We’re in the midst of a series about Text Myths in Silhouette Studio – misunderstandings that Silhouette users have when working with wording. If you haven’t read about Text Myths #1-15, start here. The 5 myths today deal with the location of text. We’re going to learn the right ways to position the words within the text box, use Text to Path to wrap letters around a shape and know the potential pitfalls of that, and how to mirror text for materials such as Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV).
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Text Myth #16
“The text will always start at the left side of the text box”
When you start typing text in Silhouette Studio, or when the text moves to a new line, you’ll notice that all the lines start at the left of the box. But they don’t have to. You can change that with Justification.
Text Justification is something that’s used in pretty much ANY software program that uses text. You have 4 choices:
Left – all lines of text are aligned at the left edge of the line.
Center – all lines of text are aligned along the vertical center.
Right – all lines of text are aligned at the right edge of the line.
Full – all lines of text are the same length side to side, except for the last line. Some other lines may not fill the whole box side to side if there are too few letters.
You can change the justification for a text box in the Text Styles panel or in the Quick Access Toolbar. I’m pretty sure the little thumbnails are self-explanatory.
The justification is the same for all lines in the text box. In other words, you can’t have some line left justified and some right. Use multiple text boxes with the same font and font size if you need to do that.
Text Myth #17
“There’s no way to control when the text starts a second line in the text box”
I SO could not figure this out when I was a Silhouette rookie and it drove me CRAZY! I ended up just always creating multiple text boxes so I could get it the way I wanted, or spending way too much time hitting enter a bunch of times, then more time having to edit the properties of each text box.
Here’s the key thing. You have to do it when you’re in Text Edit mode, not Selection Mode.
Selection (resizing) mode
This is your normal mode for most shapes. It’s where you select and resize, move or rotate a shape. In Selection mode, you have–
- normal gray bounding box with the size markings
- green rotation circle
- resizing squares at the corners and sides
If you try to change the size here you just shrink or expand the size of the letters, because Selection mode is also Sizing mode. You’ll never be able to make more words fit on a line or force them to a new line.
Text Edit mode
Text Edit mode is what it looks like when you’re first typing. In this mode, you can work with the text specifically rather than the text box as a whole. You see–
- A green box around the outside
- A flashing blue cursor at the spot where you’re typing
- A blue bar at the right side of the box
- A control point on the lower left for Text on Path (more on that below)
In order to force the words to the next line, you can pull in that blue bar that’s on the right side. Or, to allow more words onto the lines, pull it out farther.
Let’s say you want to allow more words on a lower line than an upper line. How would you do that? Any time you hit Enter (a hard return for those of us who grew up using a typewriter), the cursor goes to the next line to start.
How do you get back into Text Edit mode after you’ve clicked off the text box? Ah, my friend, you’re getting ahead of me. I’ll teach you that in our next lesson in this series.
Text Myth #18
“Your letters can only go horizontally and forward in the text box”
You can make your words go vertically in the text box and you can even make them read backwards. Let’s learn how to do both.
Making text read vertically
Let’s say you want your letters to read top to bottom, not across, on your design. You hunt around in the Text Styles Panel and find this icon to choose horizontal or vertical text:
You think, “Oh perfect! That’s just what I need.” So you click it. But all this really does is rotate your text box 90° clockwise (it actually does just what it shows in the icon). Not so perfect after all.
Because of the principles we learned in Text Myths #16 and #17, you already have all the knowledge you need to do this. Here’s what you do:
- Type your text as normal.
- Make your justification left or center, depending on how you want your design to look.
- Change the width of the text box by moving that blue bar at the right like I showed you.
Depending on your font, you may have to put in some hard returns. For example, the letters “M” and “I” are very different in width. It could be that in order to have enough width for the “M,” the “I” and another letter might stay on the same line no matter how I adjust the width of the box. I’d need to hit Enter between the I and the other letter it to the next line.
Also, the software will allow you to shrink the box width (pull in the blue bar) only so much. You may not be able to do enough to force letters to a new line. The workaround for that is to pull the blue bar in while you are at the default 72 point size in Text Edit mode, then resize the box in Selection/Resizing mode.
When you’re working with HTV, temporary tattoo paper and some other media, you cut on the back side of the material. That means you need to mirror the design so that it reads backwards. When it’s flipped over it reads correctly.
To do that, you select the text box, right click and choose “Flip Horizontally.”
Or, you can do it in the Object>Mirror>Flip Horizontally drop down menu.
Text Myth #19
“Text can only be in a straight line (or perhaps around a circle)”
Your text can go in something other than a straight line. The feature is called Text to Path. Text to Path is using the contours of a shape as a template for your text to follow. Most often, folks put it around a circle or on an arc. But in fact, it can go around ANY shape.
Here’s how it works:
- Add your shape to the page.
- Create a new text box and add your wording.
- While you are still in text editing mode (remember: you’ll see the green outline of the text box), look for the thing that looks like a target on the left side of the box. That’s called a control point, because it lets you control where you want your text.
- Hover the cursor of your mouse over the control point and click on it. Continue holding the mouse button and drag the control point toward your shape. When the control point touches the line of the shape, the words will wrap around the shape, following its contours.
- You can drag the control point around the shape to determine where along the shape the text should start.
You can use Dingbat fonts as well as regular fonts.
If you have a shape you want to put on the path of another shape and don’t have a Dingbat font with the picture you want to use, try Object on Path. It’s very similar to Text to Path, but you’re putting designs around the path shape instead of letters or font characters. I’ve got a whole post about that here. The advantage with Object on Path is that you can alter the angle of the replicating shape in relation to the path shape (and you have some other controls as well).
Important things to know as you work with Text to Path
Getting your text exactly as you want it can be tricky. You just have to keep playing with it and experimenting in order to get the proportions (size of shape and size of text) right. And there are some important things you need to keep in mind.
The text can sit on either side of the line
Here’s my text on the inside of the star instead of the outside.
If it’s going to the wrong one for what you want, pull it away from the shape and start over with the wrapping. It’s finicky sometimes, so just keep trying.
Grouping vs compound path is going to make a difference
A grouping is a temporary combining of multiple shapes, but they are still separate pieces in reality. Therefore, if you have 2 grouped shapes, the text will only wrap around 1 of them. If they are in a compound path instead, the text will continue wrapping around all the lines even if they aren’t connected. You may need to group or ungroup, make or release compound paths in order to achieve your desired result.
The text may overlap
Sometimes you need to add spaces in order for letters to not overlap as they go in a new direction, particularly with an interior corner. Here’s a sample of my text right as I put it on my shape…
…and then after I’ve added some extra spaces between the letters that go around the corner.
You might lose some of the words
Double check to make sure your entire text is included. If, due to the size of the shape and the size of the font, the wording is too long, any letters that don’t fit won’t be there. When that happens, you’ll need to alter something — the font or the size of the font or of the shape.
Be careful when resizing or moving Text to Path elements
It’s best to try to get your shapes size and font size, or at least the proportions, pretty close to what you want before you put the Text to Path. Trying to do resizing or moving at the same time can give you weird results, particularly if you do something like make a shape shorter in height while keeping it the same width.
If you do resize your elements, you’ll need to be aware of which pieces you have selected.
- If both the text box and shape are selected, they resize together and the text stays in its shape. In other words, as you change the size of the shape the size of the font changes at the same rate.
- If you have only the text box selected, the size of the shape will also change proportionally.
- If you have only the shape selected, the text should resize proportionally. But sometimes it does funny things like not show the text as you’re resizing or have a delay before the text repopulates or distort the text. I prefer to avoid this.
You can also change the size of the font manually in your Quick Access Toolbar or Text Styles panel, or of the shape in the QAT or Transform>Scale panel.
Likewise, when you move your elements you need to pay attention to what’s selected.
- When you have just the text box selected, the shape moves with it fairly consistently.
- If you have selected only the shape, the wrapped text should move with it. Sometimes there’s a delay, so wait for it. Or, you may need to click off the shape onto an empty area of your design page to see the result.
The path shape is set to No Cut
Notice that when the text first wraps to the shape, the line color of the shape turns gray.
That’s the software telling you something. When you use Text to Path, it’s assuming what you really want to cut is the words and not the shape. That gray line color is telling you that the shape will not cut because it’s now only a path for the shape. Always double check that in your Cut Preview before you send the job to the machine. I find sometimes when I am copying and pasting or altering line thickness or changing groupings and compound paths, this doesn’t work as expected. Here’s what the Cut Preview should look like. The outer star shape is pale gray, the text is bold red. The inner star is also bold red, because it’s in a grouping with the outer star, not a compound path.
You don’t have to delete your shape once you’ve got your text around it the way you want and are ready to cut. If you delete the shape, the text goes back to a straight line because the path it’s following is gone.
What if you really don’t want to see that path shape on your Design area? You can make the shape of the words permanent with Convert to Path. (Just be sure to read the warning below before you do it.) To do that, select the text box and then do 1 of the following:
- Right click menu>Convert to Path
- Object>Convert to path drop down menu
- Modify Panel>Make Compound Path
- CTRL+e (Windows) or CMD+e (Mac) keyboard shortcut
When you do that you’ll notice that the line of path shape returns to red, which indicates it will cut. You can now delete the shape and your words will stay as is.
When you do this, you are changing your text to a regular image. What that means is that you can no longer edit the text, change the font, or even figure out what the font is. Because of that, it’s always a good idea to make a copy first, or create a sticky note with the font name and size info on it.
One more thing to be aware of is that if you wrap 2 text boxes around a shape, the shape goes to No Cut as we expect. HOWEVER — if you then move one of the text boxes away and leave the other on the shape, the shape goes back to Cut. Always read your Cut Preview to know what’s happening and adjust as needed.
Text to Path can mess some things up
–Words that are wrapped around a shape often do odd things when you mirror them, such as moving or distorting letters. But there are times you have to because you’re working with something like HTV. If you find that happening, use that Convert to Path option.
–Making a copy of both the shape and text box at the same time can also give you weird results.
–Sometimes the text gets distorted when it wraps around a shape. I find this happens when I’ve been playing around with the text box for a long time – putting it off and back on a shape, mirroring it, changing sizes, adjusting it above and below the shape (more on that in our next topic). This is an indicator that it’s time to start fresh with a new text box.
–In my experience, Undo and Redo don’t always work right when you’re doing Text to Path. Just keep an eye on that.
Depending on your computer’s processor, working with Text to Path can be slow. Elements may move more slowly around the Design area, actions may take longer to take effect, etc. The more text there is and the more complex the shape it’s wrapping around, the more the required processing time. If you are working with a lot of words, try making several smaller text boxes rather than 1 large one. And use the Convert to Path option to turn some into image as you go, rather than waiting until the very end. I needed to do that on one of the samples below.
Clear as mud? Ya, it’s hard to visualize. Here’s a video to help.
Here are some examples of projects where I’ve used Text to Path.
This is the design of a placemat I made for my daughter at her wedding. I used a white gel pen to write on black cardstock. The words are to the song she chose for coming down the aisle. On the back was her message to her hubby that day. This is the one where making multiple text boxes and converting to path along the way helped.
Here’s a baby onesie. See how much cuter it is to use the words to make the shape of our state?
Now, let’s say my is turning upside down on a circle, or I want to cut my shape but that would cut across the words. That’s our next topic.
Text Myth #20
“In Text to Path, the text must sit right on the line of the shape you’re wrapping around”
You can put some distance between your shape and your text when you’re using Text to Path. Notice that when the text wraps around the path, a slider bar appears at the beginning of the text. (I know the line of the shape is hard to see — it’s turned that pale gray).
That slider bar allows you to push the text above or below the line of the shape. You click and drag the slider to move the text.
HINT: Make sure you are using the most recent update of the Silhouette Studio software. The slider for Text to Path was broken in several releases but is currently working well in version 4.1.468. Don’t trust the Check for Updates button, as that doesn’t always work. Check the number yourself against the latest release on the Silhouette America website.
As you go around a curve chances are some of your letters will get squished, so you may need to add in some extra spaces.
When might you need to move your text away from your shape? Here are 2 great examples:
When you want to put text upright below a circle
If it’s wrapping around the outside of the circle, it’s upside down like this:
You need to get it sitting on the INSIDE lower edge of the circle. But notice how the letters get scrunched when that happens? And they aren’t in the right spot compared to the upper edge of the circle.
So, I use my slider bar to move the letters below the circle.
When you want to cut your path shape
Remember how I said in Text Myth #19 that when you use Text to Path the path shape automatically goes to No Cut? You can make it cut by using the Convert to Path option on the text, but then your shape is most cutting through your letters at the bottom and completely slices off those that dip below the line.
If you use this slider bar, you can move your words away from your shape so that you can cut both. So you will—
- Make a copy of your text box in case you need to edit the text or identify the font later.
- Put the text on the path shape.
- Use the slider to move the text away from the shape.
- Select the text and Convert to Path.
- Double check to make sure the Cut Preview shows your path shape cutting.
Wow, this can all be a bit overwhelming and confusing. Here’s video showing you how it’s done.
We’re 2/3 of the way through our set of 30 myths! Next time, we’re going to learn some great shortcuts and time-saving tips for editing text.
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