How to Fill an Image or Word with a Picture in Photoshop

Have you ever wondered (and I just know you have) how all those bloggers, graphic designers, Etsy shop owners, and others create printables or graphics with images or words that are filled with a cute picture?  I mean, not just a word that’s colorful, but one that is filled in with an actual picture, like glitter, wood grain, a watercolor doodle, or some other cool design?

Well, you’re in luck because I’m sharing all the details on how to quickly and easily create this effect using one of Photoshop’s most powerful but often overlooked tools: the clipping mask!

Sounds fancy, I know, but don’t be intimidated!

How to Fill an Image or Word with a Picture in Photoshop: A Clipping Mask! | Where The Smiles Have Been

[There are affiliate links below, and big thanks to FontBundles.net for sponsoring today’s post!]

 

How to Fill an Image or Word with a Picture in Photoshop: A Clipping Mask!

 

Used in This Tutorial:

 

Step 1: Create New File

First, open up Photoshop (I use Photoshop Elements because it’s the cheaper but just as awesome version of the full non-Element variety).  Create a new file by going to File > New > Blank File, and designate your desired specifications.  Also make sure you’re on Expert mode at the top.

TIP: If you are planning on printing out your creation, make sure you have a large (i.e. at least 300 pixels/inch) resolution….bigger is better!  If you’re going to use your design solely online for things like blogging graphics or Etsy shop listings, a resolution of 72 should be fine.

How to Fill an Image or Word with a Picture in Photoshop: A Clipping Mask! | Where The Smiles Have Been

 

Step 2: Add Text and/or Image

Next, add your text or image/dingbat/shape (whatever you want to be filled).  Simply click on the Text Tool (the green ‘T’) from the left menu, choose your font from the menu at the bottom, click anywhere on your work zone to create a text box, then type away.

You’ll notice a new layer will pop up over on the right in the Layers Menu.

How to Fill an Image or Word with a Picture in Photoshop: A Clipping Mask! | Where The Smiles Have Been

 

I like to go ahead and add all my elements at the beginning then get to fine tuning later (just a personal preference), and with this particular design, I’ll be using an image from a dingbat font too.  It is actually what will be filled with my upcoming picture, and the ‘love’ text will be added on top.  I know, a tad confusing, but stay with me!

Once added, the ‘love’ word and the newly added heart dingbat are now separate text layers on the right.

NOTE: The layer on the right for the heart shape shows its name as ‘q’.  That’s because this is a dingbat font, and the letter q is the keystroke I used to get the heart.  You can rename the layer if you’d like, but I usually don’t bother unless I’m making a birthday chalkboard poster and have dozens of dingbat layers….that can get quite confusing!  For more on dingbats and how to use them, check this or this out!

How to Fill an Image or Word with a Picture in Photoshop: A Clipping Mask! | Where The Smiles Have Been

 

Speaking of Fonts….The Majestic Font Bundle!

If you’re a faithful reader, you know I’m a HUGE font addict.  I have literally thousands (thousands!) of them.  Few things make my crafty heart happier than scoring awesome premium fonts at great savings.  Who doesn’t like high quality at a good deal, amiright?

Well, the folks over at FontBundles.net are back with another amazing package this month: The Majestic Font Bundle!

This bundle includes all of the following:

  • 40 premium fonts for only $29 (that’s over a 95% savings!)
    • Over 10,300 extra glyphs!
  • All fonts work with any software on Macs or PCs (Photoshop, Illustrator, Silhouette Studio, and more)
  • Full commercial license….so you’re free to sell all those creations you knock out!
  • Lifetime download guarantee and quick email support

 

As you can see in the screenshots from above, I’m using a font from The Majestic Font Bundle called Twenty Nine.  I love that hand-drawn, scribbly, marker look.

The ‘love’ word is in the regular Twenty Nine font, while the heart shape is part of the bonus Twenty Nine Ornaments dingbat font….gotta love a bonus!

Twenty-Nine-Font

{Pssst, see above how ‘C’est La Vie’ is in pink watercolor and ‘Heavenly’ is filled in with gold glitter??  That was done using clipping masks, just like we’re going over in this tutorial!}

 

Ok now, back to it!

Step 3: Add Picture You Want to Use as Filler & Adjust Layer Arrangement

Next, add a new layer with the picture that you want to use as the filler for your word or image.  I’ll be using a peachy watercolor file, but you can use pretty much any picture you’d like….so many options!

IMPORTANT: Pay attention to your layer arrangement here because you need your filler (picture) to be directly ON TOP of your word/image.  The filler layer needs to be above the fillee layer (yes, I make up my own words).

Since I wanted the watercolor to fill the heart, I made sure my layers were arranged appropriately (watercolor on top).

How to Fill an Image or Word with a Picture in Photoshop: A Clipping Mask! | Where The Smiles Have Been

 

Step 4: Create Clipping Mask & Adjust Placement/Scale

Now comes the fun part….the clipping mask!  Sounds really fancy, huh?

To make things easier, I first turned off my ‘love’ layer and made it hidden by clicking on its tiny little eye-ball (you can see it above the pink arrow).  Once it’s turned off, the eyeball will have a red slash line through it.  We’ll come back to it in just a moment.

To create a clipping mask:

  1. Make sure your layer arrangement is correct (picture layer directly above word/image layer)
  2. Click on and select your picture layer at the top
  3. Right-click on the layer and select ‘Create Clipping Mask’

How to Fill an Image or Word with a Picture in Photoshop: A Clipping Mask! | Where The Smiles Have Been

 

That’s it!  Once you’ve done that, all the parts of your picture that were outside of your word/image will now be clipped, or no longer visible, but the inside portion will remain.  As you can see, my heart is now filled with the watercolor picture.

And don’t worry….our next step is to make sure the entire shape gets filled in, so the remaining black portions will soon vanish.  I won’t leave ya hanging!

NOTE: Looking back at your Layers Menu, you can easily tell if a clipping mask has been applied to a layer.  The preview image will now be indented a smidgeon to the right and a tiny downward blue arrow and white box will appear to the left of it.  Also, the layer it’s applied to will now be underlined.  And if you ever want to remove a clipping mask, just right-click the layer again and select “Release Clipping Mask.”

How to Fill an Image or Word with a Picture in Photoshop: A Clipping Mask! | Where The Smiles Have Been

 

Step 5: Make Final Layer Adjustments

Sometimes the clipping mask will leave parts of your word/image unfilled, depending on your picture and initial sizing.  Fear not!

This can easily be remedied by adjusting the size or scale of your picture.  Just click on and slide one of the tiny boxes along the edge of the picture’s bounding box, or move the entire layer around until you’re happy with its placement.  You can of course alternatively change the size of the word/image too.

After increasing the size of my watercolor layer, my (digital) heart is now completely filled with peachy goodness.

How to Fill an Image or Word with a Picture in Photoshop: A Clipping Mask! | Where The Smiles Have Been

 

To start finalizing my design, I then selected both the watercolor and heart layers at the same time, adjusted their sizes, and rotated them a tad to the left.

How to Fill an Image or Word with a Picture in Photoshop: A Clipping Mask! | Where The Smiles Have Been

 

Almost finished, promise!

Remember the very first thing I added to my design, the ‘love’ word?  Well, I haven’t forgotten about it.

This last remaining element was finished by first clicking on its little eyeball so it became visible again (no more red slash).  Then I changed the text color from black to white in the Text Menu, and moved the layer to the top in the Layers Menu.  This would place the word above the watercolor heart.

How to Fill an Image or Word with a Picture in Photoshop: A Clipping Mask! | Where The Smiles Have Been

 

The Final Design

And here’s how my design looks once printed and framed!  Pretty nice, huh?  And it was so easy to knock out too.

How to Fill an Image or Word with a Picture in Photoshop: A Clipping Mask! | Where The Smiles Have Been

 

Another {Simpler} Example

Here’s another, more straight-forward example.  This time I just applied a clipping mask to a word, sans dingbat or other shape.

I used a super cool font called Ipsum, also part of The Majestic Font Bundle….the hand-scripted, rough around the edges look is so great with watercolor.

Ipsum-Font

 

In Photoshop, you can see how easy it is by looking at the Layers Menu on the right.  It’s just the text layer with the watercolor picture layer above it, and the clipping mask applied.  That’s it!

How to Fill an Image or Word with a Picture in Photoshop: A Clipping Mask! | Where The Smiles Have Been

 

Another cute, colorful, and simple (but still interesting) design.  Can’t beat it.

How to Fill an Image or Word with a Picture in Photoshop: A Clipping Mask! | Where The Smiles Have Been

 

There are countless ways to play around with the clipping mask tool.  Use the Shape Tool with basic shapes, have fun creating custom gifts with kids’ photos, display vacation or other memorable keepsakes, personalize your home decor, make 100% custom blog or Etsy shop mockups or graphics, etc.  It’s so versatile and you can create some truly stunning designs!

Oh, and don’t forget to check out The Majestic Font Bundle to score some awesome fonts at a huge deal….but you only have until the end of June, so hurry!

FontBundles.net also offers great FREE premium fonts, but just like with the monthly bundles, you gotta grab them while they’re available!

 

If You Enjoyed This….

Make sure you check out my Project Gallery for lots of other tutorials and crafty creations, including more posts where I share my love for fonts, as well as a whole section dedicated to Photoshop and other kinds of digital fun!

Here’s just a sampling:

All Things Chalkboard Series!

 

Preview All Fonts

 

FREE Silhouette Cut Files at WhereTheSmilesHaveBeen.com!

 

How To Make Your Own Chalkboard Poster on a Mac

 

How to Turn Your Handwriting into a Font for FREE! | Where The Smiles Have Been

 

Thanks so much for stopping by!  Stay crafty!

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About Christine

I'm Christine, a SAHM to a spunky toddler and his mini-me infant brother, and married to the best guy you'll ever meet. I (try to) spend their nap times getting my craft on and I blog about my creations and adventures in parenting at Where The Smiles Have Been. My loves are all things DIY, especially Silhouette projects, wreaths, & personalized decor. And ice cream....definitely love me some ice cream.

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