Adding depth to text

Add Depth to Text in Photoshop

Jennifer Foy has over 12 years of experience using Adobe Photoshop. She has received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communications from the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. Her years of teaching experience include numerous software and design classes in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, QuarkXPress, Freehand and InDesign for Colleges in Atlanta, Georgia; and Louisville, Kentucky. Jennifer is currently working as the Creative Director and Universal Woods with the Unisub and Chromaluxe brands. Jennifer can be reached by email at

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There are a few ways to add a bit more depth to your text in Photoshop. One simple way is to add a Satin layer style. Use a true black with an opacity of 42 percent and an angle of 125 degrees. Set the Distance to 6 and the Size to 13 pixels. Set the Contour to Linear for the final setting. This adds some lighter and darker areas to your text.

Follow these steps for a more advanced manner of adding depth and detail to your copy:

First, create a new blank layer labeled Shadows. Next, with your text layer selected, choose your Magic Wand tool. The text should now be selected, with ants marching around the text showing that it is selected.

Now, using a small and soft round brush, paint the left side of your letter forms with black. These would be sides or areas that would have shadows. Next, switch your brush color to white (with your text still selected), and brush highlights on the opposite side of the new shadows. Start this by working on only one letter to work out any details you prefer.

After the text has been deselected, run a Gaussian Blur filter on your Shadows layer. If you’ve used a very soft brush, then you may not need to add the blue filter. Next, change the opacity in your layers palette to a low amount like 27 percent. This technique takes some practice working with the brush tool and is even more challenging when using a laptop touch pad.

—Jennifer Foy, Unisub