Text effect of colored overlapping letters in Photoshop
In this tutorial, I teach you how to create a text effect of overlay letters in Photoshop, with colors mixing where letters overlap! As we will see, it is not only a fun and colorful effect, but it is also very easy to create. We simply add some text, convert the letters into shapes, change the color of each letter, and then zoom in on the letters to overlap them. To mix colors in overlapping areas, we use one of Photoshop's layer blending modes. Let's see how it works!
Here's what the final effect of the "overlapping letters" text will look like when we finish:
The final effect.
- How to create overlay text in Photoshop
- Step 1: Create a new document
- Step 2: Add your text
- Step 3: Resize and move text with Free Transform
- Step 4: Convert text to shapes
- Step 5: Move each letter to its own layer
- Step 6: Change the mixing mode of the letters to Multiply
- Step 7: Place the Shape layers in a layer group
- Step 8: Change the color of each letter
- Step 9: Add a gradient to the layer group
- Step 10: Select the Move Tool and set it to Auto Select Layers
- Step 11: Drag the letters together to overlap
- Step 12: Change the text size
How to create overlay text in Photoshop
I'm using Photoshop CC but each step is fully compatible with Photoshop CS6.
Step 1: Create a new document
Start by creating a new Photoshop document. Climb up to the File in the menu bar and choose Nuevo:
Yendo a File > New.
In the New Document dialog box, set the Wide to 1600 pixelsthe Height to 800 pixelsthe Resolution to 72 pixels/inchand the Background content to White. Click Create or OK (depending on the version of Photoshop you're using) to close the dialog box and create the new document:
Configuring the options for the new document.
Step 2: Add your text
Select the Tool Type on the toolbar:
Selecting the type tool.
Choose your font from the options bar. Thicker fonts generally work best for this effect. Use Avenir Next Bold. Put your type... size to 72 pt. We will resize the text once we have added it, but this will give us the largest preset size to start:
Choosing the font and font size.
Make sure your type color is set to negro so we can see the text in front of the white background. If it does not turn black, press the letter D on your keyboard to restart it. We will choose different colors for each letter after converting the text into shapes:
The color swatch in the options bar displays the color of the current type.
Click inside the document and add your text. I will write the word "COLORADO":
Adding the initial text to the document.
To accept your text, click the check mark In the options bar:
Clicking on the check mark.
Step 3: Resize and move text with Free Transform
To change the text size, move to Edit menu and choose Free transformation:
Go to Edit; Free transformation.
Photoshop places the Free Transform box and handles around the text. To resize it, hold down the Change while clicking and dragging any of the corner handles. Holding the Shift key while dragging the padlocks on the original shapes of the letters so as not to distort them. Make sure that when you're done, you release the mouse button first, and then release the Shift key, or you will have unexpected results.
To move text to the center of the document, click and drag inside the Free Transform box. When you're happy with the size and position of the text, tap Enter (Win) / Returns (Mac) on your keyboard to exit Free Transform:
Dragging a corner handle while holding down the Shift key to resize the text.
Step 4: Convert text to shapes
In the Layers panel, text appears in a new Type layer above the Background layer:
The Layers pane that displays the new Type layer.
We need to turn our letters into shapes. With the type layer selected, move up to the Scribe in the menu bar and choose Convert to shape:
Go to Typography; Convert to Shape.
In the Layers panel, the Type layer is now a Shape layer, which means that our text is no longer editable:
The Type layer is now a Shape layer.
And in the document, we see road outlines around the letters, letting us know that the text is indeed a form:
Text has become a form.
Related: How to Draw Shapes in Photoshop
Step 5: Move each letter to its own layer
To overlay the letters and mix their colors, we need to place each letter in a separate layer. Grab the Route selection tool (the black arrow tool) on the toolbar:
Choosing the route selection tool.
Then, in Photoshop CC, go up to the options bar and change the Select the option to All layers. This will make it easier to select the individual letters. In Photoshop CS6, this option isn't available, but you'll still be able to select the lyrics just as easily:
Changing "Select" to "All layers" (Photoshop CC only).
In the document window, click anywhere on the white background to deselect the letters. Then, click on the first letter on the left to select it. A route scheme will reappear around that single letter:
Selecting the first letter of the word.
To move this single letter to its own layer, move up to the Cloak menu, choose Nuevoand then choose Shape layer through cut (be sure to choose Cut and not Copy.) Or, a faster way (and the one I recommend for this effect) is to press Shift+Ctrl+J (Win) / Shift+Command+J (Mac) on your keyboard:
Moving on to Capa; New; Shape layer via Cut.
It will not seem that anything has happened, but in the Layers panel, we now see that the first letter has been moved to its own layer of shape on the original:
The first letter has been moved to its own layer.
Continue moving letters to their own layers
To move the remaining letters to their own separate layers, click a letter with the path selection tool to select it (in Photoshop CS6, you'll need to double-click). Then tap Shift+Ctrl+J (Win) / Shift+Command+J (Mac) to cut the letter of the layer from the original shape to its own layer. Continue to move through the letters one by one from left to right until each is on a separate layer. When you get to the last letter on the right, you can leave it because it will be the only letter left on the original layer:
The Layers panel displays each letter of the word now on its own layer.
Step 6: Change the mixing mode of the letters to Multiply
In a moment, let's change the color of each letter and zoom in on the letters so that they overlap. Since we want the colors of the overlapping areas to mix, we need to change the blending mode for each layer of the shape. Photoshop allows us to quickly change the blending mode for multiple layers at once.
Click the top layer in the Layers panel to select it. Then, to select the other shape layers as well, press and hold your Change and click the original shape layer directly on the background layer:
Selecting all letters at once.
Change the blending mode at the top left of the Layers panel from Normal to Multiply. We will see the effect of the Multiply blending mode once we start overlaying the letters:
Changing the mixing mode of the layers of the Shape to Multiply.
Step 7: Place the Shape layers in a layer group
While we have selected the shape layers, we are going to place them in a group of layers. Click the Menu icon in the upper-right corner of the Layers pane:
Opening the Layers panel menu.
Then choose New layer group:
Choosing New Layer Group from the menu.
In the New Layer Group dialog box, name the "Cards" group, and then click OK:
Naming the layer group.
Back in the Layers panel, the shape layers now appear in a group called "Cards." Click the triangle to the left of the folder icon to open the group:
Viewing the shape layers within the group.
Step 8: Change the color of each letter
Let's change the color of each letter. We'll start with the first letter on the left. Double-click the miniature For the top layer of the shape in the layers panel:
Double-clicking the thumbnail of the top layer of the shape.
This opens Photoshop Color Picker. I will choose a light blue. To use the same color I'm using, set the R value to 30the G value to 117 and the B value to 197:
Choosing a light blue for the first letter of the word.
Click OK to close the Color Picker, and the first letter will appear in its new color:
The first letter is now light blue.
To change the color of the second letter, double-click its thumbnail again in the Layers panel:
Double-clicking the thumbnail of the second layer of the shape.
Choose a different color in the Color Picker. I will choose the green putting R to 25, G to 161 and B to 53:
Choosing a light green for the second letter.
Click OK, and now the second letter appears in green (or the color you chose):
Two colors less, six missing.
Changing the color of the remaining letters
Continue changing the color of each letter of the word by double-clicking its thumbnail in the Layers panel and choosing a new color in the Color Picker. For the third letter ('L«), I will choose yellow (R=255, G=190, B=), and by the fourth point ('Or«), I will go with the magenta (R=158, G=33, B=150). For the "R«, I will use orange (R=244, G=99, B=36), and for the "F«, I will choose a bright pink (R=243, G=43, B=104).
I will change the penultimate letter («Or') to the same blue that I used for the first letter (R=30, G=117, B=197). And finally, I'll use the same yellow for the last letter («L') which I used for the third letter (R=255, G=190, B=):
Each letter is now a different color.
Step 9: Add a gradient to the layer group
The text definitely looks more colorful, but we can improve the colors even more by applying a gradient to the group of layers themselves. Click on the "Cards" layer group at the top of the layers panel to select it:
Selecting the layer group "Cards".
Then click on the Layer styles (the "fx" icon) at the bottom of the Layers panel:
Clicking on the Layer Styles icon.
Choose Gradient overlap From the list:
Choosing the overlapping gradients.
This opens the Photoshop Layer Style dialog box set to the gradient overlay options. Click the triangle next to the gradient sample to open the Gradient collector. Then choose the Black, White gradient by double-clicking its thumbnail (third from left, top row):
Choosing the gradient of Black and White.
Put the Mixing mode to Superpositionthe Opacity to 100%the Style to Linearand the Angle to 90 degrees, and then click OK:
The gradient overlap options.
Applying the gradient from black to white directly to the layer group and setting its blending mode to Overlay, converts the flat color of each letter into a gradient, with a lighter shade of color at the top and a darker shade at the bottom:
Adding a gradient overlay to the group is a quick way to convert spot colors to gradients.
Related: How to Draw Gradients in Photoshop
Step 10: Select the Move Tool and set it to Auto Select Layers
At this point, all that's left to do is bring the letters closer together so that they overlap. Select the Movement tool on the toolbar:
Selecting the motion tool.
Then in the options bar, make sure Self-Selection is turned on (checked), and it is set to Cloak... not the group. This will allow us to select each letter by simply clicking on it:
Activating the automatic selection and layering it.
Step 11: Drag the letters together to overlap
Click a letter with the motion tool to select it. The shape layer of that card is highlighted in the layers panel. Then, drag the letter to the letter next to it until part of the letters overlap. Press and hold the key Change while dragging to facilitate straight-line dragging. Here, I clicked on the second letter (the green "O") and dragged it over and slightly inside the first letter ("C"). Note that in areas where the two letters overlap, the colors of each letter are mixed:
Click a letter to select it, and then drag it over part of the letter next to it.
I'll click the third letter ("L") to select it, and then drag it to the left while holding down the Shift key until part of it overlaps with the letter "O." Make sure you click once to select the letter first, release the mouse button, and then click on a second Time to drag it, otherwise you will end up selecting and moving two letters at once. In other words, make sure the shape layer of the letter you want to move is highlighted in the layers panel before you move it:
The overlay text effect is taking shape.
If you accidentally select and move two letters at once, tap Ctrl+Z (Win) / Command+Z to undo your last step. Click anywhere on the white background to deselect the letters, and then click the letter you need to select it.
Moving the remaining cards...
Continue dragging the remaining letters until they all overlap. Again, remember to click once on a letter to select it, release the mouse button, and then click a second time to move it. You can also move the letters left and right using the the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard. Here is my result after overlapping the remaining letters. The only problem is that, after zooming in on the letters, the word now looks too small in the document. We will finish the tutorial by learning how to resize below:
The effect after moving each letter to overlap them.
Step 12: Change the text size
Since all our cards are in separate layers, to resize the effect, we will need to resize the layers as a group. Click once again on the "Cards" layer group at the top of the layers panel to select it:
Selecting the layer group.
Press Ctrl+T (Win) / Command+T (Mac) on your keyboard to quickly select Photoshop Free transformation ... command. So, as we did before, press and hold your Change and drag any of the corner handles to change the size of the text. Move the text to reposition it by clicking and dragging inside the Free Transform box:
Resizing the effect with Free Transformation.
Press Enter (Win) / Returns (Mac) on your keyboard to exit Free Transformation, and we're done! Here, after making some minor adjustments to letter spacing, is my latest "colored overlapping letters" text effect:
The final effect.
And there we have it! This is how you create a text effect of overlapping letters, and how the overlapping colors are mixed, in Photoshop! Be sure to check out our Text Effects sections for more tutorials!