Masked Text

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Today’s Question: Is there a way within Photoshop to have text that blends into the image, as though the bottom of the text is somewhat buried in the photo? I assume this calls for a layer mask, but how can you combine that with text?

Tim’s Quick Answer: This effect can actually be created very easily by first adding a layer mask to a text layer and then adding a white-to-black gradient to that layer mask.

More Detail: A layer mask in Photoshop can be used to hide and reveal specific portions of a layer. That generally involves the use of either multiple image layers that are being combined into a composite, or adjustment layers that are being used to apply a targeted adjustment to specific areas of an image. However, layer masks can also be used in conjunction with a text layer.

If the intent is to blend the bottom of a line of text into an image to create the appearance that the text is actually blended into the scene, a simple gradient layer mask can be used with the text layer.

The first step, of course, is to add the desired text layer. With the text layer selected on the Layers panel, you can then click the “Add Layer Mask” button (the circle-inside-a-rectangle icon) at the bottom of the layers panel. This will add a layer mask to the text layer, so that you can hide portions of the text based on that layer mask.

In the case of blending the bottom of the text into the underlying image, you can use a white-to-black gradient for the layer mask. Choose the Gradient tool from the toolbox, or by pressing the letter “G” on the keyboard. Then press “D” on the keyboard to set the current foreground and background colors to white and black, respectively. On the Options bar, make sure the gradient popup toward the left end of the Options bar is set to the first preset, which is the “Foreground to Background” preset. To the right of that popup you will find a set of five style buttons. Click on the first of those five buttons to create a linear gradient.

At this point you can drag within the image to define your gradient. You’ll want to click initially at the point where you want the text to start blending, and then drag and release the mouse at the point where you want the text to be completely hidden. Holding the Shift key will enable you to ensure that the gradient is created in a perfectly vertical line.

If the result isn’t quite right, you can re-draw the gradient to replace the layer mask and adjust how the text blends into the underlying image. Once you’re happy with the layer mask, you can also return to the text to modify any attributes of that text.