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Learn How To Add A Layer Mask To Text In Adobe Photoshop

Applying Layer Masks in Adobe Photoshop can have many great benefits, especially when working with typography.

Bring an image to life by creating a layer mask effect to text in which some lettering can be hidden behind a subject by painting over pixels using this great technique, much like in the example above.

To accomplish this, I will go over how to place a type layer within a photo, add a Layer Mask to it and use the Brush Tool to show or hide pixels in the composition.

The outcome will result in parts of the text hidden behind certain objects, much like you see here with the words New York behind the skyline.

This techniques takes a lot of time, patience and special care in order to make the layer mask look clean and realistic.

Let's get started!

Adding Layer Mask To Type

  1. Open the main image which you will apply a text layer to.

  2. Select the Type Tool and click anywhere on the image - placeholder text will appear. This is where you will write your own message, preferably one or two words max for this tutorial.

  3. With the Move Tool and the text layer still selected, place the type in an area where you will be editing - or masking. (Tip: I usually convert this type layer to a Smart Object, which allows you to warp, distort or add effects to the type among other things).

  4. Select the Brush Tool and with the layer mask selected (White Thumbnail Icon) start painting over areas of the type in Black. This will hide the pixels from the text to reveal the pixels from the background. In other words, you're hiding — or masking — these pixels.

  5. Conversely, to bring the original pixels of the text back, paint in white. Remember White reveals pixels and Black conceals them.

  6. A shortcut to toggle back from black and white in your Brush Tool is pressing X on your keyboard. A shortcut to increase or decrease the size of your brush — which you will be doing quite often — is by pressing the square brackets [ or ].

Here's a look at how to add a Layer Mask to the type.

It's important to note that if you move the text layer to another part of the of the image, you'll have to repeat the same process above, which could also create more work in the end.

That is why it is important to find a placement for the type early and try to commit to it. Experiment moving around the type and see what works best before moving forward.

To add an effect to your type, in your Layers panel, click the FX icon and check off options that are available on the left side. A simple drop shadow is a good start and because it was added as a smart object layer, there is the option to disable it if you wish.

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