• How to Punch Out Titles with Layer Styles in Photoshop and PSE

    In the previous tip, we explored two ways to punch titles from background paper by erasing the title letters. That method is perfectly acceptable and easy, but it's the digital equivalent of using a craft knife to cut out the title. Once the cuts are made, you can't move the title without redoing some of your work.

    This week, we'll walk through a less destructive method for getting the punched-out effect.
    Having several techniques in your hip pocket gives you the option to choose the one that feels most comfortable for you.

    We'll be using Katie Pertiet's Blacked Out Alphabet No. 1 which is a great title choice for this technique. You can also use other alphabet sets to get the look you want for your digital project.


    Here's how to get that look:

    • Open a digital background paper in Photoshop or Elements. Then open the Blacked Out Alphabet letters you'll need to create your title. Use the Move tool to drag the letters into place, creating your title.
    • Locate and click to select the top letter layer in the Layers panel. Hold the Shift key and click the bottom letter layer in the layers panel – this selects all of the letters, but not the background paper. Check to make sure the background paper layer is not selected. Press Ctrl E (Mac: Cmd E) to merge the letter layers. Now your title will be all on one layer.
    • Open a piece of digital paper. This paper will eventually look like it is behind the cut-out letters. Getting the Move tool, drag the paper onto your project. Make sure that the paper is one layer above the title. If it isn’t, drag it up or down the layers panel until it is positioned one layer above the merged title.
    • Press Alt Ctrl G (Mac: Opt Cmd G) or hold the Alt key (Mac: Opt) and click between the paper layer and the letter layer. This creates a clipping mask which attaches the paper to the letters. Alternatively, you can select the paper layer and choose Layer > Create Clipping Mask from the Menu Bar.
    • Before proceeding, click the title layer which will be the middle layer. You'll apply an Inner Shadow style to this layer. Be sure to select the title letters layer – if you accidentally choose one of the other layers, the style will not be visible.
      - In Photoshop, double click the title layer in the Layers panel – clicking to the right of the layer name. This brings up the Layer style dialog box. In the box, tick "Inner Shadow" and click to select the Inner Shadow tab. This brings up the Inner Shadow options on the right side of the box. Use the Multiply blend mode. Adjust the opacity, distance and size to your liking and click OK.
      - In PSE, choose the Styles tab and choose Inner Shadows from the Drop Down Menu. Double click the "Low" shadow and then return to the Layers tab.
    • At this point, the title letters appear to be cut out of the background paper.
    • To move the title, get the Move tool. Untick "Auto select layer" from the tool options. Select the middle (title letters) layer and move it around on the page. The title moves, but still gives the cutout effect.



    Using this method, you can digitally "punch out" titles from photos, mats, ribbons, tape, tags and background papers while maintaining the ability to move the title.