Natural Handwriting with Custom Paths

with 15 Comments

Nannette Dalton picWhen I discover how to do something new and fun in Photoshop, I am just like a kid on Christmas morning. I want to play all day long with my new found ability and explore all the ways I can use it.

I recently discovered the Text on Custom Path tool, and I can’t stop playing with it. I want to use it on every layout, lately. Here are a couple of examples:

When I hand write something, it is never perfectly straight, even though I try. I love that I have a tool that will recreate that same feel on my scrapbook pages and make my handwritten fonts look more natural.

Funny, in real life I try and write straight, but in the digi world I try to write crooked!


Step One: Prepare Your Workspace

  • Create a new document (File > New > Blank File) or use an existing scrapbook page. (Photoshop: choose File > New to create a new document.)
  • In the Layers panel, click on the Create a New Layer icon.
    If you are using an existing scrapbook page, activate the top layer in the Layers panel before creating a new layer.

Note: I am using a free font called CK Ali’s Hand for this tutorial. Copy and paste the name in your browser’s search bar if you would like to download and work with the same font.

Step Two: Add a Type Path (only for PSE 9 and Earlier)

If you have PSE 10 or higher OR Adobe Photoshop, skip to Step Three.

This tutorial requires the ability to type on a path. Since PSE 9 and earlier does not offer that, I have provided this workaround.

  • Download the DS-Handwritten-Path.psd file from our servers by clicking on the image below. You will need to unzip the download. The PSD file you need is located inside the download folder.
    Note: The download uses the font DJB So Very Susan, but if you don’t have that font or would like a different look, you can change the font to any handwritten font you would like to use.

  • Open the downloaded PSD file (File > Open) in Photoshop Elements.
  • Get the Move tool. In the Options Bar, place a checkmark next to Auto Select Layer.
  • On the document, click on one of the paths and add drag it onto your scrapbook page. In the same way, add the other paths to your page if desired.
  • On the scrapbook page, double click on any of the words on the text path. This should highlight all the text and activate the Type tool.
  • Press the Backspace key (Mac: Delete key) to clear the text. You will then be left with just a cursor prompting you to type something.
  • Move to Step Four. SKIP Step Three.

If you have PSE 9 or earlier: after completing this step, skip Step Three and move directly to step Four.

Step Three: Add a Type Path (PSE 10 and Above OR Adobe Photoshop)

Step Three is only for PSE 10 and above OR Adobe Photoshop.
If you have PSE 9 or earlier, please complete Step Two and then go directly to Step Four.

Photoshop Elements:

  • Get the Text on a Custom Path tool.
  • In the Tool Options, click on the Draw Custom Path icon.

  • Using your tool, draw a line for your text.
    Note: Don’t try to make it too straight. If you are anything like me, drawing with a mouse, this shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Click on the green checkmark to commit the path.
  • Position your cursor over the path until the Custom Path tool changes to a Horizontal Type tool. Click down and you can start typing.


  • Get the Free Form Pen tool. It is nested with the Pen tool.
  • In the Options Bar, click on the Path icon or choose Path from the drop down menu.

  • Using your tool, draw a line for your text.
    Note: Don’t try to make it too straight. If you are anything like me, drawing with a mouse, this shouldn’t be a problem.

  • Get the Horizontal Type Tool.
  • Hover your cursor over the path until your cursor turns into the Type on a Path icon. Click down to place your cursor.

Step Four: Add Your Text

  • In the Tool Options, choose a font and size. Click on the Left Align Text icon and pick a color. I picked a blue pen color – Hex #23417d.

  • Type out your text.
  • Click on the checkmark to commit the text.

Note: You will have to create a new layer for each line of text that you want, if you need more than one line.

Sometimes “imperfect” really is “perfect.”

Digi Scrap Tutorial Natural Handwriting with Custom Paths by Nannette Dalton
Layout: Recipe by Nannette Dalton
Paper from: Rule My World by Irene Alexeeva
Overlay: Digital Scrapper Plus Goodies
Stitching: Recollection by Joanne Brisebois
Arrow brush from Fancy Free by Jenny Binder
Stamp from Travel Adventure Kit by Digital Scrapper (from Costco 2011 Goodies CD)
Fonts: Ali’s Hand, American Typewriter, DJB So Very Susan

Download this Digi Scrap Tutorial

15 Responses

  1. Diane Morrall
    | Reply

    I have just recently upgraded to PSE11 and I didn’t know it could do this! I love it! Thank-you for this tut.

  2. Lisa Adcock
    | Reply

    This might be the reason for me to upgrade from PSE 7!

  3. Lou Ann McKinney
    | Reply

    Wow. Nice look. Thank you.

  4. Grace
    | Reply

    I look forward to trying this when my PSE 11 arrives. Thanks!

  5. Mungo
    | Reply

    What a great natural look, thank you

  6. Betsy
    | Reply

    How fun! Now I’ll have to play all day.

  7. Rayleen
    | Reply

    You showed me some nested tools I’ve never took the time to look at. Thank you for the lesson.

    • Nannette Dalton
      | Reply

      Rayleen, You I so welcome. I love finding new ways to use Photoshop and Elements too.

  8. April Smith
    | Reply

    Just ordered PSE 11 on Cyber Monday….getting it for Christmas….Can’t wait to try your tut when I get it. Thanks for the lesson, this is one reason why I wanted to upgrade now it gives me something to look forward to. I’ll have to play on Christmas day!

    • Nannette
      | Reply

      Yea for you April, I’m sure you will have lots of fun on Christmas.

  9. Annette
    | Reply

    Thank you for lesson. I had used the path in Photo Shop Elements, however I now have Photoshop and I did not know how to do that. Now I do. Thanks

  10. Andrea Graves
    | Reply

    Nannette, this is awesome! I love it! Thanks so much for this amazing tutorial!

  11. Sandy Welch
    | Reply

    This is a great tip and it inspired me to read up on some of the other newer text options!

  12. Jim Shy
    | Reply

    Would love to know where to buy the font without being force to install additionall software that is not needed or desired.
    In a previous lesson – a link was provided too the font that was used – that link installed a “Font Managers” that corrupted my system.
    Love the lessons and willing to buy the fonts used.


    • Nannette Dalton
      | Reply

      We do not give links to fonts for that very reason. You can do a Google search and find the fonts that we use at a web-site that you trust. You should be be to find the Ck Ali’s Hand font that way. Darcy Baldwin created the font DJB So Very Susan and she has given me permission to give you a direct link to that font. You can find it here for free.

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