I'm a real newbie to Illustrator and finding it all a bit overwhelming! I would really appreciate some help on how to add text to a arched banner. No matter how much I try, it always looks off. Please help! I've searched and searched for tutorials but can't find anything specific!

enter image description here

  • Use the Pen Tool to draw a path that matches the curves along the bottom (or top) of the banner

  • Move that new path up into the banner

  • With the path selected, choose the Type on a Path Tool (under the Type tool)

  • Click the path with the I-beam cursor and type

  • When you're done typing, choose the Selection Tool (Black arrow) and adjust the indicators on the path. In the case of the gif below, I moved the left end indicator to the left end of the path so that the type will use the entire path. Otherwise, the left side is started where you clicked the path.

  • From here adjust the type the same as you would any other type, i.e. size, color, font, etc.

enter image description here

As @BillyKerr mentions in the comment above, once you have the type on the path,
you can check the help files for more options when working with Type on a Path.

  • Thank you so much for your reply! I can't believe that you even included a video! THANKS!!!!! :D Jan 16 at 12:24

As already shown by others Illustrator has a tool for placing texts along paths. That tool keeps the letters undistorted, they only follow the bearing of the path.

Placing texts on images of bent surfaces like yours can look better if they are distorted because they fit better into the geometry. To get it you can use the text as artistic brush. Unfortunately the text is no more editable in this case. In the next example the text is intentionally a little too long, but it's only to show the idea.

enter image description here

So, make a copy of your text, convert it to curves by applying Type > Create Outlines, drag the copy to the Brushes collection and define it to be an Art Brush.

Draw with the pen a path to be used as the spine of your text. It's color is meaningless.

Apply the new brush to the path. Tweak it with the direct selection tool for best look. You may need add a new anchor to get the curvature right, but try to keep the number of anchors low to keep things manageable.

Even better geometry fit is possible by using Envelope Distortion. In the next image the red path is used as the top object in Object > Envelope Distortion > make with Top Object:

enter image description here

Using it makes things easily complex, try easier methods at first. The easiest is Type on Path. Note also that distortion reduces readability. Easy to read version may be finally better than a geometrically more right version.

Just for information: Automatically perfect fit on a bent surface happens in 3D. Unfortunately making a 3D surface which after rendering to 2D image is the same as your banner succeeds only by trial an error - there's no method to do it automatically because infinitely many 3D shapes can look the same as 2D.

Here's one not so succesful attempt - very simple to make if one knows 3D elementaries, but it needs tweaks before it fits to your drawing. As an independent work it's of course perfect:

enter image description here

The surface was initially 2 curves, pulling a surface between them was one click and pasting a screenshot of my text was another click.

  • Thank you so much for replying! I will definitely try this. I think I need to do this or the text will always look 'off'. Fingers cross that it works for me! :) Jan 16 at 12:25
  • I'm having real difficulty creating the path for this banner...about to throw my laptop out of the window! Did I mention that I'm a complete newbie? So frustrasting. I end up with either raggedy paths or way too high curves. Please can you explain from scratch how to create a path on the banner? PLEASE! I'm so frustrated! I don't even know what to click on. hold down, etc. You make it look so easy! Jan 16 at 14:24
  • I'm not the only guilty, I guess. In this page here's at least one who has drawn say 200 000 curves more than me. But draw with the Pen by clicking only a very shallow W on the bottom edge of the banner - total 5 clicks, terminate the process by pressing Enter. Under the Pen tool there's a v - the anchor type converter. Drag horizontally the 3 mid anchors of the W to good smoothness. Tweak with the white arrow the places of the anchors and the Bezier curve handles (that you pulled visible). Draw say 200 different curves to develop some accuracy and self respect. Search and work tutorials.
    – user287001
    Jan 16 at 14:58
  • (continued) Soon you should notice that 1) drawing on the fly is well possible without anchor type conversion tool - keep the mouse button down and drag the tangent direction handle as you make a new anchor 2) The smaller number of anchors, the smoother looking curve is got. Acceptable accurate result for this banner text spine case needs only 3 anchors, all of them must be smooth with handles. Start dragging to 4 o'clock in the left end, in the midpoint drag to 3 o'clock and finally in the right to 2 o'clock - only 3 anchors, all born to smooth ones.
    – user287001
    Jan 16 at 15:35

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