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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.
In a previous movie, I showed you how to create text on a circle, which is all very well and good. However, let's say I take the word Tortellini and I change it to the word Milk, as inside this document. Things start falling apart for us a little bit when we have short words like this, especially when the letters are very wide. Notice that the M and the I and the L and the K, they are all at very obviously different angles, and they don't look like they're quite aligned with each other, because their centers are actually aligned. And then this M is so amazingly wide that it really wants to bend with the circle; in fact, all of the letters want to bend with the circle in order to create this final effect here.
If this is what you're looking for, then the solution is not to create text on a path, but rather, to convert your text to an art brush, and let me show you what that looks like. I will switch back to this version of the illustration, which features classic text on a path, which is where you want to start, because that way you can gauge your design, you can get a sense of how you want the letters to land, and so forth. Working from this point, here is what you do. You go ahead and grab the Type tool, which you can get by pressing the T key, and then I'll go ahead and double- click on the word Tiger to select it. I will press Ctrl+C or Command+C on the Mac in order to copy it to the clipboard, and I will press the Escape key to return to the Black Arrow tool.
Now I am going to click off the text to deselect it, and I am going to create a new layer, by pressing Ctrl+Alt+L or Command+Option+L on the Mac, and let's go ahead and call this layer type and then click OK. I want the type layer to be in front of the art layer like so. And then with that new layer selected, I will press Ctrl+V or Command+V on the Mac in order to paste my text. All right! I am going to go ahead and drag that text over to the side for a moment, and now let's go ahead and select the word Milk and copy it. I will do that by twirling open the art layer. Then I'll click in this little circular meatball to the right of Milk in order to select that object, and I will press the T key to select my Type tool, and then I will go ahead and double-click on the word Milk to select it.
Press Ctrl+C or Command+C on the Mac in order to copy it to the clipboard. I am going to press the Escape key to once again return to the Black Arrow tool. I am going to click on the type layer to make it active and press Ctrl+V or Command+V on the Mac in order to paste that text into the illustration. Now let's move over into the artboard. I want to select both the word Tiger and the word Milk and move them out into the artboard. You can see here inside Illustrator CS6, it's easy to distinguish white objects; the difference isn't nearly so obvious in CS5 and earlier, but you still can tell the difference.
Anyway, I am going to select both of these objects by marqueeing them, and I am going to bring up my Character panel, which I can do by pressing Ctrl+T or Command+T on the Mac, and I am going to reduce the Tracking value to 0, because I want my letters to be closer to each other, because after all, if they are going to bend, we can afford to have the letters closer, because we are not in danger of having any kind of overlap. All right! I'll go ahead and hide the Character panel. Now, before we can convert the text to art brushes, we need to first turn them into outlines. So I'll go ahead and copy these letters by dragging them and then pressing the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac before I release.
Now I will go up to the Type menu and choose the Create Outlines command. You can also press Ctrl+Shift+O or Command+Shift+O on the Mac. All right! Now I will go ahead and click off the letters to deselect them and click on the word Tiger to make it active. Bring up the Brushes panel by going to the Window menu and choosing the Brushes command. To turn this text into an art brush, click on the little Page icon at the bottom of the panel, select Art Brush inside the first dialog box, and go ahead and click OK. You will see this massive, whopping dialog box here. All you need to do is name the brush tiger and then click OK; nothing else has to be done.
Next, go ahead and click on the word Milk like so, click on the little Page icon once again, select Art Brush, click OK, and then go ahead and call this guy "milk" and click OK as well. All right! We now have the two art brushes that we want to use. I am going to press Ctrl+0 or Command+0 on the Mac to return to the illustration. I will go ahead and hide the Brushes panel for now as well. Now if you twirl open the art layer here in the Layers panel, you will see that there is this item on top called circle. Go ahead and make it visible. Go ahead and select it as well, by clicking on its circular meatball.
Go ahead and switch to the Pen tool, and note that I am working with a two-column toolbox, because my screen is so small. But you can get the pen regardless by pressing the P key. And notice where the R ends, right about there. You want to click on that spot in order to set an anchor point on the path, and then you want to drop down to the location of the K. And notice how the far corners of the K describe a kind of straight line. You want to click at the intersection of the circle and that imaginary straight line to add a point.
Now switch to the White Arrow tool, which you can also get by pressing the A key, and I want you to select this point right there, so each of the side points, and then this point here. So I am Shift+Clicking on the right side point. And then press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac to get rid of everything but these two arcing paths. Now go to the Rotate tool in your toolbox, click and hold, and switch to the Reflect tool, which you can also get by pressing the O key. And I want you to Alt+Click or Option+Click on the Mac at the location of the leftmost point, up there on the top path or the bottom path, it doesn't matter. And you want to set the Axis to Vertical, make sure that the Preview checkbox is turned on, and then you want to click on the Copy button in order to create a copy of both of those paths.
Now we need to join them together, but first we should just go and turn off the text on a path, which are the tiger and milk items down here near the bottom of the layer. So I will go ahead and click the eyeballs for each one of them to turn them off. Now I will press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y on the Mac in order to switch to the Outline mode, and you want to press the A key to switch back to the White Arrow tool. Marquee these top two coincident anchor points right there. And now at this point, if you are working in Illustrator CS5 or CS6, you need to press the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+Alt+J or Command+Shift+Option+J. If you are working in CS4 or earlier, you can just press Command+J. And then set the points to smooth, like so, and click OK.
Now repeat that process for these bottom two points. So go ahead and marquee those coincident points. They look like just one anchor point; they are really two. Then press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+J, Command+Shift+Option+J on the Mac, set the points to Smooth, click OK. We are almost done. Go ahead and press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y on the Mac to switch back to the Preview mode. Press the V key to get the Move tool. Let's go ahead and click on this top path right there and bring back up your Brushes panel again. You can do that by pressing the F5 key incidentally. And then click on tiger in order to assign it to the path.
Then drop down to this path outline, click on it to make it active, and click on milk in order to assign that art brush. The downside of course is that this text is not editable, so if you want to change the text, you are going to have to go off to that editable text on the side, modify the text, convert it to outlines, and then either edit the existing brush or make a new one. However, the upside is that you have text that warps to the path and looks absolutely beautiful regardless of its size, here inside Illustrator.
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