Quick Tip: The Correct Way to Create Curved Text

Insignias and retro logos are popular and many of them have some sort of text along a curved path. Most people use the Text Warp tool but it ends up deforming the text. In this tutorial, you’ll learn why they look deformed and how you can properly create text along a curve without deforming the letters.

Why Curved Text Looks Deformed

Have a look at the two badges below – the one on the left was curved with the Warp Text tool while the other was created on a curved path. At first glance, they both look the same but look closely at the text and you can see that the left-image text is deformed (letters upper-half are enlarged).

Here’s another example with just plain text to better show how the text gets deformed.

Don’t use the Warp Text tool

First of all, never create curved text with the Warp Text tool. This tool can be found in the options bar when you have your Text tool selected and it can be quick and easy, but the results are amateur. The Warp Text tool should only be used for warping the shape of your text such as making it bulge, pinched, etc.

How to Create Text on a Curved Path

The proper way is to create a vector path then add your text to the path. We’ll show you how.

Step 1

First, select the Ellipse tool from your toolbar. You can pick any shape you like or use the Pen tool (P) to draw your own path that your text will follow. For our image, the Ellipse tool is the most suitable choice.

Step 2

In the options bar located below your Photoshop menu, click on the dropdown menu and select Path.

Draw a path on your document. You can hold the Shift key while dragging to get a perfect circle (or square/polygon if you are using another shape tool).

To reposition the path, switch to the Path Selection tool and drag the path.

Step 3

Next, switch to the Text tool (T) then click anywhere on the path. When you hover over the path, your cursor should change to a text cursor with a curved line across it.

Type in your text. If you want your text centered, remember to set it in the options bar.

Step 4

We have our text, but it’s not quite aligned. First, to position the text in the center, you can adjust the start and stop points. On the path, you’ll find two points. Switch to the Path Selection Tool then drag the point to reposition your text. Your cursor should change to a text cursor with two arrows. As you’re dragging, you can hold the Shift key if you want to position the points perfectly in the center.

Step 5

It appears that our text path is too large and the text isn’t centered with the badge. To fix this, you can resize the path using the Transform tool. Press Ctrl/Cmd+T or go to Edit > Free Transform. While holding the Shift and Alt keys, drag the corner nodes of the transform box towards the center to scale the path. When you hold the Alt and Shift key, it forces your transformation to transform from the center and in the same aspect ratio. Press Enter to apply the changes.

Our text is now in the center.

Additional Text Settings

Here are more ways you can creatively create text along a path.

Flip Text Along a Path

With the Path Selection tool selected, simply drag the point towards the center of the shape to inverse the text.

Change Text Orientation

With the Text tool selected, click on the “Toggle text orientation” button in your options bar.

Final Results

Note on the Badges

Do you like the badges shown in this tutorial? These amazing badges were designed by Zeppelin Graphics – purchase them on Creative Market.  And case you’re wondering, yes the text is created on a vector path (no warped text) :)

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Photoshop Tutorials

Quick Tip: How to Create Fun Spirographs and Fractals

Spirographs and fractals look complicated but are actually very easy to create – it only takes a bit of experimentation. These fractals then can be used as artwork itself or as elements in photo manipulations, backgrounds, and graphic design related works.

Preview of Final Results

Step 1

We’re going to start by creating a 2000×2000 pixels document with a black background. You can use any image size that suits your artwork. Create a new layer and draw any shape you like. To make things simple, we’ll be using the Ellipse Tool. Set the mode to “Shape”, fill to none, and stroke to white.

Draw the shape in the middle of your document.

Step 2

Switch back to the Move tool (V) then activate the Free Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd+T or Edit > Free Transform). Drag anywhere outside of the transform box to rotate it. You can hold the shift key while dragging to snap the rotations to 15º increments. Press enter to apply the transformation.

Step 3

At this point, you probably already guessed how we’ll be creating this spirograph – duplicating and rotating the object until it makes a full circle. This takes awhile but thankfully there’s a very useful hotkey that will automate this process. Switch to the Move tool (V) then simply press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+T (Command+Option+Shift+T on Macs) repeatedly until you form a circle.

Step 4

That was just a simple spirograph. Try experimenting with different transformations. Here are some examples of alternate settings you can play around with:

Changing the reference point location:

Changing width and height:

Changing rotation and skew

Step 5

Now that you’ve experimented with different settings, it’s time to take it to the next level. In the next steps, you’ll learn how to create spirographs with actions to give you even more customization. Using actions, you can change the color, opacity, and many other settings in addition to the transform settings you did earlier.

Start by creating another outline using any tool. Make sure that the layer is rasterized if you created the shape with any of the vector tools. To do this, right-click on the layer and choose Rasterize Layer. I drew a simple red oval outline.

Step 6

Next, create a new action in the Actions panel (Window > Actions). To create a new action, start by clicking on the “Create New Set”  button in the Actions panel. Give this action set any name you like – I called mine “Spirograph”. Next, click on the “Create New Action”  button. Name this action anything but pick any hot key in the Function Key area. I chose F12. Click the Record button

Step 7

Your action is now recording all your actions. Follow these steps to record your actions

  1. Press Ctrl/Cmd+J to duplicate the current layer.
  2. Press Ctrl/Cmd+T to activate the Free Transform tool. Make any transformation you like. I made my ellipse rotate by 15º and skew vertically by 15º.
  3. Press Ctrl/Cmd+U to access the Hue/Saturation tool. Make any adjustment you like. I simply set the hue to 8.

When you’re done, press the “Stop”  button in the Actions panel. You now have a new action that you can play simply by pressing the function key that you assigned earlier (mine was set to F12).

Step 8

Press the function key you assigned (mine was F12) until your spirograph is built. Here’s what my spirograph looks like. It’s not really that amazing but we can always try different settings.

To change the settings, you can simply double-click on any of the steps inside your action.

Here’s what my image looks like simply by changing the “Transform current layer” step and making the transform tool scale the layers width and height by 110%.

It wasn’t exactly what I wanted so I deleted all the layers and made it transform the width and height by 105% instead of 110%.

Final Results

From here on, it’s up to you to experiment with different looks. As you start experimenting, you’ll find new ways of creating not just spirographs, but random fractals. Here’s another example of what you can create.

Example 1

  1. Duplicate layer.
  2. Free transform – Angle: 5º, Horizontal Skew: 10º
  3. Offset (Filter > Other > Offset) – 10 pixels from the top and left.
  4. Hue/Saturation – 10º Hue

Example 2

    1. Duplicate layer.
    2. Free transform – Angle: 9º
    3. Hue/Saturation – 9º Hue

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