Fitting text to shapes

Diptych

The images above are from my two most recent posts for the 52 Lists meme. They are very similar, each of them featuring one or more objects that appear to be superimposed over the supporting journaling. The difference between the two is that in the one on the left I manually adjusted the text (using the spacebar) to fit around the shape. In the second submission, I used compound paths (shapes that have two or more paths) to create a cutout around the envelope/photo/butterfly combination. Once that path was established, the pasted-in text automatically positioned itself around the outlines of the shapes (though I did have to add bold italics to the subtitles and insert line breaks so each title started at the left edge of the text cutout).

The following details the steps involved in creating the compound path:

  1. Set foreground color to black.
  2. Use the Rectangle or Rounded Rectangle tool (nested with the Shape tool) to create the overall outline for the text. I renamed this layer Text cutout.
  3. Rasterize the envelope and butterfly smart objects. Hold down the Shift key and then click to select both the envelope and butterfly layers.
  4. Create a compound selection by holding down the Ctrl>Shift keys and then clicking on each of the layer thumbnails. This will place marching ants around the non-transparent sections of the elements.
  5. Click on Edit>Copy Merged. Click on the Create a new layer icon and then click Edit>Paste to paste the composited elements into the new layer. Rename this layer “Envelope-butterfly merge.”
  6. Hold down the Ctrl key and then select the Text cutout layer. Duplicate this layer to a new document (Layer>Duplicate Layer>New).  Repeat this process for the Envelope-butterfly merge layer. Note: I decide to work on the paths and shapes in a separate document to prevent damage to my project document.
  7. Activate the new document. Turn off the visibility of the Text cutout layer so you can concentrate on the Envelope-butterfly merge layer.
  8. Ctrl>click on the Envelope-butterfly merge layer panel thumbnail to load the selection (this will place “marching ants” around the non-transparent sections of the element).
  9. Click on the Window>Paths>Make workpath from selection icon. Notice the “Work path” that is added to the path selection window.
  10. Click on the Add a new layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel (I renamed this layer Envelope-butterfly path). Click on Window>Paths>Fill path with foreground color icon to add the filled path to the new layer.
  11. With the Path Selection Tool activated, click at the edge of the transparent section of the path to select that section of the shape. Right click inside the selection and choose Fill Subpath (Use: Foreground Color; Mode: Normal; Opacity: 100%; uncheck Preserve Transparency). Right click again and choose Delete Path. Except for the faint outline of the inside path, you should now have a solid black path.
  12. Ctrl>click on the Envelope-butterfly path thumbnail to load it as a selection. Click on Window>Paths>Make workpath from selection icon. Notice that the Paths window is now populated with a single path shaped like the Envelope-butterfly path.
  13. Ctrl>click on the Envelope-butterfly path thumbnail again. Choose Edit>Define Custom Shape. Name the shape.
  14. Select Shape>Custom Shape Tool>Shape and then scroll down to locate and load your newly created shape. Click on the dropdown arrow for the gear icon (next to the Custom Shape button) and choose Defined Size to insert a shape the same size as the path was. I renamed this layer Envelope-butterfly shape.
  15. Activate the Envelope-butterfly shape layer and then click Ctrl>C to copy the shape.
  16. Turn on the visibility of the Text cutout layer and activate the layer. Click on Ctrl-V to paste the Envelope-butterfly shape layer into the Text outline layer. Turn off the visibility of all other layers
  17. Activate the Path Selection Tool and then click to select the envelope-butterfly section of the combined Text outline layer. In the options bar, click on the dropdown arrow for Path Operations and choose Subtract Front Shape. Notice that the entire envelope-butterfly section of the combined layer has been removed.
  18. From the Path Operations dropdown, choose Merge Shape Components.
  19. Ctrl>click on the Envelope-butterfly path thumbnail again. Choose Edit>Define Custom Shape. Name the shape.
  20. Return to the project window. Select the layer that should be underneath the Text cutout shape.
  21. Select Shape>Custom Shape Tool>Shape and then scroll down to locate and load your newly created shape. Click on the dropdown arrow for the gear icon and choose Defined Size to insert a shape the same size as the original Text cutout shape was.
  22. With the Text cutout layer active, select the Horizontal Type Tool. Notice that as you hover your mouse over the text area the icon changes to an I-beam with a circle and then when you click down it is a plain I-beam. Ctrl-V to paste in copied text or begin typing desired text. Depending on your project, you may have to move the text layer above other layers (in my case, a clipping mask to attach paper to the Text cutout layer).

I am including below the layers panels for both the project document and the shapes and paths work document. I used these tutorials (Compound Paths and How to Combine Shapes in Photoshop CS 6) as resources for this task, but I’m sure your own search would yield results best suited for your own project.

Posted for Brenda’s Third Thursday Challenge, an opportunity for photography and post-processing enthusiasts to show off their latest endeavors. Click on the link to see what Brenda and others have on offer this month and, most important, come along and join the fun.

Panels Diptych

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8 thoughts on “Fitting text to shapes

  1. That’s very comprehensively written up and thank- you! I never understood why they coldn’t do a text wrap facility for Photoshop such as there is in illustrator and Indesign – I am sure this will help a lot.

  2. Wanda, Oka y professor, take it from step 2 again only slower. WOW I am impressed. You really missed your calling. I will admit it this very moment, if I ever have a need to do this, I know your number. Please take care — Bill

  3. Wow, what an amazing tutorial. Well done for working it out – and well enough to explain so clearly. Love your images, so beautifully done. Thank you for sharing your process.

  4. Well, I’m impressed. I didn’t understand a word of that. Actually, I did – at my job I used to do similar things in Word and Pagemaker. This seems way more complicated! What really impresses me is that you a) figured out there must be a better way and b) took the time to learn how to do it properly rather than continuing to manually align each line by spacing over. The results look great!

  5. Wow! You have a real talent for this and I can only echo what Brenda has already said. That first page looks especially powerful and it’s all down to that shape.

  6. Okay – I am officially amazed! I haven’t had much experience using shapes but I can see how powerful they can be from your tutorial – which is so well written and very thorough. You always amaze me with your text designs – you have a real talent for creating unique layouts. I so appreciate that you took the time to share your findings and your results with the Third Thursday Challenge.

    • Thank you, Brenda! I would be embarrassed to admit how many times I had to repeat some of these steps in order to understand them well enough to explain them. And I would be willing to bet that there’s probably a more streamlined procedure to accomplish this, but for now this is what I came up with. Finally, there’s a method to my madness…now that I’ve taken the time to write this out, I’ll be able to use my own tutorial next time I do something similar.

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