Tag Archives: tutorial

SMD Grassy Textured Text Tutorial

By special request…

The following tutorial will be written for the basic to intermediate understanding of Photoshop. If any steps are not clear or need to be elaborated, please feel free to ask. For the sake of brevity, let’s begin.

Step 1

Begin in Adobe Illustrator. Create your vector.

SMD Textured Text Tutorial 01

Step 2

With the vector selected, go to Effect — 3D — Extrude and Bevel.

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Step 3

Adjust the settings in the dialog box to your liking. You have many options to manipulate. The x,y,z coordinates, Perspective depth, Extrude depth, Bevel settings, Capping, and Shading settings. The settings I used and the results are shown below.

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Step 4

Next, after the Extrude and Bevel has been applied, Expand the Appearance.

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Once the Object has been expanded, you should see something similar to what is shown below.

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Step 5

Deselect the Object. Choose the Direct Selection Tool from the toolbar. (The white arrow as opposed to the solid black arrow). With the Direct Selection Tool, select the face of the vector object and change the color. This will aid in the selection process later on in this tutorial.

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Step 6

Now it’s time to begin moving this object into Photoshop. Open Photoshop. Create a New Document. Select the face of your vector in Illustrator. Copy. (CMD-C) Paste the copied vector into the Photoshop Document.

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Continue this process for the remaining back and side elements, individually copying from Illustrator and Pasting into the Photoshop Document.

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Step 7

Once you have completed pasting and aligning your elements into the Photoshop document, it’s time to create some order in the Layer’s Palette. I have ordered each letter into its own subfolder, the face being above the background.

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Step 8

It’s time to bring in some texture. Open your texture file and copy and paste the texture into your Photoshop document. (click on the image to visit the source)

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Step 9

Now that you have chosen the texture you will be applying, it’s time to put it aside for one moment and create our selections. (We moved the texture into the document now instead of later so you can see up close how your texture will relate to your vector.)

Let’s begin with the face. Either by using the magic wand tool, or by command clicking on the appropriate layer’s thumbnail, create a selection that encompasses the face of your “vector.”

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Now using the Lasso Selection Tool, we want to “roughen” the selection a bit. While holding the SHIFT key, begin to add to the edge of your selection, mimicking your chosen texture.

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Now, Save the selection by going to Select — Save Selection.

Picture 8

Name the saved selection appropriately. I named this selection S-Face.

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Repeat this step for the remaining faces.

Step 10

Next, we need to create and save selections for the back of the “vectors.” Load the face selection for the appropriate back we will be working on. Next, COMMAND–SHIFT–Click the thumbnail in the layers palette for the chosen back.

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Add to this selection, again, mimicking the chosen texture. Save and Name this selection and then repeat for the remaining “vectors.”

Step 11

Now it’s back to the texture we moved in. Duplicate the layer, CMD-J. Move the duplicate layer to the appropriate subfolder for the “vector” you will be working with. Resize the texture accordingly to meet your desired effect.

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Copy and paste this texture, tiling the texture to cover the entire “vector.”

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With every texture layer highlighted in the layer’s palette…

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… Merge these layers.

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With all the textures now resting in one layer…

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… it’s time to make the texture seamless, losing it’s tiled and repetitive appearance. Using the Clone-Stamp Tool…

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…with a soft brush, clone away the gaps, seams, and noticeable repeating patterns.

Step 12

Now that the texture is ready for use, it’s time to load a selection.

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Now, with the selection loaded, and the texture layer highlighted in the layer’s palette, press CMD-J to duplicate the layer. (With the selection active, pressing cmd-j should duplicate the texture layer only where the selection is active giving the results shown below)

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Repeat this step for the back using the saved back selection.

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Repeat this step for the remaining “vectors.”

Step 13

Now it’s time to work on the beginning stages of shading. If the pasted back “vector” is a smart object, it’s time to rasterize the layer. With the layer highlighted, press CMD-U. This will bring up a Hue/Saturation dialog box. Bring the saturation all the way to the left completely desaturating the layer.

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Step 14

With the “shade” back layer still highlighted, load the back selection. Using the clone tool, bring the shade all the way to the edge of the selection. (Remember, the selection is mimicking the texture while the shade layers edge is still crisp and clean. We want to have the shade layers edge match the texture’s layer edge.)

With the edges matching, and the selection still active, we will want to use the blur tool to help remove any banding (the hard color breaks between shades) that Illustrator may have created.

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Once that’s done, set the shade layer to Multiply. You may want to adjust the layer’s Opacity setting depending on your desired darkness.SMD Textured Text Tutorial 28

Repeat step 14 for the remaining “vectors/shapes.”

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If you are not satisfied with the Multiply setting for the shade layers, you may want to experiment with different transparency modes. I found for my needs, that Linear Light worked better for the outside letter, while Multiply was satisfactory for the other two.

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Don’t forget to name your layers appropriately to it’s contents. This will help keep all future edits a little simpler. (We no long need the original face layers for each individual shape. Feel free to disregard these layers.)

Step 16

For a little fine-tunning, break out the burn, dodge, and sponge tool. This takes experimentation to get just right, but by using these three tools, you can really add to the depth of your design.

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You can use these tools on the texture and the shade layers, giving you different results. You can also determine the exposure (strength) level of the tool, along with the brush size. You can even dictate whether the tool affects the shadows, midtones or highlights. These tools are only limited to your experimentation, and experimentation is extremely encouraged to find suitable results.

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Step 17

Grass Time! Open the Grass Texture. Place, Import, Copy and Paste, just get that grass texture into the document. Resize the grass to match your needs. Make sure the grass texture is large enough and covers the entire face of your shape, “individually.” DO NOT tile and repeat the grass texture like you did with the dirt texture. Click here for the grass file source.

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Step 18

With the grass texture covering your first shapes face, load the saved selection for the face that was used for the dirt texture.

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Now, using the Lasso Selection Tool, add to the selection, mimicking the grassy texture. It doesnt need to be perfect, but try following the blades of grass as closely as possible without being obsessive about it, unless you just feel the need to burn an exuberant amount of time.

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No need to save this selection, unless you just want to. With the selection active, and the grass texture layer highlighted, Duplicate the layer, CMD-J. Again, this should only duplicate the grassy texture layer where the selection was active.

Okay, now comes the tiresome part. Go back to the grassy texture layer, the one before the selection duplication was applied. Flip or rotate this layer, careful that you are still completely covering the shapes face. Now, repeat the entire face selection creation and duplication process. In total, there will be two grassy textured layers for each shapes face. They need to have different selections from each other, this way the blades of grass on the edges of each layer are different from one  another.

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Repeat this ENTIRE STEP for the remaining shapes faces.

Step 19

Inside each subfolder, your layers should be ordered with two grass layers, a dirt face layer, a shade layer, then a bottom/back dirt layer.

For the top grass layer, we want to add a bevel/emboss layer effect. Experimenting with the settings are essential, my settings used are shown below.

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For the second grass layer, we want to apply a different bevel/emboss layer effect along with a color overlay layer effect. Again experimentation, but my settings used are shown below accordingly.

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Here is a view of how my layers are ordered and where the layer effects are applied.

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(As you can see, I went back duplicated and modified the shading layer. Again experiment to find the best results. I also went back and worked with the burn and dodge tools a a bit more. After applying the grass texture I saw more areas that needed a little help.)

Step 20

Here are the results thus far.

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I tried to keep this tutorial short and sweet, but as you can see, there is much more that can be done. However, that exceeds the scope and purpose of this tutorial. Adding a ground shadow and some dust are near essential. Adding elements like falling dirt or blowing grass can help add movement and excitement to the image. Background colors and additional elements can help aid in the mood of your image. Afterwards, using color correction layers and sharpening techniques such as the highpass filter can add to the image as well.


I hope you’ve enjoyed the tutorial, if you have any questions, or would like to add any tips of your own, please feel free to message me or add a comment!

To view the final image at a larger size, click here.


SadMonkey’s Fake Embroidery Tutorial

Here’s a nice little tutorial to produce a “Fake” Embroidery Design in Adobe Illustrator. The tutorial requires at least an intermediate understanding of Adobe Illustrator.


First things first, you need a vector. Whether it’s a circle, a number, or your name, you need a vector to start off. The fewer nodes (anchor points) the better. Live traced and expanded images that have not been cleaned up will produce undesirable effects.

The document used in this tutorial is an 11″ x 8.5″ (The settings used in the tutorial regarding stroke widths and brushes may need to be modified for your documents settings and your personal desired effect.)



Once you have your vector ready to go, it’s time to get started. (Make sure there are no strokes at all on your vector object. For the start, FILLS ONLY) First thing we need to do, is open the Layer’s Palette. Organizing the vectors in the layers palette will make the following steps MUCH easier. Label your one and only layer so far. I’ve labeled mine “Front Blue Solid” (since this layer will be the front foremost blue solid shape, I kept the naming convention simple) Create a new layer above the solid layer. This layer will be the “stitch” or the stroke in relation to the blue solid. I labeled this layer “Front Blue Stitch.” Copy CMD-C your vector from the solid layer. Paste in front, CMD-F. With the vector still selected, move this vector to the stitch layer.


As of this moment your original vector should be on the “solid” layer and a copy on the “stitch” layer. With the vector on the stitch layer still selected, we want to add a stroke with no fill. (If it currently has a fill with no stroke, hit SHIFT-X to toggle the fills) We want the stroke color to be a little brighter and a little lighter than the fill color on the solid vector. For now, the default stroke settings will be fine.



Next, we need to make a new brush, our “stitch” brush. To help gauge on the approximate size you need the brush to be, zoom into your graphic. With the Elliptical Shape Tool, make a very narrow oval.


Open the brush palette accessible from the Window Menu. With the newly created oval still selected, click on the little icon on the top right of the brush palette and select New Brush.


A new window should appear. Select New Pattern Brush.


The size is completely up to you, I started off with Scale 100% and Spacing 10%. Underneath Colorization, chose the method of “Hue Shift.” This allows us the ability of changing the color of our brush. When finished, click OK. Now you should see the new brush appear at the bottom of your brush menu in the Brush Palette.



Now, we want to apply the new brush to the outline/no fill vector. To do so, with the vector selected, simply click on the new brush in the brush palette.


Now, you, like myself, may not be to happy with the size of the brush. To change this, adjust the Weight of the stroke using the Stroke Palette. I changed mine from 1pt to .75pt. Now it’s better, but still not great. We can modify the brush settings by double clicking on the brush preview inside the Brush Palette. This should bring up the Pattern Brush Options dialog box again. Modify the Scale to 80% and the Spacing to 20%.


Once we’re finished, click OK. A new window should appear asking if you want to “Apply to Strokes”, “Leave Strokes” or “Cancel.” Click “Apply to Strokes.”



Alright, the size appears to be good, but now it’s time for a little clean up. You’ll notice that at all the “hard” corners/points, the brush isn’t there.


Now, this looks bad all zoomed up close, but once you back out to normal view, it may not only be “not bad,” but it may be just right, depending on what results you are wanting. I, personally, am not happy to leave it as is, so I cleaned it up a bit. (This is why it’s good to start off with a “clean” vector. Imagine this happening on a hundred different nodes!) Now why you may try something fancy and come up with a corner for your brush, there is a simpler way, although it may be a bit more time consuming if you have a lot of nodes to clean up.

To make the brush go all the way around, you need to “remove” the hard corner. Using the Pen Tool on your tool bar, you will see a little black arrow on the bottom right corner, click the arrow and hold. A pop-out with three more pen options will appear. These three pens add points/nodes, take away points and allows angle/bezier manipulation. All we need to do is, simply smooth out the hard corner. If the closest points to the one we need to manipulate are a fair distance away, you may need to add a point on each side of the point we will be manipulating. This will prevent the stroke from dramatically changing paths.


As you see, the gaps in the brush coverage are now gone. In this screen shot I am in the middle of smoothing out that final point using the bezier (angle adjustment) tool.


Now we need to repeat these steps for our next layers. First, create two new layers in your layers palette. They should both be underneath the two “blue” layers. Label the upper one “White Stitch.” Label the next layer “White Solid.”


Now select the vector inside the “Front Blue Stitch” layer. Copy and Paste In Front. Move this copy to the “White Solid” Layer. We are using the vector in the Front Blue Stitch layer for this instead of the solid because of the bezier corrections we applied in the previous step. While this will not save us from all future corrections it will save us a few redundant corrections later on.


With the new copy selected in the “White Solid” layer we want to change the stroke/nofill to fill/nostroke. Make the fill color white. Now we want to “enlarge” this shape. Select a bright red color and apply it to the stroke. (If the stroke came back with the stitch pattern, you will want to return to the default stroke settings or use a round brush. We DO NOT want the stitch pattern for this step.) Increase the stroke width by several points. In the stroke palette, chose to have rounded edges and rounded corners. This will remove any unfavorable miter effects.



Once you have the stroke width on the white solid layer to your liking, we are going to want to turn this into a solid shape. Go to your Menu bar and select Object – Flatten Transparency. Make sure “Convert All Strokes to Outlines” is checked. Move the” Raster/Vector Balance” slider all the way over to the right,100. Click OK.


Your selection should appear similar to what is below.


Using the Pathfinder palette we want to “Unite” the entire object. We can easily do this by clicking on the Unite Button (the top left box in the pathfinder palette) while holding down the ALT key. This should give you one complete solid shape.



Before doing anything else, make sure our new solid inside the “White Solid” layer is in fact, a white fill with no stroke. Copy this object. Paste In Front. Move this new copy to the “White Stitch” layer. Remove the fill, adding a light grey stroke.



Apply the Stitch Brush to this vector using the same settings that were used on the final “Blue Stitch” layer.


Again, you’ll notice the gaps at the hard corners. It’s time to get out the trusty pen tool, and start cleaning them up.



Back to the layers palette. Create two new layers below the “white” layers. The first is “Red Solid.” The next is “Red Stitch.” Copy the White Solid Layer. Paste in front. Move this copy to the Red Solid layer. Change the fill to a dark red. Move this object down and to the right.



Copy the Red Solid Layer. Paste In Front. Move this copy to the Red Stitch Layer. Remove the fill. Add a stroke with a little brighter and lighter color red than the solid layer. Apply the Stitch Brush. Clean up gaps if necessary.



Back to the Layers Palette. Under the red layers, create two new (and final) layers. Name the first “Bottom Blue Solid” and the next “Bottom Blue Stitch. Then, select all, CMDA.


Next Copy then Paste In Front. Move all new copies to the “Bottom Blue Solid” layer. Once you have moved all new copies to the blue layer, remove all the strokes. Now, Unite using the Pathfinder palette.



Now we need to make this layer expand. Repeating Steps 7-9, add a stroke, adjust the weight to your liking, flatten transparency, unite, and you have your bottom blue solid layer.



Copy the Bottom Blue Solid layer. Paste in front. Move copy to Bottom Blue Stitch Layer. Remove fill, add stroke color and weight identical to the top blue layers. Apply the Stitch Brush, using the same settings as well.


Fix the gaps.



It’s looking pretty good so far isn’t it? Well, we’re not done yet. Now we need to expand the appearance of each Stitch Layer. We will do this one by one. For starters, lock every layer in your layers palette leaving the only editable layer the Bottom Blue Stitch Layer.


With the stitch selected, from the menu bar, go to Object – Expand Appearance.


Continue doing this for each Stitch layer.


Now that every stitch layer is “Expanded” …


…we want to start “randomly” deleting ovals. Again, make sure every layer is locked except for the working layer. Using the Direct Selection tool (the white arrow) from the toolbar, begin selecting ovals and deleting them.


Continue doing this for each stitch layer.



SadMonkey-Stitch-36By deleting random ovals, it gives the appearance of a “real” embroidered stitch.


And that’s it. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial. I tried to keep it as rudimentary as possible without overkill. If you get lost, or have a tip on how to make it better, please feel free to add your advice to the comments section. Remember, depending upon your final dimensions, your settings may need to change, too thin of a stroke or stitch pattern and the effect could be lost.

For a larger view of the final design please visit SadMonkey’s Flickr Page.

SadMonkey’s Photo Stencil Tutorial

The following tutorial will cover in brief detail, how to create a 2 layer “photo” stencil in Adobe Photoshop.  The tutorial is meant for at least intermediate knowledge of Photoshop.

Step 1

First, you will want to completely desaturate your image giving you a monochromatic image. Next, for a two color stencil, you will want to create two separate layers. The top layer will be the darks, the second layer will be for the midtones. You can easily do this by putting your magic wand tool to use on the grey-scale image. Select the darks. With an active selection, activate your dark layer in the layers palette, and fill with black. Repeat the step for the midtones.


Step 2

Now you will want to clean that dirty selection up. Using the pen tool outline your dark colors. The pen tool gives you sharp, clean edges and leaves you with the flexibility of adding your personal style. The amount of detail is up to personal preference. To may make it easier, when outlining, lower your opacity level so you will be able to see exactly what your doing and where you are going around the image.


Step 3

You will want to continue using your pen tool and outline your midtones. Be nice to yourself, change the color to something different from what you used for the darks. It also helps if your midtone pen/shape layers begin underneath the dark pen/shape layers. (It’s not necessary, but it helps) For the final effect later on, you want to be sure that you create your midtones to where there is not a dark layer that will not have a midtone layer underneath it.


Step 4

Okay, before we do anything else, hide the magic wand filled layers, only leaving your pen selections and solid white background. Go back, and make sure all your opacity levels are now back to 100%. Rasterize all layers. Making sure all your dark layers are on top and in order, merge all the dark layers onto one layer. Next, merge all your midtone layers into one layer. You should now have, one dark layer, one midtone layer, and your white background. If you are happy with the results, you can now delete your magic wand layers.


Step 5

Now you are going to want to go image hunting. Feel free to use whatever you wish. I like to use images that tend to me synonymous with my characters. For example, with this James Bond image, I am using a hand gun, a wrist watch, a bow tie and a martini glass. Once you’ve found your images, open them in Photoshop, isolate them, and bring them into your stencil document. Make several copies of each item varying the size and orientation of each image to help randomize our coming effect.


Step 6

Next, make a mess with the images. Go crazy making copies all over until the entire canvas is covered. Make sure the ENTIRE canvas is covered and there are no peepholes showing through. Once the entire canvas is covered, merge all those layers into one. (Be mindful not to merge your background, or stencil layers… only the new images you brought in.)


Step 7

This will be what we use for our dark layer. In your layers palette, with this new layer selected, CMD-click on your dark stencil layer. This should make a selection of the entire dark layer. (Little ants should be marching on your screen) With the ants marching, and the new layer still selected, click on the quick mask button on the bottom of your layers palette. (It’s the grey little square with the white circle in the middle of it)


Step 8

You will want to repeat steps 5, 6, and 7 for what will become your midtone layer. (Be sure to pick new images and maybe change up your pattern for this to be layer)


Step 9

Now you should have two new layers. Your new collage dark layer and your new collage midtone layer. Feel free to hide your pen/stencil layers now. (You may not want to delete them. Beginning off, you may want to reuse them for recreating your clipping mask if you are unhappy with your results in the following steps)

We are now going to want to make our dark layer “dark” and our midtone layer ” a midtone.” Beginning with the dark layer, click on the preview thumbnail in your layers palette. Make sure your thumbnail is selected and not the clipping mask. Bring up your hue/saturation dialog box by hitting the CMD key and the “U” key. Check the box marked colorize. (This will give the entire layer a nice and clean mono-chormatic touch) Then move the sliders around making this layer all dark and pretty. sadmonkey-bond-tut-09

Step 10

Repeat the step for your midtones on the collage midtone layer.

Step 11

Now your dark layer and your midtone layer are ready for some fun. It’s time to break out the brushes. If you don’t already have a sweet collection of spray paint, watercolor, and splatter brushes the world wide web is full of them. For starters, try visiting Brusheezy.com or QBrushes.com and see what you can find.


Step 12

Okay, we’re just about finished. Only a few final touches and we can call this baby done. Once you have made a mess that you’re happy with, we’re gonna want to merge all the visible layers. You can flatten the entire image, but I prefer to merge all visible layers by pressing Alt-Cmd-Shift-“E” This still allows you the ability to go back and edit your file without having to hit the undo button a gazillion times or having to save and open a new document.


Step 13

Now, we’re gonna duplicate this new layer by pressing Cmd-“J” and run the high pass filter on it. With the new layer on top in the layers palette and selected, go to Filter-Other-HighPass. For this one, I ran the filter at 5.3. Then I changed the layers transparency mode to soft light and changed the opacity level to 85%.

Next I went back to the all merged layer, duplicated it again, ran the high pass filter on it again, but instead of using 5.3 as the setting, I changed it to 1.6. Then I set this layers transparency mode to hard light at 100% opacity. I duplicated this layer 2 more times.  This gives us a base layer of the all merged image, with one 5.3 highpass layer set to soft light 85% with three more high pass layers each set at 1.6, hardlight, 100% opacity.


Step 14

For our final touch, under your adjustment layers, we will want to use the selective color option. This will allow us to fine tune our colors, darken the darks, lighten the lights, adjust the hues and saturations, so on and so forth…


And that’s pretty much it. Depending on your file size, colors, image, layout and all your other variables… EXPERIMENT. There are no “one size fits all” setting or settings. Keep modifying your document until you get the results dialed in just the way you like.

SadMonkey Design-bond

Well there you have it. Let me know what you guys think.

Creating Type along a Path in Illustrator

When using Illustrator you can easily find yourself frustrated after several hours of fruitless work trying to accomplish what should be a simple task. Illustartor is a very powerful tool, but can be a bit daunting of a program when you don’t have someone to show you the simple little tricks that are almost necessary for a fluid workflow. One such task can be typing along a path.

The first step in typing along a path in Illustrator is having a path to type on.


To type along a path, you need to select the “type tool” for this function. To do so, move your cursor over the “type button” on your “toolbar”. Click and hold the little black arrow on the bottom right corner of that button. A fly-out menu should appear that will look similar to the one in the image below. To type along a path you will want to select the “type tool” that has the “T” on top of a path.


With this tool selected you will want to click somewhere along your path. The location you click is where the type will begin. If your text is left justified, then where you click will be your left anchor point. If your text is center justified, then your click position will be the center anchor point where your text will originate from.  Don’t feel to worried about clicking in just the right spot. Your text justification and anchor points can be moved after you have placed your type. We’ll get to that in another step or two. So, with the appropriate text tool selected, when you click on your path it should change colors and a text cursor should appear.


You can now begin typing.

Picture 5

Now lets say you wanted the text on the other side of the path. You may notice the little thin blue line sticking up from somewhere along the path. Actually, you will see three lines, your left and right margins, along with a control center point. With your direct selection tool (the little white arrow) you can click on the center point. Once you have clicked the line, you can hold it, move it, and flip it to the other side of the path. This control line allows you to move the text and more importantly allows you to control what side of the path you want to your text to be on. The left and right lines can also be moved allowing you to modify your right and left margin areas.


Now as long as you do not outline your text (not stroking, but outlining, removing all text editing capabilities, thereby turning the text into a shape without any font information, CMD-SHIFT-O) you can revisit and modify your text positioning at any point. Once you have your text where you like it, well, you’re done! You’ve successfully typed along a path and modified its positioniong to your needs.


I’ve hopefully made this quite clear and easy to understand. If I haven’t been clear, or if you would like any of the process elaborated on, please feel free to ask.