Here I have a nice little image from the iStockPhoto dollar bin. I’d like to wrap test to the right of the hand pretty closely but Photoshop doesn’t come equipped with a text wrap feature like you’d find in Adobe Illustrator or Adobe InDesign. Although we can’t literally "wrap" the text around the object, we can create a series of overlapping paths that will act as a container for our text and thus allow us to pseudo-wrap the text to get the desired wrapping effect.
The first order of business is to select the general area where our text will live, so lets grab the Rectangle tool from the Tools Palette, this is not the Rectangular Marquee tool, but rather the Rectangle tool found in the Custom Shapes area of the Tools palette.
Now we need to set the Path options, in the Options bar. Photoshop gives us 3 path options to choose from. From left to right the options are to draw vector shapes, draw simple paths and draw pixel-based objects. We will be using option number two (draw simple paths), so select that option from the Options bar.
With the Rectangle tool’s options set, go ahead and click and drag out the main bounding box for the text. We will be subtracting areas from this selection in the next few steps, so the important thing is to make sure that this box is the right size for all the text to fit inside.
Notice that my rectangle encompass part of the hand and if we were to place text within the rectangle it obviously wouldn’t wrap around it. If the object we were going to wrap text around had been a ball or an apple the next step would be much easier, but I wanted to show you a complex object because in the real world we don’t often get to work with perfect circles and squares.
To solve this problem I’m going to go to the Tools palette again, this time to grab the Pen Tool.
With the Pen tool selected, go up to the Options bar and make sure that the Simple Paths option is still selected. While you’re looking at the Options bar, look to the right where the 4 path overlap style icons live and choose the one called Subtract From Path Area. (*note: if you leave your mouse over each icon, the tool tip will pop up to tell you what each one does.)
Using the pen tool, trace a nice area around the object, be sure to leave a little breathing room between the path and the object unless you want your text to sit tightly against it. If you’re not comfortable using the Pen tool, and most folks aren’t, I’d seriously recommend spending some quality time with the tool getting good with it. You’d be surprised how often this little baby comes in handy.
At this point it looks as if I have two separate paths living on the stage, the original rectangle and the newly drawn outline of the hand, but a quick glance into the Paths palette shows us that the new path has indeed been subtracted from the original path (look at the thumbnail next to the path’s name).
Select the Text tool from the Tools palette by pressing the T key, then choose the font, size and color from the options bar as shown.
To use the path I’ve created as a container for my text, all I need to do is move my cursor anywhere inside the active path area. When I do that, my Type Tool cursor changes from having a dotted square outline around it to a dotted elliptical outline, indicating that the path will become my text container if I click here and start typing.
You can see that as soon as text is placed inside the path area, the path automatically defines the space for all the text.
Ok, you’re right, this has to be one of the ugliest finished products I’ve posted… but the technique is a valuable one that I’m sure you’ll find uses for often.
Lesson Files + Additional Resources
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