Creating Perfect Type on Path in Illustrator

If you ever tried to type text on path then I bet you experienced problem with uneven distribution of letters. This problem can be smaller or bigger, depend on curvines of path, but always some gaps between letters will be bigger and other smaller.
Problem with type on path in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign
Problem with type on path in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign

First that comes in your mind how to solve this problem was tracking and kerning, I quess but that was unsucessful try, because that’s not solution. The only solution that I know is to create Art Brush from text and to use it with path for evenly distributed letters and without bigger and smaller gaps.

How to create Art Brush from type in Illustrator
To create Art Brush from type first off course type some text then with text selected go to Effect > Path > Outline Object.
Outline text in Adobe Illustrator
Outline text in Adobe Illustrator

With outlined object click to expand Brush panel, then click on text with Selection tool and drag it onto Brush panel. After dragging outlined text onto Brush panel New Brush dialog will appear. Select Art Brush and click OK button.
Create new art brush in Adobe Illustrator
Create new Art Brush in Adobe Illustrator

In the next Art Brush Options dialog give a brush name and just confirm on OK button because every option available in this dialog is also available and later from Brush panel.
Art Brush Options in Adobe Illustrator
Art Brush Options in Adobe Illustrator

Now that you have brush created, draw path and click on newly created brush to use it along path, something like type on path, not exactly but similar with better letter spacing and with no obvious big gaps between them. Because letters used for brush are outlined, Illustrator can take care about spacing and gaps between letters (shapes) with great precision and with excelent results. Off course letter outlines will be modified to avoid uneven spacing and gaps but in this case that’s for good in my opinion.
Apply brush to path in Adobe Illustrator
Apply brush to path in Adobe Illustrator

At this point you can do several things to enhance your type on path: to use Direct selection tool to modify path, Width tool to modify width of letters at any point of path or to use Options of Selected Object icon at bottom of Brush panel to bring new Stroke Options dialog on screen where you can scale brush, flip it and change colorization method to Tints so you can recolor brush by changing stroke color. Another thing you can do is to double click brush in Brush panel to bring Art Brush Options dialog where you can play with stretch options and stretch brush between adjustable guides.

How to use Width tool in Illustrator

To use Width tool and change width at any point of path (stroke), first select path itself, then select Width tool (Shift + W) and double click anywhere on path to bring Width Point Edit dialog where you can adjust width for both sides independently.
Double click with Width tool anywhere on path to open dialog with options
Double click with Width tool anywhere on path to open dialog with options
To avoid any confusion with therms I am using in this post: brush can be applied only as stroke never as fill, Width tool you can use to scale stroke width.

Reference:
Illustrator / Brushes

Bibliography:
Real World Adobe Illustrator CS5

Product used in this tutorial: Adobe Illustrator CS5

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