Knowledge of editing photo, photo editor software,
photo retouching, photo design & Photoshop
How to Add Text to a Photograph

Step 1:
Make a new document by choosing File>New. Set it to a suitable resolution or page size (300dpi for printing, 72dpi for the Web). I began by typing the word 'Rio' into the blank document. Photoshop Elements automatically adds this as a new (vector) text layer. Open the layers palette (Window>Layers) or click the Palette Bin to open it. To confirm that the text is OK, click the 'Confirm' button (at the top of the screen) to signal I was happy completing that stage. Remember, once we have the text on a separate layer, it's editable, so there's no problem with changing its characteristics like font and point sizes. Once that stage is completed, click into the document again to create a second text layer ('de janeiro') in the same typeface, but with a smaller point size. You now have two text layers.

Step 2:
To help with the text alignment, I suggest using a lining-up feature called Grid (View>Grid) as this is a great design aid (note that this is the only layout aid in Elements). To get the text in the second layer to turn vertically, you have two options: either choose the vertical type tool or rotate that layer. We do the latter so as to control the font layout (Image>Rotate>Layer 90 Right). Click the confirm button top of screen to finalise the action.

Step 3:
Merge the two text layers into one layer. Do this by making sure that the text (top) layer is still linked to the other text layer with a link symbol in the little square space between the eye icon and the T symbol in the layer palette. To link a layer to another, click in this space. A link symbol appears so if you now choose Layers>Merge Linked, the two text layers that are (now) linked together should be made one. By merging two text layers you change the vector text data into what's called a rasterized or bitmap layer (Elements calls it 'Simplifying', Photoshop calls it 'Resterizing'). Nothing changed in the text's appearance except for the fact that it's now one layer. Being a bitmap though it cannot be greatly enlarged without it looking rough (soft) around the edges. Vector text, on the other hand, can be resized to almost any size with no deleterious effects.

Step 4:
The fourth step in this process is to make a selection of the text. Do this by choosing the Move tool (press the V key to select this) and hold the Ctrl key down and click the layer icon (and NOT in the picture itself). You should see a selection line appear around the text. Once selected, the standard line of 'marching ants' appears around the edges of the text object that has been selected.

Step 5:
Next step is to save this selection for later use. This is a very important step or habit to get into doing because, if you have spent a lot of time drawing a selection for example, you really don't want to have to do it again if it gets lost. Save the selection and it can be called back at any time. You can come back to the document and reload the selection whenever it's required (which might be quite often in this exercise). Choose Select>Save Selection or Select>Load Selection.

Step 6:
Now we add the picture layer. Open the photo file and copy it, (choose Select>All or Ctrl + A, then choose Edit>Copy), before closing it down (Ctrl/Cmd + W). Once copied, it's in the computer's memory or clipboard. Now paste the copied image into the text document (choose Edit>Paste). The photo should appear in the document as the top layer in the layers palette. This is normal - we want to move it to a lower level, underneath the rasterized text layer.

Step 7:
Once it is copied, this is what you see: no text, just the photo. The text layer is beneath the new photo layer.

Step 8:
We can now delete the text layer (because we have saved the selection) by click, holding and dragging it to the trash can symbol on the layers palette. Tip: Don't try to drag it to the PC Recycle bin, it won't go! Next, load the selection made previously by choosing Select>Load Selection, locate the name you gave the selection (from the drop-down selection menu). This should be easy because there's only one selection in the document, but it can be tricky when there's ten, or more! Make life easier for yourself and be specific in your selection naming!

Step 9:
Once the selection is loaded, this is what you should see: the selection sitting on top of the photo layer. Choose Ctrl/Cmd + C to copy a text-shaped chunk out of the photo layer and then Ctrl/Cmd + V to paste it back into the document.

Step 10:
This is what you should see! No change! Why? Because we have copied the background photo and pasted it back into the document in exactly the same position, so effectively it's invisible. I know what's happened because I'm supposed to know, but also I can see the second (new) photo text layer in the layers palette (arrowed).

Step 11:
Here's where the fun starts. In Elements, choose the Styles and Effects menu from the Palette Bin (arrowed) and click once on one of the Drop Shadow effects thumbnail pictures. You get an instant result, and it lifts the text selection photo off the photo layer. I love this layer style because it's simple, bold, and looks very sophisticated.

Step 12:
Here's the same type of effect but this time with a Bevel applied. In this example, the effect visually joins the text layer to the photo layer making it appear as though it's moulded out of the photo layer rather than simply being a separate layer with an effect on it.

Step 13:
In this example I left the drop shadow effect in place, clicked the lower layer in the palette once (to make it the 'active' layer) and reduced that layer's opacity. Because we have a white background layer already in place, lowering the opacity of the layer above it produces a nice subdued effect. This technique works better than a layer style on its own as it makes the top text layer significantly more readable.

Step 14:
To make the process even more impressive, Elements has a range of cool Layer Styles designed specifically for generating this kind of visual plastic look. It applies a range of layer effects to whatever photo or text layer is currently active. If it works well, save the file, if not, click the small 'f' symbol (to the right of the layer thumbnail, blue arrow) and adjust the Style Preferences in the dialog window that opens.

Step 15:
Once we have the right form of special layer effect in place you might want to refine this further by applying a layer Blend Mode change. A blend mode is a layer state that controls how the top set of pixels reacts to the pixels on the layer beneath. It's hard to explain the technical reasons for this other than to demonstrate how potent it is when combined with the right photos. What you see here is the Hard Mix blend Mode applied to the top layer. A bit of instant 'Andy Warhol' perhaps, but still impressive.

This exercise demonstrates quite nicely how easy it is to add text to a photo using Elements and then to modify its appearance to make that text become the focus of the page rather than, as is the case with some examples, being confused with the background layers.

The article is written by Robin Nichols


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