The Digital Darkroom )
Developed and Instructed by James Gordley ©2004 - 2010
The Type Tools


Text (Class Lab)

bulletHorizontal Text Tool
bulletVertical Text Tool
bulletWarped Text
bulletType Masking Tools
bulletCreating New Layers
bulletPaint Bucket Tool
bulletLayer Styles
bulletGradient Tool
bulletCreating a Custom Brush
bulletBrush Options
bulletLayer Opacity
bulletDodge / Burn

The Text tools options bar Photoshop Elements 6

Text can be typed in any color and at virtually any size. take a look at the Text Tool Options bar you can pick the font face, font style, font size, color, direction, color and alignment with the click of your mouse. That isn't can warp your text and add any of the special effects to it that you care to. When you click on the Text Tool in the Tool Box, a new layer is automatically created for you.

As you have most likely already guessed the Horizontal text tool makes adding regular horizontal text to your images very easy. To use the Horizontal Text Tool click it and then start typing.

The Vertical Text Tool works the same as the Horizontal except that your text will now run up and down instead of left to right.

The Horizontal Type Masking Tool and the Vertical Type Masking Tool make masking in the shape of your text a snap.

Photograph by Jim Gordley copyright 2007 HomeSpun Internet Enterprises
Boarder Collies - Nina left and Mindie right


Warp Your Text


Example uses default settings with a font size of 24pt.

Change the default settings in the Warp Text Dialog box.

Use the sliders (see using pop up sliders) to change the appearance of the warp effect that you are applying, use the radio buttons to change the direction of the effect. You can also highlight the numerical boxes and use your direction keys for a more accurate adjustment pace.


They say a picture is worth a thousand words, well in this case I believe that a demonstration is called for. In this Lab we are going to create an image much like the one above.

Copy the flag image below (place the cursor on the image then right click >copy image) and then use the "File>New>Image from Clipboard" Option from the File Menu bar to create a new document in Photoshop Elements. Name this layer "Original"

Image United States of America Flag
Copy this image to your clipboard, then make a "New>Image from Clipboard" out of it.

Renaming Layers

Keeping up with layers can be very difficult if you forget to name them as you go. Photoshop Elements automatically asigns a generic name such a layer 1 or layer 1 copy to layers as they are created. As you can see a name like layer 1 copy is not very discriptive. Give names to the layers you create some meaning that will make it much easier for you as you make changes to the image you are working on.

1. In the Layers Palette Double Click on the Layer name then type the new name.


2. Right Click on the Active Layer in the Layers Palette on choose Rename


3. Click Layer on the Menu bar and choose Rename Layer

I like to preserve the original image as I found it. So I make a copy of that image as a new layer. Drag the layer to the new layer icon in the palette bin. Be sure to name layers as you create them, this will help you keep track of them as the number of layers grow. Now when you look at the layers palette you see two layers. Rename the new layer to "Flag"

Click the visibility icon on the layer named Original. The visibility icon makes layers invisible. This does not erase the layer, it just allows us to work without having to see the contents of that layer. Right now we don't need to see the original image.


Select the Horizontal Mask Tool from your tool box , on the tool options bar set the font style to Bold, and select an appropriate font family. Set the font size to 125 (you may have to highlight and type this size into the numeric window on the options bar), finally set the paragraph alignment to center.

Align your pointer fairly close to the bottom center of the image, then click. A mask will be placed over your image. Type the word "America" if you need to adjust the alignment, drag until you get the mask just in the right place.

To place the selection you can click, or just select a different tool. Note how the selection has a marquee around it in the shape of the letters you just typed and the colored mask has disappeared.

From the Edit menu select Copy and then Paste. Your selection is now pasted onto a new layer. In the Layers Palette drag the layer named Flag to the trash can. You are now left with only your selection on a new layer, don't forget to name the new layer. I named mine America. You can also use the deselect option from the menu bar to get rid of the marching ants (the mask) that formed the letters.

Cool huh?

Look in your Palette well for the Effects Tab. Click the Layer Styles Icon (second from the left). The Layers Style Palette will replace the layer Filter palette.

Layer Styles Palette


In the Layer Styles Palette select Bevels then click on Simple Inner. Activate the drop down menu circled in yellow, then select Drop Shadows, select High.

Your image should look about like the image below.

Now all that we have left to do is add a background and a few stars for effect.


In the Layers Palette or from the Menu Bar create a new layer. Use the Fill Tool or the Gradient Fill Tool and fill the layer with a color of your choice. Send that Layer to the back. Now create yet another Layer. Select the Brush Tool then navigate through your "Assorted Brushes" and find the star shaped brush. If you do not have a star shaped brush crate one.  Set your paint color to white then randomly place stars around on your image. When you get the stars painted into place you can add any layer effects that you want to. When finished with the stars move them back one layer so that they appear behind your text.

Using the Gradient Tool

Most of the time we can only work with two colors, the foreground and background. Using the Gradient tool we can work with many colors and opacities all at the same time to create complex fills.

To define a gradient, you add a color stop to add a color to the gradient, drag the color stop and the midpoint icon to define the range between two colors, and adjust the Opacity stops to specify the transparency that you want in the gradient.
You fill an area with a gradient by dragging within the image or by selecting with the Gradient tool. The distance between the starting point (where you first press the mouse button) and ending point (where you release the mouse button) affects the gradient appearance, as does the gradient type.

Gradients are stored in libraries. You can choose a different library of gradients to display in the Gradient Picker menu by clicking the small triangle in the menu and selecting a library at the bottom of the list. You can also save and load your own libraries of gradients in this menu. You can also manage gradients by using the Preset Manager.

  1. In the Editor, select the Gradient tool.
  2. To display the Gradient Editor dialog box, click the Edit button next to the gradient sample.
  3. In the Presets section of the Gradient Editor dialog box, select a gradient on which to base your new gradient.
  4. To choose colors for your gradient, do one of the following:
    • Double-click the color stop , or click the Color swatch to display the Color Picker. Choose a color, and click OK.
    • Choose Foreground from the Color pop-up menu to use the current foreground color.
    • Choose Background from the Color pop-up menu to use the current background color.
    • Choose User Color from the Color pop-up menu to always use the color you chose for the gradient, other than the current foreground or background.
  5. To adjust the color stop location of a color, drag the stop left or right.
  6. To add a color to the gradient, click below the gradient bar to define another color stop.
  7. To adjust the location of the transition midpoint between colors, drag the diamond below the gradient bar to the left or right.
  8. To delete the color stop you are editing, click Delete.
  9. To set the color transitionís smoothness, enter a percentage in the Smoothness text box, or drag the pop-up slider.
  10. If desired, set transparency values for the gradient by dragging the Opacity stops.
  11. To save the gradient in the gradient presets, enter a name for the new gradient, and then click New.
  12. Click OK. The newly created gradient is selected and ready to use.

The final image, who knew text could be so much fun!!