how to create outline in photoshop featured image

How To Outline Text in Photoshop

Creating outlined text is a bit different than making it in a brother program such as Adobe Illustrator. There you simply choose the stroke option, add color to it, define size, set position, and you’re done.

The same process can be achieved in Photoshop; however, it’s reserved for the objects only. Applying outline to text is a different story and will take a few extra steps.

Nonetheless, it’s still an easy process that can be done in a matter of seconds with a few simple steps!

So let’s jump straight into!

How To Outline Text in Photoshop

Step 1: Write Your Text

After you’ve open the document, choose the size and the font you’d like an outline to apply.

outline step 1

Optional: Set Fill 0%

If you have the fill added to your text and want only the outline of it to be visible, you have to change it to 0%. You can adjust it in the layer Fill options. Fill set to 0%, makes the text invisible, but as soon as you add a stroke, you will see it again.

setting layer fill to 0%

Nonetheless, you can leave it at 100%, and the stroke will be added to the letters’ fill color.

Ok, now the real fun begins.

Step 2: Adding Layer Style

To add Layer Style, you can do it in two different ways. The first one is by double-clicking on the text layer, and the second one is by going to the bottom part of the Layers panel, clicking the fx sign, and choosing the Stroke setting.

adding layer style by double clicking on layer
Adding layer style: Double-click on the layer
adding layer style by clicking fx
Adding layer style: Click on fx

If you go with the first option by double-clicking, you have to navigate the Stroke option afterward. The second one already opens up Stroke settings that you’ll be working on.


Be sure to check the Preview checkbox on the right side of the Layer Style pop-up window, so you will see the changes you make in real-time. You can also see all the alternations you’re creating on the right side in the so-called Thumbnail settings preview.

2.1. Size

The first setting you can change is the size of the outline. The default setting is set to 3 px. If you want a thicker outline, you’ll have to increase the number. Contrary, the lower number will give you a thinner stroke.

2.2 Position

This option is a significant one. Why might you ask? Because it affects the placement of the stroke. If the letters you’re applying the effect to are thin, this can merge different parts of the letters’ stroke. The same can also happen when you set it to the serif font. In this case, the thin serif lines will be blended together without any additional spaces between the strokes’ line.

Therefore the effect is the most noticeable when you’re using medium up to heavy/black font-weights.

You can apply the stoke position to the outside, center, or inside. The inside option is convenient when you have tight letter spacing. In that way, the stroke of individual letters won’t be fused together. Setting it to the outside is, on the other hand, is suitable for thinner and serif fonts.

outside setting of outline
Outside outline setting
center positioned outline
Center outline setting
outline inside position
Inside outline setting

2.3 Blending mode

You might be used to set different modes to layer, and you also have the same option here. You can choose among different ones that will interact with the layer below the text.

Overly Blending mode of stroke
In this example, I’ve cranked up the stroke to 5px to make the effect more pronounced and used the Overly Blending mode.

2.4 Opacity

This is another known option in Adobe Photoshop. With this set up you will influence the transparency of the stroke. The closer to zero you set it, the more transparent stroke will become.

opacity of stroke set to 30

Tip: Applying different Blending and Oppactiy options works especially great if you have a picture underneath the text layer.

The next in line is the Oveprtint option that was added to the Photoshop CC 2015. So if you have a Photoshop older than that, don’t worry. It’s the option that you will really use, if even. However, It comes in handy in some cases, so let’s learn more about it.

2.5 Overprint

It is used when you print color over another color. The combination of two different colors creates the third color. Let’s see an actual example of printing yellow color over cyan. The part where the yellow goes over cyan becomes green.

overprint effect

As you can see, the Overprint option is oriented towards the printing process. If you plan to use it in digital, I suggest using different Blending modes to give you the same result.

Another great option can be found in the next section – Fill Type, and we are going to look at this setting next.

2.6. Fill Type

Here you can set your outline to:

  • Color: as the Size and Position, this is the essential setting because it sets the color of the outline
color setting of stroke in photoshop
  • Gradient: to make one set a minimum of two colors. You can create fantastic styles with gradients, form various metals imitations to a fading type of style
gradient setting of stroke in photoshop
  • Pattern: if you need an outline with a specific pattern, you can choose different ones from the library or upload the one you want and add it to the stroke

Once you’ve tried a different setting and you’re happy with your result, click OK, and you’re done! If you don’t like the outcome, you can change it by clicking the Stroke at the layer applied effect.

As you can see, adding an outline to your text in Photoshop is a real piece of cake. I recommend you always play around with different settings. They will take you on a different visual path as planned initially and result in an out of a box type of design.

Also check out other DesignyUp Tutorials.

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