Image Titles: Add Text to an Image

Text on Image
This post explores ways to add text to an image. It is a final one in a series on Images and Blogs, part of preparation for an upcoming talk at the Highland Park Public Library in New Jersey.

See posts on Images and Blogs:

Possible Tools for Creating Image Titles

There are many photo editors out there – of the free ones, I’ve been happiest with Pixlr. I recently downloaded Picasa. An advantage to Picasa is that you don’t need internet access once you have it on your computer. So if you want to work offline with a photo editor, you can try Picasa. I did find Pixlr had layers, the ability to add shapes and a setting for opacity, none of which I found in Picasa. Briefly, I did try MS Paint, and I HATED it. I did the top image for this post using Photoshop, my favorite image editor of all. But one has to pay a pretty penny for Photoshop. You can see if Photoshop Elements is in your budget if you want a good editor.

Adding Text on an Image with Picasa

Since I haven’t talked about Picasa yet, let’s use it first for an example.
text on image with Picasa
Above is the image I created with Picasa. To start, one needs to download the software. Picasa is now owned by Google – it takes a little while to set up. It seemed to scan all my folders and add all the image to an index. It sort of feels like Google is spying on me by giving me free software and doing all this scanning. So you might think twice before trying it out, especially since I can’t say it is all that great.

Once I opened the image with Picasa, it was rather confusing to save it to where I wanted with the name I wanted. There is no option for layers, and I couldn’t add a shape under the text of the image or move the text of the image once I created it. But it wasn’t too hard to get a basic image title created.

One weird note about Picasa – to resize a photo, you have to export it. That seemed like a rather hidden way of doing a resize.

Adding Text on an Image with Pixlr

I was able to do a little more with Pixlr. Below is my final image:
Add Text to Photo

I will demonstrate how I added that lightweight whitish box under the text. First, upload the image into Pixlr. Then click on the text tool. You can see options for choosing a font size, color and font family.
text tool in Pixlr
I got this far, then realized it might be better to resize the photo first. So I started again and used the resize tool to get the image down in size to what I would use on my post.

Back to the text tool, if you click on the color box in the text tool, you get lots of nice options for setting the color of the text.
color box in text tool

layer opacity pixlrLook to the right in Pixlr, and you will see some useful boxes. One gives you the option to add new layers or to select a layer you have already created.

The way I added the white box to my image was creating a new layer (there’s a little icon at the bottom of the layer tool) and using the drawing tool (orangish yellow with a circle on a rectangle) on the left to create a rectangle. I set the fill of the rectangle to white.

Then I clicked on layer on the right that held my new white box. Under the layer, there is a little icon that let’s you set opacity (says Toggle Layer Settings). You can also set opacity on the top of Pixlr when using the Drawing Tool.

Finally, if your layer is on top of your text, you can use the Layers to move it underneath the text.

Don’t forget to save your new image with text title to your computer!

There are options in Pixlr that look useful within layers: Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, Bevel, Outer Glow, Inner Glow.

Experiment and Headache with MS Paint

My short experiment with MS Paint told me don’t use this unless you are just playing around or you have one quick thing you can do. Here is my image title created with Paint:
post about cucumbers
My main issue with Paint was once I did something, it seemed done – very little editing available.

Finally, a Word about Photoshop

After many years of working with Photoshop, I quickly produced the top image with Photoshop. I was able to put a stroke on the text, set the stroke to only 1 pixel, set the color of the stroke, and go in and edit anything I had done.

What Photo Editors have You Used?

What is your experience with photo editors? There are certainly many that I did not cover, such as Canva, PicMonkey, iPhoto (Mac), or GIMP.

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49 thoughts on “Image Titles: Add Text to an Image

  1. Hi Leora – thanks for this info. I was feeling pretty smug because I just learned to add captions to my photos – now with this I can make them even more interesting. So much to learn………………sigh.
    Lenie

  2. Hi Leora; First, let me thank you for visiting my blog and leaving such a sweet comment. I also want you to know that I love your name. As a blind computer user having people properly use the alt tag and give their images descriptive names is something I am passionate about. I don’t have a favorite photo editor because I generally let my brother patrick do that for me. When I want to resize an image i use preview on my mac. Very simplistic, but at least I can’t do any real damage. Looking forward to your future posts. Take care my new friend, Max
    maxwell ivey recently posted…using click to tweet adding google business pages and finding a pinterest work aroundMy Profile

  3. I agree with you about MS Paint. But I do love Pixlr and Picmonkey. I usually use Picmonkey for text, but I really like what you showed us about Pixlr, so I think I might try that one next time. Thanks for a great tutorial!

  4. This is great information Leora as editing pictures is almost a pssion of mine. Like you I use photoshop but it is an old version, PS7, but it does the trick. I have looked at upgrading to either the latest elements or CS5. The cost of the latter is high and the missing components of the former is concerning. For the moment will stick with what I have. That said it is great to know of these free tools and would love to play around with them. I use a netbook on the road so a web based free editor would work perfectly. I am going to try Pixlr tonight and see how I go. I have a little project so the timing is perfect. Thanks.

  5. Leora- I use Photoshop all the time and never really put text on the image. I usually will put something below the image. You got me playing with the fonts and colors. I think I might do this for the image to be a little different.

    1. Catarina, well, it in this case it is a promotion of something – that something is learning how to put image on text! I suppose some people are purists when it comes to photos (I don’t think you are alone in your thinking). I like using them for multiple purposes. I started doing photography when my children were small – no time to do art, but snapping a photo is quick.

    1. Bill, yes, this is to familiarize people with how to do it in general. If Pixlr goes offline tomorrow, you can probably follow a similar process with other photo editors. Photoshop Elements is an excellent choice.

      Thanks for your input – you add to the discussion!

  6. Hi Leora.

    For those that are just starting out or have limited budgets, Gimp is a pretty good open source program.

    Some would say that it’s the open source version of Photoshop but personally I don’t think it’s in quite the same league.

    Having said that, for a free program it’s packed with features and as with most open source software, there are numerous plugins and addon’s available.

    There are also hundreds of videos on Youtube that help with getting to grips with Gimp’s capabilities.

    1. Steve, that’s interesting, that you mention GIMP. I heard it wasn’t so easy to learn. Since I’m teaching clients, I look for quick and easy.

      Nice to hear from you! Thanks for leaving a comment.

  7. I use Paint to resize in a jiffy, but its editing capabilities are awful. At least with Ctrl Z I can usually fix mistakes well enough. As you know, PicMonkey is my other go to for better editing abilities. I did have an educator’s copy of Photoshop at one point, but it was too overwhelming. I made the cover for Such is Life using a trail version of Adobe Elements. Now every time they email a coupon deal, I tell myself I will finally buy it… and now it’s a year and a half later and I still haven’t bought the software 😉

    1. Jeri, I think you may have been the person who originally said you use Paint, and thus I tried it. Now I know to just suggest it for resizing. But resizing is big! I suggested a client do so last week, and I noticed she didn’t. Maybe next time I will suggest a free photo editor to try as well.

      Maybe before forking money over for Photoshop Elements, try Canva. Someone raved about it to me on Google+. Of course, I have yet to try it. It needs you to register, so that was enough of a pause for me on trying it.

  8. Hi Leora,

    Adding text to an image is such a great way to visually enhance the content. I’ve only really used Photoshop for this application which is why I find your post on photo editing sources very helpful. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Tatia, well, you can do the most with Photoshop (although I’ve heard great things as well about GIMP), but if you want fewer options (sometimes that makes it easier, to have fewer choices), Pixlr is useful. And you can’t get cheaper than free.

    1. Jeannette, I bet you could learn, even if you had to take it slower with a little more help. We all learn at different paces. Think of how fast different people learn math … it’s not like they tell you in school, sorry, forget learning math at all. A good teacher will teach at your pace. Photoshop has a lot of choices, and sometimes that can be too confusing for someone new to manipulating images.

    1. Susan, if you have been using Photoshop for a while, you may find Pixlr limiting. I found it did most of what I needed to do for an image title, but you would certainly get a lot more options with Photoshop.

    1. Beth, funny how you say “just use Photoshop” – good for you that you can afford it and like it as a tool. Some people find it too much for their basic needs.

  9. I’m fortunate enough as well to have Photoshop, well, the whole creative suite actually and while I am NOT an experienced user of Photoshop or Illustrator, I do enjoy learning as I go. I frequently use InDesign too as that I am quite comfortable with. Some minor adjustments will also get done in iPhoto. I might check out your recommended application tho when I need something done quickly and easily!

  10. I’ve never really used Picasa but will consider that the next time Skitch does an upgrade and decides to mess with their formula that works for me. I do use iPhoto for editing but Skitch really comes through for quick and convenient editing.

    It’s really a solid program and I’d recommend it to anyone searching for something new.

    Thanks for this great post. It’s always good to review our software tools. Sometimes we might be overlooking something that would change the way we work and play. Very useful read.
    Carl recently posted…Jeju – Scooting around and looking back…My Profile

  11. I love so much your tutorials, Leora – you introduced me to Pixlr a while ago with your tutorial about resizing an image for my newsletter and you have saved me tons of time, still use it at east twice a week!!!

    I have been using Pixlr express for adding text to images but it doesn’t have that “fancy” shadow effect or box behind the text. I tried what you teach here but i am confused – I couldn’t get past this sentence:

    The way I added the white box to my image was creating a new layer (there’s a little icon at the bottom of the layer tool) and using the drawing tool (orangish yellow with a circle on a rectangle) on the left to create a rectangle.

    I saw i created a new layer when adding the text but what is this orangish yellow drawing tool? I saw one resembling it but it gives me “error” that the layer needs to be rasterized before editing… which in turns doesn’t mean anything to me.

    Could elaborate a bit more on how to add that rectangle before filling it with whatever color and changing the opacity?

    This would be SO cool if i actually get the hang of it 🙂

    hanks for another great post, Leora!
    Diana Marinova recently posted…Working with Freelancers – 4 Tips for Clients for Successful CollaborationMy Profile

    1. Diana, so glad you find this useful. If it is says it needs to be rasterized, you are probably in the text layer. Make sure you are not in a text layer. Then try adding a rectangle. I added one just now with a drawing tool that had a circle and a rectangle as its icon.

      1. ah, i see – i didn’t understand i need to create yet another new layer (for the rectangle tool). I got it now – it worked. But then, another question – how do i set the fill of the rectangle to white (or whatever color)? I tried a couple of ways which seemed right with the color palette to the left but neither of them filled the rectangle with the right color; they just added more rectangle tools… so confused. 🙁

      2. Best thing to do is once you have your new layer set the color for the rectangle before creating the rectangle. The color box is at the top panel, not at the left. It is next to a check box that says Fill Shape.

        If your rectangle is already created, you need to find select pixels in the menu, set your color on the left, then find the bucket tool and fill the rectangle. The first method I mentioned, setting the color before creating the rectangle, is easier.

        Maybe I will make this a topic for a next post. Then I can show screenshots. I already had a request for two images together.

  12. It took me a while but i finally managed to do this – now that i know how to do it, it’s super easy lol – thanks! A question – can you add a border of sorts to your text in pixlr? You are my pixlr guru, Leora – you have no idea how much you have helped me so far, thank YOU!

    1. Diana, ah, you made me smile! In Photoshop, there is a feature to add stroke – you would just change the stroke from bright red to a less vibrant color and change the size of the stroke from 3 down to 1.

      But in Pixlr I do not see this option. There is a neat little trick you can do, however, to emphasize text with two colors. This is because Pixlr gives us layers, so you can make one layer of text dark. Then duplicate and make the next layer light. Then move the light text up a notch and to the left … you will see a bit of a background from the darker font text.

      I won’t make promises, but maybe some day this fall this will become a post … (it took me over a month to get back to blogging and write the one on image file naming! Lots going on).

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