Have you ever tried to add more than one stroke to text using Photoshop’s Layer Styles panel? You can’t do it the traditional way. There is a workaround that involves making copies of your text, each with its own stroke of a different size, but it’s laborious, especially if you need to edit the text after you build up a couple copies.
If you use CS5 or earlier, Photoshop’s Smart Objects is the better choice. Once you know one simple trick—converting your text into a Smart Object—you can easily add multiple strokes, each with its own color and size. Your only limitation will be good taste. If you have Photoshop CS6, see the end of this tutorial for an even easier method.
Step 1: Start with Text
Select Photoshop’s Type Tool (T) and type a word.
Step 2: Add an Old-Fashioned Stroke
In the Layers panel, click the fx icon and go down to the word Stroke.
More after the jump! Continue reading below↓
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This opens the Layer Style dialog. In the Fill Type area, click on the Color swatch.
In the Color Picker dialog, choose a color for the stroke that will be next to the fill color in the type.
Back in the Layer Style dialog, select a stroke Size in the Structure area. Click OK.
The result will look something like this:
Step 3: Convert the Text to a Smart Object
In the Layers panel fly-out menu, choose Convert to Smart Object.
You’ll know it works when Photoshop changes the brackets around the Type layer and adds a funky icon to the lower-right corner of the layer.
Step 4: Add a Stroke to the Smart Object
Once again, go to the Layers panel, click the fx icon, and mouse down to the word Stroke.
In the Layer Style dialog, choose a new Stroke Color and, if you like, a new Stroke Size.
Click OK, and the results will look like this:
Step 5: Add More Strokes
Now you can add an infinite number of strokes by repeating steps 3 and 4.
But what if you realize you made a typo? No need to start from scratch—you’re too “Smart” for that.
Step 6: Edit the Text
Double-click the Smart Object icon in the Layers panel:
Photoshop then displays a message that tells you to choose File > Save after you make your edits to the contents of the Smart Object, and to save the edited file in the same location.
Once you click OK, Photoshop opens a new file. The contents will appear identical to your .psd, but look closely at the file name: It ends in .psb.
Depending on how many strokes you applied, you’ll have to double-click the Smart Object icon in the Layers panel and say OK to that File > Save message two, three, or more times. But finally, you’ll be able to make edits by choosing the Type tool and clicking inside the text.
Be sure to close the .psb files in the order in which Photoshop opened them.
The results will look like this:
You can now add more strokes, if you wish. You can also edit the text later in your project by repeating this step.
Only for Photoshop CS6 Users
Those of you with Photoshop CS6 can take advantage of a new feature: the ability to apply layer styles to a group. Begin with steps 1 and 2 above, but then, instead of converting the text to a Smart Object, choose New Group from Layers in the Layers panel fly-out menu. Add a new stroke to that group. Repeat the group and stroke application as many times as you wish. Editing the text is as simple as choosing the Type tool and double-clicking in the main window.
Since the very first time I launched Adobe Photoshop, I’ve had project after project where I’ve wanted to add more than one stroke to text in a design. To be fair, it’s always been possible, but the methods used to achieve the result haven’t always been ideal. Keep in mind, there was a time when Photoshop didn’t have layers!
With the advent of Smart Objects in Photoshop we gained a powerful tool to achieve the effect of having multiple strokes on text. Not only could we get the desired look, but the text also remained live. This was a powerful feature as it allowed us to edit the text if needed while still maintaining the overall stroke effect that we wanted. Smart Objects are amazing, don’t get me wrong, but this technique had its limitations. Each stroke had to be applied to a separate Smart Object which meant that if you did want to edit the text, you would often need to open multiple Smart Objects to drill down to the actual text object to make an edit, after which you’d perform multiple save/close operations to complete the edit. It was effective, but a bit tedious.
Photoshop CC 2015 changed all of that by allowing us to stack Layer Styles on a single object making it much easier to create the multiple stroke effect. Now I know that Photoshop CC 2015 is a few years old, but I’m amazed at the number of people I talk to who still don’t realize that this is possible. Adobe snuck this feature in but for some reason it wasn’t accompanied by much fanfare. So without further ado, let’s take a look at how this feature works!
Step 1: Start with Type
Begin by adding some text to a new (or existing) Photoshop document with the Type tool.
Step 2: Add a Stroke to the Text Layer
In the Layers panel make sure that the text layer is selected, then click on the fx icon and choose Stroke from the menu.
More after the jump! Continue reading below↓
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In the Layer Style dialog box, you’ll see the stroke option enabled to the left and the options for the stroke displayed at the right. Click on the color box to display the color picker and choose a color that you’d like to apply to the stroke.
Adjust the size of the stroke by dragging the stroke slider or entering a value in the width field. You can also control how the stroke is aligned to the object by choosing an option from the Position drop-down menu. Note that if you have the Preview checkbox enabled, you’ll see a preview on the right side of the dialog box as well as on the Type in your document.
Click OK to apply the stroke to the Type layer. Notice that an fx icon now appears to the right of the Type layer indicating that an effect has been applied to the layer. The exact effect (Layer Style) is also displayed indented below the Type layer.
Step 3: Add Another Stroke
Now this is where things get interesting as typically this would be the step where you convert the text layer to a smart object. That step however is no longer necessary. Instead, simply make sure that the text layer is active and click on the fx icon again and choose Stroke from the drop-down menu. This doesn’t actually do anything yet aside from display the Layer Styles dialog box showing you the original stroke you applied. If you look closely however, you’ll notice a + sign to the right of the Stroke option on the left side of the dialog box. Click on that + sign to add an additional stroke to the Type layer.
Adding an additional stroke to the Type Layer.
At first, you probably won’t see anything change visually because the new stroke is the exact same color and size as the old one. But even as you make changes to the stroke (i.e. color/size/position) you may not see exactly what you’re expecting. What you need to remember is that each new stroke you add is stacked on top of the previous one. So adding a new stroke on top and increasing its size may end up covering up the one underneath. For this reason it’s helpful to think in reverse. You often will want the bottom-most stroke to be the largest so that it extends beyond the other strokes so they all remain visible.
After adding a stroke and adjusting the properties, your design may look something like this.
Step 4: Add More Strokes
The sky’s the limit here (well almost). Photoshop limits you to a total of 10 of each stacked Layer Style. That’s a pretty large number of strokes! But I suppose if you needed more, you could combine this new technique with the old one and after applying 10 strokes, convert the layer to a Smart Object and add another 10! You can see how my design looked after adding several more strokes to the design below.
Step 5: Edit the Text
The huge benefit of this technique is that we’ve been applying these effects to an editable Type Layer this entire time. And these effects will update if that Type Layer ever changes. Double-click on the thumbnail for the Type Layer and change the text to something different. Notice that as you make the edit, the Layer Styles update dynamically and apply to the new text.
I think it’s important to point out that this technique works for other layer styles as well, so don’t just think of it as a way of adding strokes. Color Overlay, Gradient Overlay, and Drop Shadow Layer Styles can also be stacked to achieve any number of designs. This updated capability in Photoshop allows you to create an appearance that is frequently needed without having to use workarounds. Stacked Layer Styles is a great feature that you can leverage in a variety of situations.
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Adding a stroke to a layer is pretty straightforward in Photoshop. The capability has been around for a long time. But did you know that it’s now very easy to add multiple strokes in Photoshop CC? The Layer Styles dialog box now has options to create more than one stroke. Let’s see how it works.
As an example, I’m using this simple document, with text on a layer above the background.
We’ll add a stroke by the usual method:
- Make sure the text layer is selected
- Click the “Add a Layer Style” icon, and
- Choose Stroke:
Now, we’ll customize the stroke appearance:
- Set the size to 5 pixels, Position to Outside, and the Color to Black.
- Next, Click the “+” sign next to the Stroke Style.
Now we have a second stroke on this layer, but the appearance is copied from the original. We’ll need to change this.
- Change the color to White. Adjust the Size until all the gaps are filled in. I used 54 pixels in this example.
- Now, click the “+” sign again!
Continue adding additional strokes, modifying the color and size so that each stroke extends a bit further than the one above it.
Don’t forget that you can change a stroke to appear Inside, instead of Outside. For thinner strokes to be visible, they need to be above the outside strokes. If you get them out of order, change the stacking order using the arrows in the lower left. This works just like layers.
Once you click OK in the Layer Style dialog box, you’ll see the multiple strokes in Photoshop CC in the Layers Panel. You can double click these to reopen the Layer Style dialog box and make further changes, if desired.
The great thing about creating multiple strokes in Photoshop CC this way, is that the Layer Styles remain dynamic and editable, and change if the text changes. This works even if the text is transformed. For example:
- With the text layer active, click the toolbar button to “Create Warped Text.”
Now choose a Warp style. Here, I’ve selected “Bulge.” Notice that with the warped text, we have a gap in the stroke between two letters.
Since this is a Layer Style, we can simply double click the Stroke style in the Layers Panel to reopen the Layer Style dialog box, and bump up the white and orange strokes to a higher value to fill in the gap and maintain the original appearance. That’s pretty painless!
Notice that many of the other styles in the Layer Style dialog box also have “+” signs next to them. This is an indication that you can add multiples of those styles, too. The sky’s the limit!
For more on things you can do with Layer Styles, check out some of my other tutorials over at TipSquirrel, such as this technique for carving rock with layer styles.
Learn how to create a popular effect by filling plain text with any photo in Photoshop!
FILL ANY TEXT WITH A PHOTO
How to Style Text in Photoshop
Whether you’re working on graphics, ads, or elements for your website, Photoshop has plenty of options to create eye-catching text.
If you’re used to working with images, you might feel a little out of your element working with typography. But you can use your photography and photo skills to style text in fun ways.
First, you’ll need to select a font. For this particular kind of effect, it’s best to choose a font that has a higher weight—this will ensure that the image is legible once we add it to the text.
No matter what font you choose, you’ll be able to go back and change it at any time—even after the effect has been applied. Non-destructive workflows like this make it easy to make creative decisions on the fly without ever having to worry about needing to start from scratch.
Filling Text with Clipping Masks
Our goal is to use an image to fill in our text. So, we’ll need an image.
Grab any image and add it to the project on top of the text in Layer Stack.
Now we need a way to make the image only appear where the text is visible. Clipping Masks are the perfect tool for the job!
Right-click on the image layer and select Create Clipping Mask. Since it’s positioned directly over the text in the Layer Stack, Photoshop will ‘clip it’ to the text.
Pretty cool! You can move the image around and transform it as much as you want—it will still only appear within the text element below it.
You can even make another copy of the image and clip the copy to the text.
Now you’ll have two separate image elements that can be adjusted to create a more customized composition.
If you find that the copies are overlapping in unwanted ways, you can use Layer Masks to make further adjustments.
Simply create a selection over an area you want to hide.
Click on the Layer Mask of that Layer, hit SHIFT + DELETE to open the Fill dialog, and fill that selection with black.
This will hide that area, allowing you to dial-in the perfect effect.
Once you’ve filled the text with an image, you don’t have to stop there. Remember that everything we’ve done up until this point can be changed or adjusted at any time. You can type different text, change the font, change the image—you name it.
You can also add additional elements to the text, like strokes and icons.
Select the text layer and then click on the Layer Styles icon (fx) below the Layers Panel. Choose the Stroke option and add a stroke, sampling a color from within the image.
And if you want to add additional graphical elements, you can repeat this same process using any custom or stock icons.
Just add an icon to the project (or create your own in Photoshop using shapes and vector tools).
And then repeat the same process we used above to fill it in with an image.
Using these simple steps, you can fill in any text or icon with any image of your choosing in Photoshop. This is an easy and flexible effect that can help you create text that feels fun and original in just a few minutes.
Learn how to use Stroke Path in Photoshop. This feature is very useful for creating different text effects. To see an application of Stroke Path check out my tutorial on how to make outline text in Photoshop.
It’s also very useful for creating frames and borders, outline effects and so on. In a previous tutorial we learned how to make a path and today we are talking about stroking paths.
Stroke Path Photoshop
In this tutorial you will learn how to use Paths in Photoshop and how to stroke path in Photoshop. You can stroke open path in Photoshop; make an open path with the Pen Tool. The Photoshop stroke selection option using the Brush Tool, is available if you turn the selection into a work path first.
This tutorial is applicable for Photoshop CS and CC 2015, 2018 and 2019.
How To Make The Work Path
To stroke path in Photoshop first you have to make a path, so this is the first step that you have to make. Learn how to make a path in Photoshop from this quick tutorial for beginners. As you will see you can make a Photoshop work path from pretty much everything.
Create a New Layer For The Stroke Path
The second step is to create a new layer for the stroke path effect. If you do not create this new layer, the stroke path will not work for text layers and vector shape layers. So, it is better to use a new layer for the stroke outline.
[QUICK TIP] Why Is My Photoshop Stroke Path Greyed Out?
Stroke path not working? This is one mistake I made a lot when I started to work with paths in Photoshop.
Looking at the use of Pen Tool in Photoshop to draw a path. Let’s say I tried to do Stroke Path.
Why is Stroke Path greyed out or disabled?
1. Because when drawing a path in Photoshop, in order for Stroke Path to be enabled you need to select Path when drawing with the Pen Tool
Here’s how it looks in my Photoshop CC
2. Please note that Stroke Path will also be greyed out if you try to use use it within text layers or vector shape layers. To solve this you will need to create a new layer.
How To Use Stroke Path In Photoshop
Let’s say we already created a work path from a text layer, using a quick selection like shown in the tutorial about how to make path in Photoshop.
In Photoshop you can use the Stroke Path option with all the main tools: Brush Tool, eraser Tool, Smudge Tool, Burn Tool, etc. But the most used tool for stroking paths in Photoshop is the Brush Tool; so in this tutorial I am going to explain how this works.
Pick the Brush Tool and choose a brush that you like. I will choose a simple dotted brush
Pick the Path Selection Tool and right click on the path. Choose Stroke Path and from the tools drop-down list choose Brush, which is actually the default setting.
Press the bacspace key to delete the path. Or right click on the Path Tab and choose delete path to see the result.
So here is the final result for the stroke path using the dotted brush.
You can use the same path to create the stroke outline effect using other brushes. It is better to keep the path and use the stroke option in different layers. That way you don’t have to create the path every time. You simply switch the brush type, create new layer and stroke path. You can even save the path and export path in Illustrator. You can save the path as Clipping Path which is an isolated object .
So here are some quick samples of stroke path effect using different brushes. You can use the same technique for vector shapes, raster objects and so on.
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4 comment(s) for “Stroke Path in Photoshop”
Here you have a parallel between the two cases: with or without pen pressure brush stroke).
So In order to simulate pressure sensitivity when stroking a path you have to check Simulate Pressure from the Stroke Path fly out menu.
So the result when you Stroke a path with a tapered brush (tapered on both ends, in size and/or opacity) is a tapered line as shown in the image below.
The second line is a line tapered at both ends with fading opacity level. The third line is a tapered line both is opacity and in size. reply
In the Brush Panel, set up Pen Pressure for Shape Dynamics/Size and Transfer/ Opacity and or Flow.
Than use the Stroke Path option and check the Simulate Pressure setting with Brush Tool. reply
In this Text Effects tutorial, we’ll learn how to create interesting designs out of text using Photoshop’s brushes to add stroke outlines around the letters! We’ll first learn how to create a path from the text, then once we have our path, we’ll learn how Photoshop can add a stroke to the path using any brush we choose!
Here’s just one example of the effect we’ll be creating:
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Create A Path From Your Text
To start things off, I’ve gone ahead and created a new 1000×400 pixel Photoshop document, filled with white, and since this tutorial is all about how to apply a brush stroke around text, I’ve added a single text layer containing the word "BRUSH" (I chose Arial Black as the font because this effect tends to work best with thicker letters):
Before we can add a brush stroke around the letters, we first need to convert our text into a path. Right-click (Win) / Control-click (Mac) on the text layer in the Layers panel:
Choose Create Work Path from the menu of options that appears. This will create a path outline of the letters, although you may not be able to see the path just yet (we’ll see it more easily in a moment):
Step 2: Add A New Layer
Next, we’ll add a new layer for our brush stroke, not only because it’s always a good idea to place everything on its own layer but also because in this case, we have no choice. Photoshop won’t allow us to use a brush on a text layer. To add the new layer, click on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel:
Photoshop adds a new blank layer named “Layer 1” above the text layer:
Step 3: Hide The Text Layer
Let’s turn the text layer off in the document since we don’t need to see it anymore. With the text hidden, we’ll be able to see the path outline we’ve created. To hide the text, click on its layer visibility icon (the eyeball) on the left side of its layer in the Layers panel:
With the text turned off, we can now easily see the path around the letters:
Step 4: Select A Brush
Next, we need to choose a brush. Select the Brush Tool from the Tools panel:
With the Brush Tool selected, to quickly choose a brush, right-click (Win) / Control-click (Mac) anywhere inside the document, which will open the Brush Picker. Use the scroll bar on the right to scroll through the list of available brushes, then double-click on the thumbnail of the one you want to use, which will select the brush and close the Brush Picker. You can try any brush you like. For this tutorial, I’ll choose the 36 pixel Chalk brush (if you have Tool Tips enabled in the Photoshop Preferences, you’ll see the name of each brush appear as you hover your mouse cursor over them):
Step 5: Switch To The Paths Panel
We have our path around the letters, we’ve chosen a brush, and we’ve added a new layer in the Layers panel for our brush stroke. To apply the brush to the path, we need to switch from the Layers panel to the Paths panel, which is part of the same panel group as the Layers (and Channels) panel. To switch over to the Paths panel, click on its name tab:
Paths in the Paths panel look very similar to layers in the Layers panel. You’ll see the path we just created listed as "Work Path", which means the path is temporary. If we were to create another path, our current path would be replaced by the new one. We could save the path if we wanted to simply by renaming it to something other than "Work Path", but for our purposes here, there’s no real need to do that.
Step 6: Stroke The Path With The Brush
To add a brush stroke around the path, click on the Stroke Path With Brush icon on the bottom of the Paths panel (second icon from the left):
Here’s the result I get with the Chalk brush I selected from the Brush Picker:
It can take some trial and error with different brushes and / or brush sizes before you get things looking the way you wanted. If the brush you chose didn’t give you the results you were looking for, press Ctrl+Z (Win) / Command+Z (Mac) on your keyboard to undo the step, then right-click (Win) / Control-click (Mac) inside the document, choose a different brush from the Brush Picker, then try again.
If the problem wasn’t the brush you chose but the size of the brush, making the stroke appear either too thick or too thin, again press Ctrl+Z (Win) / Command+Z (Mac) to undo the step, then use the left and right bracket keys on your keyboard to quickly adjust the brush size. Each time you press the left bracket key ( [ ), you’ll make the brush a bit smaller. Pressing the right bracket key ( ] ) will make it larger. You’ll see the size of your brush cursor changing as you press the keys so you can preview the result. With the size adjusted, click on the Stroke Path With Brush icon to try again.
I’ll undo my brush stroke and try again with a different brush to see what results I get. Here’s the effect using the Rough Round Bristle brush:
And here’s the effect using a Spatter brush. Each new brush I choose gives a different look to the text:
By default, only a few of Photoshop’s brushes are available to us, but there are other brush sets that we can load in. Click on the small arrow icon in the top left corner of the Brush Picker:
This opens a menu with various options, and in the bottom section of the menu is a list of additional brush sets that were installed with Photoshop but are waiting for us to load in before we can use them. To load in one of the sets, click on its name in the list. I’ll choose the Assorted Brushes set:
Photoshop will ask if you want to replace the current brushes with the new ones. Click the Append button to keep the current brushes and just add the new ones in after them:
And now, if you scroll down past the original brushes in the Brush Picker, you’ll find the newly added brushes. Just as before, double-click on the one you want to select it and close out of the Brush Picker. I’ll try the Starburst – Large brush that’s part of the set I just loaded:
I’ll click on the Stroke Path With Brush icon in the Paths panel, and here’s my result with the Starburst – Large brush:
If you like the design that the brush created but find that it appears too light, simply click on the Stroke Path With Brush icon again to apply the brush a second time, which will darken the effect:
Finally, when you’re happy with the results, you can hide the path in the document so it’s not distracting by clicking anywhere in the empty area below the Work Path in the Paths panel:
Switch back over to your Layers panel when you’re done by clicking on the Layers name tab at the top of the panel group, and you’ll see that the brush stroke effect has been added to Layer 1, which we can see by looking at the layer’s preview thumbnail:
Where to go next.
And there we have it! That’s how to stroke text with a brush in Photoshop! Check out our Text Effects or Photo Effects sections for more Photoshop effects tutorials!
Preview of Final Results
Double and Triple Strokes Photoshop Tutorial
Open Photoshop and go to File>New for a new file at this size and click OK.
Click the Text tool in the toolbar and click anywhere and type in some text. Don’t click-and-drag a text box, but instead just click once and then type so we can click-and-drag a corner to resize it later. I set the color of mine to #4891dc by highlighting the text and then clicking the color on the Options palette.
Change the font to something that will look good with strokes, such as an san serif font (arial or verdana instead of times new roman). I set it to Maiandra GD. Then click the Move tool and click-and-drag a corner to make it a little bit bigger. Remember to hold Shift to maintain proportion. After resizing, press Return (PC: Enter) to apply resize.
Go to Layer>Layer Style>Stroke.
The Position should be set to Outside and set the size to 3. Change the color to one that looks good with the original text color.
It should look something like this, depending on the colors you selected.
Now if we went to Layer>Layer Style>Stroke again, we’d just bring up the options to edit the original stroke. Instead, click-and-drag the text layer to the New Layer icon the Layers palette (or press Command-J (PC: Control-J)). This duplicates the text layer.
Now we need to edit the stroke on the lower, original text layer to make it larger. Double-click on the Stroke effect listed on the bottom text layer.
Set the size to something larger, such as 6 pixels, and change the color to something that looks good with the other two colors. You could use Adobe Illustrator’s Color Guide palette or just wing it by sight or use a color wheel. Click OK.
It should look something like this.
Repeat the steps of duplicating a layer and changing the size and color of the stroke to add a third, fourth, or fifth stroke. Remember to edit the lower layer when wanting to make the stroke larger to show past the layer on top of it. Click-and-drag a layer below another if they get arrange in the wrong order. In this example, I gradually went from a royal blue to a different hue blue, creating a retro gradient.
Of course, each stroke doesn’t have to have a color, just one to hide the color behind it. Try setting the first stroke to white, and then setting the second stroke to the same color as the text by hovering over the text when selecting the color (it will convert to an Eyedropper tool).
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2 comments on “Double and Triple Strokes in Photoshop”
Good tutorial, but one suggestion:
Stroke + Outer Glow + Drop Shadow = Three strokes in only one layer
Double and triple strokes in photoshop is a new feature and its very good for making images as creative as we can. Its very simple to use adobe photoshop.
Unfortunately, you cannot make Strokes with Pointy Corners in Photoshop using Layer Styles.
In this tutorial, I will teach you exactly what you need to do to apply sharp-edged strokes with pointy corners!
Table of contents
Convert Your Text Layer into a Vector Shape
With the Text tool, create any word with the font and size that you like.
For this tutorial, we will be using the word “Pointy.”
In the Layers panel, right-click on the text layer and select Convert to Shape from the drop-down menu.
By converting a text layer into shape, your text layer will no longer be editable. You must make any changes that you want to make before you convert the text layer into a vector shape.
Apply The Stroke to Your Vector Strokes with Pointy Corners in Photoshop
This is where the fun begins! To make strokes with pointy corners in Photoshop, press the A key on your keyboard to select the Direct Selection tool.
In the Options bar, select the color White for the Fill color.
Now, for the Stroke setting, change it into Black and set the Pixel size to 30px to set a bold contrast between the text and the stroke.
Click on the Stroke options drop-down menu and select the Solid stroke.
At the bottom left of the window, click on the Align drop-down menu and select the Stroke Outside option.
On the right side of the window, click on the Corners drop-down menu and select Miter.
The Miter option is the secret that will help you create that sharp-edged corner on each of your texts.
After selecting Miter you will see the pointy stroke corners!
To wrap it up, just click OK, and you’re done!
This video tutorial is part of our 90-Second Tutorial Series, where we teach you Photoshop tips and tricks that you can do in 90 seconds or less and we hope you found this tutorial helpful!
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About Jesus Ramirez
Jesús Ramirez is a digital graphics expert, speaker, and educator specializing in Adobe Photoshop. Jesús is best known as the founder of the Photoshop Training Channel, one of the most popular Photoshop YouTube channels in the world. More.
Version Note: Using Photoshop CC 2020 or later? Check out my all new Add Multiple Strokes to Text with Layer Effects tutorial.
In a previous tutorial, we learned how to add multiple strokes around text in Photoshop simply by making multiple copies of our Type layer and adding a Stroke layer effect to each copy, with each stroke set to a different size. In this tutorial, we’ll learn a more interesting way to create a similar multi-outline text effect, this time using the power of Photoshop’s Smart Objects! Adobe first introduced Smart Objects back in Photoshop CS2, which means you’ll need CS2 or higher to follow along. I’ll be using Photoshop CS5 here, but any version from CS2 on up will do.
Here’s the final result I’ll be working towards. Of course, the stroke colors and sizes you’ll need for your design may be completely different, but the steps for creating the effect will be the same:
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Add An Initial Stroke To The Text
Here’s the Photoshop document I’m starting with, made up of a single Type layer containing the word “style” (since we’ll be using layer styles to add the strokes) in front of a black background:
If we look in my Layers panel, we see the Type layer above the Background layer. The Type layer is currently active (highlighted in blue):
To add an initial stroke around the letters, I’ll click on the Layer Effects icon at the bottom of the Layers panel:
Then I’ll choose Stroke from the bottom of the list of layer effects that appears:
This opens Photoshop’s Layer Style dialog box, with the options for the Stroke appearing in the middle column. First, I’ll choose a color for my stroke by clicking on the color swatch at the bottom of the options:
This opens Photoshop’s Color Picker. Since my text is a fairly dark shade of blue, I’ll choose a lighter shade of blue for the stroke. Of course, you can pick any color you need for your design:
With my color chosen, I’ll click OK to close out of the Color Picker. I want a thick stroke around the letters, so I’ll increase my stroke Size value to 21 px:
When you’re happy with appearance of your stroke, click OK to close out of the Layer Style dialog box. Here’s what my text looks like with the initial stroke added:
Step 2: Convert The Type Layer Into A Smart Object
I now want to add a second stroke around the initial stroke, but that becomes an interesting problem. By default, Photoshop only allows us to add one Stroke effect at a time to a layer. If I was to click again on the Layer Effects icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and again choose Stroke from the list, Photoshop would re-open the Layer Style dialog box set to the Stroke options, but all I’d be able to do is edit the options for the stroke I just added, changing its color, size, or any of the other options, but I couldn’t add a second stroke.
At least, I couldn’t add a second stroke around the text itself. But what if we could somehow place the text inside a container, and then add a new stroke around the container? As it turns out, that’s exactly what we can do using Photoshop’s Smart Objects! A Smart Object is essentially a virtual container for the contents of a layer, and all we need to do is convert our Type layer into a Smart Object, at which point we can add a second stroke around the Smart Object!
To do that, click on the menu icon in the top right corner of the Layers panel. This will open a list of various options:
Choose Convert to Smart Object from the list of menu choices:
Nothing will seem to have changed in the document window, but if we look in the Layers panel, we see that the Type layer has been converted into a Smart Object. A Smart Object icon is displayed in the lower right corner of the preview thumbnail:
Step 3: Add A Stroke Around The Smart Object
With the text now inside a Smart Object, click on the Layer Effects icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and once again choose Stroke from the bottom of the list:
Photoshop will again open the Layer Style dialog box set to the Stroke options. To change the stroke’s color, I’ll click on the color swatch as I did before and when the Color Picker appears, I’ll choose the same darker shade of blue as my text. I’ll leave the new stroke’s Size option set to the default value of 10px, which will make the second stroke thinner than the initial one:
When you’re done, click OK to close out of the Layer Style dialog box. If we look at my text in the document window, we see that the second stroke now appears around the initial one. Even though it looks like the new stroke is around the text, it’s actually around the Smart Object that’s holding the text:
Step 4: Repeat Steps 2 And 3 To Add More Strokes (Optional)
Photoshop allows us to nest Smart Objects inside other Smart Objects, which means we can use this technique to add even more strokes if we like! All we need to do is repeat Steps 2 and 3. First convert the current Smart Object into a new Smart Object by clicking on the menu icon in the top right corner of the Layers panel and choosing Convert to Smart Object from the list. This will place the current Smart Object inside a new one. Then, add a stroke around the new Smart Object by clicking on the Layer Effects icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and choosing Stroke from the list.
I’ll add a third stroke around my text, this time set to the same lighter shade of blue as the initial stroke. I’ll leave its Size set to the same default value of 10px:
I’ll click OK to close out of the Layer Style dialog box, and I now have three strokes around my text! As we’ve learned though, it only looks like I have three strokes around the text. In reality, only the inner stroke is around the text itself. The middle stroke is around the Smart Object containing the text, and the outer stroke is around a new Smart Object containing the original Smart Object (which is containing the text):
Where to go next.
And there we have it! That’s how to quickly and easily add multiple strokes around text in Photoshop using Smart Objects! Check out our Text Effects or Photo Effects sections for more Photoshop effects tutorials!