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How to Create a Flag Graphic with Type in InDesign

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Read Time: 4 min

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to use InDesign's ability to create type on a curve, and flow that type from one curve to another. Along the way, you'll learn a slick technique for step and repeat and how to apply gradients to text. This technique will work in InDesign CS or later. This technique would also will work in Illustrator, with minor modifications.

Final Image Preview

Below is the final image we will be working towards. Want access to the full Vector Source files and downloadable copies of every tutorial, including this one? Join Vector Plus for just 9$ a month.

Step 1 - Draw a Curve in InDesign

Use the Pen Tool (P) or Pencil Tool (N) to draw a wavy line. Use the Stroke panel or Control panel to give the line a 1 pt stroke. We'll remove the stroke later, but it is helpful to have a visible stroke on the line for the next few steps.

Step 2 - Prepare the Curve to Receive Path Type

Click on the Path Type Tool (buried under the Type Tool, or press Shift + T. With the Path Type Tool, click on the curve you drew in Step 1. This will turn the curve into a text path.

Step 3 - Duplicate the Curve

With the Selection (Black Arrow) Tool, click on the curve you drew in step 1. Hold down the Alt and drag the curve down and to the right to duplicate it.

Step 4 - Duplicate the Curve Three More Times

Choose Object > Transform Again > Transform Again, or press Command + Alt + 3. Repeat this two more times, so that you end up with a total of five curves.

Step 5 - Place the Text on the Top Curve

Click on the top curve with the Type Tool. You should see a flashing text cursor on the left side of the curve. Choose File > Place to import a text file onto the curve, or choose File > Paste to paste some text onto the curve from the pasteboard.

Step 6 - Thread the Text to the Next Four Curves

With the Selection Tool, click on the top curve. You should see a red overset text symbol appear on the right end of the line. Click on this overset text symbol to load the text cursor. With the loaded text cursor, click on the second curve. Repeat this procedure (clicking on the overset text symbol and then clicking on the next curve) until you have clicked on all five curves.

Step 7 - Skew the Type

To make the type look more like it is on a wavy flag, the type needs to be skewed. Select all five curves with the Selection Tool. Choose Type > Type on a Path > Options. In the dialog box that appears, change the Effect to Skew, and click the OK button.

Step 8 - Format the Type

Select all the text with the Type Tool, and then use the Character and Paragraph panels, or the Control panel, to format the type as you'd like it to appear. Note that I applied full justification to all the text, to ensure an even right edge, even on the last line.

Step 9 - Remove the Stroke from the Curves

Select all five curves with the Selection tool again, and use the Swatches panel to apply a stroke of None.

Step 10 - Create Two Colors

To make the flag text look more realistic, we are going to apply a gradient to the text that consists of alternating light and dark colors. In the Swatches panel menu, choose New Gradient Swatch, and create two colors, a bright red and a darker red, or any colors you'd like.

Step 11 - Create a Gradient

In the Swatches panel menu, choose New Gradient Swatch. In the dialog box that appears, click on the left-most square under the Gradient Ramp. This square is called a Color Stop. Then change the Stop Color to Swatches, and choose the light color you created in Step 10. Next, click under the colored gradient ramp to create a second color stop, and make this color stop the dark color you created in Step 10. Repeat this three more times until you have five color stops, alternating from light, to dark, to light, to dark, to light.

Step 12 - Apply the Gradient to the Text

Select all of the text with the Type Tool, and then click on the gradient you created in Step 9 in the Swatches panel. You will not be able to see the effect of the gradient until you deselect the text.


Use the Pen Tool to create a path for the flag pole, and add a background photo if you'd like, and you're ready for Independence day!

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