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Making Curved Text in Free Vector App Inkscape

How to Use Put on Path to Make Text Follow Non-Straight Lines

Inkscape is the open source option for Graphic Designers looking for an alternative to the industry standard vector line software that is Adobe Illustrator.

Inkscape is available for everyone to download for free and yet it offers a wide range of features and tools that allow it to produce numerous graphic effects. It should be noted, however, that it does suffer some limitations, particularly for any Designers that are migrating from Adobe Illustrator.

Combining text with paths is one area where Inkscape cannot match the power of Illustrator, but with a little thought and, sometimes, trial and error, Inkscape’s Put on Path can be used to achieve most results that a Designer may ever need.

Basics of the Put on Path Tool in Inkscape

As mentioned, the Put on Path tools lacks the flexibility of Illustrator’s Text on Path, but with a basic understanding of how it works and a little forethought, most desired effects can be achieved.

The examples in the images on this page show text being applied to circles as a circle demonstrates quite clearly some of the difficulties that are encountered. The tips covered here can be easily applied to other types of path.

The first point to note is that after a circle has been drawn, it is an object and before text can be applied to it, it must be converted by going to the Path menu and selecting Object to Path.

Once converted, the circle is selected and, with the shift key held down, the text is selected. With both items selected, Put on Path is selected from the Path menu and the text is applied to the outline of the circle. The text can be clicked upon and dragged separately from the path, though if the path is moved, the text moves relative to it.

At this stage Adobe Illustrator users could easily move the text around the circle or move it so that it flows on the inside of the circle. In Inkscape text applied to a path starts at the beginning of a path and that is that, however the start position of the text can be changed by inserting spaces before the first letter of the text.

Using the text align options upon text before using Put on Path also has some effect on how the text is applied to the path. One transformation that can’t be made at this stage is to apply the text to the inside of the path.

Applying Text to the Inside of a Path in Inkscape

At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be an option to apply text to the inside of a path in Inkscape, however there is a little trick that does make this possible. It’s still not as smooth as in Illustrator, but the results are much the same. The trick is to use the Flip Horizontal or Flip Vertical commands from the object menu.

This has the effect of changing the position of the start point of the path and a side effect is that Inkscape flows the text on the inside of a path instead of the outside. A negative of this approach is that the path may need to be changed after being flipped so that it fits in with the design.

Moving the Start Point of Closed Paths in Inkscape

Moving the start point of a circle is easily achieved by rotating the path, but differently shaped closed paths may not offer this option. In this case the start point can be moved by making a break in the path so that it is no longer open.

This is achieved by drawing a small rectangle and placing this over the closed path at the point where the text is to start. Now holding the shift key down, the small rectangle and the closed path are both selected and the Cut Path command is selected from the Path menu. This splits the closed path into two pieces and in so doing changes the start point of the path.

These few tips can make it a little easier manipulate text on a path in Inkscape and while the techniques are not as easily deployed as in Adobe Illustrator, with some practice and experimentation, many similar effects can be achieved.

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