By Linda Dickeson


May 10, 2010

In Photoshop Elements, putting a photo inside of words (or any layer object for that matter) is easy when students have a basic understanding of layers. A clipping mask allows a layer to assume the shape of a layer directly below it.
clipping mask.png
In this example, I started with a picture of a zebra taken at the zoo. The steps are easy:
1. Open the photo to be put inside of the text.
2. Add the text over the top, then size and format the text. A font with thick letters works best, and it doesn’t matter what color is applied to the text.
3. Since a background layer can’t be used for a clipping mask, duplicate the background layer (Layer>Duplicate Layer).
4. Move the duplicate background layer above the text layer. Don’t be alarmed that the text is now hidden!
5. With the background copy layer selected, choose Layer>Create Clipping Mask. (It will look indented with a little arrow under it.)
6. To see what happened to the upper two layers, hide the Background layer by clicking the “eye” icon (then go ahead and show it again).
7. To make the type “pop” off the Background, select text layer and apply layer styles from the Effects panel, like a bevel or drop shadow.
8. In the example above, a solid color adjustment layer was added (round black/white icon in Layers panel) just above the original Background layer.
To learn more about adjustment layers or see a video of this tutorial, go to my website on Photoshop Elements, what you didn’t know. Several video tutorials will teach you other fun things you didn’t know you could do with Photoshop Elements. Have fun!


  • By smashing photoshop - 11:07 AM on May 13, 2010  

    Its created a really cool effect thats not noticble in my opinion until its either highlighted or looked at with more detail which can work in alot of cases.

  • By Deborah Hargroves - 3:51 PM on June 6, 2010  

    Great idea, Linda! Thanks for sharing this tutorial.

  • By wordman - 2:57 AM on October 14, 2011  


    Thank you for this concise and informative tutorial. I can not tell you how frustrating it is to have such a mammoth software package as CS that relies solely on web content for its help file. Their search engine is lacking at best, and it was though a total fluke that I found this tutorial…that saved my day.

    You made a difference today, THANK YOU!