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Deke's Techniques is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
Hey gang! This is Deke McClelland. Welcome to Deke's Techniques. This week I am going to show you how to create type on a circle. Now this is a question that we get from folks a lot, because after all, in some applications, you can assign two lines of text to a single circle. That is not the case inside of Illustrator. You have to create two separate circles and then flip the text around, do all of these other gymnastics. Here, let me show you exactly how it works. Now if this interface looks unfamiliar, a little dark for example, it's because I am working in the newly released Illustrator CS6, but everything I'm about to show you works the same in Illustrator CS5, CS4, and going way back.
And if you open this file, Type on a circle.ai, and you get a font warning, it's because I'm using Myriad Pro Black, which is not installed on all systems. In which case, just go ahead and click OK and switch out the font for something on your system that happens to more or less match. All right, I am going to start things off here inside the Layers panel by turning off the circle_type layer, because after all, we are going to recreate those items, and then I will turn on the elements layer. Now notice that we have two lines of point text. Big bold text is going to work best for this design.
Notice I also have this circle. Now, a couple of things to note about the circle. First of all, it cuts right through the middle of the design, the brown space in the design, and that's going to ensure that our text lines up exactly right. However, we do have something of a problem here. I am going to go ahead and twirl open this elements layer, and you can see that we have a single circle. And the problem is that when working inside Illustrator, you need a different path for each line of type. So we are going to need two circles for this project.
To make two circles, go ahead and select the first one and press Ctrl+C and then Ctrl+F. That would be Command+C and Command+F on the Mac. That's a copy and a paste in front. All right, now let's go ahead and grab that Tiger text right there, and you can just click on it with a Black Arrow tool to select it. Then press Ctrl+X or Command+X on the Mac to send it to the clipboard. Now I am going to click on this circle to select it, and then I'll switch to my Type tool, which you can get by pressing the T key. And notice if you hover your cursor over the path outline, it changes to an area text cursor.
That tells you that if you click and you start typing, you'll create the text inside the circle, which is not what we want at all. Instead what we want is to press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, to get the text on the path cursor and then go ahead and click, and you'll get that little blinking insertion marker. You would think that indicates the point at which the text will land, and at first, you would think correctly. If you go ahead and press Ctrl+V or Command+V on the Mac, we go ahead and paste our text along the path outline. That's great. However, it's flush left, so as a result, it's not aligning properly.
We can fix that problem by going up here to the Options bar and clicking on Align Center, but then we get this Tiger text at the bottom of the circle, which is not what we want at all. So here's how we solve that problem. First of all, I will go ahead and hide this Tortellini item here inside Layers panel, and then I will switch back to the Black Arrow tool, what Adobe calls the Selection tool, and I will go ahead and drag this text upward. The problem is, it's very difficult to get it to stay on top, especially if you try to align your cursor with the top anchor point in a shape.
Now, I managed to luck out here. For some reason, it's working for me, but for you it might not work so successfully. If not, here's what you do. I will go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac in order to undo the change, and then I will go up to the View menu and turn on Smart Guides, which again, may already be on for you. However, if it's not, go ahead and choose the command, and then go ahead and drag that line that's cutting through the G and drag straight up, like so. You want to make sure that you're seeing that green line, which indicates that you have perfect alignment with the top of the circle.
And you may need to wiggle your cursor around to get that text up there, but at some point you should be able to nail that text to the top of the circle, like so. The next thing we need to do is align the text vertically so that it's centered along the circle, and you do that by going up to the Type menu, choosing Type on a Path, and then choosing Type on a Path Options. That will bring up this dialog box. Turn on the Preview check box so you can tell what you are doing, and then switch Align to Path to Center instead of Baseline, and you'll exactly vertically center the text. Click OK.
And by the way, everything I am showing you works best when you're working with all caps, which is most likely when you're creating this kind of design. Next, I am going to switch the color of the type--just so I can keep track of what's going on a little better, to white, and I'll do that up here in Color panel. And then I am going to bring up my Character panel, which you can get from the Options bar as well, by clicking on Character. The problem is, if I were to work that way, because I have a small screen, it'll cover up a bunch of my type. The next thing I am going to do is change the Horizontal Scale item here to 130%.
It just happens to work best for this design. And then finally, I'm going to increase this Tracking value to 80. Press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac. Now let's create the Tortellini text, and we will do that just so that we can keep track of what's going on a little better. I will turn off the tiger item here inside Layers panel, and then I will turn back on the tortellini item, click on it with the Black Arrow tool, press Ctrl+X or Command+X on the Mac to cut it, click in the remaining circle to select it, press the T key to switch to my Type tool, and then I will press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and click at the bottom of the circle, hoping of course that I would put the insertion marker there, but instead it appears at the top of the circle.
Fine! Then I will press Ctrl+V or Command+V on the Mac to paste my text. Notice that it does come in at the expected location this time, even though it's upside down. However, once again, it's flush left. So go up to the paragraph item, click on Align Center, and that, in this case, puts the text on the top. So it seems to be Opposite World where working with circles is concerned. Next, I am going to select by Black Arrow tool, I am going to drag this vertical line up here downward like so, and I want the text to appear at the top of the base of the circle like that, right on top of the interior of the circle.
And you should get that green Smart Guide telling you that you've snapped into alignment. Once you do, go ahead and release the text, then go back up to the Type menu once again, Choose Type on the Path, choose Type on a Path Options, and change the Aligned to Path item from Baseline to Center. If you want to see what you've done, you will have to turn on the Preview check box, then click OK. Next, we want to change the text to white, so I will click on white swatch here inside the Color panel. And then I am going to bring up my Character panel once again. This is just a design choice, by the way. I am going to change that Horizontal Scale value to 120%, and then I'll go ahead and change the Tracking value here to 60 and press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac, in order to accept that change.
I will go ahead and click off the text to deselect it, and then I will turn the Tiger text back on, and that friends, is how you create perfectly aligned text on the circle here inside Illustrator.
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