Put Text on a Path or in a Shape in Adobe Photoshop CC

Text on a path is an often-overlooked technique.

 Sue Chastain

Putting text on a path is a very common technique in Illustrator but one that is commonly overlooked when it comes to working with Photoshop. Yet, this technique has been around since Photoshop CS, when Adobe added the capability to the popular image-editing software.

Besides being a handy technique to add to your skill set, putting text on a path around an object is a great way of drawing the viewer's attention to the object. The best part of this technique is that you aren't limited to shapes. You can create the paths for the text using just the Pen tool.

Here's how to put text on a path:

  1. Select the Pen tool or one of the shape tools — Rectangle, Ellipse, Polygon or Custom Shapes — under Tools. If you're following the example above, start with the Ellipse Tool and, holding down the Option/Alt-Shift keys, drag out a perfect circle over the rocks.

  2. In the Properties Panel, set the Fill color to None and the Stroke Color to Black.

  3. Select the Text Tool and place it on the shape or path. The text cursor will change slightly. Click on the path, and the text cursor will appear on the path.

  4. Select a font, size, and color. Set the text to Align Left. The example here uses a font called "Big John." The size is 48 points, and the color is white.

  5. Input your text.

  6. To reposition the text on the path, select the Paths selection tool (the black arrow under the Text tool) and move the tool over the text. The cursor will change to an i-beam with an arrow pointing left or right. Click and drag the text along the path to get it into position.

  7. As you drag, you may notice the text is cut off. This is because you are moving the text outside of the visible area. To fix this, look for a small circle on the path, When you locate it, drag the circle farther along the path.

  8. If the text flips inside the circle and looks upside down, drag the cursor above the path.

  9. If you want to move the text above the path, open the Character panel and enter a Baseline Shift value. In the case of this image, a value of 20 points is used.

  10. When everything is where it is supposed to be, switch to the Path Selection tool, click on the path and, in the properties panel, set the Stroke color to None.

Other Ways to Use the Technique

Here are a few other things you can do:

  • Create a path using the Pen tool.
  • Use the path selection tool or the Move tool to move the whole path with type attached.
  • Use the direct selection tool to change the shape of the path.
  • If you have created a closed shape such as a circle or a square, you can make the type wrap inside the shape to conform to its shape. The process is essentially the same as creating type on a path, but instead of clicking the cursor on the outside of the path, move the cursor inside the path and click when it changes to an I-beam with a dotted circle around it.
  • All of the type tools work with type on a path or type in a shape. Your text is fully editable, and though it may appear jagged on screen, it will print just fine. To edit your text, double-click the T icon for the type layer in the Layers palette and use any of the editing functions in the Options bar, Character palette or Paragraph palette. You can even wrap text on a path or in a shape, but both the type and the path will be warped.
  • If you need to change the text, simply select the Text layer, switch to the Type tool, select the text, and enter the change.

    Updated by Tom Green