Design & UX
By Jennifer Farley

Making A Clipping Mask With Text In Photoshop

By Jennifer Farley

This article was written in 2009 and remains one of our most popular posts. If you’re keen to learn more about Photoshop, you may find this recent article on getting started with Photoshop of great interest.

A clipping mask is created in Photoshop when you use the content of one layer to mask the layers above it. You are basically clipping around the artwork to fit to the shape of the object on the layer. In this tutorial, we’re going to use some text as a clipping mask and the image from another layer will appear through those letters. This is a popular effect both on the web and in graphic design.

1. In Photoshop, open up an image that you want to use. I’m using a snowy scene. (Note the screengrabs here are from Photoshop CS2, but you can do this with versions of Photoshop 7 (possibly before) onwards.)

2. Select the Horizontal Type Tool and choose the font properties you want on the tool options bar. Below you can see the options I chose.

Font Family – pussycat, Size 250 (you will need to type this into the Size field and press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac)), Text aligned Centre and Anti-aliasing set to Strong.

3. Click on the document window and type the word Snowfall.


Use the Move Tool, to centre the word in the middle of the image.

4. Click on the background layer in the Layers Palette to select it and then click on the Create A New Layer button.


A new empty layer will appear in the Layers Palette.

5. Using the Paint Bucket tool, fill the new layer with white.


You now need to rearrange the stacking order of the layers to create your clipping mask. At the moment the background layer is locked.

6. Double-click anywhere on the background layer to open up the New Layer dialog box. Rename the layer as Trees and click OK.


7. Click on the Trees layer in the Layers Palette and drag it to the top of the layers so that Trees are hiding the words Snowfall.


8. Click on the Layers Palette menu (the little triangle in the upper right corner) and choose Create Clipping Mask.


The clipping mask, kicks into action and you will see the letters forming the word Snowfall are filled with the image of the snowy trees.

The nice thing here is that you can move your text around and the image coming through varies.


Adding A Drop Shadow

To complete the image we will add a drop shadow to the text. It adds a little extra impact!

1. Select the Snowfall type layer to make it active, and then click the Add a Layer Style button (clip_image018) at the bottom of the Layers palette and choose Drop Shadow from the pop-up menu.


2. In the Layer Style dialog box, change the Opacity to 100%, the angle to 180 and the distance, spread and size to 3.



And that’s it. You can do this with any shape on a layer. It doesn’t have to be text. Hope you find it useful.

If you enjoyed reading this post, you’ll love Learnable; the place to learn fresh skills and techniques from the masters. Members get instant access to all of SitePoint’s ebooks and interactive online courses, like Foundations of Photoshop.

Comments on this article are closed. Have a question about Photoshop? Why not ask it on our forums?

  • helennatasha

    yay! fun. thanks. xx

  • tiggsy

    I’m sure this is useful for photoshop users. Why don’t you ever provide Gimp versions for your PS tutorials? I’m sure there must be many like me who are unwilling to pay for something when we can get a perfectly good piece of software for free – and in my case, as I use linux (not windoze), I doubt I could use photoshop if I wanted to.

  • fsoft

    I’d like a Gimp version too. This tutorial doesn’t required any ps specific feature, so please consider the gimp version!!

  • Joe Schmoe

    Thanks for the tips. Man you take time and put out a free tutorial and people reply with complaint…too bad…

  • Kris


    Photoshop works great in wine btw, but I agree that the price is a sticking point when GIMP completely free. Though I generally find Photoshop to be a much easier program to use than GIMP, particularly the ease of using blending effects compared with the equivalent filters in GIMP.

  • clarlune

    thanks for the tutorial.

    Gimp users: instead of complaining about a free tutorial, why not apply the information about the process to Gimp – both the process and Gimp are pretty straightforward. then YOU can take the time to write a free Gimp tutorial on the subject.

  • fiq

    In Photoshop 7, select a layer in the Layers palette, and choose Layer > Group with Previous.

  • how about transparent text?

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