Text Outside a Photo

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Today’s Question: How do I write text, with white fonts on a black background, below a photo (not in it) using Photoshop?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The key here is to enlarge the canvas size for the image, in order to create empty space around the actual photo. You can then fill that background with black (or any other color) and add text into the area outside the photo.

More Detail: Before enlarging the canvas size for an image, I recommend converting the Background image layer to a normal layer. This will help protect the source image layer and provide a little more flexibility. To quickly convert the Background image layer to a normal layer, simply double-click on the thumbnail for the Background layer on the Layers panel and click OK in the confirmation dialog that appears.

Next, you can go to the menu and choose Image > Canvas Size. In the Canvas Size dialog you can specify the new size for the overall image canvas. You can first change the unit of measure popup to the most convenient option, such as Inches or Pixels. You can then change the values for the Width and Height.

If you want to simply add a set amount of space outside the photo, you can turn on the Relative checkbox, and then enter the amount of space you want to add. For example, if the image is already sized to 8-inches by 10-inches, you could leave Relative turned off and enter “10” and “12” to enlarge by one inch on each side. You could also turn on the Relative checkbox and enter “1” for the Width and Height values.

Note that you can also use the control at the bottom of the Canvas Size dialog to specify which direction the canvas should grow. The default is for the canvas to grow equally on all sides, but you can also specify for example that you only want to grow downward, not upward.

Once you’ve updated the settings in the Canvas Size dialog, you can click OK to apply the changes in the document size, adding space around your photo.

At this point you can add a color to the backdrop. You could simply add another image layer below the layer that had been the Background image layer, and then fill that layer with the desired color. But for greater flexibility (and a smaller file size) I recommend using a Solid Color adjustment layer for this purpose. To do so, first click the “Add Adjustment Layer” button (the half-black/half-white circle icon) at the bottom of the Layers panel, and choose Solid Color from the popup. Then select a color in the Color Picker dialog and click OK. Finally, drag the thumbnail for the new Color Fill layer below the image layer, so that the solid color will appear as a background behind the actual image.

Finally, you can add text within the area of the new border you added. Simply select the Type tool from the toolbox, and adjust the text color and other attributes with the controls on the Options bar. Then click where you want to start creating the text, type whatever you’d like, and click the checkmark button on the Options bar to apply the change.

All of these various elements can of course be refined as needed. You can double-click on the thumbnail for the Color Fill layer if you want to change the background color, and you can double-click the thumbnail for the text layer if you want to refine your text.