Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating text along a path, part of Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced.
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I've saved my progress as Text inside custom path.psd. In this exercise, we are going to create text along a path outline, and this might be text that occurs along a circle or wavy text or text along an arc, like we are about to create now. Now, to give you an idea of coming attractions here I'll go ahead and switch to the final Pout magazine.psd file, and I'm zoomed in to the far bottom left corner of the image. We can see the date of publication here SEPTEMBER, 2026, and we are going to create this text and format it and set the Drop Shadow all manually, as you're about to see.
I have drawn the path outlined in advanced, however. So, I am going to go ahead and switch back to my image in progress, and then I'll zoom in to that bottom-left corner of the image like so, and then I'll switch over to my Paths panel. Now, notice in addition to the container path we have a path called down left and if you click on it then you'll go ahead and select it. Now, it's hard to see because Photoshop really treats paths as if they are ghosts. It's not that they're not real; it's just that they are nearly invisible, and they're just lying in wait for you to do something with them.
Anyway, to get a clear picture of what's going on here. I am going to grab my Black Arrow tool, which Photoshop calls a Path Selection tool. It's located directly below the Type tool. Make sure you get the black variation; we don't want the white Direct Selection tool. That's not going to do what we need it to do. So, we want the black arrow tool, then go ahead and click on that path outlined to select it if you are working along with me. You'll see an endpoint at the top of the path and another endpoint at the bottom, and they are joined together by a single curving segment. We are going to align our text with that segment in just a moment using the Type tool.
But first I'm going to switch to the Type tool either by clicking on it or pressing the T key. And then what I suggest you do is you go ahead and ensure that your formatting attributes are more or less what you want them to be; they don't have to be 100% spot on. You can always adjust them after the fact. But you don't want to work with super-large text because if the text gets too large and you try to assign it to a path then you can end up just seeing one or two characters of type, and that ends up being a big pain in the neck to work with.
It's not impossible to work with. It's just fairly confusing, and it's the kind of thing where sometimes it inspires you to start over. So it might as well set things in advance. I happen to know a few formatting attributes I want to use here, so I'll press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac to highlight the font value, and I am going to change it to Minion Pro by typing in Min. Then I'll tab to my Type Style option, and I know I want to use Semibold Italic. So, I'll enter Sem, which gets me Semibold, and then I'll press the Down Arrow key to switch to Semibold Italic, like so, and then I'll tab over to the Type size value, and I am going to reduce it to 12 point.
Now, let's say I don't know that's the type size I want to use; it does happen to be the type size I want to use. But even if I didn't know I have a fair degree of confidence that 12 point is going to be small enough to manage. So, I'll go ahead and enter 12 point, and then I'll press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac to accept those settings. I don't care about anti-aliasing. So, I am going to move on here to my Alignment options. I want Left align text, so I'll go ahead and click on that, because the alignment does control how the text aligns to the path outline as well.
And then, finally I want the text to be white not black, so I'll click on this black swatch here to bring up the Color Picker dialog box. I'll drag the circle to the upper-left corner of the field. I'll confirm that my Saturation is 0, my Brightness is 100%. That's White. So, I'll click OK, and I am pretty much ready to go now. Now here's how you create text on a path using the Type tool. Notice that normally we are seeing the I-beam with the dotted square around it. As soon as I hover over the path outline, we see the I-beam with a dotted path outline through it, which is great.
So all I do is I click on the path that adheres my new text to the path, and I go ahead and type in some text, or I paste some text that I've copied, what have you. However, it's very tempting to say, well! gosh I want my type to flow this direction, for example. So I'll click at this endpoint because that's where I wanted to start, don't do that, and here's the reason. You don't know what direction the path outline is going; Photoshop does and Photoshop is going to subscribe to that direction.
So if you click on this point right there and the path outline happens to be flowing upward into the left. Then as soon as you start entering your text it's all overflow text, it's falling off the path outline, and it's falling up until left into this no man's land where you can't get to it anymore. Now, again you can manage that using the Black Arrow tool - I'll show you how in a second - but it gets to be fairly gnarly if you can't see any text at all. So, what I recommend you do, just go ahead and click sort of in a mid-region of the path.
I'm hoping that my text is going to flow down and to the right. But I don't know that for sure, so I'll click at this location, and there's my blinking insertion marker, and that's very helpful. Notice that the insertion marker is mostly on the right-hand side, so that must be where the ascenders are just little bit on the left-hand side. That must be the descenders. So if I start typing some text and I'll type in September, 2026, like so, and sure enough my text goes ahead and fits on the path outline. Now, if some of your text drops off, for example, the year drops away, don't worry about it.
I am going to show you how to fix that in just a moment. But one more thing here I'm going to press Ctrl+A or Command+A on the Mac to select all the text, and then I am going to bring up my Character panel here, which of course, I could do by pressing Ctrl+T or Command+T on the Mac. I want to change my text to All Caps, by clicking on this All Caps option. Now, you might think why didn't you press the Caps Lock key? Because that locks you in All Caps. This way, you can just turn it on and off, if you decide to change your mind much more flexible solution. Anyway, this has got a keyboard shortcut as well.
It's Ctrl+Shift+K or Command+Shift+K on the Mac, which were we not working with type that would bring up the Color Settings dialog box, but because we are working with type it selects a completely unrelated feature which is All Caps. Anyway, I am just going to click on the option, and notice now I did knock 2006 off the edge. Great! That way I can show you how this works. All right, I am going to hide my Character panel, like so. There is nothing else I can do here. I could like drag around inside of my text if I wanted to select some stuff, but I can't move that X to a different location.
That X represents the point at which my text is beginning on the path. Now, there are a couple of things I can do. One is I can switch to the Black Arrow tool, which allows me to modify the position of the text on the path, and I think that's a safest solution. But I want to show you, the other one is, you can press and hold the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac, and as long as that Ctrl key or Command key is down notice your Cursor changes here, and it looks like an I-beam with a right pointing arrow next to it. If you start dragging that text around, notice you can change its position.
Also, if you are not careful you can do this summary, where you drag the text to the other side of the path, and it goes wrong direction. So that can happen too, and if it does happen, don't panic, just move your Cursor back to the other side of the path where it was before. However, I got to say when it would be so much smarter just to switch to the Black Arrow tool, and that's what I am going to do by clicking on that Path Selection tool right there. And then I will hover my Cursor over the X, and then I'll drag the text up, like so. So you just drag back and forth onto either side of the path here in order to change where that text aligns.
All right, so this looks pretty good. The only problem is, when I drew this path outline I didn't really allow enough room for my text. But I could move the path outline to a different location by manually dragging it, but if I did, it might not align properly anymore. What I prefer to do is leave my path outline where it is because I know it fits the contour of the arm, and I'd like to move my text with respect to that path outline, and I'll show you how to do exactly that using baseline shift in the next exercise.
Recommended prerequisite: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
- Using blend modes, adjustment layers, and layer styles
- Organizing a layered composition so it is fluid and editable
- Creating and editing type in Photoshop
- Using blur effectively
- Using adjustment layers to add color
- Combining layers into a clipping mask
- Working with Camera Raw