Writer’s Block

with 8 Comments


Adorn your cards, photos and background papers with a stylish and grungy block of text that’s been expertly masked away with a Terry brush.


Step One: Prepare a Document

  • Create a new 12 x 12 inch document (File > New > Blank File) at 300 ppi with a white background. (PS: Choose File > New.)
  • Press the letter D to reset the Color Chips to the default of black over white.
  • In the Menu Bar, choose View > Rulers to turn on the rulers.
  • Press Ctrl – (Mac: Cmd -) to zoom out.

You need to be able to see more than an inch of space around the edge of the document.


Step Two: Create a Text Box

  • Get the Horizontal Type tool.
  • In the Tool Options, open the Font Picker and choose a font. I’m using Oh Wonder.
  • Set the Size to 10 pt, the Leading to Auto, and the Alignment to Center. The Color Chip should be black. (PS: In the Character panel, set the Leading to Auto.)
  • On the document, click and drag a text box that is 1 inch larger than boundaries of the paper.
  • Click the checkmark to commit.

Now go find some text to fill the text box.


Step Three: Paste In Some Text

Good news, you do not have to come up with a boatload of words to fill your text box. You can just copy and paste some from the web.

  • First, ask yourself, “Do I care what the type says?”

If not, then generate some Lorem Ipsum dummy type.

If yes, maybe copy words from nursery rhymes, classic American literature, or the Bible.

  • Click and drag over a block of text to highlight it.
  • Press Ctrl C (Mac: Cmd C) to copy the text to your computer’s clipboard.
  • In the Layers panel, double click on the thumbnail of the type layer to activate the text box.
  • Press Ctrl V (Mac: Cmd V) to paste the copied text.


Most likely the text you copied will be in paragraphs. You can keep it like that, but I want my text box to be solid of words.

  • Click at the end of each paragraph and remove the extra spaces that create the paragraphs.



Much better, but now it needs more text. You can either go find more on the web, or you can simply repeat what you’ve already pasted in. I’ll just repeat what I have.

  • In the Layers panel, double click on the thumbnail of the type layer to activate the text box.

The text in the text box should now be highlighted. If it’s not, double click on the thumbnail again.



  • Press Ctrl C (Mac: Cmd C) to copy the highlighted text.
  • On the document, click once to place your cursor at the end of the last word.
  • Press Ctrl V (Mac: Cmd V) to paste the copied text.

You will likely need to remove a few more paragraph returns from the text.

  • Continue pasting in the copied text until the document is full of words.
  • Click the checkmark to commit.



Step Four: Mask Away Type

If you’re unfamiliar with layer masks and how they work, watch Layer Mask Basics for Photoshop Elements or Layer Mask Basics for Photoshop.

  • Get the Brush tool.
  • In the Tool Options, open the Brush Picker, open the Brush Menu, and choose Faux Finish Brushes. (PS: Click OK to the dialog box.) Click to choose a Rolled Rag – Terry brush.

If you don’t see the Rolled Rag – Terry brush, open the Brush Picker options and choose Large List. (PS: Open the Brush Menu again and choose Large List.)

  • Set the Mode to Normal and the Opacity to 100%. (PS: Also set the Flow to 100%.)
  • Hovering your brush over the document, press the Right Bracket key to increase the size of the brush to around 3 inches wide (900 px).
  • In the Layers panel, click on the Add Layer Mask icon.
  • If black is not the Foreground Color Chip, press the letter X.
  • On the document, click and drag in the center to mask away the words.
  • Make single clicks around the outer edge of the document to grunge up what’s left.



Step Five: Save the Document

  • (optional) Save the document (File > Save) as a PSD file with a unique name for later editing.
  • In the Layers panel, click on the Visibility icon of the Background layer to hide it.
  • Save the document (File > Save As) a PNG file with a unique name to create an overlay.
  • Close the working document without saving.

Here’s how this overlay looks on a paper from Everyday Stories by Syndee Rodgers-Nuckles. I lowered the opacity of the overlay layer to 60%.


Here’s how my overlay looks like on a photo of the maple tree in my backyard. I really like how the type overlays the blown out areas created by the sun. I liked it so much, I turned it into a scrapbook page.




Page: Fall 2016 by Jen White
Photo: Jen White
Qwik Tutorial: Writer’s Block by Jen White
Kits: Fall Snaps by Laura Louie, Rosehill Cottage by Cindy Rohrbough
Font: Myriad Pro



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jenwhite-48x48Author: Jen White | Contact Us
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8 Responses

  1. Kay Loudon
    | Reply

    This is a great tutorial. Is there a link to sheet music similar to Loren Lorem Ipsum dummy type and classic American literature? Something generic would be great for some pages.

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      Using sheet music would be a LOVELY idea! I don’t really see that as being a font, necessarily, but I’m sure you could find free sheet music that could be overlayed onto a card or scrapbook page and then masked away.

  2. Carol
    | Reply

    Super Tut! Thank you, Jen! So practical. Something we can use over and over again!

  3. Robyn
    | Reply

    Fantastic tutorial Jen. Very easy to follow the instructions and I also learned about some new brushes. Thank you.

  4. Barbara H
    | Reply

    It seems to me that I am following the instructions step by step; however when I create my text layers and then click on the green check mark to commit it, my text layer in the layers panel disappears. I did manage to get it to stay there once, after many tries, when I was playing around. When I went to make a “real” one, I gave up after 10 tries! No luck. I am using PSE 14. Any ideas on what I am doing wrong or is going on? Thanks in advance.

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      Solution: Elements will not allow you to create an empty text box. You need to type or paste words into the text box before clicking on the checkmark.

  5. Sharron Lamb
    | Reply

    Loved this, Jen! I made a 12″ version and an 8.5 x 11 version. And my layout is in the gallery. 🙂

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      LOVED your page, Shar. That granddaughter of yours is the cutest thing EVER.

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