I used to create all sorts of graphics in my previous life. I can remember making postcards, flyers, newspaper and magazine ads and posters for events such as car shows, bridal events and many other events held at a wide variety of venues. I’ve even created those huge graphics that are glued to the sides of city buses and billboards. Boy, I sometimes forget how much I’ve done in this area.
Anyway, much, if not all, of what I created included text. While there wasn’t an overwhelming need for warping and transforming the text I used back in the day, now that I think about it, perhaps a bit of flair could have enhanced some of the images. And to be honest, I’m not sure the warp tools that I’ll be covering today were even available back then. If they were, I probably would have known about it. I’m talking of a time that spanned between 2002 and 2007, so if anyone knows, please let me know.
In today’s post, I’ll be typing out some text with one of the standard default fonts that comes with Windows 10. I’ll type it as a layer on top of a photograph. Then, I’ll be using the warp and transform tools to shape the text to follow one of the lines in the photo. Finally, I’ll add a stroke and gradient to the text to give it some character. The lessons I’d like to get across in this post are how converting a text layer into a shape layer can be hugely beneficial when you want to get creative with that text. The gradient and stroke components of this post are just for fun. I’ll actually be covering both of those areas much more in depth in later posts. For now, I’d like to primarily focus on bending and warping text in Adobe Photoshop.
I tried to find a photo that had curves in it and I think I did a pretty good job in this regard. I really couldn’t ask for many more curves than are in this skate park. I only need one, mind you, but at least I have a choice of which one to use. Here’s the demo photo for today.
Now, just to let you know, I ran this photo through Adobe Camera Raw to enhance it a bit. I pretty much did this with my eyes closed, so if you see anything you don’t like, that’s the reason. I felt that the image needed some more color, so that’s what I added. If you’re interested in learning how to make a photograph look better inside of Camera Raw, please read through this post.
Adding the Text
Okay, let’s get going. To start off, I’ll let you know that the image is already opened up in Adobe Photoshop. The first thing I’ll do is to activate the Horizontal Type Tool in the left toolbar by going over there and clicking on it.
Then, I’ll make a few changes in the Character panel. I’ll set the font to AR Darling, the color to White and the font size to 170 pt. The rest of the panel I’ll leave set as default.
Next, I’ll type out a random word. I figure that “SKATE” will work well with this image, since it’s all about skating. I really wish I had more of an imagination at times like this.
Let’s see what things are looking like at this point.
Converting Text to a Shape
Since I’m going to warp these letters, I’ll need to convert them to a shape. Unfortunately, we can’t warp regular text; text needs to be converted before we do that. It’s not a problem though because it’s very simple to convert regular text to a shape in Photoshop. All I need to do is make sure the text layer in the Layers panel is selected and then head up to the Type > Convert to Shape menu item and click.
Doing this will turn the text into a vector shape that can be transformed forever without any degradation. The consequence of this though is that it becomes impossible to edit the text, so it’s important to be sure the word is exactly what you want before converting it to a shape.
Moving & Warping the Text
I actually previously wrote a post that covered warping objects and text a bit more in depth than what I’ll cover today, so if you’d like to read that post, please click through below.
For now, I’ll simply do a minimal amount of moving and warping. Okay, since the text is now considered a shape, I have a bit of flexibility. I don’t like how far the T and the E are away from the rest of the letters. As they stand, they’re too far to the right. To correct this, I’ll go back over to the left toolbar, but this time, I’ll click on the Path Selection Tool.
Using this tool will give me the ability to select just one letter at a time or a combination of letters, as opposed to the entire word. To select the T and the E, I’ll click and drag my mouse pointer over both of those letters. Check out how these selected letters look. They have a blue outline.
Again, I just want to say this one more time; these letters are no longer editable text. They are now considered shapes in the eyes of Photoshop. We can manipulate them in the same ways we can manipulate shapes.
To move these two letters closer to the A in the word, I’ll push the left arrow key on my keyboard a few times until I like the way things look. Also, if I feel like anything else needs moving, I can do that now as well.
Now I’ll move on to the most important part of this post, which is the warping. Before I warp though, I’ll use the Move Tool to move the word slightly to the lower right of the image, so it lines up more with the curve of the cement. After that, I’ll use the keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+T to activate the Free Transform function of Photoshop and then after that, I’ll head up to the Warp button in the options bar. This Warp button toggles back and forth between the warp mode and the free transform mode. If I wanted to simply free transform the letters, I could simply transform without clicking on that button. Since I want to warp though, I’ll need to click on it.
When I do click on that button, the lines around the letters will change from just an outer bounding box to more of a grid. Take a look.
Warping the Shapes
Warping shapes is as easy as clicking and dragging. I can either click on one of the anchors located on the outer edge of the box or I can simply click anywhere inside of the grid and drag. As an example, I’ll click on the top part of the letter S and drag upward.
If I didn’t like that, I can click and drag on the upper left corner anchor point.
Think about warping like moving a tablecloth. If you push your finger on the center of the tablecloth somewhere, you can move the area around where you pushed. If you pull the edge of the tablecloth, more of an area will get pulled with it. Warping in Photoshop and pulling and pushing a tablecloth are very similar endeavors.
I’ll go ahead and click and drag until I see the letters sort of mold their lower parts around the cement. I’ll do that now.
I think that looks very good. I clicked and dragged both the corners and the center area of the shapes. After I was done, I pressed Enter on my keyboard to apply the changes. That removed the grid and left the shapes warped. Perfect.
Adding a Stroke & Gradient
Again, I’ll be covering strokes and gradients much more thoroughly in later posts, but since I’d like these letters jazzed up a bit today, I figured I’d throw this part in the post as well.
To add a stroke to the shapes, I’ll need to once again activate the Path Selection Tool (black arrow) in the left toolbar. After that, I’ll need to click and drag my mouse pointer over the entire word. When I see all the letters highlighted in blue, I’ll go to the options bar up top and then I’ll click on the Stroke box. From there, I’ll choose the color Black from the palette.
To the right of the Stroke box is the Stroke Width indicator. I’ll set this to 10px. And finally, since I would like to see this stroke set to the outer edge of the shapes, I’ll make that distinction in the Align drop-down that’s kept in the Stroke Options area.
And finally, my stroke will look like this.
That’s so cool. It’s why I chose this particular font. I love the stroke that’s created from it.
Adding the Gradient
To apply a gradient to the shapes, I’ll again select them all with the Path Selection Tool. After that, I’ll head up to the Gradient area and click the small box so the palette opens up.
To create the actual gradient, I’ll click on a random preset that is located towards the center of the palette and then I’ll click inside the gradient bar below. If I double-click, the Color Picker will open up and I can choose the colors of the gradient from there. Also, if I single-click right beneath the bar, an additional color indicator will appear, that I can, again, double-click to add another color to the mix. If I want to rotate the gradient, I can click and drag on the angle tool, which is located in the lower right area of the palette. It’s a circle with a line in it.
Once I’m finished, I can push the Enter key on my keyboard to apply the gradient. Here are the gradient and the final Image.
I know I kind of flew through this last gradient part because really, the topic is just too big for this post. Again, I’ll be following up with this later on.
I hope I clearly explained how you can warp, add a stroke to and add a gradient to text in Adobe Photoshop. If you have any questions regarding this post, please let me know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!