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Photoshop Elements Tutorial: Creating a text effect in Photoshop Elements

What you’ll learn in this Photoshop Elements Tutorial:

  • Reversing the text effect
  • Adding text to the background

This tutorial provides you with a foundation for working with text effects in Adobe Photoshop Elements. It is the twelfth lesson in the Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 Digital Classroom book.

Photoshop Elements Tutorial: Creating a text effect in Photoshop Elements

Text doesn’t only have to be just functional; it can also be a lot of fun. So far, you have mostly used the filters in Photoshop Elements to alter and correct images, but you can also use them to apply some very interesting special effects to both text and images.

When completed, the text should appear to be zooming toward you.

In this exercise, you will create a fun text effect that you sometimes see where the text seems to be zooming toward the viewer.

1 Choose File > New > Blank File. Type Kids in the Name text field. Choose U.S. Paper from the Preset drop-down menu and make sure the Size is set to Letter. Choose RGB Color from the Color Mode drop-down menu, if it is not already selected, and press OK to create the new document.

The New dialog box includes presets for a variety of different projects.

2 Choose Edit > Fill Layer. In the Contents section, choose Black from the Use drop-down menu. Leave all other settings at their defaults and press OK. This fills the document background with black.

The Fill Layer dialog box allows you to fill a layer with a solid color or a pattern of your choosing.

3 Choose the Type tool () from the Toolbox. In the Options bar at the top of the workspace, choose Arial Black or Arial Bold from the Font Family drop-down menu and type 100 in the Font Size text field. Change the text color to white (R: 255, G: 255, B:255) by clicking on the Set the text color option in the options bar.

Change the type settings in the Options bar.

Click in the middle of your document with the Text tool and type KIDS in all caps. Click the green checkmark at the top of the workspace to commit the change and deselect the active text. Because filters really can’t be used on live text, after a few adjustments to the position of the text, the next step will be to convert the text into a graphic by combining it with the background layer.

4 Choose the Move tool () from the Toolbox and select the KIDS text layer from the Layers pane to activate it. Hold down the Shift key on your keyboard and click the Background layer so that they both become selected.

5 In the Options bar, press the Align button () and select Vertical Centers from the drop-down menu that appears. Press the Align button again and choose Horizontal Centers.

To use the Align commands, two or more layers must be selected.

6 Select the KIDS text layer from the Layers panel, and press Ctrl+E (Windows) or Command+E (Mac OS) on the keyboard to merge the KIDS text layer with the background layer.


Alternately, you can use the menu command Layer > Merge Layers. This works as long as the text layer is selected, and above the layer you want to merge it with.

7 Select the new merged Background layer and choose Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Type 1.5 in the Radius text field. This blurs the text shape to produce a soft edge. Press OK.


You can experiment with values that are slightly lower or higher based upon your preference and taste.

The Gaussian Blur filter creates a hazy effect around the edges of the text.

8 Choose Filter > Stylize > Solarize. The Solarize filter doesn’t have any options to set but instead automatically converts the black letters into an outline of the text and blends the positive and negative areas of an image. This is why blurring was necessary. Blurring pushed some of the white outside the edges of the text, resulting in more of an outline around the text after using the Solarize filter. Without the blur, there would not have been enough of a text outline when the Solarize filter was used.

The Solarize filter reverses the positive and negative areas of an image.

9 Choose Enhance > Adjust Color > Adjust Hue/Saturation. In the Hue/Saturation dialog box, click the Colorize checkbox. Type 75 in the Saturation text field or move the slider to 75, make sure the Hue and Lightness text fields are set to 0, and then press OK. This results in changing the white outline to red around the text. If you have a hard time seeing it, it is probably due to your zoom level. To change your zoom level choose View > Zoom In.

The Hue/Saturation effect allows you to control the color in your image.

10 Choose Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates and select the Polar to Rectangular radio button. Press OK.


The Polar Coordinates filter creates a distortion in which a selected layer’s contents are converted from a rectangular coordinate system to a polar system, or vice versa. While there are some interesting uses of this filter, it is most commonly seen as an intermediary step in tutorials.

The distortion caused by the Polar Coordinates filter is used as an intermediary step in this lesson.

11 Choose Image > Rotate > 90° Right.

The Rotate command rotates an image 90 degrees left or right, 180 degrees, and arbitrary values.

12 Choose Filter > Stylize > Wind. In the Wind dialog box, choose Wind from the Method section and choose From the Left in the Direction section. Press OK. Press Ctrl+F (Windows) or Command+F (Mac OS) twice to run the filter two more times. The next few steps will return the image to a viewable state.

The Wind filter simulates the effect of wind blowing against a surface and pieces being blown off.

13 Choose Image > Rotate > 90° Left.

14 Choose Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates, and choose the Rectangular to Polar radio button.

15 Choose the Crop tool () from the Toolbox. Click and drag to draw a marquee around the text. Click the green checkmark just below the proposed cropped area to commit the change.

When completed, the text should appear to be zooming toward you.

16 Choose File > Save As. Navigate to the Lessons folder you copied to your hard drive. Confirm that the format is set to Photoshop and that the file is named Kids.psd, then press Save.

Reversing the text effect

The text appears to have a motion trail behind it. This creates the impression that it is zooming toward the viewer. With a few simple changes, the results of this effect can be completely reversed along with the direction of the motion trail.

This variation on the tutorial follows the exact same steps right up to step 11.

  • Choose Image > Rotate > 90° Left.
  • Choose Filter > Stylize > Wind. In the Wind dialog box, choose Wind from the Method section, then choose From the Left in the Direction section. Press OK. Press Ctrl+F (Windows) or Command+F (Mac OS) twice to run the filter two more times.
  • Choose Image > Rotate > 90° Right.
  • Choose Filters > Distort > Polar Coordinates and choose Rectangular to Polar from the options at the bottom of the dialog box.

Reversing the effect.

These tutorials are created by and the team of expert instructors at American Graphics Institute.