Creating an Outlined Title

There are times when I am creating a page and need just a hint of a title.  Something that is enough to make an impact, but not enough that the design of it detracts from the story I am trying to convey in my page.


Enter the outlined text.  Sure, you could use an alpha or font that looks like this, but I like to have this in my back pocket to use with fonts I adore.  Also, there are several designers who duplicate this look in word art, adding in their special designer’s eye by introducing a lot of visual interest, but sometimes I need a specific saying not provided.

So how do I accomplish this look?  It’s actually quite simple.  Note: I am using Photoshop CC.  For a tutorial using Photoshop Elements, please see Creating Outlined Titles in Photoshop Elements.


First, I type in the title I want using the font I like and resizing as needed.  Using the method we are discussing today, the color you choose does not matter as it will not be seen in the final product.  In the example below, I have selected the Impact font as it is a great bold font, perfect to use as an example.


outline_text_0010_Layer 1


With your font layer selected, access the Layer Style menu at the bottom of the Layers Pallette, and select “Stroke”.


outline_text_0009_Layer 2


In the Stroke Menu, your settings will vary depending on the look you are after.  The color selected here will be shown on your page, so you will want to change the color where applicable.  Since my font is large for demonstration purposes, I chose a wider stroke.  My settings are shown below.  Once you are happy with your choice, select OK to close the menu.


outline_text_0008_Layer 3


Now to get rid of the font’s fill.  With the text layer still active, lower the fill opacity in the Layers Pallette to “0” to turn off it’s visibility and to leave behind the stroke we created.  Neat, isn’t it?


outline_text_0007_Layer 4


Now, you could leave it as is on your page, but you could play around with a few settings in the Character Pallette to achieve a different look.


By adjusting the tracking, you could create some pretty cool looks.  In the example below, a simple adjustment created a nice blended effect.


outline_text_0006_Layer 5


If you’d like to control this on a per letter scale, you can adjust the kerning by clicking in the space between two of the letters and adjusting as needed.


outline_text_0002_Layer 9


Also, just adjusting the horizontal scale of the font can also create a look with more impact as demonstrated below.


outline_text_0005_Layer 6


Please note that when you adjust, you are adjusting the stroke of an overall shape.  If the letters would blend together, the stroke goes around their edge as demonstrated above.  If you’d like there to be some defined edges with overlap, then we need to add in a few more steps.


First, we will need to rasterize our layer style.  In doing so, we are no longer able to edit our text as it is now, nor will the character adjustments be available.  The letters are now treated as if they were normal design elements and moved around as such.


To rasterize, right-click on top of the text layer in the Layers Pallette and select “Rasterize Layer Style” from the menu that appears.


outline_text_0001_Layer 10


Once you have done this, then you will want to place your letters you want to adjust on their own layer.  To do this, you will need to select your letter using the Marquee tool.  Once selected, right-click over the selected area and choose Layer Via Cut from the menu.


outline_text_0000_Layer 12


By doing this, you are now placing the selected letter on it’s own layer and can freely move it around to achieve your desired look.  You can adjust all letters in the manner or just a few, but either way you can create a pretty neat effect.


outline_text_0000_Layer 13


Once you are happy with everything, you can add in other design elements if you like as I have done in the header image or leave it as is.  The sky’s the limit with this technique.


Have you done this type of title in the past?  We’d love to hear of your experiences if you have.  Please leave us a note in the comments sharing your thoughts.

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  • willimena February 27, 2015   Reply →

    Love when you explain how to do things that I know are possible but don’t have enough time to figure out myself. Thanks!

  • Gwen February 27, 2015   Reply →

    Thank you!

  • Barbara February 28, 2015   Reply →

    Fabulous tutorial Rachel! I love that there are so many different ways to do the same thing. I had absolutely no idea you could adjust the kerning BETWEEN the letters and I’d also never tried adjusting the horizontal/vertical scale of a font. That is so helpful! Thank you!

  • Ashley B April 2, 2015   Reply →

    Great tutorial! Thanks.

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