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Photoshop: Making a text box with color or border.

Jun 2, 2009 9:16 PM

How do you fill a text box in Photoshop?

Answer: You CAN’T.

Solution:  You CAN do anything you want in Photoshop -we know it’s GREAT - but the steps are not always so easy.  See below for solutions to making it seem that the text box is filled with color, bordered, semi-tansparent etc.

In Photoshop, a text box is mostly about the text inside and less about the box that surrounds it.  In other words, the box is always transparent and all effects apply to the font shapes typed inside by the user.  Photoshop (CS4) can produce incredible, professional, amazing text images. No Doubt About It!

A Photoshop text box can display one of two types of bounding boxes: 

Its OBJECT bounding box is there for moving the whole text layer, rotating it, duplicating it and distorting.  Clicking once on the text layer pallet and selecting the move tool (v) will produce this bounding box.  The direct selection tool (a) won’t recognize it.  Note:  If you try to resize the box as an object, it also distorts/stretches the text inside.  This can make cool effects but usually you want the text to stay the way the font was designed.  See: Layers>Type>Warp Text.

The TEXT bounding box is there for highlighting, re-typing and selecting the margins of the actual text/paragraph etc.  Selecting the text tool and clicking over existing text will produce this bounding box.

Some features are accessible in either mode.

The Photoshop text tool has two types of cursors:

The NEW text box cursor looks like a text insertion cursor (often seen in word processing) WITH a dotted box around it.

To produce the new text box cursor just select the text tool and move over to a new work area.

The EDIT text cursor looks very much like the ordinary cursor people are familiar with (no dotted box). 

To produce the edit text tool, hover the text tool over EXISTING text and the cursor changes to the simple insertion shape (without the dotted box).  A click now will put you into text editing mode, not new text box mode.  This drove me batty for a while because I was used to clicking anywhere inside an existing text box and the blinking cursor would pop in automatically - usually at the end of the last letter.  This doesn’t happen in Photoshop; if that NEW text box tool is active, it will try to place a new box anywhere you click sometimes overlapping another.

When in this mode (edit existing text) you can carefully hover the arrow to the edges of the text box and resize the bounding box without altering the shape of the text itself.  This is how you make the text box larger or smaller to fit/accommodate your needs.  You can also highlight text, insert between words/letters.  Highlighted text is available for changing its font, color, size, cutting/pasting etc. 

To get OUT of the EDIT text mode, click the check box on the tool column above or type enter (not return) or type cmd-return (MAC), ctrl-return (WIN).  If you want to cancel any changes to an existing text box click the ex-circle on the tool column or press the esc key (top left of keyboard-escape key)

OK, THE MAIN POINT:

To make an effect that looks like a text box that is filled, bordered, semi-transparent etc., you will have to create an object shape (box) and place it just behind (under) the text box.  Linking the two allows you to move them around easily.  The drawback is that, when you need a larger box, you’ll have to alter the size of both boxes and possibly re-center them to each other (I know it’s sort of dumb to have so many steps just to get a shaded text box or bordered one.)

Begin by selecting the Rectangle shape tool and draw a shape on the screen of any size.  In the layers pallet a layer is created with two items (layer thumbnail and vector mask) Double click the one on the left the layer thumbnail).  Change its color to a light one such as baby blue or yellow.

Now select the text tool and click once over that shape.  A text box is created exactly the same size of the rectangle (any shape will work too).

Type some text into that box and change the font type, size and color to something you might use regularly.  Check to see that the text color is black (can be changed later).  The text automatically wraps around when you reach the edge of this box and fits well (inside margins can be altered by pixel later).

Now link the two boxes to one another.  Shift-click each layer in the layers pallet to select both and choose the link button at the bottom of the window for layers or go to Layers>Link Layers.  Now when you move one it will move the other too!

Using the paragraph tools you can center text, indent first line, and add space between paragraphs.  Except the first paragraph seems too close to the top of the colored rectangle; doesn’t it?  Photoshop won’t add extra leading (horizontal space) between the text box and the top of the first paragraph.

There are two ways to fix this:

1.     Select the text tool and click inside the existing text then hover the pointer just above the little box/tab in the top center of that rectangle and bring it down just a bit.

2.     Or you could unlink the two layers (to unlink just click link again while one of the two layers is selected in pallet) and move the colored rectangle up just a bit.

In the first instance it was not necessary to unlink the boxes.  This is the advantage because altering the colored rectangle without unlinking will distort your text as will altering the text box if you are not in object text mode (see intro.)

Ok, some advantages:

Now that you have this set up you can use the background box (colored rectangle) to make other effects.  Select it as a separate layer but you won’t have to unlink it.  To make the box semi-transparent change either the layer OPACITY or the layer FILL (found in the layer pallet).

To create a border box:

1.     Select the colored rectangle box and under Layers>Styles>Blending Options (or just double click in an open area of the layer pallet for that shape.)

2.     Select Stroke, change:  Fill Type color, Color black, Size 4, Position inside, Blend Mode normal, Opacity 100%. Click OK/Apply

3.     Back in the layer pallet, change the Fill to 0% and you will just have a border with attached text box.  You may have to alter the inside text box again depending on the thickness of that border especially if you made the Position to be inside to keep the sharpness of the rectangle.

4.     Yes this will work with other shapes and even custom shapes.  Remember to draw the shape first and immediately place a new text box over it BEFORE any other alteration is done.  This ensures that Photoshop creates a text box exactly the same size/dimension of your chosen shape.  It even makes margins fit irregular shapes like triangles.

5.     Try it!

 

 

     
    Replies
    • Currently Being Moderated
      Jun 2, 2009 9:38 PM   in reply to Toxic Cumquat

      Toxic Cumquat wrote:

       

      How do you fill a text box in Photoshop?

      Answer: You CAN’T.

      Solution:  You CAN do anything you want in Photoshop -we know it’s GREAT - but the steps are not always so easy.  See below for solutions to making it seem that the text box is filled with color, bordered, semi-tansparent etc.

      In Photoshop, a text box is mostly about the text inside and less about the box that surrounds it.  In other words, the box is always transparent and all effects apply to the font shapes typed inside by the user.  Photoshop (CS4) can produce incredible, professional, amazing text images. No Doubt About It!

      A Photoshop text box can display one of two types of bounding boxes: 

      Its OBJECT bounding box is there for moving the whole text layer, rotating it, duplicating it and distorting.  Clicking once on the text layer pallet and selecting the move tool (v) will produce this bounding box.  The direct selection tool (a) won’t recognize it.  Note:  If you try to resize the box as an object, it also distorts/stretches the text inside.  This can make cool effects but usually you want the text to stay the way the font was designed.  See: Layers>Type>Warp Text.

      The TEXT bounding box is there for highlighting, re-typing and selecting the margins of the actual text/paragraph etc.  Selecting the text tool and clicking over existing text will produce this bounding box.

      Some features are accessible in either mode.

      The Photoshop text tool has two types of cursors:

      The NEW text box cursor looks like a text insertion cursor (often seen in word processing) WITH a dotted box around it.

      To produce the new text box cursor just select the text tool and move over to a new work area.

      The EDIT text cursor looks very much like the ordinary cursor people are familiar with (no dotted box). 

      To produce the edit text tool, hover the text tool over EXISTING text and the cursor changes to the simple insertion shape (without the dotted box).  A click now will put you into text editing mode, not new text box mode.  This drove me batty for a while because I was used to clicking anywhere inside an existing text box and the blinking cursor would pop in automatically - usually at the end of the last letter.  This doesn’t happen in Photoshop; if that NEW text box tool is active, it will try to place a new box anywhere you click sometimes overlapping another.

      When in this mode (edit existing text) you can carefully hover the arrow to the edges of the text box and resize the bounding box without altering the shape of the text itself.  This is how you make the text box larger or smaller to fit/accommodate your needs.  You can also highlight text, insert between words/letters.  Highlighted text is available for changing its font, color, size, cutting/pasting etc. 

      To get OUT of the EDIT text mode, click the check box on the tool column above or type enter (not return) or type cmd-return (MAC), ctrl-return (WIN).  If you want to cancel any changes to an existing text box click the ex-circle on the tool column or press the esc key (top left of keyboard-escape key)

      OK, THE MAIN POINT:

      To make an effect that looks like a text box that is filled, bordered, semi-transparent etc., you will have to create an object shape (box) and place it just behind (under) the text box.  Linking the two allows you to move them around easily.  The drawback is that, when you need a larger box, you’ll have to alter the size of both boxes and possibly re-center them to each other (I know it’s sort of dumb to have so many steps just to get a shaded text box or bordered one.)

      Begin by selecting the Rectangle shape tool and draw a shape on the screen of any size.  In the layers pallet a layer is created with two items (layer thumbnail and vector mask) Double click the one on the left the layer thumbnail).  Change its color to a light one such as baby blue or yellow.

      Now select the text tool and click once over that shape.  A text box is created exactly the same size of the rectangle (any shape will work too).

      Type some text into that box and change the font type, size and color to something you might use regularly.  Check to see that the text color is black (can be changed later).  The text automatically wraps around when you reach the edge of this box and fits well (inside margins can be altered by pixel later).

      Now link the two boxes to one another.  Shift-click each layer in the layers pallet to select both and choose the link button at the bottom of the window for layers or go to Layers>Link Layers.  Now when you move one it will move the other too!

      Using the paragraph tools you can center text, indent first line, and add space between paragraphs.  Except the first paragraph seems too close to the top of the colored rectangle; doesn’t it?  Photoshop won’t add extra leading (horizontal space) between the text box and the top of the first paragraph.

      There are two ways to fix this:

      1.     Select the text tool and click inside the existing text then hover the pointer just above the little box/tab in the top center of that rectangle and bring it down just a bit.

      2.     Or you could unlink the two layers (to unlink just click link again while one of the two layers is selected in pallet) and move the colored rectangle up just a bit.

      In the first instance it was not necessary to unlink the boxes.  This is the advantage because altering the colored rectangle without unlinking will distort your text as will altering the text box if you are not in object text mode (see intro.)

      Ok, some advantages:

      Now that you have this set up you can use the background box (colored rectangle) to make other effects.  Select it as a separate layer but you won’t have to unlink it.  To make the box semi-transparent change either the layer OPACITY or the layer FILL (found in the layer pallet).

      To create a border box:

      1.     Select the colored rectangle box and under Layers>Styles>Blending Options (or just double click in an open area of the layer pallet for that shape.)

      2.     Select Stroke, change:  Fill Type color, Color black, Size 4, Position inside, Blend Mode normal, Opacity 100%. Click OK/Apply

      3.     Back in the layer pallet, change the Fill to 0% and you will just have a border with attached text box.  You may have to alter the inside text box again depending on the thickness of that border especially if you made the Position to be inside to keep the sharpness of the rectangle.

      4.     Yes this will work with other shapes and even custom shapes.  Remember to draw the shape first and immediately place a new text box over it BEFORE any other alteration is done.  This ensures that Photoshop creates a text box exactly the same size/dimension of your chosen shape.  It even makes margins fit irregular shapes like triangles.

      5.     Try it! Or try using Indesign!

       

       

         

        There. I fixed that for you.

         
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      1. Currently Being Moderated
        Jun 2, 2009 10:13 PM   in reply to Gyno-jiz

        or better yet do it in AI and paste or place it into Photoshop as a smart object.

         
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      2. Currently Being Moderated
        Jul 6, 2009 6:21 AM   in reply to Toxic Cumquat

        THANK YOU "toxic" for posting how to do this in Photoshop. While I appreciate the mention by other posters of how easy it is to do in another tool, I'm not interested in learning an entire second interface. I have tried both (InDesign and AI) and found both to be enough different to require another whole learning curve I don't have time to fight my way up today. So your post was perfect! (I also learned some new stuff about Text - how to select and work with it - so also a thanks for the completeness of your answer!)

         
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      3. Currently Being Moderated
        Jul 6, 2009 7:03 AM   in reply to Art in MT

        I didn't read the book toxic wrote.

         

        But I think I can tell you how to do it in a lot less words.

         

        Make a shape.

         

        put text on the layer above it.

         

        If you are doing this for money learn how to use the correct tool for the Job.

         

        That is InDesign.

         
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      4. Currently Being Moderated
        Jul 6, 2009 10:16 AM   in reply to Buko.

        You didn't read Toxic's book because you didn't need the book - I did! And am very glad he put it there.

        As to using the "right" tools - I generally agree - however there is a cost/benefit one must watch - if I spend a 3 days learning a new program to use it once and save an hour, it wasn't a very good investment. I spent a decade learning every programming tool  and language that came along. 90% of that was a waste of time. I wish now I'd hacked more and perfected less.

        This spring I wasted a long week learning FLASH CS4 -- only to discover that (for me, at least) it's so buggy and crash-prone that it couldn't be used in production. And even if it were useable, it won't run graphics with large dimensions smoothly - despite adobe's claims to the contrary. So please forgive me if I'm a bit hesitant to jump on each new tool someone says works "better".

        I suspect you are a much quicker study than my old brain is, and you find it easier to pick up new software. That's great!

         

        But what purpose does it serve to disrespect guys like "toxic" who really help another group of people? For someone as sharp as you, your "few words" are be great. For me? I need "Toxic," and thank him for his detailed responses - I learned a lot.

        Regards,

        Art

         
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      5. Currently Being Moderated
        Jul 6, 2009 12:16 PM   in reply to Art in MT

        The more simple you can keep something the easier it is to understand. if you need to read a book to learn how to make a shape and ad a text layer above it, maybe you are in the wrong business.

         
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