Photoshop Tips: How to Make Transparent Text

A step-by-step guide on how to make transparent text in Photoshop. As you’ve no doubt noticed, there’s no transparent option in the color palette.

Transparent Text in Photoshop
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There are many, many ways to handle text in Photoshop. You can apply an infinite variety of effects and looks.

Here, I’m focusing on one: it’s how to make that transparent text punched-out look in Photoshop.

If you’re reading this, chances are that you’ve already noticed that there’s no “transparent” color in the color palette. So it’s not self-evident on how to apply transparent text. But perhaps you want to add a label to a picture of a jar of honey. Or maybe you just want to use an image as a texture for your font. Here’s how you can do it.

  1. Open the image you want to use as your background. I’m going to use this photo of one of the beautiful beaches of Australia’s North Stradbroke Island.
Transparent Text in Photoshop
  1. Make a panel overlay using the shape tool to add a new layer on top with whatever shape and color you want. The panel overlay in this example is the black rectangle.
Transparent Text in Photoshop
  1. Add the text layer. Thick, blocky fonts in large sizes will obviously make a bigger window to see what’s behind. It doesn’t matter what color your choose–it’s going to disappear.
Transparent Text in Photoshop
  1. Right click on the text layer in the layers panel and choose Blending Options.
Transparent Text in Photoshop
  1. Don’t choose an effect from the list at right like you probably normally would. In this case, make sure the Blending Options: Custom line from the list at left is selected. Then in the center, from the Knockout drop-down list, choose Shallow. In Fill Opacity, using the slider or just typing it in the box, make it 0%.
Transparent Text in Photoshop

And voila, you have punched out text.

Transparent Text in Photoshop

That, of course, is just a most basic example.

And there’s no reason you have to use a panel overlay. You can hide the panel overlay (or delete it, for that matter) and apply layer effects to the text layer to make the characters stand out.

This, for example, is using the Inner Shadow effect (right click on text layer in layer panel, choose Inner Shadow and change the settings to get the look you want):
Transparent Text in Photoshop

And this one uses Bevel and Emboss (right click on text layer in layer panel, choose Bevel and Emboss and change the settings to get the look you want):
Transparent Text in Photoshop


David Coleman / Photographer

David Coleman

I'm a professional freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my travel photography here. More »

15 thoughts on “Photoshop Tips: How to Make Transparent Text”

  1. So close to what I was looking for. Is their anyway I can emboss the text and some what make the text go through the image?

  2. The first one isn’t working with me… I have a background image, a shape an my text in the same order as yours. If I follow the 5 steps, all I get is a text with transparent filling and it still doesnt show the background. Help!

    • Hello :) At the beginning, the first option to make text transparent wasn’t working as well. Try to add text layer and shape to one group and then repeat steps with blending (knockout > shallow and Opacity fill > 0%). For me that worked ;)

      Good luck!


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