I'd like to create a 5px wide outline for some text in Photoshop, with one caveat: if I change the font of the original text, or the exact wording, the outline must change too. I'd like to style this outline using all the conventional features of Blending Options. This includes things like emboss, outer glow, etc.

Is this at all possible in Photoshop? I know how to do this to create a "permanent" outline, so no need to explain that - I just wonder if I can set up the layers in such a way that the font is not "set in stone".

Perhaps this isn't quite what Photoshop is designed for - which software would you recommend that better captures the "history of features" paradigm, where I can go back and change the decisions made at the very start of the design?

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    I think the downvote is there because you are asking how to do something in the context of the blending options, and there is a clear and unambiguous option to stroke an outline in those options.
    – horatio
    Dec 23, 2011 at 16:10
  • @horatio Well that's a silly reason to downvote :) How do I add an emboss and an outer glow to the outline? The fact that there's an "outline" blending option has nothing at all to do with applying blending options to an outline.
    – RomanSt
    Dec 23, 2011 at 21:05
  • I don’t understand this downvote; it must be from someone who didn’t understand the question.
    – Timwi
    Dec 23, 2011 at 21:11
  • It's actually a good question. The answer isn't entirely obvious. Dec 23, 2011 at 22:10
  • My comment was made before the requirement was added to style the outline in any manner. Before then, it was asking how to stroke the text. Also, I didn't downvote this.
    – horatio
    Dec 27, 2011 at 15:22

1 Answer 1


The easiest way to do this is to set your text, add the 5px stroke and set the Fill opacity to 0. Turn the layer into a Smart Object, and you can style it any way you like. Any time you want to change the text, double-click the layer icon to open the Smart Object as a separate window, make your change, save and close.

  • This works beautifully, thanks! I don't suppose I can link the text/font in the smart object with the text in another layer, so they're always the same? It's ok if I can't, but would be icing on the cake if I can.
    – RomanSt
    Dec 24, 2011 at 1:01
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    You can! All you need do is copy the Smart Object layer (Ctl-J or Cmd-J). This makes a linked duplicate of the original, so any time you change either one, the other will update automatically. Dec 24, 2011 at 3:35
  • That's amazing - unfortunately there seems to be a fly in the ointment: if I put a Smart Object into another Smart Object, it stops being quite so smart...
    – RomanSt
    Dec 24, 2011 at 12:41
  • In this particular case, there is a different solution, which I put in the answer to that question, but it will take at least another generation of CPUs, I suspect, before nested SOs could be made work like that. Be sure to request it as a feature, though, on the Adobe site. They do listen to this kind of feedback, especially if you have a clear use case. Dec 24, 2011 at 23:42

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