Make Text Stand Out in Photoshop Elements

Sol de Zuasnabar Brebbia/Getty Images

Recently I was working with my sister to create some wallpaper images and she wanted to make the type on her photos stand out a little better by placing a faded blur of color behind the text. This is useful if your text goes across both light and dark areas of a photo; it can get lost in the background in some areas. The faded blur will set the text off from the background and make it easier to read.

This is easy to do in Photoshop using the outer glow layer style effect, but since Photoshop Elements does not give you as much control over layer effects, it is something you will have to do manually.​

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time Required: a few minutes

Step-By-Step Instructions

  1. Start by opening the photo you would like to work with, and use the type tool to add some text anywhere you like on the image.
  2. Open the layers palette if it is not already showing (Window > Layers), then Ctrl-click (Command-click on Mac) on the T thumbnail for the type layer. This makes a marquee selection surrounding your text.
  3. Go to Select menu > Modify > Expand and type a number from 5-10 pixels. This expands the selection surrounding the type.
  4. In the layer's palette, click the "Create a new layer" button, and drag this new, empty layer below the text layer.
  5. Go to Edit menu > Fill selection... Under contents, set "Use:" to Color, then pick the color you wish to have behind the text. Leave the Blending section alone in this dialog and click OK to fill the selection with color.
  1. Deselect (Ctrl-D in Windows or Command-D on Mac).
  2. Go to Filter menu > Blur > Gaussian blur, and adjust the radius amount to the desired effect, then click OK.
  3. Optional: To fade the text background, even more, go to the layers palette and reduce the opacity of the blurred fill layer (probably still called "Layer 1" if you never changed it).

    Create The Effect In Photoshop Elements 14

    Things are a bit different in the current version of Photoshop Elements. The major difference is the ability to convert text to a selection is no longer available. You can make text stand out on a photo better by placing a solid color behind it that subtly fades into the background. This is actually quite easy to accomplish but you need to approach this project a bit differently.

    You will need two text layers with the lower layer having a Gaussian Blur applied to it. Just understand that when you apply a filter to text, the text is rasterized- converted to pixels- and is no longer editable.  Let's get started:

    1. Open the image you intend to use and make sure the colors are set to the defaults with Black as the Foreground color. This will be the color of the blurred text. You choose any color you wish for the blurred text but make sure there is a strong contrast between the background image and the text. A blur will fade out on the edges and if there is no strong contrast, the blur won't be doing its job.
    2. Select the Text tool and enter some text. One or two words is usually sufficient. In this case, I was using an image of a lake at twilight so I entered the word Sunset.
    1. Font choice for this sort of thing is critical. Italics and Script fonts just don't work as well as you may think. In this case, I chose  Myriad Pro Bold Semi Extended. Due to the fact the image is rather large, I chose a font size of 400 points.
    2. Move the text to an area of the image where the text color will contrast with the underlying image.
    3. In the Layers panel duplicate the Text layer and name the bottom text layer "Blur".
    4. Select the top text layer, select the Text Tool and change the text color to the primary bright color you intend to use.
    5. Select the Blur layer and choose Filter>Blur> Gaussian Blur. This will open an Alert telling you the layer must be converted to a Smart Object or rasterized. Click Rasterize to proceed.
    6. The Gaussian Blur dialog box will open and you can use the Radius slider to adjust the strength of the blur. Make sure you have Preview selected to see how the blur "works" with both the foreground text and the background image. When satisfied, click OK.
    1. Optional: You can use the technique shown in the first approach to this project but be sure to apply the selection and selection expansion to the Blur layer. You can also "play" with the blur using Edit>Transform>Free Transform to distort the Blur. If you do, be sure to move the blur back into position under the text.

    Updated by Tom Green

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    Your Citation
    Chastain, Sue. "Make Text Stand Out in Photoshop Elements." ThoughtCo, Dec. 13, 2017, thoughtco.com/photoshop-elements-blur-background-1702603. Chastain, Sue. (2017, December 13). Make Text Stand Out in Photoshop Elements. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/photoshop-elements-blur-background-1702603 Chastain, Sue. "Make Text Stand Out in Photoshop Elements." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/photoshop-elements-blur-background-1702603 (accessed December 16, 2017).