Creating Dramatic Circular Text Effects in Photoshop

Making circular text in Photoshop isn’t a difficult process, but there are ways in which you can make it appear more impressive. Here, we’ll look at two different methods for creating circular text, in a graphic for the fictional Flintstone Tire company.

Step 1: Make a circle, type some text

Grab the Shapes tool, make sure it’s set to Paths rather than Shapes, and draw a circle. Then click the Type tool on the edge of the circle and type your text.

Step 2: Enlarge to fit

Make the text bigger, or increase the tracking – or a combination of the two – until it fits around the edge of your circle. You can then rotate the whole circle until you get the orientation you want.

Step 3: A better approach

The text at the bottom is upside down, and so doesn’t read well. So here’s a better way to do it. First, delete that last piece of text.

Step 4: Duplicate the text circle

Duplicate the circle layer, and use the Type tool to retype just the text you want. It will look more or less the same as before.

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Step 5: Flip the text

Grab one of the little handles inside the text circle, and drag it so that the text appears inside the circle, rather than outside it. This can be a little tricky, as the handles are both hard to see and hard to grab.

Step 6: Baseline shift

In the Character panel, reduce the Baseline Shift setting to bring the text down so that the tops of the letters align with the circle. Now, the bottom piece of text is the right way up to read.

Step 7: Another piece of text in a circle

You could use the same process to create the title text, which is here set in a condensed bold font. But there’s something ungainly about it; the bottoms of the letters are close together, but the tops are too far apart.

Step 8: A different approach

Here’s the second method of creating circular text. Begin by typing your text, with no circle, as a regular line of type.

Step 9: Warp the text

Open the Warp Text dialog from the Options bar when the Type tool is selected, and choose the Arc distortion. Set the Bend amount to its maximum value of +100.

Step 10: Scale to fit

When the Warped text is scaled down to fit in the middle of the circle, it looks wrong. The condensed type has been flattened, producing an ugly contrast between the horizontal and vertical strokes.

Step 11: Make it narrower

Using the Character panel again, change the horizontal width of the type – in this case, a width of 30% works well. Note how the characters all enlarge as they radiate from the center.

Step 12: Duplicate and flip the warp

Duplicate the text and set the bend amount to -100 to make it bend the opposite way. Here, I’ve added a black background to make the text stand out.

Step 13: Making the shadow, part one

We’ll now add a circular shadow around the outside of the text, which will give it a more three-dimensional quality. Begin by making a circle with the Shapes tool, this time set to Shape rather than Path. Make sure there’s no stroke, and open the Layer Style panel. Here, in the Blending Options pane, set the Fill Opacity to 0 so that the shape becomes invisible.

Step 14: Making the shadow, part two

Add an Inner Shadow, still in the Layer Style pane. Set the Choke and Size values until it looks right.

Step 15: The shadow result

Drag the new shadow Shape layer above your text, and use Free Transform to scale it so it’s the same size as the type layer. 

Step 16: Finishing off

Duplicate the shadow Shape layer, and scale it so it fits the outer circle of text as well. Add any embellishments you like: I’ve added an f logo in the middle, and a glowing tire tread around the outside.

Steve Caplin is a freelance photomontage artist based in London. His work has appeared in every national UK newspaper, as well as magazines around the world including Businessweek, Men’s Health, Reader’s Digest and many more. He is the author of the best-selling How to Cheat in Photoshop, as well as 100% Photoshop, Art & Design in Photoshop and 3D Photoshop. He writes regularly for CreativePro and is a trainer at Lynda.com. His YouTube channel 2 Minute Photoshop is a growing collection of handy Photoshop tips, each just two minutes long. When he’s not at his computer Steve builds improbable furniture, which can be seen at curieaux.com.
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