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Tutorial: Intersperse a portrait with text

Written by , translated by redforce · Created on Mar 19, 2011, last updated over 13 years ago CC BY-NC License


This tutorial shows a technique to convert a portrait photo of a person into a text-portrait, where the text itself should act as the silhouette of the person.

Tutorial details

  1. 1 nicole_kidman.jpg

    Open an image of your choice (should show a person).

    In this tutorial I’ll use the photo of Nicole Kidman that you can download here.

  2. 2

    Now let’s cut off the image to get only her face. Select the Crop tool (Shift+C) and drag a selection around her face.

  3. 3

    Presse Enter to crop.

  4. 4

    Now convert the photo to black/white by using Colors / Components / Channel Mixer. Check the “Monochrome” box and use the settings from the screen shot. If you use an other image, adjust the settings to conserve the details.

  5. 5

    Now create a new black layer in front of the layer with her face.

    Then select the Text tool and enter very much text. For instance, search the Internte for “Nicole Kidman bio” and copy the text into the text field. The text layer has to be in front of the (just created) black layer.

    Font size: 16, font family of your choice (I suggest a sans-serif font). The whole image should be covered with text or numbers. Text color: white

  6. 6

    Click on the black layer in the Layers dialog. Then right-click on the text layer and “Merge Down”. You won’t see any changes now, but the text and the black layer are now merged.

    Now choose Layer / Layer to Image Size.

  7. 7

    Right-click on the face layer and choose “Add Alpha Channel”.
    Activate the rendered text layer again and duplicate it.
    Blur the duplicate using Filter / Blur / Gaussian Blur: radius 11.

    Switch the layer to “screen” mode. Then right-click on the layer in the Layers dialog and choose “Merge down” again.

    Duplicate the now merged layer again, set the duplicate to screen like before, change the layer’s opacity to 40% and merge it again with the layer below. Now, the text should have a typical “bloom effect”. Set the layer’s name to “Bloom text”.

  8. 8

    Duplicate the Bloom layer. One of the two layers should be above the face layer, the other below.

    Now let’s use a layer mask to show Nicole’s face only at locations where’s text, too.

    Right-click the face layer in the Layers dialog and select “Add Layer Mask” / White.

  9. 9

    Now click a bloom layer and press Ctrl+A or use Select / All. Copy the selection (Ctrl+C). Now switch to the layer mask again (click on the small white area in the Layers dialog to activate the mask).

    Now insert the selection with Edit / Paste or Ctrl+V. Then click on the Anchor button at the Layer dialog’s bottom so that the inserted image is placed in the mask.

  10. 10

    Click on the face layer in the Layers dialog to activate the face (and not the layer mask).

    To emphasize the effect, let’s increase the contrast: Colors / Brightness-Contrast: -60 / +50.

    Set the bloom text layer’s mode to “Hard light” and the opacity (of the duplicate) to 30%.

    You should now be able to recognize the effect in the bright points.

  11. 11

    To make the text more visible, let’s do some fine-tuning.

    Activate the layer mask, choose Colors / Brightness-Contrast and reduce the contrast by -70.

  12. 12

    To minimize the minimally brighter points between the lines:

    - Edit / Copy visible
    - Edit / Paste
    - Click on the “New layer” button in the Layers dialog to get the inserted image onto a new layer.

    Set the mode of this layer to “Multiply” and play around with the opacity until you feel it’s OK.

  13. 13

    Now it’s time for some color:

    - New layer
    - Fill with a certain color
    - Set layer’s mode to “Color” and adapt the opacity.

    Have fun!

  14. 14

    The final image may look like this one:


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AllstarSeaworthyofNBC member for about 8 years AllstarSeaworthyofNBC 4 comments rated this topic with 5/5
about 8 years ago

Works like a charm. Here's a portrait of Trevor Horn.

engine777 member for about 8 years engine777 5 comments
about 8 years ago

Thank you for the tutorial

KoKalina member for over 10 years KoKalina 1 comment rated this topic with 5/5
over 10 years ago

Thanks for this tutorial! You inspired me to do some other effect, using this technique.

devvv member for almost 18 years devvv 1475 comments
over 12 years ago

The site is not working for me, Alexandre!

over 12 years ago


I've enjoyed this tuto very much (=
Here is my result:

almost 13 years ago

Awesome!! Here's the final product!

about 13 years ago

WOW, this is an amazing tutorial, it's very unique, as I've been looking for sometime like this for ages!!! Thanks a lot!!! :D

devvv member for almost 18 years devvv 1475 comments
about 13 years ago

Did you try to anchor the floating selection after pasting it? You can do that by pressing the button right besides the "delete layer"-button.

about 13 years ago

When I select the text and try to paste it into the Layer Mask it makes a new layer called 'Floating Selection {Pasted Layer)'

It all seems fine until I try to attempt to create a New Layer and then I get the message I cannot create a New Layer from the Floating Layer. I am stuck and this is where it all goes wrong for me (can't do colour etc).

Any clues that can help here thank you.

about 13 years ago

damn nice idea man... well described! thanks for sharing

over 13 years ago

Thanks for very good tutorial. I just needed this kind of text effect.