I'd like to cut through a white layer with text to reveal a pic underneath, in effect filling the text with the pic but still be able to preserve full text editing i.e. not rasterise?

So far I have two pics, one as the background layer and one as a clipping mask for the text.

Can anyone help? Sorry if this has already been answered I'n not sure what this technique is called so wasn't sure what to search for.

Sample: sample

  • I added the image here for you. You can always simply post links to images and those with rep will add them for you until you have enough rep of your own.
    – Scott
    Jun 24, 2013 at 22:06

1 Answer 1


Place the text layer below the image you want to fill the text with.

Hold down the Option/Alt key and click between the photo and text layer in the Layers Panel. You'll see a little down arrow cursor when you should click.

This will treat the text as a clipping group and only show the photo where the text is. Text remains live so you can edit it if needed.

enter image description here

To address comment below....

  1. Create the gradient background layer, then solid color layer, and a text layer.
  2. highlight the text and solid color layer in the Layer Panel and group them
  3. Highlight the group you just created and from the Layer Panel menu choose Blending Options

blending options

In the Blending Options Dialog there are two sliders at the bottom for "Blend if". For the top slider, click and drag the arrow on the right towards the left until the white text disappears.


And there you have it. If you need to edit the text, go ahead. Expand the group and edit the text. As long as it remains white it will be subtracted from the layer below the group.

This technique is dependent upon the color of the layer pixels. In some cases you may need to move the Blend If sliders differently to achieve the appearance you want.

I chose to group the text and solid color so that the group would be altered by the content below it. You could use the Blend If sliders on only the text layer if desired. Results and necessary slider settings may be different in that case.

  • Thanks for your reply Scott, this is almost what I'm looking for. I want the gradient to be the background layer and the text to cut through the red layer, but my red layer would be closer cropped to the text so the edges of the gradient would be visible. Does that make sense? (i don't have enough rep points to post images yet!
    – Ryan
    Jun 24, 2013 at 21:39
  • @Ryan Okay.. check the updated answer :)
    – Scott
    Jun 24, 2013 at 21:59
  • This is great, thanks Scott. I found another way of doing it too. I set my text layer Knockout to shallow, changed my gradient layer to a Background layer, to stop the knockout going to transparency, and set my texts fill to 0%. Perfect results. The term Knockout is what cliched it for me.
    – Ryan
    Jun 24, 2013 at 22:07
  • Nailed it: i39.tinypic.com/1zqcw1f.png
    – Ryan
    Jun 24, 2013 at 22:14
  • Glad you got it sorted Ryan!
    – Scott
    Jun 24, 2013 at 22:20

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