Text On A Path in PSP

text on curve - opening image

Created January 24, 2003 © Copyright SuzShook
Made "Version-Independent" March 2009
Property of SuzShook

This tutorial is my own creation;
however, most of the techniques used in this tutorial, I have learned from others!
Therefore, if you recognize any contribution you have made, I thank you!
And I thank you as well for respecting this as my work by not posting it,
in whole or in part,
in any other location without written permission from me!

Individuals and PSP graphics groups are invited to share my tutorials with others with TEXT LINKS ONLY.
You can e-mail me to let me know you are adding one or more of my tutorials to your list if you like -
it's always fun to know who is doing them!

There are a lot of PSP tutorials that show you how to write text on a curve - this is just my version. I tried to come up with something that makes this task as easy as it should be - and is at the same time comprehensive. This tutorial will show the user how to add text above, below, and inside a curve. It also addresses many of the questions that arise when adding text to a curve, and discusses the advantages of using vector text for text on a curve.

I make my tutorials as brief as possible, without the customary paths, details, and how-to's. For those veterans among you, this will be welcome! But for those less familiar with PSP, I included a "Glossary" that contains all the details omitted in the tutorial. If you need a little extra help, check the Glossary section. Just click on the button below - the Glossary will open in a new window.

PSP glossary button

This tutorial assumes you have a working knowledge of Paint Shop Pro at the intermediate level (or advanced beginner level with the Glossary). It was originally written in and for PSP Version 7, then revised for PSP 8, and now made "version-independent". Screen shots for this tutorial can come from any version of PSP - where there are significant differences from version to version, a green "Version Note" will be included, along with multiple screen shots if necessary.

Where a note/tip refers to a version of PSP and all higher versions, a + sign will be used to indicate this. For example, if a note/tip applies to PSP X and higher versions, I will use the convention "PSP X+".

If you try this tutorial, and find something is inaccurate for your version of PSP, please EMAIL ME to let me know so I can fix it!

Screen shots in this tutorial are resized - your work will be larger than this!

Supplies - For this tutorial, you will need the following:
  • Paint Shop Pro - any version. The latest version of PSP can be found at the Corel site HERE.

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OK, now we're ready to begin - grab your mouse and let's get started!

Remember to save often.

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Opening Notes
  • In this tutorial, I will often give keyboard shortcuts for activating tools or commands. These shortcuts save a lot of time, and I use them constantly. When I give keyboard shortcuts, they will follow the tool or command names, and will be in parentheses.

  • For simplicity and clarity, the bounding boxes have been omitted from most of the screenshots of vector objects in this tutorial.

  • Whenever any tool is used, always reset the Tool Options to the default values, unless directed otherwise. Only the values different from the defaults will be listed.

  • Three variations of the Text tool cursor are used throughout this tutorial - these variations are listed here for clarity:
    Regular Text Cursor
    add regular text cursor
    Curved Text Cursor
    curved text cursor
    Edit Vector Text Cursor
    edit text cursor

  • Lastly, in this tutorial, I make the assumption that all vector objects are drawn from the top left to the bottom right. You really don't have to draw them like that, but if you do, things will be a bit simpler. So let's draw them from top left to bottom right:

    direction of drawing vector objects

When one talks about placing text on a curve, whether it be an ellipse or a circle, there are 4 possible places for the text. Here are those 4 locations, with an example of each:

Text on top,
outside curve

text on top, outside curve

Text on top,
inside curve

text on top, inside curve

Text on bottom,
inside curve

text on bottom, inside curve

Text on bottom,
outside curve

text on bottom, outside curve

With curved lines, the text can either go above the line, which corresponds to text on top, outside curve, or below the line, which actually corresponds to text on top, inside curve.

Note: Though all the examples in this tutorial use ellipses, circles, and rounded curves, you are not restricted to round shapes when writing text on a curve. Everything in this tutorial works just the same on angled lines and other shapes, as long as they are vectors.

So, let's learn how to do each of these.


Let's start by adding text to the top outside of a vector curve. Open a new transparent image 300 x 300 pixels. Set the Foreground Color to whatever you want to use for the ellipse, and the Background Color to what you want to use for the text. I used dark blue for my ellipse, and black for the text. Once you have set your colors, set the Background Material to transparent - we only need the Foreground Material to draw the ellipse.

Draw an ellipse using the Preset Shapes tool preset shape tool (P).

Note: Be sure you use the Preset Shapes tool. Versions of PSP starting with PSP 9 have an Ellipse tool, but it does not produce true vector shapes. Therefore, for this tutorial, you MUST use the Ellipse tool. See Step 7 below for more information on the Ellipse tool and other new shape tools introduced in PSP 9.
Version Note: The Ellipse tool icon in PSP 8 looks like this: preset shape tool

On the Tool Options palette, use the default settings, with the following changes:

Retain style UNchecked

Once you've drawn your ellipse, choose Objects...Align...Center in Canvas to center the ellipse. Alternately, activate the Pick tool pick tool (K), right-click on the ellipse, and choose Align Objects...Center in Canvas from the context menu.

Version Note: The Pick tool was new in PSP X - in prior versions, use the Object Selection tool object selection tool (O). Note that the Object Selection tool is still available in higher levels of PSP - it's not on the default Tool toolbar, but it still exists, can be accessed by its former Shortcut key, O, and can even be moved back to the Tools toolbar if desired. In the remainder of this tutorial, whenever I refer to the Pick (K)tool, remember to use the Object Selection (O) tool instead in versions 8 and 9.

Here's my ellipse:


Activate the Text tool text tool (T). Most of the options for the Text tool are located on the Tool Options palette or ribbon located by default just below the Standard Toolbar at the top of the PSP workspace. Colors, styles and material options are set in the Materials palette, located by default on the right side of the workspace. These 2 palettes along with the Text Entry dialog box which we'll see in a moment provide all you need for entering text in PSP.

Set the Background Material to color.

On the Tool Options palette, use the default settings, with the following changes:

Font - user's choice*
Size - user's choice*
Alignment - Align Center

*I used the Flubber font, with Size set to 24

The Text Tool Options palette is too long for most screens - it displays options grouped into bands, which you can minimize and drag within the palette. To display a minimized band, click its "more" button (right-facing arrow), circled in the following image:

more arrow

Another way to display a minimized band is to click and drag its expander handle, indicated by the red arrow in the following image. As you drag on this handle, the cursor changes to a double-headed arrow.

expander handle
Version Note: In PSP X2, with the graphite workspace, the expander handle looks slightly different, but works the same way:
expander handle

When you add text to a curve, you have the option of using either vector or floating text, but there are several advantages to using vector text. For one thing, you can easily change its properties, including size, style (color, pattern, or gradient), line thickness and type, etc., without re-creating the text.

Notes on Text Alignment: In PSP, text is aligned in relative to the initial cursor position - where you click in the image to insert the text:

  • align left icon Align left aligns the left edge of each text line to the initial cursor position.
  • align center icon Align center aligns the center of each text line to the initial cursor position.
  • align right icon Align right aligns the right edge of each text line to the initial cursor position.

In the following illustration, the initial cursor position is at the very top of the circle:

left-aligned text
center-aligned text
right-aligned text




In the next illustration, the initial cursor position is marked with a red dot:

left-aligned text
center-aligned text
right-aligned text

On a closed path (shape), if the text is longer than the existing closed path, the extra text wraps around itself:

text too long for closed curve

On an open path, if the text is longer than the path, the extra text hangs from the end. The angle of the last segment determines the direction it hangs - it just sort of continues in the direction of the curve:

long left-aligned text     long center-aligned text     long right-aligned text

Once you have all your text options set, move your cursor to the curve. As you touch the line, the cursor changes to the Curved Text cursor (see Notes at beginning of tutorial), signifying you are about to write text on the curve. Click on the curve at the spot where you want the center of the text positioned. This will activate the Text Entry dialog box - the third element involved in text entry. Move the Text Entry dialog box so you can watch as the text is entered in your image.

Let's type in some text and then check out a few of the advantages of using vector text. I typed "PSP is fun!", and clicked the Apply button:

text added to curve

Because I used vector text, I can easily change any of the text options. To edit the text choose one of the following methods:

  • With the Text tool (T) active, right-click on the text and choose Edit Text from the context menu.

  • With the Text tool (T) active, bring the cursor over the text until it changes into the Edit Vector Text cursor (see Notes at beginning of tutorial), and click on the text.

  • With the Pick tool (K) active, right-click on the text, and choose Edit Text from the context menu.

  • Expand the vector layer on the Layer palette by clicking the plus sign to the left of the layer button. Then double-click the text Layer Name button.

Each of the above methods activates the Text tool (if it is not already active) and brings up the Text Entry dialog box with the text highlighted. You can now change the text's color on the Materials palette, or any of its other properties on the Tool Options palette. No need to delete the text and do it over to change its characteristics if you use vector text.

Personally, I find using the Edit Vector Text cursor (second way described above) the most efficient for editing text. Just remember to hover your cursor over the text until it changes to the Edit Vector Text cursor, or you'll be adding a new line of text.

Let's change the size of the text to 16 - yes, that's much better.

text size changed

Suppose you decide the shape of the ellipse is not just right, and you want it to be narrower and taller. Just select the ellipse with the Pick tool (K) and adjust its shape by pulling/pushing the handles on the bounding box:

curve adjusted using handles

Notice that the text shape is adjusted right along with the curve - no need to do it over again. With non-vector text, this does not happen. If you change the shape of the curve, you will have to do the text over.

Now the letters in the word "fun" look a little too close together. We can fix that by adjusting the Kerning.

Note: Kerning specifies the distance between individual letters of text, measured in ems - an em being the width of the letter "M". Thus, kerning adjustments are font-dependent, and are determined by the font size. That's not just trivia!

Activate the Text tool again, bring your cursor over the text, and when it changes into the Edit Vector Text cursor, click on the text. Let's select just the last word (with the exclamation point) in the text by highlighting it in the Text Entry dialog box:

selecting text in text box

On the Tool Options palette, kerning was set by default to Auto kern. UNcheck that box now. You can follow the changes in your image on the workspace as you adjust the kerning value. Watch the letters in the word "fun" as you change the kerning to about 100. Isn't this neat? Once you have what you want, apply the changes - here's mine:

text on curve - after adjusting kerning

When you've made all the adjustments you think you'll need to your text, and you want to make additional enhancements using other PSP or plugin effects, just convert the layer to raster, and have at it.

Note: Bear in mind that when you use vector text for text on a curve, the text and curve usually share the same layer . If you convert this layer to raster, you'll be converting the entire layer to raster, not just the text. Be sure to hide the curve BEFORE you convert the layer to raster, if you want it to be invisible. If you convert the layer with the curve still visible, it's there to stay.

As an alternative, you can duplicate the vector layer, convert the duplicate layer to raster, and apply the effects on the duplicate layer. Then you still have the vector layer (which you can hide) should you need further adjustments. I always save my images in PSP format with the original vector layers hidden, just in case...!!!

And there you have the essentials of writing text on a curve.


Now let's move on to placing that text at another location. The easiest one to show you is text in position 2 on the original list - that is, text at the top of the curve, but just below the curve line. I'm starting out with the text from the last step, which I'll move below the line. This is really very simple, and is accomplished by adjusting the Offset parameter in the Text Tool Options palette.

Version Note: In early versions of PSP, positioning text relative to a line is controlled by the Leading (pronounced "ledding") parameter, which specifies the amount of vertical space between lines of text. Leading, like Kerning, is measured in ems. Leading is still used for line spacing, but not for spacing between text and curves - the Offset paramter was introduced in PSP 9 to control the latter.

By adjusting the Offset value, we can effectively move our text either up or down. Use positive Offset values to place text above the path, and negative values to place text below the path. In this case, we want to move it down, so activate the Text tool (T), click on the text, and let's see what happens when we make these adjustments. I changed my Offset value to -18 (negative 18), which moved the text just below the curve:

text moved below curve

You'll have to experiment with the Offset value for your text until you get it just where you want it. I tried an Offset value of -12 (negative 12) - this moved the text so the top edge of the lower case letters was just below the curve. An offset value of -20 (negative 20) left a small space between the curve and the text, but the text seemed a bit too squashed. Watch what happens on your canvas as you make the adjustments to the Offset parameter on the Tool Options palette.

You might notice the letters have become somewhat crowded, so click on the text again, and this time, adjust the kerning to space them out a bit better. I changed my kerning to 150 for the whole line:

text on curve - kerning adjusted

Suppose you need text both above and below the curve. In PSP, you can write multiple lines of text on the same curved line in either of the following 2 ways:

  • Use the carriage return (ENTER key) between lines.

  • Write a totally new line on the curve, with a different offset value.
Version Note: This is a change from versions of PSP before PSP 9, where curves would not support multiple vector text lines.

Let's add another line before the PSP is fun line. Click on the text to activate the Text Entry dialog, place your cursor before the word PSP, and enter "Let's do graphics!", followed by ENTER - that will push the "PSP is fun!" down to the second line:

text above and below curve
Caution: If any of your text is selected when you hit ENTER, it will disappear, so make sure no text is highlighted before you hit that ENTER button.

Now select all the text and adjust the Offset parameter to 5. You might also need to re-adjust the kerning - I used 50 for the kerning on the top line, and left the 2nd line as it was. After my text adjustments, I had the following:

text above and below curve

I should note here that with raster text, you can add several separate text images or layers to a curve as well - however, you cannot edit the text as you can with vector text, so if you don't have it exactly right the first time - wrong color, wrong size, wrong font, etc. - your only option is to delete and start over.

Here's one more handy note - if you're trying to place that text aligned in the center, and you can't quite place your Text tool cursor where you want to because the bounding box keeps getting in the way, just deselect (CTRL + D), and you'll be able to place that cursor exactly in the center of the top of the curve.


Let's learn how to get that text to the bottom of the curve, either inside or outside the curve. Create a new image, 300 x 300, and add a vector ellipse like you did at the beginning of Step 2.

By now you know that if you can get the text to the bottom of the curve, you can adjust it up or down using the Offset parameter. But how do we get it down there? Actually, getting text to the bottom of a curve is simple. Just reverse the contour of the curve before applying the text. To do this, be sure your curve sublayer is active, choose the Pen tool pen tool (V) and select Edit Mode:

edit mode

Select any of the nodes on the curve, right-click to get the context menu, and choose Edit...Reverse Contour (CTRL + R). Notice that when you do this, the direction of the node handles reverses:

node edit before reversing contournode edit after reversing contour

To exit node edit after reversing the contour of the curve, click on any other tool. Now add your text, resetting the Kerning and Offset parameters to 0. Just click on the spot on the bottom of the ellipse where you want your text centered, and enter the text. To get text below the curve, use a negative Offset value. Here's an example on which I used an Offset of -18:

text on bottom of curve

That's all there is to it - just create the curve, reverse the contour, and add the text to the bottom of the curve.


That just about covers everything, except what to do when you have vector text already there, and you decide you need to get that text formatted along a curve. Do you need to delete the text and start all over with a shape, to which you add the text? Not if you've been using vector text!

Let's look at an example. Suppose I have this text, and I'd like it to follow the shape that's below it:

text not on curve

No problem, since both the text and curve are vector objects! Press the SHIFT key, and using the Pick tool, click on both the text and the curve to group them:

text and curve grouped

Choose Objects...Fit Text to Path (or right-click on the group and choose Fit Text to Path from the context menu), and look what happens.

text fitted to curve

Amazing, isn't it? Now with some adjustments to the kerning in the word "cherries", we've got it.

Note: According to the documentation, the text will be oriented on the curve as it was when you originally created it: left-, center-, or right-aligned using the start and end nodes of the path. Left-aligned text begins at the start node; center-aligned text is placed equidistant between the start and end nodes; and right-aligned text ends at the end node. This has not always been my experience with open paths, such as Bezier lines, but.....the next topic will help you fix that!

Should you decide to retain the curve as part of the design, use a positive Offset value to raise the text above the line. In this image, I used an Offset value of 5 and applied a kerning value of 100 to the word "cherries":

text on curve retained in design


Sometimes you might want to move your text after you have it situated on a curve. This is made very easy in versions of PSP starting with PSP 9, because you can move the text independently of the curve. To do this, activate the Pick tool and click on the text. Then just drag the text to its new location along its path. Note that as you drag you'll see a small square icon (green arrow below) move in tandem with the text. This icon will indicate the alignment point of the text once you release the mouse button:

text on curve moving icon

If the text was left-aligned when created, this icon indicates where the left edge of the text will be when you release the mouse button. If the text was center-aligned when created, this icon indicates the center of the text. And if the text was left-aligned when created, this icon indicates the right edge of the text.


In PSP 9 there are some new shape tools: the Ellipse tool (ellipse tool), the Rectangle tool (rectangle tool), and the Symmetric Shape tool (symmetric shape tool). You can add text to these shapes in much the same way as you add text to a Preset Shape or open path (curved line). There is only one major difference - before adding text to any of these objects, they must first be converted to paths by choosing Objects....Convert to Path, or right-clicking the object with either the shape tool or the Pick tool and choosing Convert to Path from the context menu. Once you've done that, you're in business!


That just about does it for text on a curve. There are other things you can do with the text itself, but those adjustments involve vector editing, and are beyond the scope of this tutorial. But there is one more thing you might want to do that involves curves and text.

Suppose you want to add text to a vector shape, but you don't want it to run around the shape. If you try to add the text, your cursor automatically converts to the Curved Text cursor. But if you activate the Text tool (T) and press the ALT key while selecting the location for your text, you won't get the Curved Text cursor and you can add text that will run straight over, not around, the shape.

For instance, if I attempt to add text starting in the center of this shape, my cursor converts to the Curved Text cursor:

curved text cursor on shape

But if I press the ALT key while hovering over the shape, I can enter regular "straight" text:

regular text cursor on shape

like this:

straight text on shape

Who knows, maybe this fact will come in handy one day!

That's about it. I won't even attempt to summarize, as this tutorial contains a wealth of information. Hope you've discovered the wonderful flexibility, simplicity, and variety writing text on a path offers.

If you have any problems, comments, or questions, please do not hesitate to Email me.


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