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Sally Jane Photographic Art

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial


Adobe Photoshop Tools - Text on a line (work path)

Now I have gone through the basics of adding text we can start to have a little more fun. In this tutorial I will show you how you can get your text to follow any line you create no matter how bizarre it happens to be. First we have to create a line for it to follow. Don't worrypen tool, this line won't appear on the final image, we will just use it to create a work path. A work path is a line or outline that controls how some other behaviour works. To make our work path we use the pen tools which you will find in the tools pallet shown left. These are vector drawing tools. That is to say they create lines that are strung between vectors, fixed points on you image that you place with the pen tool. You can control how the line appears, i.e. straight or curved, by dragging on the point as you place it. You will also see that by doing so you get some handles appear. Levering on these handles or dragging them in and out will also change the shape of the line between the last two points. This takes a bit of getting used to and I'll probably discuss this further in another tutorial. Best thing is to simply play around with it until you get used to the idea.

In the image I am using I have placed a work path made up of 4 vector points. Each time I placed a point on the image I dragged the mouse to curve the line. You can see the handles coming off at a tangent from the line.


adding text

Now select the type tool. When you get close to the line with the type tool you will notice your type cursor changes slightly by getting a little curvy line through it. Click on your work path and the blinking text cursor will orientate itself at right angles to the line (see below).

adding text

Now start typing and you see your text following the work path exactly.

adding text

This work pathdirect selection tool remains editable just like the text. If you wanted to change the curve you can without having to remove the text. Any changes you make to the line will automatically update the text too. To edit the line you will need to use the path selection tools which are found in the tools pallet just below the pen tools. There are two and the one you will need is the Direct Selection tool with is the second of the two available, shown left.

Once you have the tool selected just click on your selection path to make it active and then select one of your vector points. The handles will appear when you do this if you created any. You can edit the line by either directly clicking on and holding a point and then dragging it to a new location , or, you can click on and hold the ends on one of the handles and drag that around. That will keep the vector point in the same location but will change the angle at which the line joins it so either increasing or reducing and curve. You can even swing the curve back the other way if you wish. Once you release the button on your mouse the text will snap to the new line position.

In the image below I have changed the shape of the line and you can see the text has moved with it.

adding text

When you are happy with your line of text you can flatten the image and the work path will disappear leaving a flowing line of text.

adding text

Vector paths are not the only way of creating work paths. You can create a work path from any selection outline as well. In the next image I have used the circular marquee tool to make a selection.

adding text

Once you make the selection right click your mouse to bring up a pop up list of options. Select make work path. you will get a dialog box asking you to select a tolerance. For a smooth outline like this it is not that important but if your outline was very jagged the tolerance would be a way for the program to understand how many pixels of direction change are required for it to view it as a corner. The default setting will be quite low probably 2 so accept this and your dotted line will change colour and become solid.

adding text

You will now be able to type on this line just like the previous vector path.

adding text

Notice the text is on the outside of the selection. If you wanted the text to be on the inside of the selection you would need to invert the selection before converting it to a work path by going to Select on the menu bar followed by Invert. Then the text will appear on the inside.

adding text

You can use any selection outline to convert into a work path. It does not matter how crazy it is. As an example I will use the magic wand tool to select the sky in this image.

adding text

I'm going to invert this because I want the text to appear on the sky side of the selection and not the branch. Now I'll turn it into a work path by right clicking on the image and selecting Make work Path from the pop up list.

OK, so here is my work path. How crazy is that. It's hard to believe I can type on that but I can.

adding text

Sure, you can't read it because all the letters are poking out at different angles but it just goes to show how versatile this idea is.






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