3 Free Curved Text Tools – Inkscape vs GIMP vs PicMonkey

create-curve-text-easilyA lot of DIY’ers want to create curved text for images and graphics without spending either a ridiculously amount of time or money. Since not every online editor can create curved text I wanted to mention a couple of solid choices for doing that. Plus, these low cost online “curve text generators” as I like to call them are so easy that anyone can do this. In fact, I like to use these 3 free curved text tools to make circular text designs on transparent backgrounds that go on my design which can be done with any editor I’m using! While some might not like that extra step it literally takes 2 to 3 minutes and adds a lot of flexibility. My goal is always to use the best editor for in the easiest and most flexible way possible.

Note: This is a fairly long article because I list the steps for the editors (GIMP and Inkscape) however if you want the shortcut just view the videos.

Online Curve Text Editors vs Downloadable Curved Text Editors

In this instance, you can have your cake and ice cream too, as the saying goes because there are choices for creating curved text and options include both online text editors as well as downloadable ones. Previously I’ve demo’d the easiest low cost online curved text editor (PicMonkey) in my article “Word Circles – Curved Text Around Circles”. It’s so easy that I can make curved text or “word circles” in about 3 minutes; it takes more time to pick out the font style and color than to make the text curve around a circle. Now that’s easy! So now I’m going to show you two more ways with free downloadable software to create curved text if you don’t want to use an online editor.

The 3 free curved text tools I like are:




So while PicMonkey uses text along an arc the other 2 tools use text along a path, in this case along a circle. I’ve used all 3 and Inkscape is my personal favorite for just creating text effects. GIMP and PicMonkey work too with adding curved text on images. Frankly, PicMonkey is the easiest but doesn’t have as many options to tweak letter spacing or to add a lot of special effects.

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Check out my PicMonkey article here >>>>  Word Circles – Curved Text Around Circles – PicMonkey


Inkscape Curved Text – Easy Peasy Curved Text Tool

Although I’m a Mac user, using Inkscape on any OS is possible. I hate to admit it but there’s actually more Inkscape documentation using Windows than with using Mac but still the basics of Inkscape work on any OS. The concept in Inkscape is to create a circle, create the text, convert each object into an Inkscape path and then place the text within or on the outside of the circle. Pretty simple but the sequence of steps is important; you’ll see why shortly. Since Inkscape is a vector graphics program I don’t recommend trying to import an image just to place curved text on it. You’d be better off using either GIMP or Pixlr doing that. However, on the plus side, by using Inkscape you can resize the curved text on the fly without any loss in resolution and there’s a ton of special effects you can also apply to the curved text to make it look even cooler. That’s super easy to do just check out my article on it here>>> Inkscape Filter Effects – Create Cool Text Effects.

So here’s how to use Inkscape to create curved text. (text along a path)

  1. Open Inkscape, click on the “create and edit text objects” button (F8) to add text. Using the top text menu bar to change font, size, kerning etc. Use the color palette at the bottom or the “Edit, objects, gradients …” button at the top to get the Fill and Stroke dialog box which will also allow changing color.

  2. Now add a circle using the “create circles, ellipses, and arcs” button (F4) button. Hold down ctrl to make a circle otherwise it will become an oval. (You can create text around that too using the same procedure).

  3. Click “select and transform objects” (F1) then hold shift (for multiple selections) and click on both the text and circle.

  4. Select “Text” at the top then “Put on Path”, but you’re not done because the text isn’t where you want it.

  5. Resizing the circle so the text fits around one-half of the way and using the corner handles will allow moving the text to a readable location.  First, click the corner handle then drag to rotate. Next, click and hold CTRL to keep the circle shape, drag a corner arrow in or out to make the text the size desired.  Repeat the process until the text is the size and where you want it to be.  Notice this curved text by default is convex.  

  6. Now select the curved text by clicking on it. Go to Path > Object to Path.  This converts the text to a path object.  After that click on the circle and delete it.

  7. To save the curved text on a transparent background, add the alpha channel as I show in my article  and then export the text as a png file.

What if you need it to be concave instead of convex?  The process is similar.

  1.  Using the above steps to create the curved text, we are simply going to flip it.
  2.  Repeat using steps 1-5 then to make it concave, simply click the “Flip the selected objects vertically” button.
  3.  Finish using steps 6 and 7.

Check out the video here>>>>>

GIMP Curved Text – GIMP Circular Text – Make circular text designs.

GIMP circular text works really well; placing it on top of an image, photo or graphic can be used for designs or social media posts. Creating curved text with GIMP requires more steps than with either Inkscape or PicMonkey but GIMP is a very powerful tool, especially as a photo editing tool so it’s worth learning how to use GIMP to create circular text. I say this because GIMP is much more like using Adobe’s Photoshop while Inkscape is closer to Adobe’s Illustrator but both free software programs do this easily.

So here’s how to use GIMP to create circular text in a jiffy. (text along a path)

  1.  First, create a new image file after opening GIMP.  Click create File> New Image and set the size (dimensions).  This will create a canvas area to work in.   I’ll create a design that’s 600 x 600 pixels.
  2.  Next, add horizontal and vertical guides.  Go to Image > Guides > New Guides By Percent.  Click ok to add a horizontal guide.  Do it again for a vertical guide.  Go to Image > Guides > New Guides By Percent, click the dropdown and select Vertical to add a vertical guide.
  3.  Add a circle using the guides as the center.  Use the Ellipse Select Tool.  Under Tool Options (for Ellipse) check the Fixed Option (1:1 aspect ratio) and also the Expand From Center option.  Mouse over the intersection of the guides;  click and drag to create a circle.  Hit enter when it is the size you want.
  4.  Go to Windows > Dockable Dialogs > Paths.  With the Dockable Dialogs- Paths toolbox open, click on the button “Convert selection to path”.  That will convert the circle to a path that the text will follow but first, click on the leftmost button for the selection (the circle) in the Paths toolbox.  That button will make the selected “path” aka the circle visible. Click on the Select menu then “none”.
  5.  Create the text by choosing the text tool, click on the canvas area and type in the text.  Change the font and size to whatever you want by triple-clicking it or using Ctrl-A.
  6.  Next right click the text layer and choose Layer> Text Along Path. That adds text onto the circle layer or first layer called “selection”.
  7.  Choose the move tool and turn off the text layer.
  8.  Click on background layer then the button to create a new layer. Click ok and make the new layer the active working one by clicking on it.
  9. Click back to Dockable Dialogs > Paths Toolbox.  Now turn off the visibility of the Path (the layer showing the curved text).
  10.  Next, select the Circle layer and click on the foreground color to choose the color of the text you want to have.  I will change to green and click ok.  Go to Edit > Fill with Foreground color.  Finish by clicking Select > None.   Now turn off the visibility of the circle.  Go to Paths Dialog and click the leftmost button (visibility) next to the selection showing the circle.
  11.  Under Image > Guides > Remove all guides to turn off the guides.
  12.  From the top menu drag a new horizontal guide.  Go to the Rotate tool.  Click at the beginning of the text and drag to rotate the text around the horizontal guide to where you want it to be.  Click on the Rotate button.  Click back on Move tool than line up the horizontal guide with the bottom edge of the text. Click on rotate tool and rotate again until the text lines up like you want.  You can repeat this as many times as necessary to get the curved text where you want it.

Notice the text is curved in a convex path.  What if you need curved text in a concave path.  The process is very similar.

  1. Using the above process, use steps 1 – 8.  Now click on the Flip tool button and click in the Vertical radiobox in the Tool Options.  Make sure the layer with the circle is active by clicking on it.
  2. Go to the Dockable Dialog > Layers.  Right click the text layer,  choose the “Text Along Paths” option.  A new version of the text is showing and curved as concave.  Now repeating the previous steps a new layer can be created, color filled and so on.
  3. Using steps 8 – 12 create the concave text.

Check out the video.



There you have it.  Three very very useful tools to easily create curved convex text or curved concave text in minutes.  And if you decide you want to add cool special effects to your curved text you can easily do that with either Inkscape or GIMP.

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