Adding colors, gradients, and images to various shapes, text, and layers in Photoshop lets you create unique effects on your image or project. For instance, filling a shape or text layer with an image is a common practice used when designing posters or other creative material. Luckily, it is quite easy to learn how to fill selections, layers, shapes, and text with colors, gradients, or images in Photoshop with these easy steps.
Let’s jump in to learn several easy ways in which you can fill almost anything in Photoshop.
The Fill Keyboard Shortcut In Photoshop
You can fill a selection, shape, or text layer with your foreground or background color with the following shortcuts:
- Fill With Foreground Color – Option + Delete (Mac) / Alt + Backspace (Win)
- Fill With Background Color – Command + Delete (Mac) / Control + Backspace (Win)
With the fill keyboard shortcut, you can add color to your selections, layers, and shapes without accessing the color picker panel.
So if you want to fill a selection with the foreground color, select the layer in which the selection is and press Alt + Backspace (Win) or Option + Delete (Mac).
But if you want to fill your selection or layer with the background color, press Control + Backspace (Win) or Command + Delete (Mac).
You can see the active foreground and background colors at the bottom of the toolbar. By default, the foreground color is black, and the background color is white, and it remains the same unless you change them.
To change the foreground/background colors, double click any color swatch and pick a color from the Color Picker panel.
If you want to reset the color fill to its default mode, press D on your keyboard.
How To Fill Selections In Photoshop
Photoshop offers many tools for you to make a selection. For the sake of example, an easy-to-use selection tool is the rectangular marquee tool.
To make a selection with this tool, click and drag around the area you want to select. After that, marching ants will appear around the area, indicating the selection is active.
Once you make a selection, you can fill it in several ways. Here are three ways you can fill your selection.
Option 1: With A Solid Color
To fill a selection with a solid color, click the layer containing the selection.
Then, click the Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.
When the menu opens, choose Solid Color from the menu.
This will open up the Color Picker panel, where you can select any color to fill your selection with. To choose a color, click the color slider in the middle of the panel. Then, click the color fill to pick a tone from the color you chose. When you’re done, click OK to confirm the choice. The color will now be added to your selection only.
Option 2: With A Gradient
To use the gradient method to fill your selection, keep the layer containing the selection active and then click the Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.
When the menu opens, choose Gradient from the list. This will open up the gradient fill panel.
You can customize your gradient in many ways. I break down these tools more in depth in my gradient tool tutorial, but for now I will guide you through the most useful gradient options you may want to adjust.
Start by clicking the arrow next to the gradient bar to reveal the color options available for the gradient. They are all divided into folders, and each folder has various color options.
You can also change the style of your gradient. For example, you can make it linear, radial, and so on.
You can also change the angle of the gradient by changing the degree numbers or by turning the wheel next to Angle.
Another useful option is Scale. The lower the scale, the less feather there will be between the gradient’s colors.
You should keep the gradient scale set to 100% in most cases for a soft and even color transition. Once you select OK, the gradient will be applied and there will be a new Gradient Fill layer in the Layers panel.
Option 3: Using Content-Aware Fill
The content-aware fill tool removes objects or people from an image. This tool also fills the space left out by that object or person removed.
Removing elements and filling the area left empty is usually quick, and Photoshop does most of the job. However, sometimes the final result has some imperfections, such as blemishes and blurs. Luckily, these imperfections are easy to fix.
To use this tool, open an image containing a person or an object you want to remove.
Next, make a rough selection around the object you want to remove with a selection tool you like. In my case, I used the lasso tool.
The selection doesn’t have to be perfect. You just need to make a selection to tell Photoshop where the person/object to be removed is.
After making the selection, go to Edit > Content-Aware Fill. This will open up the content-aware fill workspace.
Once you open the Content-Aware fill workspace, you’ll notice the person/object you selected has already been removed by the content-aware fill tool. You can see that in the preview window.
Although the content-aware fill tool does a good job removing objects and replacing the empty area with pixels from surrounding areas, you may still need to retouch the area affected by the tool. Luckily, you can retouch those areas in the content-aware panel.
For example, on the right side of the panel, you can choose one of the options from the Color Adaptation menu so that the filling content matches the surrounding area better.
Once you finish adjusting the settings that you need to change in the content-aware fill panel, set output to New Layer and click Ok to exit the panel.
Even after adjusting some settings in the content-aware fill workspace, you might still notice some imperfections in your resulting image, such as blurs, blemishes, and distorted pixels, just like the image below.
That happens because the content-aware fill attempts to fill an area left empty after an object is removed, and the tool may sample the wrong pixels. Luckily, Photoshop offers several tools to fix these kinds of problems. For example, you can use the spot healing tool to remove blemishes.
You could also use the sample clone tool to sample pixels from another part of an image and paint them over the area with distorted pixels.
Using these tools to repair your image can make your image look more natural after using the content-aware fill tool.
How To Fill Layers In Photoshop
Here is how to fill your layers with solid color, gradients, and images.
To start, create a new layer by pressing Control + Shift + N (Win) or Command + Shift + N (Mac). Then, name the new layer in the New Layer dialog box if you want and click Ok.
When your new layer is created, you have several options to fill it, such as the three methods below.
Option 1: With Solid Colors
To fill your layer with a solid color, select the layer and click the Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.
Then, click Solid Color from the menu.
Next, select a color to fill the layer in the color picker panel and click Ok to confirm your choice.
This will fill the whole layer with the color you choose.
Option 2: With A Gradient
To fill your layer with a gradient, select the layer and then click the Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.
Once the menu is open, choose Gradient from the list.
This will fill your layer with a gradient and open up the Gradient Fill panel, where you can customize your gradient in many ways, as you learned in the previous section of this tutorial. Once the layer is created, it will appear in your Layers panel as a new Gradient Fill layer.
Option 3: With An Image
To fill a layer with an image, select your layer and go to File > Place Embedded.
Once you choose your image from your computer, your image will fill the selected layer.
After placing the image on the canvas, hit Enter on your keyboard or click the checkmark in the Options bar.
How To Fill Shapes In Photoshop
Before filling your shape, create one by selecting a shape from the toolbar. You can also press Shift + U (Win/Mac) to toggle between the available Photoshop shapes.
Once you choose the shape you want, drag it on the canvas to draw it.
After drawing your shape, you can fill it in three ways.
Option 1: With Solid Or Transparent Color
To fill your shape with a solid color, select it. Then, go to the Options bar and click on Fill.
From the Fill menu, click the color picker icon.
This will open the Color Picker panel, where you can pick a color to fill your shape. To do that, click the color slider in the middle of the panel to pick a color and the color fill to pick a tone from that color.
Then click OK to exit the Color Picker panel. Your shape will be filled with the color you chose.
You can set the fill to transparent and the stroke to a solid color if you don’t want to fill your shape with a color. To set the fill to transparent, click on the Fill menu and choose the transparency option.
To create a stroke, select your shape and then click on Stroke in the Options bar.
Then, click the Color Picker panel and pick a color for your stroke, just like you learned in the previous example.
After picking a color for your stroke, you can change the stroke thickness in the options bar. You can either move the stroke slider or enter a value for the stroke thickness.
Option 2: With A Gradient
Filling a shape with a gradient is relatively simple. Before filling your shape, create it and fill it with a solid color, as you learned in the previous section.
Then, create a new empty layer by pressing Control + Shift + N (Win) or Command + Shift + N (Mac). Next, right-click the new layer in the layers panel and choose Create Clipping Mask.
This guarantees the gradient will be applied to the shape only and not to the entire canvas and is indicated with a small arrow pointing down.
With the new layer selected, click the Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose Gradient.
This will bring up the Gradient Fill panel, where you can change the gradient’s colors, style, angle, and much more.
When you’re finished customizing your gradient, click Ok to exit the panel and create the gradient.
Option 3: With An Image
To fill a shape with an image, create a shape and fill it with a solid color, as you learned earlier in this tutorial.
Then, go up to File > Place Embedded.
Next, locate the image on your computer and bring it into Photoshop. The image you open will appear on the canvas and its layer will be placed above the shape layer.
Now, right-click the image layer and choose Create Clipping Mask.
Once you do that, the image will instantly be placed inside the shape.
If you’re not happy with your image position, you can use the move tool (V) to reposition it. Make sure your image layer is selected when using the Move tool.
How To Fill Text Layers In Photoshop
Text doesn’t always have to be black, it can also be filled with custom colors, gradients, and images. To create text to fill later, click the text tool in the toolbar (T).
Then type anywhere on the canvas. Now I will show you how to fill your text in different ways.
Option 1: Using The Character Panel
To access the character panel, go to Window > Character.
From the Character panel, double-click the color fill option.
Then, choose a color from the Color Picker panel, and click OK to confirm your choice. The text will now be the color you have selected.
Option 2: Select & Fill Text
You can also access the color fill from the Options bar. To do that, type anywhere on the canvas. Then, select your text by double-clicking it.
Next, go to the Options bar and click the color fill option.
Then, access the color fill and pick a color to fill your text. Click OK when you’re finished.
With your text filled with the color you want, click the checkmark in the options bar to deselect the text. The text will be changed to the new color selected.
Option 3: Applying A Gradient Using Color Fill Layers
Gradients give your text a modern look. To apply a gradient to your text, you need to follow these steps. First, create a new layer by clicking the plus sign icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.
Then, right-click the new layer and choose Create Clipping Mask.
An arrow pointing down will appear in the new layer indicating anything applied to the clipping mask layer will only be applied to the layer below it—the text layer.
Now, click the Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.
Then, choose Gradient from the list.
This will bring up the gradient fill panel.
In this panel, you can adjust the gradient according to your needs. You can set a color for the gradient, change its angle, and much more. When you’re done adjusting your gradient, click Ok to exit the gradient fill panel.
Option 4: Filling Text With An Image
You can fill your text with an image by applying a clipping mask to it. To start, type anywhere on the canvas, and bring your image to Photoshop by going up to File > Place Embedded.
Once your image is chosen, it will appear on the canvas.
Press Enter on your keyboard to disable the free transform tool. Then, in the Layers panel, click the image layer and choose Create Clipping Mask.
This will place the image inside the text. You can reposition the image with the Move tool (V), as you learned previously in this tutorial.
So whether you’re working with selections, shapes, or text layers, there are countless easy ways to fill them with color, gradients, or images here in Photoshop!