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clipping group iconPostcard Text 2:
Using a Layer Clipping Group

In this tutorial, we will use a Layer Clipping Group to make Postcard Text. This, as I explained in the first tutorial in this series, is text with pictures inside it, as you often see on postcards.

Now.. a Layer Clipping Group sounds hairy and scary, I know. I postponed learning about this, thinking that this was some esoteric, weird, and undoubtedly difficult, process. But, in fact, it is FUN and I am confident that you will agree.

As you make your postcard, you will learn some tidy tricks with Photoshop. Here are some:

  • Combining images to make a colllage using layer masks
  • Using the type tool to make text
  • Making a Clipping Group.
  • Loading a selection
  • Modifying a selection
  • Filling a selection

This tutorial is written with beginners in mind, so even if you are just starting out with Photoshop, if you want to try for this effect, let's go!

The photos in this tutorial were taken at the West Baden Springs Hotel in West Baden, Indiana. This is a lovely hotel from the early 20th century that is being beautifully restored.

If you wish to use these photos that I did to complete this, then you can find them here:

Photos from West Baden, Indiana

The photos that I have used in demonstrating this are my own and may be used only for purposes of completing this tutorial. Any other use requires my written permission.

"Flowers" was done using the "brute force" method.
Brute Force Method
This is fine for when you have just a quick job to do and don't remember right off how to do the other methods.

This Postcard Text was done using a Clipping Group.
Clipping Group Method
This is probably best when you have ONE picture or composite to go behind a block of text.

Janee done in yellow and pink flowers using the "Paste into" method
Paste Into Method
This is the easiest way to handle pasting different pictures into different parts of the text.

This tutorial was written with screenshots from Photoshop Version 6.01. Everything here can be done with PS version 5.*, though the screenshots may be slightly different.

Our plan is this: Make the text. Make a composite image from our photos that will serve as our fill for the letters. Fill the letters. Trim it up. So off we go!

1. File -> New. Make your canvas larger than you think you would ever want. (I used 1500 x 1000 pixels. If you want to make your canvas smaller, you can, but you will have to make your photos smaller if you are using mine.)

2. Use your Type tool to put some bold black text on your canvas. Below are my settings on my Text Options. I added an upper arc warp too.

Note: For more on creating text in PS 6, see Just my Type, another Janee tutorial.

West Baden Indiana text
Type tool options bar

Warp Text

3. Open your files (one at a time if you are RAM-challenged).

Click on your Background layer on your new file first, and, using your Move tool, drag each of your images onto your new canvas. (This will copy them above your background layer, but under your text layer.)

Close your individual images after you move them onto your new canvas.

4. Now we are going to combine the images into a sort of collage. How you do this will be up to you and will likely depend upon your images. I did mine with the same method as in my Fading Images into One tutorial. Consult that tutorial for the details if you need to, but i'll go through an outline here:

a. Drag each of your images to the part of the canvas where you want them to end up. For mine, i moved the elf to the lower left corner, the Mineral Springs photo to the top, the outside view to the lower right, etc.

File -> Save as.. and give your file an appropriate title and location. Save it in psd format and leave it that way till you are ready to do something with it.

Now you want the edges to fuzz into the other image so that you don't have those harsh lines demarcating the pictures.

b. Click on your top image in the layers palette. Then click the "Add Layer Mask" icon at the bottom of the palette. (2nd button from the left, with the little circle in it)

c. Choose a soft brush and, using black, paint on your canvas over the edges of this top picture and watch them fade away! Powerful stuff, these layer masks!

Ctrl-s to save.

layers palette for filler image collage

d. Click on the 2nd layer and do the same thing, using your move tool and scooting layers around if you need to.

To fill in the letters, you will not need a perfect border-to-border collage presentation. You just want it to fill the letters. My finished ready-for-letters collage is to the right.

Once you get your collage the way you want it, merge these layers. (With the top one selected in the layers palette, ctrl-e to merge down.)

Ctrl-s to save.

my filler composite layer. Click to enlarge.
5. Be sure that your layers are arranged as mine are to the right. Your filler image collage on top, your text layer below it.

6. Ok.. now you were waiting for the cool part and here it is!

  • Hold your mouse right where the tip of my arrow is, just between the layers in your layers palette.
  • Hold the alt key and you will get a little interlapping circle symbol to appear there.
  • Click it.

This makes what is called a "clipping group" between these two layers. Is this just about TOO much excitement?

alt-click right at the tip of the pink arrow to form your clipping group
7. Well.. this was just part of the coolness! Next, click on your filler images layer in the layers palette and, with your move tool, scoot this layer around and watch your image! This filler image remains completely EDITABLE! You can resize it, adjust its hue/saturation or levels. You can even draw on it! Once you catch your breath, Ctrl-s to save. filled text!
8. Finish your picture. I added a background by dragging a distant photo of the West Baden Hotel and then sepia-toning it to give it an early 20th century look.

Then I wanted some demarcation between the text and the background so i added the white border around the letters. Here's how:

  • Ctrl-click your text layer in the layers palette to make the text into a selection.
  • Choose the desired color for your outline for your foreground color in your color picker.
  • Edit -> Stroke... Choose Outside and an appropriate pixel width. Ctrl-d to deselect.

Ctrl-s to Save.

completed West Baden postcard
I hope you enjoyed learning about Clipping Groups with me by doing this Postcard Text!

Always me,

For more pictures inside text, see these other 2 tutorials:

pc text 1 icon Postcard Text 1:
Flowers (Janee's Brute Force Method
paste into icon

Postcard Text 3:
Using Paste Into

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All material in this site is ©2001-2003 by Graphic Creations. No part of it may be used without my written permission. If you have questions or comments about this site or its construction, contact Janee at Graphic Creations, 7193 W Gifford Rd, Bloomington, Indiana, USA 47403 or by email.