The Design Center, Photoshop Tips & Tricks / Text on a Path  

Adobe Photoshop can be confusing at times. Photoshop Tips & Tricks answers questions posted to the Photoshop 911 hot line!... this one about ...

Text on a Path

A very frequently asked question in Photoshop 911 is putting text into a circle or a shape. A number of readers have asked how to put text into a shape so it runs around pictures. This is all doable so long as you remember the rules of putting text on a path.

Adobe Photoshop Type on a Circle

Text on a Path: Baseline, Pen Tool, Direct Select

Putting text on a path is really very simple, like connecting to the world wide web via broadband connection, once you realize that any path in Adobe can become the baseline for text. The second thing to remember are the tool modes that allow you to first place the text, and then move it around on your shape. Finally, an understanding of the Pen tool and how it works in conjunction with the Select and Direct Select tool pointers will get you a long way toward some good graphics.

I'll walk you through some basics, and then we'll talk about variations and modifications.

The Ellipse Tool & The Pen Tool

The only difference between the Pen tool and the Ellipse Tool (Part of the Vector Shapes pull-out drawer,) is that the Vector shapes are paths and anchors generated by the Pen tool that Adobe has already created and embedded in a tool. You can put text on or within any path in Adobe products. In this tutorial, I'll create the shape for our curved type using the Pen tool rather than using Photoshop's Shape tool. But first, the Shape Tool...

Ellipse Tool If you were using the Shape tool, you would merely select the Ellipse Tool (Tap: U) and click/drag in your image window to begin drawing the circle.
* To make a perfect circle, hold the shift key
* To begin in the CENTER, use the Option key (Win: Alt)
* To form a perfect circle from the center, use Option first, then step on the shift key once you've begun dragging out the circle.
* To reposition the circle during dragging, press the space bar and drag.

Pen Tool But all that's too easy -- I know you want a challenge. So instead of the shape tool (Ellipse), let's get the Pen Tool. (Tap: P) Here's the design we'll be creating in this tutorial. I really can't pass up the opportunity to work with images of my car!
We really don't need a circle, but rather a gentle arch.

Place a Pen Point To create our arch path for text, we'll move to the beginning place for the arch and with the Pen tool, click-and-drag in the direction we wish our path to go. Think of it as ice skating. The skater touches down with the skate (Clicking) and pushes off in the direction she wants to glide. (Dragging.)

This begins the path. Now, without clicking elsewhere, we'll move to the spot in the image where we want our arch to end. Then click-and-drag in the direction the path would go if it were continued. Click and drag to the right and down.

Don't worry about how it looks. In a moment we'll adjust it into the perfect arch we need, using the Direct Select tool.

Create the Curve

We're done.
You'll note here that my arch came in already filled with a color. Well, we don't care about that. I could have turned that off before beginning -- but because all stroking and filling will be turned off by the text tool, why bother.

But if that disturbs you, then before drawing with the Pen Tool, simply go up to the Pen Tool Options bar and click on the second icon which will be the "pure paths" mode. Now, it won't be filled.

The Direct Selection Tool

The finished circle

Using the Direct Select pointer tool we can easily drag on the handles to our anchor points, or the path itself to reshape it and modify it until we like the shape.
* Tip: Editable anchors are hollow dots. Selected anchors become solid dots. Remember the pointer tool: Solid black pointer selects the whole object... Hollow pointer selects and edits anchors, paths.

Direct Select Tool

If you've followed along so far, now would be a good opportunity to use the Direct Select tool to experiment with the arch.
* Click on any anchor and move it.
* Observe what happens to the cursor tool when hovered over various parts of the path.
* On the anchors, you'll get a little "oh".
* Click on the path itself and drag up and down.
* Notice you can modify that path by dragging vertically or in the direction of the path.
* Notice what happens to the anchor handles when you drag the path.
* It's really quite cool!

These concepts and techniques work as well in Illustrator, InDesign, and even Quark XPress. A little later, we'll show you some tips relating to those programs -- so no matter what program you're in, you'll be able to create text on a path like a pro!.

For now, let's get on with setting our type in a circle...


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