Making an Object Curve in Photoshop

In general, you can do anything in Photoshop 5.5 that you can do in PSP. One thing that you cannot do in Photoshop 5.5, however, that you can do in PSP — and possibly in Photoshop 6.0 — is to easily distort and bend objects, including creating text along a curved path.

Starting with a rectangle, for instance, in Photoshop 5.5 I can distort it by making the whole object bend to the left or right, creating a parallelogram; I can make one side bend in or out, turning it into a rhomboid; I can make it stretch and narrow to create the illusion of perspective. I cannot, however, curve it into a bow or pinch it in the middle to turn it into an hourglass.

At least, I can't do that by pushing one button. I can, however, create the same effect manually, with a bit more work.

In this tutorial, we will start with a straight length of fine-linked chain and end up with a necklace.

Gold linked chain

That is the jpeg. You will get best results working with the .psd, which you can download here.

Starting image:

Starting chain

End result:

My necklace


Open up Photoshop. Be sure that the "Layers" palette is showing. (If it isn't, click "Windows / Show layers".)

Create a new image, 300 x 300, transparent background. Fill the first layer with a dark color that the gold will show up well against. I chose dark green, #003300. (You can define this exactly by clicking on the "foreground color" square in the tool palette.)

Click the "new layer" icon at the bottom of the layers palette. Select the Ellipse marquee and draw an ellipse with the curve you want.

Select a lighter foreground color. Select "Edit / Stroke... " and set the options "2 pixels wide" and "center." Click "OK". Then delete the top half of the ellipse, if you want this lesson to go quickly. :-)

A guiding curve

Open up your "chain" image, select a length 300 pixels wide, and paste it into your new window. (This will automatically create a new layer.)

Snip and rotate

This is the basic secret of creating the illusion. Copy small sections of the object you want to distort, rotate them, and move them into place.

Move into place

You can rotate an object with the mouse by clicking "Edit / Transform / Rotate". It is sometimes easier — and gives you better control — to pick "Edit / Transform / Numeric".

Numeric rotation

For this curve, I rotated the beginning link section -20, the next one -10, and the next few -5.

Numeric rotation

When you get "close enough", link the curve layers and choose "merge linked" in the Layers menu.

Click on that layer and drag it down to the "new layer" icon at the bottom of the "Layers" palette. This is a fast way of duplicating a layer.

Click "Edit / Transform / Flip Horizontal" and move the new image to the right of the window.

Copy another section to smoothly bridge the remaining gap.

Closed loop

I then nudged the two lengths together for the following image.

End results

Other Uses

This was a simple curve. I used the same technique to extend the drape and make the curves continue to flow in the border image of the "Purple Blanket", and to doctor the tree trunk and flower stems so that I could create a continuous border tile for "Columbines".

I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with it. Have fun!

Other Tutorials