Photoshop Tips: How to Make Transparent Text

Master the art of creating transparent text in Photoshop with this straightforward guide. While the color palette may not offer a transparent option, I’ll walk you through the steps to achieve this effect seamlessly.

Transparent Text in Photoshop
Text & Photos By David Coleman
Last Revised & Updated:
Filed Under: Photography Gear

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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


Profile photo of David Coleman | Have Camera Will Travel | Washington DC-based Professional Photographer

Text & Photos by David Coleman

I'm a professional photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. I've been shooting for 30+ years, and my my photos and time-lapse videos have appeared in a bunch of different publications from major newspapers to magazines and books, billboards, TV shows, professional sports stadiums, museums, and even massive architectural scrims covering world-famous buildings while they're being renovated. You can see some of my travel photography here and here.