Wrapping Text with Shape Bender: Part 2 – Bending and Importing

In Part 1 of this series, I showed how to set up the elements needed to bend 3D text to fit along a curve. Here’s where I left off – I have:

  • The curved face where the bent text will be moved back to
  • The text itself, which will be bent
  • The straight reference line, in the red direction
  • The reference curve


Bending the Text

Now everything is ready for the Shape Bender magic. Here’s how it works (the prompts tell you what to do):

  1. Select the object to be bent. It must be a group or component, and 3D text is created as a component.
  2. Choose Extensions / Chris Fullmer tools / Shape Bender.
  3. Click the straight, red-direction reference line.
  4. Click the reference curve.

The straight line and curve both become marked with “Start” and “End” indicators. In my case, Shape Bender’s first guess is wrong – on the straight line, “End” and “Start” are reversed. 


The trick now is to press the Up and Down arrows as needed. Up switches the start and end of the curve, Down does the same for the straight line. Both should have “Start” on the left, “End” on the right. Then press Enter to start the bending. When finished, you’ll have both the original 3D text and the bent version.


The straight line, reference curve, and original text are no longer needed, so I erased them. I then moved the bent text back to the curved face, using the same distance I used for the original copy of the curved edge (100″). The text sits exactly along the face.ShapeBender12

If you try this, take a close look at your bent text – sometimes you’ll get extra edges, sometimes you’ll find holes. I had some extra edges that I cleaned up using the Soften Edges feature.

Importing the Text

So now I’m ready to bring the bent text back into the coffee shop model. All I need is the bent text itself, but I’m also including the lower curved edge of the face, to use as a copying reference. I selected both objects and copied them (again, Ctrl + C).ShapeBender13

Back in the coffee shop model, I still had the curved counter group open for editing. And a weird thing happens: When I pasted the text and reference curve in here, the text turned out backwards. This is because the axes of the bent text don’t align with the axes of the curved counter.  


So instead of bringing the bent text into the counter group, I closed all components and groups and pasted the text into the overall model. The axes still don’t align perfectly, but at least the text isn’t backwards. ShapeBender15

Bringing the curved text back into its group is easy. In the overall model, I cut (Ctrl + X) the text and reference curve. Then I opened the counter group for editing again, and used Edit / Paste in Place.


To get the text into the right spot, I used the reference curve – moving and rotating everything into place.ShapeBender17

After painting the text to match the coffee shop walls, here’s how it looks after rendering:

Life Begins after coffee 3D model

There are so many other uses for Shape Bender, such as roads and ramps. If you’ve done something great with Shape Bender and want to show off your work, let me know.

About Bonnie Roskes

Bonnie Roskes has been writing tutorial-style projects on 3D modeling software, primarily SketchUp, since 2001. Her website, www.3dvinci.net offers a wide variety of learning materials for all ages, from kids in grade school through design professionals. Her materials cover general 3D design, 3D printing, geometry, interior design, geo-modeling, and more, and future books are in the works. Read more about Bonnie.



  1. Would you please show us how to do it with other uses like roads for instance?


    1. Thanks Chris – I’ll add that to my list of “to-do” posts. I’ve used Shape Bender to make spiral ramps, like for a marble run – it’s very cool. Especially great for 3D printing projects.


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