In Photoshop, I am trying to align the baseline, x height, and cap height of some text to a curve, but I'd like to keep the vertical orientation of the letters strait up and down, and not let the curve influence their vertical orientation. Here is an example of the effect I'm trying to replicate:

enter image description here

The part that says "McKeesport and Youghiogheny" has exactly the effect I'm trying to achieve. However when I use the "type on path tool" in photoshop, it changes the orientation of the letters so they are not strait up and down. If anyone know a way to do this please let me know! I would appreciate it. Thanks!

  • The example you provide is a little more complex than just adjusting the baseline. Take a look specifically at the "and"; the letters are skewed vertically as well
    – JohnB
    Jun 14, 2013 at 21:39

2 Answers 2


Can't really do this in Photoshop. Photoshop's type on a path is as basic as it can be providing no options or refinements.

You may find for Photoshop, using the Warp options located at Edit > Transform> Warp will yield much better results than type on a path ever will.

Realize that these types of type manipulations on stocks and bods were all done by hand where the craftsman painstakingly made certain every stroke and counter was "just so" to get the effect he/she wanted. To create the same effect, and create it convincingly, you need to design with the same process in mind - carefully and manually.

In my opinion, Photoshop will only ever do a semi-satisfactory job at this type of stuff. Sure you can find a cool font and then use the warp transformations to get it to bend. But it will never look 100% correct due to the limitations of the transformations. Character stroke and counter weights can vary using transformations, note in your sample (and almost any sample you find which is similar) stroke weights do not vary unless there's an intentional reason behind it.

I would do this in Adobe Illustrator and not even attempt it in Photoshop. Using Type on a Path in Illustrator you can set the options to Skew (Type > Type on a Path > Type on a Path Options...) which will maintain the verticals of the type and only alter the horizontals.

From that point you could create outlines and refine. Or simply copy/paste to Photoshop as a smart object if you must use Photoshop.

This is Illustrator with type on a path set to skew using a decorative font and an additional, offset, fill in the background to create the shadow.

type on a path

  • I was thinking of recommending doing it in Illustrator with a Mesh Envelope Distort, but you'd have to be pretty patient with that to get the text to follow the curve you want. Is there a better way in Ai?
    – JohnB
    Jun 14, 2013 at 22:13
  • Well.. Ai is always better for this sort of thing since you can create outlines and move pieces. I'd not ever try this with Photoshop... but it's tagged Photoshop. I wrote a long paragraph in my answers about illustrator.. perhaps I should add it back. :)
    – Scott
    Jun 14, 2013 at 22:14
  • Well I'd certainly like to see how you'd do it with Ai :) Here was my attempt with a mesh: i.stack.imgur.com/9CJSq.png Sorta-kinda the same effect (at least the vertical lines of the glyphs stay parallel) but also a pain for more complex paths
    – JohnB
    Jun 14, 2013 at 22:17
  • 3
    Type on a path set to skew in Illustrator will maintain verticals. All Illustrator envelopes will alter verticals. Even custom envelopes can be difficult to maintain verticals. Type on a path (In Illustrator not Photoshop) is actually a better starting point for this type of thing.
    – Scott
    Jun 14, 2013 at 22:30

I would use Illustrator to, After Expanding the text to make it into an Object I would use the "Arch" command under the warp effect and adjust the "Vertical" value until the text achieved the correct vertical orientation

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