How To Add an Outline to Type with Layer Effects in Photoshop

How to Use the Stroke Effect to Outline Objects

Outline Text in Photoshop
How to Add an Outline in Photoshop. © Sue Chastain

There are several ways to create outlined text in Photoshop, but in older versions of Photoshop you had to render the text or recreate the outline if the text was changed. In Photoshop 6.0 and later - current version is Photoshop CC (2015.5- )we have the stroke layer style which offers a great deal of flexibility. In Photoshop lingo, "stroke" is just another way to say "outline."

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 2 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Select the type tool and create your text.
  2. At the bottom of the layers palette, click the 'Add a layer style' button and choose 'Stroke...' from the menu.
  3. Click the Color swatch and choose a color for the outline. Or you may choose a gradient or pattern for the outline from the fill type menu.
  4. Adjust the size of the stroke using the slider at the top of the dialog box.
  5. Choose outside, inside, or center from the position menu to control where you want the outline in relation to the layer content.
  6. If you expect to use these settings again, click 'New Style' and give the settings a name.
  7. Click OK to exit the layer style dialog.
  8. Another technique is to create the text and, with it selected on the text layer, select Text> Convert to Shape. This converts the text to vectors.
  9. Switch to the Path Selection tool and , in the Options, turn off the fill and add a stroke colour and thickness.


  1. You may need to adjust kerning or tracking after adding an outline to the outside of your type. You can do this from the Character palette in Photoshop.
  2. For a ragged outline, set the Blend Mode to Dissolve and lower the opacity in the Layer Styles dialog.
  3. You can apply a 3D bevel effect to only the outline by using the 'Bevel and Emboss' layer style with the 'Stroke Emboss' effect style. Experiment with it but don't get carried away. The best use of a Bevel and Emboss is when it is subtle.

    Create A Neon Text Effect Using Outlined Text

    Now that you know how to convert text to an outline, let's take your newfound knowledge out for a test run and see what we can do with it. In this case we are going to create a glowing neon light effect using a mixture of Layer Styles. Here's how:

    1. In Photoshop open an image of a texture and darken it a bit using a Hue and Saturation Adjustment layer. The aim here is to provide a background that will provide contrast for the neon sign.
    2. Select the Text tool and enter some text. In this case I thought putting the word "about" in lights would fit the bill. I used a simple Helvetica Bold with a size of 150 pixels. The text colour I used was a bright "neon-like" blue- #33CCFF.
    3. Select the Text and select Text>Convert to Path.
    4. Switch over to the Path Selection tool, select the text and, in the Options, set the Fill to none. Set the stroke to that blue - #33CCFF - and increase the Stroke width by a couple of pixels.

    With our base created we can now concentrate of creating the glow using a variety of Layer Styles which will be applied to the text layer. To start, select the layer and , at the bottom of the Layers panel select Blending Options from the Layer Effects pop up.

    This will open the Layer Styles panel where we can apply all of the necessary effects for this exercise in one area.

    1. Select the Drop Shadow Effect. In the properties area set the Opacity to 75%, the Angle to 120, the Distance to 15 pixels, the Spread to 10% and the Size to 10 pixels. The text is now sporting a nifty shadow.
    2. Now that we have our light sitting "above" the texture, there should be a bit of spilled light from the neon. Select Outer Glow in the Blending Options. In the Outer Glow Properties change the Blend Mode to Linear Light, the Opacity value to 75% and the Glow Colour to #97E5FF. We now have a brighter glow around the text which "spills" onto the background.
    3. Let's now turn our attention to the actual neon tube. Select Inner Glow in the Blending Options. Change the Blend Mode to Multiply to darken the text outlines and raise the Opacity value to 75% Set the glow color to a darker version of the base color. In this example I used #3333FF. In the Elements area set the size to 6px and, to give the text that real neon look, set the Source to Center in the Elements area.

      Updated by Tom Green

      mla apa chicago
      Your Citation
      Chastain, Sue. "How To Add an Outline to Type with Layer Effects in Photoshop." ThoughtCo, Oct. 31, 2016, Chastain, Sue. (2016, October 31). How To Add an Outline to Type with Layer Effects in Photoshop. Retrieved from Chastain, Sue. "How To Add an Outline to Type with Layer Effects in Photoshop." ThoughtCo. (accessed December 18, 2017).