• How to Outline and Customize Word Art in Photoshop and PSE

    Using premade word art is a quick way to clue your viewer into the main idea of your digital project. I'm a huge fan of the trendy hand scripted look that seems to be everywhere in the design world these days. Handwritten titles give your digital project a fun, up-to-date look and are easy to customize. You can recolor them with one or more colors, clip them to digital paper, or turn them into a digital sticker, for example. Here's another way to customize word art by outlining it first and then combining techniques to make it your own.

    Here's how:

    • Open a word art image of your choice in Photoshop or Elements.
    • Use the Move tool to drag the word onto your scrapbook document or make a selection with the Lasso Tool, then use the Move tool to drag the selected portion of the word art over to your scrapbook document.
    • Move the word art into place, resizing if necessary by pressing Ctrl T (Mac: Cmd T) on the keyboard and dragging a corner handle around the word art bounding box.
    • Ctrl click (Mac: Cmd click) the THUMBNAIL of the word art in the Layers panel. This places a selection around the word. You'll notice marching ants surrounding the text.
    • Choose Select > Modify > Expand from the menu bar. This opens the Expand Selection box. Type a number into the "Expand By" box. I generally find a number between 8-15 works well on a 12x12-inch scrapbook document. The higher the number, the greater the expansion will be.
    • Next, Ctrl click (Mac: Cmd click) the create a new layer icon in the layers panel (looks like a post-it note with a flipped corner.) This creates a new layer below the word art.
    • With the new transparent layer selection, choose Edit > Stroke from the menu bar. Choose a stroke width the higher the number, the thicker the outline will be. Choose a color by clicking the color box and using the eyedropper to pick up a color from your scrapbook document. Set the blending mode to normal at 100% and keep the "preserve transparency" box UNticked. For location, I usually stick with inside but the other choices work as well. With the choices made, click OK.
    • Press Ctrl D to deselect (remove the marching ants.)
    • At this point, your word art is outlined with the outline residing on a separate layer. This means you can customize the word without affecting the outline.


    Now the fun begins. Use your creativity to customize the word art. Here are some ideas to get you started:
    • Recolor the word art with one or more colors. Use the same technique to recolor the outline if desired.
    • Offset the outline by targeting the outline layer. Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move the outline to the right and downward.
    • Clip the word layer to patterned paper to give the title a hand-cut paper look. Use a drop shadow on the word layer to lift the title slightly, mimicking paper.
    • Transform the word art into a digital sticker in Photoshop or Elements. Consider offsetting the outline after completing the sticker.