2007 SLP Curriculum Guide #27 Using the Text Tool
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The Text Tool is used to write text on an image. On a Raster Layer just the basic options are available. However, on a Vector Layer the text written can also be manipulated in various ways to create interesting results for text. Often Text on a Vector is used to create curved text. However, one can also manipulate each character of a text to create very unique and interesting letters.

We will explore the various options for using Text on Vectors. We first begin by just working with simple Text and its basic options. Then we will explore how to create Text on a curve and explore ways to create different results on shapes and curves.


When first learning to use the text tool, set the Tools Tool Option Palette for the Text tool to its 'Default' settings.
  1. Initially, set the Materials Palette so that the Foreground Color is 'null'. Later we will explore results when the Foreground Color or Stroke is activated.
  2. Initially, set the Background Color (fill) is black.
  3. Font: One can select any font that exists on their computer particularly those fonts that are artistic. However, for our purposes we will use the Arial Font.
  4. Size and Unit: Size is self evident in that the larger value is larger sized text. Units are either Points (a standard setting) or Pixels (not used often unless one wants very precise sized fonts).
  5. Font Style: Self evident in that one can choose amoung four options.
  6. Alignment: When experimenting with options explore the three types of alignments to understand how they work particularly on a curved line.
  7. Direction: Also just experiment how these three types of Direction for font appearance on the canvas work again particularly on a curve (not recommended).
  8. Anti-Alias: One has three options (off, Sharp, Smooth) which determines how smooth the edges of letters will appear.
  9. Stroke Width: One can set the stroke size of text if in the materials palette or the properties dialogue box the Stroke box is checked.
  10. Line Style: Most often one will just use the 'Solid' style particularly when Stroke is off. However, when using or designing unique appearing letters one might experiment with line styles.
  11. Join and Miter Limit: These values determine how the corners of text will look, either sharp (join), rounded or angled with the amount as set. Keep the sharp first and set the angle value before changing the miter limit.
  12. Wrap Text: Check this box to wrap text on your canvas. However, when using text on curves this box may not be needed for any real purpose.
  13. Offset: Offset is an option that can be used when using text on shapes and/or curves. It sets the text above (positive values) or below (negative values) on the curve.
  14. Leading: When using text that is not to be one a single line (such as above and below a curve) or as in a paragraph, Leading sets the spacing between the text lines. One may need to manually enter lesser than unit values which are controlled by the arrow keys.
  15. Kerning: Kerning sets the spacing between letters which can help when wanting to complete text needing to cover more area than when Kerning is set to a zero value.
  16. Tracking: Sets exqual spacing between the letters selected.


In each of the three thumbnails (click on them for full size), the basic text options were use for the first example. Both the second and the third example are just copies of the first and then enhanced in different ways. The best way, in my opinion, for learning the options and in using text on images is to just practice and try things out.

  • Options: Font (Cooper Black), Size (80 points), Alignment (center), Anti-Alias (smooth), Stroke (12), Line Style (solid), Join (rounded), Miter Limit (20), Kerning (175).
  • I actually used the Properties Dialogue box to set the Stroke size, its fill (gradient, duo tone red with repeats at 999) and the Fill (gradient rainbow at 0 repeats).
  • NOTE: In order to manipulate the text, first 'Convert Text To Curves' and in this example I selected 'Covert as a Single Shape' so that the total text can be further manipulated.
  • I then selected the Pen Tool with Nodes Showing and edited to select all nodes. Then I selected 'Copy' and then 'Paste' to set a duplicated copy on a new path (check the Layer Palette to see there is another path with the duplicated text).
  • Next I create a New Vector Layer, then highlighted the duplicated copy and moved with the mouse to the new layer.
  • Finally, I used the Properties Dialogue to change the stroke and fill colors/gradients.
  • The initial steps for this illustration were as described above for copying, pasting and moving to a new vector layer in order to work just with the text. I also used the Properties dialogue to then change the colors for the stroke and fill.
  • Still with the Pick Tool activated, I deformed the right end of the text.
  • After getting the right size for the deformed text, I then clicked on the Pen Tool, Edit || Select All, Duplicate, Transform Selected selecting Mirror and moved the selection to then mirror the initial deformed text.
  • NOTE: In this example I converted the text as 'Character Shapes' in order to work with the individual text letters. Check the Layers Palette to see that each letter is on its own sub-layer.
  • Then, using the Pen Tool in order to see the nodes, I manipulated the nodes for each letter by highlighting that letter in the Layers Palette.
  • Often, I would need to highlight a single node and then set the node type to Symmetric first, then to Cusp. In the final 'T' I also merged some nodes to get the smoother curves.
  • Once I shaped the text as I wanted, I then used the Properties Dialogue for each letter to set the fill except for the first 'T' where I only used Stroke at a larger size.
  • The Black Background helped to make the letters appear sharper.
  • TEXT ON A CURVE: One can have text follow a shape or curve. First draw the shape or curve for the text to follow and convert shape/curve to a path. Then use the Text Tool and place cursor on the curve line and write the text.
  • Kerning will space the letters.
  • To obtain a second line below just press 'Enter' in the text box and then write the second line.
  • To get the spacing between the curve (above and below) use 'Offset' and set the value that works for you.
  • If the text is not centered over the curve as wanted, use the ALT key and the ARROW(s) to move the text.
  • One can use Convert Text to Shape or Characters to manipulate the text if wanted. In this example I Coverted text to characters.
  • One can use the Properties Dialogue to change properties for the Text as a Shape or Characters if wanted.
In this final example, I just used the Letter 'T' initially starting with a solid letter (fill only, no stroke). I then shaped the 'T' with its nodes to create the initial shape I wanted. Then I used Edit || Duplicate with Offset and reversed the contour to get a ribbon like effect. Then I played around with the Transform of all nodes using 'mirror' primarily until I created an interesting shape.

Once I liked what I had, I then used the Properties Dialogue to set the colors of the fill. Then I converted to a raster so that I could add other effects such as texture and sculpture to create a gold charm or pendant. I finished off the image with a 'Chain' Tube which I also scupltured with the same settings as the Charm. I added a gradient background to complete the image.


  • Vector Text is a great way for unique text particularly getting text to follow a curve.
  • A key is to explore each and every Text Option to see how each works from setting font/size to using Offset for more than one line of text through Leading, Kerning, and Tracking.
  • Work with text on a straight line and on a curve.
  • Use the Properties Dialogue to see how Stroke and Fill can enhance text.
  • Also fully explore Text Convert to a Shape as well as to Characters.
  • Explore the Edit features as well as the Transform Selected Nodes to see how those features work on text.
  • Often, use the EDIT MODE when using the Pen Tool in order not to add unnecessary nodes.
  • Add nodes by using the Control Key.
  • Select only two or more nodes by using the Shift Key.
  • There will be times you want to do something but it does not seem to work. Before converting Text to a shape or characters you can recall the Text Dialogue box by double clicking in the Layers Palette on the text sub-layer. After converting text, you will only bring up the Properties Dialogue when double clicking.
  • The learning of copying text, or duplicating it, and then copying it and pasting it and finally moving it to a new vector layer takes some time to get it to work right as there are specific steps you follow.
  • Finally, have fun and create.


  1. When completing a tutorial or series of tutorials, and having placed them upon your web page, post in the SLP Forum your completed work using this layout:
    • Name or Screen Name.
    • Web Site URL.
    • Version of PSP using.
    • List of Tutorials completed.
  2. Post your Work:
    • List what you did, feature, options used, values.
    • Indicate steps taken and results.
    • Indicate things you found interesting, worthwhile and any other comments.
  3. Comment on any particular techniques you used or discovered, any particular results you found perhaps by accident and any ideas you have for creating a particular result.
  4. Post any questions and comments in the SLP Forum.

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