Quark How-To: Fill Type with Artwork in QuarkXPress


One of the biggest time-eaters in laying out a publication is jumping over to image-editing or drawing programs. Too often we think creating or tweaking simple effects such as filling text with an image (or images) can be done only in Photoshop or Illustrator. Whenever possible, stay in your layout application. It will save time and allow you to keep your mind on your Quark workflow without breaking concentration to switch to Illustrator or Photoshop.

The type in Figure 1 below was filled without the aid of Illustrator or Photoshop. I used QuarkXPress 6.5, but the process works just as well in XPress 6.0 and even 5. In a few quick steps I’ll show you how to not only fill type with a single image, but also how to fill each character of a word with different artwork.

Figure 1: Each letter is filled with a separate picture.


Fill a Word with Artwork

  1. Start a new print layout in QuarkXPress.
  2. Create a text box and type your text. Keep it simple: This technique only works with a single line of text, and it looks much better when applied to short words or phrases.
  3. Apply your text formatting, and choose a thick, beefy, or bold typeface at a large point size. For my “Tampa” design (see Figure 2) I used Thomas E. Harvey’s typeface Coliseum set at 250 pts. Leading doesn’t matter, but adjust the kerning, scaling, and other styling options until you have exactly the look you’re after.

    Figure 2: Set a single line of text in a new text box.


  4. Highlight your text with the Content Tool and, from the Style menu, choose Text To Box. After that, you should now have a picture box–denoted by an X through it–in the shape of your text (see Figure 3). Above that will be your original text box.

    Figure 3: A text-shaped picture box.


  5. With either the Item or Content Tools, select your new word-shaped picture box and choose File > Get Picture, or press CMD+E (Mac) / CTRL+E (Win). Voila! Now you’ve got text filled with a picture (see Figure 4).

    Figure 4: Get Picture brings the image into the text-shaped picture box.


  6. Adjust the image with the Content Tool until it fills your box, then right-click and choose Fit Picture to Box from the context menu, right-click and choose Fit Box to Picture from the context menu, or use the Measurements Palette to align and size your fill image.

Since the text is now a standard picture box, you can manipulate it just as you would any other picture box. As you can see in Figure 5, I stretched my filled text vertically to better accommodate the photo without squashing the skyline.

Figure 5: The finished artwork-filled-text.


Once you have this technique down, you’ll probably wonder if there’s a way to place a separate image inside each letter–without having to repeat the entire process for each letter, creating individual text boxes and converting them picture boxes. Would I tease you like that if there weren’t such a way? Perish the thought.

Fill Each Character with Its Own Artwork

  1. Follow steps 1 through 5 in the previous section to create your text-shaped picture box and insert your first image.
  2. Select the text-shaped picture box with the Item Tool and choose Item > Split > Outside Paths (see Figure 6). If you choose All Paths instead of Outside Paths, Quark will break up compound paths; open areas such as the counters of a, e, b, d, p, and so on will become separate objects unto themselves. All Paths opens even greater creative options, but for now stick with Outside Paths.

    Figure 6: Choose Item > Split > Outside Paths to break individual compound paths from the group.


  3. Depending on your version of XPress and how fast it redraws the screen, you may not notice a change come over your text-shaped picture box. Rest assured, something fundamental has changed. The picture may seem to shift or replicate across the letters. Each box should now contain its own independent copy of the image you placed in step 1 above.
  4. With the Item Tool still selected, click away from your picture box to deselect it, and then click on a single letter, which is now a standalone picture box unto itself. Get Picture and place a new image. See how the image only fills the one letter? Do the same for each of the remaining letters in your word or phrase (see Figure 7).

Figure 7: Five letters holding five separate images.


Last Words
The Item > Split > Outside Paths command splits the compound picture box into its constituent parts, treating each as its own self-contained picture box. Thus each can hold its own image–or coloring or blend, for that matter. To manipulate the word as a whole again, just select all letters by dragging a rectangle across them with the Item Tool and choosing Item > Group.

My finished logo, complete with strokes and additional text boxes, is in Figure 8.

Figure 8: My final logo, ready for application onto brochures, t-shirts, and identity material.


Filling words with pictures can provide dramatic effects, but, like any other cool technique, it’s easily abused. Use this technique only when a project warrants it.


Posted on: August 1, 2005

1 Comment on Quark How-To: Fill Type with Artwork in QuarkXPress

  1. thnx for posting this type trick…………
    your way of teaching is very gud……..
    i done it so easly…….. thnx

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