Layer Mask Photo Letters

For this project, you’ll need a series of high quality photos that will help you spell out a word or two. You’ll take those photos and fill in the letters that spell a word or phrase of your choice. Here’s an example:

Start off by creating a new blank file. I’m making mine the size of a standard piece of paper,  8.5 x 11 inches, but I’m putting it in Landscape orientation, so my measurements will be 11 wide and 8.5 tall. If you want to make yours 11 x 17 or 8 x 10, that would be fine.

Don’t forget to immediately save your work with the proper name in your OneDrive folder:

This is actually pretty simple. First, find a typeface that’s pretty big and blocky. You need a nice, thick, bold letter. Start off by making a letter in the top left corner:


You can copy layers (Ctrl + J) or alt + click/drag to copy out the letters until you have something like this:

Again, make sure that each letter is on its own layer!!!

Start by selecting whichever layer/letter you want to start with. Select the letter/layer.

Go into the File menu and choose Place Embedded…

Find your first photo and put it on top of the letter. Rename the layer.

You can move or resize the photo so that the most interesting part is right over top of the letter or move/resize later!

Right click on the letter and choose Create Clipping Mask

Or… use the Layer menu and choose Create Clipping Mask’

You’ll notice that there’s a little downward arrow next to the layer icon:

And the photo now takes the shape of whatever is below!

You can move or resize the photo layer to get the most interesting part right inside of the letter:

Keep doing that until you fill all of the letters

Your layers panel will be staggered, with each photo “clipped” on top of a letter

Place another photo in the background and adjust that

You’ll notice that the really colourful letters don’t contrast with the colourful background, so use those Layer styles/effects. Select a letter layer and click the little fx button on the bottom of the Layers panel

Play around and find the right layer style for you. A Stroke makes a lot of sense to me:

Putting a fairly thick, dark stroke around a letter makes the shape stand out. Make sure the Preview box is turned on and move the panel so you can see what you’re doing. Play with the settings until you get a look that you like:

Once you find a Style/Effect you like, you’ll notice a little fx on the layers panel

If you want that same look on other layers, you can hold the Alt key and drag it onto another layer!

Have fun and be creative with this one!

Once you’re done filling your letters, feel free to find more photos on Unsplash to create different Photo Letters/words or use a camera to take photos around our school to make your own Westwood letters!




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