And again in the Layers panel, we see the image on its own layer above the letter:

The image was added above the third letter in Photoshop's Layers panel.
The image was added above the third letter.

Step 15: Create a clipping mask

I’ll click the Layers panel menu icon:

Clicking the Layers panel menu icon.
Clicking the Layers panel menu icon.

And I’ll choose Create Clipping Mask:

Choosing the Create Clipping Mask command.
Choosing the Create Clipping Mask command.

This places the image inside the letter:

The third image appears inside the letter after creating the clipping mask.
The third image is now inside the third 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:

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

I’ll drag the woman into view:

Dragging the third image into position within the letter.
Moving the third image into position.

And I’ll drag the handles to resize the image:

Resizing the third image within the letter.
Resizing the third image.

I’ll accept it by clicking the check mark:

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

And now every letter in the word has a different image placed inside it:

All three images have been placed into the text in Photoshop
All three images have been placed into the text.

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:

Selecting the top image layer in Photoshop's Layers panel
Selecting the top image layer.

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:

Selecting all shape and image layers in Photoshop's Layers panel
Shift-clicking on the original shape layer.

Step 2: Select New Group from Layers

Then to place them into a group, click on the Layers panel menu icon:

Clicking the Layers panel menu icon.
Clicking the Layers panel 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.

Step 3: Name the new group

Give the group a name. I’ll name mine Text and images. Then click OK:

Naming the new layer group
Naming the group.

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:

All of the shape and image layers are now in a group
The new layer group.

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:

Turning off the Background layer in Photoshop's Layers panel
Turning off the background.

And now we have a checkerboard pattern for a background which is how Photoshop represents transparency:

The background behind the images and text is now transparent.
The background behind the letters is now transparent.

That’s not what I want though, so I’ll turn the Background layer back on:

Turning on the Background layer in Photoshop's Layers panel
Turning the Background layer on.

How to change the background color

To change the color of the background, click on the Background layer to select it:

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

Then click the New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel:

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

And choose a Solid Color fill layer:

Adding a Solid Color fill layer.
Choosing Solid Color from the list.

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:

Choosing a new background color from Photoshop's Color Picker.
Choosing a new background color from the Color Picker.

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:

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

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:

Choosing a light gray from Photoshop's Color Picker.
Choosing a light gray.

And here's my result with the light gray background:

The new background color behind the images and text.
The new background color.

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:

The Solid Color fill layer in Photoshop's Layers panel
The Solid Color fill layer.

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:

Sekecting the layer group.
Selecting the layer group.

Step 2: Add a stroke

Then click the fx icon at the bottom:

Clicking the layer effects icon in Photoshop's Layers panel
Clicking the layer effects icon.

And choose Stroke from the list:

Choosing Stroke from the list of layer effects.
Adding a Stroke effect.

Step 3: Choose the stroke color

This opens the Layer Style dialog box. In the Stroke options, click the color swatch:

Clicking the color swatch to choose a stroke color.
Clicking the stroke's 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:

Choosing white for the stroke color from Photoshop's Color Picker
Choosing white from the Color Picker.

Step 4: Change the position to Outside

Change the Position of the Stroke to Outside so it appears around the outside of the letters:

Setting the position of the stroke to Outside.
Changing the Position to Outside.

Step 5: Adjust the stroke size

And then drag the Size slider to set the stroke width. I’ll set mine to 16 pixels:

Dragging the Size slider for the stroke.
Adjusting the stroke size with the slider.

Since we applied the stroke to the group, it appears around every letter at once:

The Solid Color fill layer in Photoshop's Layers panel
The white stroke appears around the letters.

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:

Selecting Drop Shadow from the left column of Photoshop's Layer Style dialog box
Adding a drop shadow.

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:

Click and drag in the document to set the angle and distance of the drop shadow
Click and drag in the document to adjust the shadow's angle and distance.

Related: Add a long shadow effect to your text!

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:

Setting the angle, distance and size of the drop shadow.
Setting the Angle, Distance and Size of the drop shadow.

Step 3: Close the Layer Style dialog box

When you’re done, click OK to close the Layer Style dialog box:

Clicking OK to close Photoshop's Layer Style dialog box
Clicking OK to close the 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:

The images in text effect in Photoshop after adding the layer effects.
The result after adding the layer effects.

Back in the Layers panel, we see our Stroke and Drop Shadow listed below the group:

The layer effects are listed below the group in Photoshop's Layers panel
The layer effects are 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:

Selecting the layer group
Selecting the layer group.

Step 2: Select the Move Tool

Then select the Move Tool from the toolbar:

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

Step 3: Open the Align and Distribute options

In the Options Bar, click the Align and Distribute icon (the three dots):

Opening the Align and Distribute options in Photoshop's Options Bar
Clicking the Align and Distribute icon.

Step 4: Set the Align To option to Canvas

Set the Align To option to Canvas:

Setting the Align To option to Canvas.
Setting Align To to Canvas.

Step 5: Click Align Horizontal Centers and Align Vertical Centers

And then click the icons for Align Horizontal Centers and Align Vertical Centers:

Clicking the Align Horizontal Centers and Align Vertical Centers icons
Clicking Align Horizontal Centers (left) and Align Vertical Centers (right) icons.

And here's the final result with the text perfectly centered:

How to places images in text with Photoshop
The final, centered result.

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!