Usually I stick with web development when it's my turn to blog, but for this week, I'm gonna step out of my usual role and touch on some web design for a change. First and foremost, Photoshop is probably one of the coolest pieces of software out there; you can basically accomplish anything and everything in it. For web designers, graphics designers and just plain ole 'designers' in general, Photoshop is life. With all the capabilities it has and endless amounts of graphical possibilities, there's no possible way to ever really know everything it has to offer. So it basically comes down to trial and error, stumbling upon a cool tool and trying to figure out how to use it, or simply finding a tutorial online and testing it out for yourself.

All that being said, when thinking of a cool tip or trick to blog about, I asked myself what I personally use a lot when designing, and one of the first things that came to mind were masks. Whether it be to create a fade, an outlined shape, deleting without actually 'deleting', or just revealing only certain amounts of an image, masks are used in most (if not all) things graphical. So let's think "outside the box" and take it a step further to something not as commonly done. When you think masks you think basic shapes, gradient fades, and possibly using them to erase portions around an object you are trying to cut out of its original image. But what about text? You can do really cool text effects as well by simply using a mask. Whether used in a banner to show a skyline, or taking a picture of a person and masking it with their name to use on a personal blog, using text as a mask can turn out really cool. And it is super easy…

1. Open up Photoshop and start with your blank canvas. (For mine, I used a 500px wide canvas with a black background.)

2. Select the text tool and write your text on a new layer. When selecting a font, take into consideration the amount of room the font is giving you to reveal the image behind it. Thicker fonts will allow you to show more, while scripty or thin fonts will not allow as much. You could also use 'bold' to show more as well.

3. Bring in your image (drag and drop) that you want to use, and place it on the layer above your text. You can resize and move around once we've applied the mask so don't worry about placement and adjustments at the moment.

4. To apply the mask to the image, within the layer window, hold down ALT and click the line between the two layers. When you press ALT and rollover the area between the two layers, you will see your mouse turn into an icon of an arrow and two circles. That icon is your indication you can click to create the mask.

5. This takes the bottom layer and masks the top layer behind it, spelling out your word with the image. Now that your mask is created, you can then adjust the image how you want, click the image layer and move around, resize, adjust as needed. The text layer does not move, allowing you to get your masked image in the right position.

6. To make your text effect more readable, play around with your blending options on your text layer. To do so, right click layer and go to blending options. Add a stroke, shadow, glow, whatever you think gives it that 'cool' factor.