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Photoshop Elements: adding text and changing transparency in Photoshop Elements 11.

Working with Photoshop Elements 11.

Photoshop Elements is a hugely powerful tool for the price and one of the nice features of the lastest version, Photoshop Elements 11 making many image editing tasks very easy by introducing the ‘guided’ mode.  The ‘expert’ mode provides the greatest number of features and options, and most closely resembles the full professional version of Photoshop.  One of the most useful features only available in ‘expert’ mode is the layers feature (note, the layers menu is still visible in the top menu bar in both ‘quick’ and ‘guided’ modes, but all options in the drop-down menu are greyed out).

In this blog I’m going to talk about using the Horizontal Type Tool (symbol ‘T’) to create text layer on your image, and then how to modify the text appearance, making it semi-transparent, by changing the layer opacity.

Step 1.  Once you have opened up Photoshop Elements, select Photo Editor mode, then ensure you are in ‘expert’ mode.  Once this has loaded then open the image you wish to add text to.  As my example I have chosen an image of a black swan guarding her nest as the River Exe floods.  I am going to add copyright text to this image, something I often do to identify my images prior to placing them online.

Step 2.  Once your image has loaded, click on the Horizontal Type Tool ‘T’ (highlighted in grey on the lower LHS of the image below).

Adding text to an image in Photoshop elements 11, step one, select the Horizontal Type Tool (T).

Image 1. Adding text to an image in Photoshop elements 11, step one, select the Horizontal Type Tool (T).

You’ll notice that a sub-menu pops up beneath the image. Heer you will find options to change the default font, font size, font style, colour, leading and anti-aliasing. Leading (pronounced ‘ledding’) refers to the spacing between lines in a paragraph, should you be writing more than one line of text. Anti-aliasing (very briefly) smooths jagged edges that can occur around the edges of text; if you’re not familiar with anti-aliasing leave the box checked.

Sub-menu where text font and styles can be edited.

Image 2. Sub-menu where text font and styles can be edited.

Step 3.

Once you have select the style of text you want, move your mouseso the cursor is over the area of the image where you want your text to appear and left click.  You’ll notice that a new layer suddenly appears in the layer palette on the RHS of the image (see image below).  This is the text layer, by default named layer 1.  You can change this simply by going to the layer drop down menu and selecting rename layer.  This is useful if you are creating multiple layers and prefer to name them intuitively.

Text appears as a new layer Colin Munro Photography

Image 3. Text appears as a new layer

The next step is simply to type your text.  I’ve chosen to add copyright text to my image, something I tend to do before uploading any images.

dding copyright text to an image colin munro photography

Image 4. Adding copyright text to an image

Sometimes text can look very intrusive in an image.  One way of reducing this is to change the opacity of your text.  We do this by going back across to our layers menu and clicking on the arrow at the side of the opacity box, immediately above our layers.  This then displays a slider control whereby we can vary the opacity of the active layer (i.e. the one highlighted in blue) in this case out text layer, from between 1-100%.  As you can see in this example I’ve selected 41% opacity.  As an aside, you’ll also note that Elements has changed the name of the layer to the text I’ve typed.  This can also be helpful in allowing us to remeber which layer is which.

Image 5. Changing the opacity of your text

Image 5. Changing the opacity of your text


Image 6. Text with reduced opacity

Image 6. Text with reduced opacity

Okay, so we’ve got our text written, we’ve reduced the opacity to our liking, only now it’s there we suddenly realise it’s in the wrong part of the image.  Not a problem.  We simply select our ‘Move’ tool.  You should then see a bounding box appear around our text, as in image 7, below.

Image 7. Selecting text with the 'Move' tool

Image 7. Selecting text with the ‘Move’ tool

Moving our mouse over the text, hold down the left button and drag the text to the part of the image where you would like it to be.

Image 8. Our text has now been moved.

Image 8. Our text has now been moved.

 Our final steps and to flatten our image, reducing our two layers back to one, and then save our image.  To flatten our image we open up the Layer drop down menu in the top menu bar and select ‘flatten image’ which should be the option right at the very bottom of the drop down menu.  Once we  click on this you should see that our two layers become one, as in image 9 below.  We can then either save our image or rename it through the ‘save as’ option.

Image 9. Our final step is to flatten our image.

Image 9. Our final step is to flatten our image.


How and why: creating a customised Copyright Logo in Photoshop

How and why: creating a customised Copyright Logo in Photoshop

A clear but unobtrusive logo helps identify the image as yours.

Why add a copyright logo?
Posting images online is a great way to get your images seen but (there’s always a but) it does leave you open to image theft and unauthorised use. While there are various tricks around – disabling right-clicking, placing images in Flash displays etc., if someone knows what they are doing and are prepared to put a tiny bit of effort ito it they can lift your image. For a photographer it is not always desirable anyway to prevent people doing this; potential buyers may want to store a copy of some images to browse later or as a reminder. In this way photographs can be like business cards, and we don’t ask for those back as we leave the conference hall do we? But like any form of advertising we want the (potential) client to remember where the image came and, most importantly, who it belongs to. Now this can (and should) be done adding to the image metadata, however this is not immediately obvious and must be actively searched for (it can also be stripped out, unintentionally or otherwise, by some programmes). A simply logo has the advantage that it is immediately obvious so is like branding – the more your image is shared around the more people associate it with your name and or website.
What should it include?
There is more than one way to do so, this just happens to be my preferred way. Thekey information I want included are 1. my name; 2. clear identification of my copyright 3. a quickway the viewer can locate me, and 4. a quick way for the viewer to find more of my images. This obviously has to be done as succinctly as possible, no-one wants to look at an image covered in screeds of text. 1 and 2 are easy to combine as (C) Colin Munro Photography; it helps in my case that my business name includes my own name so there is no confusion as to exactly where the copyright lies and no need to repeat both seperately. With 3 and 4 I could include both my email and website, but as my email is very clearly displayed on my website I chose to keep things compact and just go with my website.
Ok, so to creating a logo.
These instructions apply to Photoshop, however the workflow is similar in other editing packages. You have you final image, resized for the web and suitably sharpened. Decide on the colour you want the text to be (generally white or black) and set this as the foreground colour using the set foreground and background colours icon in the toolbar. Click on the Horizontal Type Tool. The icon is a capital T, located in the toolbar. This will change the horizontal toolbar at the top of the window to change and display font, font size, formattint etc. Select the approximate font size you’d like (you may have to experiment here). Clicking on the type tool will also create a new layer (visible in the layers sidebar) which will be the active layer in which text will be created. Then simply position the cursor approximately where you’d like the text to start and begin typing. Once your text is all typed out it may not be ideally positioned, or it may appear slightly too large or too small. To rectify this click on the ‘move’ tool (the cross with arrowheads at all four compass points). This will make the text a selection which can be be moved, shrunk or expanded using the cursor. However if you do re-size you will need to apply the transformation (by clicking again on the move tool and then selecting ‘apply transformation’ in the pop-up box) before you can complete other tasks. Sometimes you may not want your copyright logo too prominent; one way to change this is to reduce the opacity, making is partially transparent. This can be done using the opacity slider in the layers dialogue sidebar. Once your text is suitably sized, positioned and has the right level of opacity, your final task is to flatten the image, merging your text with the underlying picture. Simply click on the layers tab; right at the bottom of the drop-down menu you will see ‘flatten image’. Select this, save and your image is ready to upload. Of course we can automate this process by creating batch processing actions in Photoshop, but that’s for another blog. For those based in Exeter, Devon, I am currently running Digital Photography classes later this month and will also be running Photoshop classes subject to demand.