Deke’s Techniques: Placing type on a circular path in Illustrator

Published by | Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

This week’s free Deke’s Techniques is the first recorded in Illustrator CS6, but aside from the new dark interface atmosphere, there’s nothing in this technique that can’t be done in earlier versions of Illustrator. Which is to say, placing type on the top and bottom of what appears to be the same circle still requires some finesse, even in this era of Illustrator CS6. In today’s tutorial, Deke will show you exactly how it works.

This technique is ultimately a matter of understanding how to stack two different circles, using the alignment setting and Smart Guides to your advantage, and then adjusting the scale and tracking of the text to finish the effect. The result is type placed on a circular path, with the center of each letter aligned, like you see in this fiercely aligned logo:

Photoshop logo with text places evenly around the entire circle.

For members of, Deke’s got an exclusive follow-up movie called Making flared type on a circle that demonstrates how to convert your text to an art brush for those times when you need your letters to bend and flare with the curve of your circle, rather than aligning at the center of each letter. This technique is especially handy when you need to change a long word like tortellini to a word like milk that is much shorter and contains a very wide first letter.

See you back next week when Deke shares another free technique!


Learn more:

• The entire  Deke’s Techniques series on
• All Illustrator courses on
• All Design courses on
• All courses by Deke McClelland on

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7 Responses to “Deke’s Techniques: Placing type on a circular path in Illustrator”

  1. Wesley says:

    Thanks mate, found this to be very helpful in solving some of my issues!

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  3. Sheresse says:

    Thanks so much! I was working on a logo and trying to figure out how to do this I hadn’t done it in so long I forgot! you saved me!

  4. David says:

    How did you center the two circles on the brown thick ring? Because I can use math to figure out the center of the ring but I’m hoping there was an easier way.

  5. James Fritz says:

    Hi David,

    Deke created the circles in the background by using the appearance panel. All of these circles are just different effects applied to the same path. Here is a screen shot of the appearance panel with the circle selected from this exercise file –

    I recommend playing with the effects that he applied to understand how he made it.

    To learn more about the appearance panel, I recommend watching chapter two of Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials.

    Good luck and thanks for watching!

    James Fritz

  6. This was such a great tutorial. I’m in the process of creating a sticker for my fiancé’s recording business using his existing logo, and this helped tremendously. Thank you!!

  7. Ralf says:

    Deke you are just GREAT! Love your tuts!

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