Outlined Titles in Photoshop Elements

Creating outlined titles in Photoshop Elements is a little different from creating them in Photoshop/CC (PS/CC).  An outlined title will add impact and visual interest to the layout you’re creating without detracting from the design or story. In PS/CC, the stroke (outline) can be added on the same layer as the text then when the opacity is reduced to 0% the text disappears and the stroke remains. Note: Photoshop/CC users can find a comparable tutorial here.  In Photoshop Elements, if you apply the stroke on the same layer as the text both the text and stroke disappear when the opacity is lowered to 0%. That is definitely not what you want!  In this tutorial, we’ll look at how to create an outlined title in Photoshop Elements.

Start with a Bold, Chunky Font

First, choose a thick, bold font and type the desired title.  I’m using Basic Sans Black.  It doesn’t matter what color is used for the font since it will not show. Copy the text layer (Ctrl + J). Rename the first text layer “original” and the copied layer “working” or something that makes sense to you.  Since the text layer will need to be simplified it’s a good idea to work with a copy so if a mistake is made or you change your mind it’s easy to start over using the original text layer.


Kerning (the spacing between letters) isn’t an option in PSE.  You can get a little bit of control by adding Asian text options but this only allows you to decrease the spacing not increase.  If you don’t see this in the Tool Options box at the bottom of the workspace when using the Type tool, go to Edit> Preferences> Type.  In “Type Options” Check-Show Asian Text Options, click OK.  You can then change the % between letters to bring them closer together.


type tool

Add Outline (Stroke) on a Separate Layer (See Bonus Tip below)

If you are satisfied with the title as is you can simply add a stroke on a separate layer.  First, add a new layer above the simplified text layer. Rename the new layer “Stroke” or “Outline”.  Next, with the text layer selected, hold Ctrl & click on the thumbnail to select the text.  Then, with the Stroke layer selected, go to Edit> Stroke (Outline) Selection.  Set the Stroke Width, Color, and Location.  These are the settings I used but they’ll differ depending on your text and how thick you want the title outline.  When you’re satisfied, click OK.  You can always go back if needed (Ctrl + Z).


add outline


Toggle Off the Text Layer

At this point, you can simply toggle off the visibility or delete the text layer so that only the outline is left.  I usually don’t delete it until the layout is complete and just the way I want it in case I want to change it or add a double or triple outline.


text visibility off


Bonus Tip: Add Stroke on the Same or a Separate Layer?

If you simply want to use the stroke as is you can lower the opacity inside the stroke by choosing Style> Visibility> Hide.

Or Hold Shift + a number to choose visibility. For example: 1=10%, 2=20%, 3=30%, etcetera all the way to 0=100%.

Note: if you use the Styles> Visibility option and add glitter, for example, the glitter would not apply to the stroke.  When you lower the opacity, the glitter is hidden and only the colored stroke remains.  If you want to add glitter or work with the stroke independently, put the stroke on a separate layer.

Also, note that “Styles> Visibility” does not normally show in the Layers panel as shown below.  I added it here for demonstration purposes only, to show the options given when this Style is selected. The “Ghosted” option lowers the opacity to 50%.



Style Visibility


Placing the stroke on a separate layer allows you to clip the glitter to the stroke and apply any other effects directly to the stroke layer.


Alternate Outlined Designs

Here are some alternate outlined designs to consider that require putting each letter on a separate layer.  With the text layer selected, use the Magic Wand to select one letter then right-click on the letter and choose Layer Via Copy.  Remember to go back to the text layer to select each letter.


one letter per layer



Below all the letters are slightly overlapped, the layers are merged with an outside stroke applied to the merged layers & a shadow was added.






Next, the O & V layers were overlapped & merged. The L & E were both spaced a little wider with a center stroke & shadow added to them all.


two letters overlapped



Finally, I simply added some space between the letters, merged them and clipped a paper by LJS Designs from her Vintage Flea Market papers.  These papers were included in the January 2017 Champions class.


clipped paper



These are just a few of the possibilities you can use for Outlined Titles in Photoshop Elements.  You can apply various styles or filters to create a totally different look.  Don’t be afraid to play around.  That’s one of the best ways to see what different filters and styles will look like. So what do you think? Have you used this technique before?  If so, you might have some other ideas you’d like to share in the comments below.



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  • Yobeth Puckett July 19, 2017   Reply →

    I’m wondering if anyone has some other ways you have used this technique you’d like to share.

  • Eileen Leyrer August 1, 2017   Reply →

    good article …thank you

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