How to Curve Text in Adobe Illustrator

Warp > Arc or Warp > Arch will curve your text in the Effect overhead menu. Or in the Object overhead menu, Envelope Distort > Make with Warp. If you want to create random curved text, you can also use the Text on a Path Tool to make text follow a path

My name is April, working in the graphic design field for 13+ years, I can say that a large part of the design is text. The choice of fonts, text color, and placement can make a world of difference. Making curved text effects is something you often need to do in Adobe Illustrator. 

In this tutorial, I’ll show you a couple of ways to go about curving text. 

Let’s take a look at the different methods!

Note: The screenshots from this tutorial are taken from Adobe Illustrator CC Windows version. 

Method 1: Using Illustrator Effects

Follow the steps below to warp text in Adobe Illustrator. 

Step 1: Select the text you want to curve. It can be live or outlined.

Step 2: Navigate to the overhead main menu, Effect > Warp, and choose Arc.

Step 3: Choose the Warp Options from the dialog box.

Choose whether you want the arc to be horizontal or vertical:

Once you have the direction chosen, you can play with the blend percentage. The higher the number, the more dramatic the arc will be. I am using a horizontal arc, and here are some different percentages. You can also go in the negative to reverse the arc. 

Here are some examples. 

22% Arc

67% Arc

-37% Arc

30% is the percentage I often use for a t-shirt design where I just need to casually Arc the text over a logo. 

You can also play with the distortion! It all depends on the look you want.

Now that you have some practice with the settings, I would be remiss to not mention the other warp options! At the top of the dialog box, you see a drop-down menu that lists Arc. If you want to try other warps, click the drop-down menu.

Here are a few examples of other types of curve text:

Arc Lower, arcs only the bottom of the text.

Arc Upper, arcs only the top of the text.

Arch is very similar to Arc but keeps the sides of the text straight up and down.

Bulge arcs both the top and bottom of the text.

Shell Lower creates a shell arc with the lower portion of the text.

Shell Upper creates a shell arc with the upper portion of the text.

Step 4: When you have all the settings you want, click OK

Tip: If you need to make more changes, head to the Appearance panel. Click on the Warp: Arc line and it will bring the dialog box back up.

Method 2: Text on a Path Tool

If you want to make text follow a path, this is the go-to method. 

Step 1: Navigate to the toolbar and select the Pen Tool (keyboard shortcut P).

Step 2: Draw a curve that you want to type text on. For example, I’ll use a simple curve so I will click once for the first anchor point, click and drag for my middle curved anchor point, and then click once more for the last anchor point.

Step 3:Select the Type on a Path Tool from the Toolbar. It is usually in the flyout menu under the Type Tool.

Step 4: Hover over the beginning of the path you made with the Pen Tool. The cursor will change and then you click. It will add highlighted text to your path.

Step 5: Type your new text. When done, hit the Escape button on your keyboard.

Step 6: Edit the text. As you can see, my text is too small, so I am going to go to the Character Panel and increase the font size.

Step 7: Align the text with the curve. If you want to center the text, you can go to the Paragraph Panel and select Align Center.

You can add text on any path, even one with multiple curves like this example:

Method 3: Envelope Distort

This method is similar to Method 1, so I’ll quickly go over it. 

Step 1: Using the Type tool, type out the text you want to curve.

Step 2: Navigate to the overhead main menu, Object > Envelope Distort > Make with Warp. Or use the keyboard shortcut Alt/Option + Shift + Ctrl/Command + W.

This will bring up the Warp Options dialog box.

Step 3: Choose your settings, just like we did in the Warp dialog box above. Horizontal or Vertical, percentage of bend, and distortion. Then click OK.

Step 5: Click OK, and you have the curve text.

Final Thoughts

Curve text can be a great addition to your design. With the methods above, you achieve slightly different effects. Be sure to try them all and choose the best look for your design! My personal favorite to use is Effect > Warp > Arc, what is yours?

Have you tried the Effect > Warp > Arc in Illustrator before? What did you create with it and was it for fun or work? Let me know in the comments below.

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