Articles, Blog

Photoshop CS6 Tutorial: How to Make an Editable TEXT Portrait from a Photo.

August 27, 2019

Hi, this is Marty from Blue Lightning TV. Quite a while ago, I did a tutorial
showing how to make a portrait out of text. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to do
it quicker and better. Including how to make it in color. You can mix fonts and sizes and because
they’re “live”, they’re fully editable. Feel free to use any photo you’d like. If you want to use this image, its link is located in the video’s
description or project files. Its size is approximately, 1300 by 1900 pixels with the resolution of 150 pixels per inch. If you’re using a color photo desaturate it by pressing Ctrl + Shift + “u” on a PC or Cmd + Shift + ‘u” on a Mac. To make the darkest tones, black and the lightest tones, white… press Ctrll or Cmd + Shift + “L”. We need to make a selection around the
head and shoulders. For this example, I’ll use the Pencil tool. First, click on your quick mask button… and make sure black is your foreground
color. If it isn’t, click on this small black and white box
icon. Open your pencil tool. We’ll make the Size… 5 pixels and the Hardness… 100%. Draw around the head and shoulders. It
doesn’t have to be perfect, especially around the hair. Open your paint bucket tool. Click down inside the portrait to fill
it in. Press “Q” to make the quickmask into
a selection. Invert it… by pressing Ctrl or Cmd + Shift + “i”. Go to Select and Save Selection. Name it, “Highlights”… and click, OK or press Enter or Return. Delete the selection by pressing Ctrl or Cmd + “d”. Press Ctrl or Cmd + “j” to make a
copy of the original image. Go to Filter… and Filter Gallery. Open the “Artistic” folder… and click “Cutout”. Make the number of Levels, 2… the Edge Simplicity, 5… and the Edge Fidelity, 1. Then, click OK. Go to Image…Adjustments…and Threshold. The Threshold is 128. Go to Select and Color Range. Select… Shadows… and click, OK. We’ll save the selection and name it, “Shadows”. Then, delete the selection. Click on the new layer button to make a new layer. We’ll fill it with White…and since white is
our background color, press Ctrl or Cmd + Delete. Go to Window… and Character. In the Character panel, choose a font that has at least 2 weights. I’m using, “Arial”. For the Highlights of the portrait, I’ll use, Arial Regular. The Size is 8 points and the “Leading”
is 7 points. “Leading” is the amount of space between
the lines of text. Press the “All Caps” icon. This makes the text all caps even if the
original text is upper and lower case. Go to the top, left corner… click down… and drag it of the bottom, right corner. This “text box” or “bounding box”… makes the text we place inside this area,
conform to the dimensions of the box. If you re-size the bounding box, Photoshop
adjusts the wrapped ends of the text to account for the new size. For this example, I’ll fill it with
Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address”. I already searched for it in my browser. When you find the text block you’d like to
use in your portrait, highlight it… and press Ctrl or Cmd + “c” to copy it. I’ll minimize the browser’s window… click down inside the top, left corner of
the bounding box and press Ctrl or Cmd + “v”… to paste the text into it. Click on the thumbnail of the text to
accept it. Press, “z” to open your Zoom tool. Zoom into your text… and click on your Type tool. Let’s make the entire text block into
one unbroken paragraph. I’ll click to the left of the first
character… and press the Backspace key to move it
to the left, so it’s flush with the bounding box. I’ll click to the left of the first
character of the second paragraph… and press the Delete key… until the text moves up to meet the
first paragraph. Continue until we have one unbroken
paragraph. Highlight it… and copy it. Press Ctrl or Cmd + Zero… to see the entire document on your
screen. Click to the right of the last character
and paste in the text. Continue to paste the text in until
all of the bounding box is filled with the text. To get rid of the uneven lines of text
on the right, go to the middle, right of the bounding
box… and press and hold Ctrl on a PC or Cmd on a Mac. When you see this white pointer, drag it to the right. Then, click on the thumbnail of the text layer to
accept it. Let’s name it… “Highlights”… and then make a copy of it. Click off the eyeball of the original
text to hide it… and we’ll name the copy… “Shadows”. Double-click on the thumbnail to
highlight the text… and change the font to the heaviest
weight. Make the size, 12 points… and the Leading, 9 points. Click on the thumbnail to accept it. Open your Channels panel… and Ctrl-click… or Cmd-click on the Shadows thumbnail
to make it into a selection. Open back up to you Layers panel… and click on the Layer mask button… to make a layer mask next to the active
layer, which is the Shadows text. Make the Highlights text layer, visible… and active. Go back to your Channels panel… and Ctrl-click or Cmd-click on
the Highlights thumbnail… to make it into a selection… and then go to the Shadows thumbnail… and press Ctrl+ Alt on a PC or Cmd + Opt on a Mac… to subtract the shape from the
Highlights shape… leaving just the highlights of the
portrait. Open back up your Layers panel… and click on the layer mask button to
make a layer mask next to the highlights text. As I mentioned at the beginning, the text is “live” and editable… so for example, if we want to increase
the size of the text in the shadow areas, double-click on the thumbnail of the
Shadows text to highlight all the text and type in a higher number. To accept it, click back on the thumbnail. To modify the size of the text in the
highlight areas, make the Highlights layer active… and double-click on the thumbnail to
highlight all the text. I’ll change point size to 6… and click on the thumbnail to accept it. Next, I’ll show you how to make your
portrait into full color. Make the top layer active… and click on the new layer button to make
a new layer. We’ll fill it with White… and since White is our foreground color press, Alt or Opt + Delete. Hide the layer… open your Channels panel… and click on the dotted, circular icon at
the bottom to select all the tonal values of your image. Open back up your layers panel and
make the white layer visible. Invert the selection… by pressing Ctrl + Shift + ‘i” on a PC or Cmd + Shift + “i” on a Mac. To hide the selection, press Ctrl or Cmd + “h”. Let’s fill the selection with gradient
colors. Open your Gradient tool… and click on the gradient bar to open the
gradient editor. Click on the lower, left “stop”… and the color box. Pick a color… click, OK… and click on the lower, right “stop”. Pick another color… and close the windows. I’ll choose a linear gradient. Have fun experimenting with all the
different types of gradients. Go to the top of your document… press and hold, Shift… drag down the gradient to the bottom… and release. A quick way to change the colors of the
gradient… is to click on the adjustment layer
button… and choose, Hue Saturation. By sliding the amounts of Hue… Saturation and Lightness, you can non-destructively change the
color of your portrait. This is Marty from Blue Lightning TV. Thanks for watching!


  • Reply Huntr J July 8, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    Whenever I try to fill in the whole picture with the paint bucket after using the pencil, it just fills in whatever small part I click on, how do if fill it all in?

  • Reply ManDroid July 12, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    Whenever I try to use the Paint bucket, it always fills in the entire layer that I just drew on, why??!

  • Reply David Seddon July 13, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Aa 7 minutes when you subtract the shadows, this part won't work for some reason. It leaves the inside of the image white and the text around the outside, the opposite of what I want?

  • Reply Hai Truong July 17, 2014 at 6:43 am

    i dont think this works for dark images

  • Reply 78 Ways Studio July 23, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    What if I wanted to do this for a title of a book? I want the word LIFE to be made out of words from the rest of the title. Is that possible by making the word LIFE a picture then following your steps?

  • Reply K M July 27, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    yes yes yes, thank you for your tutorial πŸ™‚ juste wderful (y)

  • Reply Andrei Juezan July 30, 2014 at 11:50 am

    I've been watching you videos it really helps a lot thank you! I was wondering when you did the text box shadow and you add the layer mask with Abe Lincoln can you also layer an image/pattern instead of a text box?

  • Reply itsmeclyv July 31, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    How do I get the pencil tool red and also paint bucket?

  • Reply Alison Smith August 5, 2014 at 4:36 am

    when i try to do it the whole square ends up having text not just the person in the photo? any ideas why?

  • Reply Sue Jameson August 10, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Thank you, thank you for adding subtitles. Hearing impaired artists often miss out on these great tutorials.

  • Reply Billy Meister August 14, 2014 at 9:27 am

    the path tool is much easier than drawing around it

  • Reply adnaan farook August 15, 2014 at 9:25 am

    what if i wanted to do the portrait with photos rather than text?

  • Reply EMIELIOD August 16, 2014 at 8:43 pm


  • Reply Hari Jain August 19, 2014 at 11:27 am

    my picture is not so contrasting from the background……….
    please help

  • Reply 1202 pills August 20, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    I press and hold shift then drag down but no color, please help

  • Reply Kyle August 24, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    Why is the pen red when you go around his head and fill it in with the paint, as I have already set it to black a few steps earlier? Also, I push "Q" and i can see it says something about Quick Mask, but when I try to Invert it nothing happens, and I can't save the selection….please help

  • Reply cherubster122 August 25, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    This helped tons man! Cheers. Question. If I want to have it so no text is cut off and the entire paragraph is readable, what do I do?

  • Reply Mohamed Aly August 28, 2014 at 2:43 am

    When i try to copy all texts when i reach the half of photo texted . Β it turns to nothing !
    Help and thankyou

  • Reply Seyon Sundarakumar September 28, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Your first text photo tutorial produced better results for me. Thanks anyway.

  • Reply TheJackTalbot October 8, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    What an awesome and simple tutorial.
    Really great. Thank you!

  • Reply imani kenyatte October 11, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    I followed your tutorial STEP-BY-STEP the only two things that were different were the dimensions of the picture and i used my picture and i'm black.Β  My highlights and shadows were so off that it basically turned out all black.Β  what do i need to do differentlyΒ  so that when i want to use this for pictures of my friends and family it will come out properly.

  • Reply Dirk Belvedere October 12, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    Mine worked amazingly, your channel is excellent! My only question is how can i get this on to a different colour or textured background?

  • Reply RamRamStyles October 22, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    I recommend trying the photo used in this tutorial or someone else with hair that's much darker than their skin. I tried a self portrait and my hair was inconsistent in either being a shadow or highlight.

  • Reply kc soysauce October 27, 2014 at 2:52 am

    after i filter it, i cant select Β the threshold and color range options, can someone help?

  • Reply Ivo Ivanov October 27, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    so helpful thanks a lot i did some cool stuff with this <3

  • Reply Cruelvader October 27, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    Hey thanks, this works! Just a question, is there a way to make the white background transparent? it would make this editing in to other project much easier.

  • Reply Melissa Kavanaugh October 31, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    When I try and do the control alt to subtract the shadow mask it doesn't work. Is there another way to do this so that you can't see the letters of both masked jumbled at the end? Everything else worked perfect

  • Reply J Carson November 3, 2014 at 7:39 am

    Nice Video. Haven't tried it yet, but can't wait. Thanks.

  • Reply gregory tsetsos November 5, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    i had a problem with shift when i had to put colors.Overall nice vid helped me a lot

  • Reply Daje Roma13 November 15, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    So helpful πŸ‘

  • Reply Phazea November 18, 2014 at 1:52 pm


  • Reply cheesewithnoname November 20, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Er…I used a picture of a symbol, which was completely black — no grey or white. The text part came out greatly, but I could only change the color to either black or grey. I even tried to change the color of the text, but there was one color — grey! Was it something to do with the original image file (I took it off the web) or was it because the image only has one color? Or was it something to do with my copy of the photoshop?

  • Reply Lilly Herrington November 21, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    My hardness was also 100% and I also filled a layer of white

  • Reply Deb Rowley - The Miracle Mentor December 2, 2014 at 7:52 am

    I'm so looking forward to trying this out tomorrow. Thanks for the opportunity. πŸ™‚Β 

  • Reply Biggda4k December 8, 2014 at 4:55 am

    @Blue Lightning TVΒ can u make on for cc? also i wanna see the commands instead of just the shortcuts. i know what you are telling me to press, but i dont know the actual command? and why are you using a fill after you draw the selection at the beginning?

  • Reply Nahian Rahman December 8, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    cant find pencil tool or bucket tool pls help.. (im new to this)

  • Reply EnjoyLife12 December 8, 2014 at 4:05 pm


  • Reply Macaroni December 8, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    You forgot to show us to save the highlights selection!

  • Reply veedubgamer December 14, 2014 at 10:42 am

    save selection grey out? Β never straight forward for me

  • Reply Business Society December 14, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    This is Photoshop 5??

  • Reply Jiggly December 18, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    I guess?

  • Reply Sw Ob December 25, 2014 at 3:40 am

    I don't understand why but when I try to put my own text on the white layer. It just putΒ it on the left, I tried changing it to the middle and the right side but it didn't work. Anyone, please help?

  • Reply nurmiati abdullah January 5, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    my caps lock not working.. i want small letter..Β 

  • Reply V January 8, 2015 at 3:16 am

    Does anyone know where to find a text-only version of this tutorial? My computer is too slow to keep switching between a video and PhotoShop. Thanks.

  • Reply J0kuc January 21, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Your tutorials are the best.

  • Reply Mv θ¦ͺ月 January 21, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    didn't work for me my final product looks horrible… everything worked up to the 6:45

  • Reply blessed always January 23, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Yeah as soon as you click on text in the right you loose your bounding box. So doesn't work trying another tutorial. This was a waist of time.

  • Reply juzy1231 January 25, 2015 at 7:22 am

    brother wen in the start i draw with the pencil tool and den wen i choose the bucket tool it fills the whole photograph not the selection where m i wrong !!!

  • Reply I a m H i k a r i February 11, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Thanks.. for making it easier for me… it help me so much!!

  • Reply Katy B February 15, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    Amazing tutorial!!! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Reply Schizophrenic Cartwheel February 16, 2015 at 3:25 am

    Very clear and easy to follow. Thanks!

  • Reply groncal February 20, 2015 at 4:26 am


  • Reply Ale White February 24, 2015 at 1:51 am

    mine didn't work ether, only dif I saw was when I used paint bucket around 1:45, his turned red, mine had no change so I changed color to red for paint bucket. I don't know if he made it red or it was supposed to be red automatically.Β 

  • Reply Gabriela Salazar March 5, 2015 at 4:29 am

    Hi there, nice tutorial. I have a question, Can I use the pen tool instead?

  • Reply Elisa Goldman March 16, 2015 at 6:26 am

    Nice tutorial. Thanks for saying Mac as well as pc shortcuts.

  • Reply ThanhTu Nguyen March 18, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    Does the resolution matter? I have to do a project for an art show that required 300 resolution

  • Reply David Keane March 22, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    Brilliant, but you are too fast!!! Have to pause many times… Thanks for a wonderful exercise!

  • Reply Jacob Masker March 25, 2015 at 12:23 am

    when i get to the color gradient part i only get a black and white gradient it wont apply the colors i selected. any help?

  • Reply Aravind vijay April 3, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    when i copy the words they are dashing what can i do

  • Reply Horror Bubbles April 6, 2015 at 1:38 am

    Thanks so much this was awesome!

  • Reply Roger April 11, 2015 at 6:02 am

    I am Belgian Francophone and this is the first time I clearly understand a tutorial in US , congratulations , thank you for this tutorial well explained , green thumb !
    My apologies , my English is not that good …

  • Reply AndrΓ© HΓΆrmann April 15, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    Very strong tutorial. Now I want to use the created text portrait for several occasions. It's from my website to LinkedIn background and from Google Plus background to a… rather small… business card… What's the best way to increase and reduce the format and what's the best format to use as a basis? Thanks in advance for your answer… Regards. AndrΓ©

  • Reply Juan Francisco Arboleda Reyes April 21, 2015 at 11:22 pm

    FUCKING thank you, you saved my art project

  • Reply Rino David May 29, 2015 at 8:56 am

    i have a query in the photo which i choose to do this effect the mouth part is not visible in highlights or shadows hw to make it visible can u plzz tell me

  • Reply Valerie Longe June 3, 2015 at 10:48 pm

    Sadly this does not seem to work on darker skin toned photos as the image turns out black.

  • Reply Rino David June 4, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Blue Lightning TVΒ  i cant subtract the shape from the highlights shape can u please help me in this can u tell me how to do it properly

  • Reply Know:in:Mins June 26, 2015 at 3:33 am

    Thank You so much.
    Great content.

  • Reply Kira June 30, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    Thanks for this! Worked great in the end… Is there a way to add a stroke around the image as a whole?

  • Reply Harry Whittaker-Baisden July 2, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    Hi BLTV! This tutorial is great…However, on my version of Photoshop, when I try to fill the Layer with White, nothing happens. No new layer is formed! What am I doing wrong? I have faithfully followed your great instructions…

  • Reply Mumtendustic TV July 8, 2015 at 3:28 am

    CTRL + BACKSPACE gives you the background colur i.e., white here. NOT CLTR+DEL . Atleast in extended CS6 πŸ™‚ Please take a note on this! Otherwise great video!

  • Reply ORION BETTA July 27, 2015 at 4:28 am

    Image size?

  • Reply Siva sakthivel July 30, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge to world.

  • Reply Abumalik Ahmad August 11, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    great bro

  • Reply Blue Lightning TV Photoshop August 21, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    Get up to 20% off Photoshop + Lightroom! Only $7.99 p/month:

  • Reply Keto Fit October 6, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    very gool

  • Reply Jason Groffman November 1, 2015 at 3:00 am

    these are awesome tutorials but i cannot handle your voice man

  • Reply ClinicalPosters β€” K Williams November 3, 2015 at 1:53 am

    Nice tip. Tutorial says "delete the selection" (2:01) instead of "deselect" though proper keyboard shortcut is provided. The last color step maintains better fidelity for enlargements if the gradient layer is a clipping mask above the text rather than a colorized deleted rasterized selection (8:25–8:50).

  • Reply Gianphilip Manuello November 4, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Hi, nice tutorial, but i m wondering: can we do it with pics?

  • Reply Wendy Tovsky November 19, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    Can a photo be edited in a similar way (for a text portrait) in a program other than photoshop? Can it be done in Picasa?

  • Reply Saulo Soares January 20, 2016 at 11:41 pm

    Can't believe I made it <3 <3 <3 Thank you! It's exactly like yours πŸ™‚

  • Reply Amit Kumar February 16, 2016 at 6:20 am

    hey! Blue Lightning TV, i'm encountering a problem when i paste the text and when the document is about to be half filled the whole document gets blank πŸ™ what should i do???

  • Reply Hari Jain February 17, 2016 at 2:50 pm


  • Reply Tim February 24, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    Im about to kill myself. I just went through an hour of doing this only to find that my picture doesnt work

  • Reply TheKesmen March 12, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    Really usefull, thank you πŸ™‚

  • Reply Katie Munro April 7, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    Usually your tutorials are spot on but this one is not doing me any justice right from the start (after I used my paint bucket tool-which I had to click over a hundred times to paint it) I pressed command u and nothing happened to my image (the head and shoulders were painted but never changed). Very disappointed

  • Reply yuvraj kumar April 27, 2016 at 10:20 am

    nice video bro

  • Reply Rajeev May 29, 2016 at 8:39 am

    how did you select the page

  • Reply Alonso Ahmetaj January 28, 2017 at 11:42 pm

    i look at your example and everything works fine just at the end when it come to make it with color i follow the steps but for some reason my picture doesn't add color it adds a gray color. I checked the channels panel and i have only one gray layer. But you have 4 the rgb,Β red, blue, green etc. How do i change them to make it like you?

  • Reply abdullah fahad April 7, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    thanks so much ur the best

  • Reply mark bright April 12, 2017 at 9:25 am

    Filter Gallery not active

  • Reply Dana Ellis April 25, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    Is there a way I can do this on Gimp too?

  • Reply Lucie May 9, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    Hi Marty, I have inserted the address, copied, and am in the process of pasting it into the text box. I get around half way down the text box and when I click CTRL V the box goes blank? P.S. I love your voice. Lucie

  • Reply Lucie May 10, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    Oh Golly, OK, I figured out the text and then messed up again. Am I the only one that has to go back to the beginning more than once, no matter the tutorial. My reading comprehension was always my lowest mark in school.

  • Reply Lucie May 23, 2017 at 8:15 pm

    Oh golly, I finally got it. Your instructions are dead on; each time I ran into trouble it was because I was not following your exact instructions. The picture I used is not the best choice for this tutorial (rear view of portrait). I am going to do this tutorial over using a front facing portrait, play around with the text sizes/colors a bit more and will be back with my end results. Did I tell you, I love your instructions–trying to figure out how to watch you live.

  • Reply ELT ES June 19, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    using cc and tried for previous unrevised portrait a lot. but how come Δ± couldnt… this can be about cc version of psd?

  • Reply royal singh :// August 31, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    Very nice video sir

  • Reply George F. Stowe III September 24, 2018 at 12:58 am

    U skipped a whole section after you selected the text. Where did the blank layer come from to put the text in? ( My image is still on the screen) However, on your video it just appeared (3:41). What do you do after you click "All-Caps" for the text…you left me stranded.

  • Reply Prodigal Stupidity October 15, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    k dude we never made a highlights channel

  • Reply Vishwanath Benade January 8, 2019 at 6:33 pm

    ya realy good

  • Reply Vishwanath Benade January 8, 2019 at 6:34 pm

    hey if u hace no problem can u make a loga for me cause i do photofraphy
    Vishwanath Benade
    P H O T O G R P H Y

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