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Adobe Illustrator Typography 101 – Part 2: The Character Panel

In this portion of our Adobe Illustrator Typography series, we’ll investigate the Character Panel and how significant of a role it plays in typography. The Character Panel is the powerhouse of text in the sense that it provides ample amounts of type customization. Pairing and utilizing these tools with the tools from yesterday’s post will help any novice user get well on their way to creating beautiful text designs. Below you will find the Character Panel along with descriptions and examples of each panel element. To view the Character Panel, go under Window > Type > Character.

Illustrator Character Panel

1.  Font Family

This selection sets the type of font you’d like to use such as Times New Roman, Arial, and so forth.  The option and font used in the examples will be Algerian.

2.  Font Style

Font style dictates extra styles the font can have like italics or bold.

3.  Font Size

font size

Font size adjusts how large or how small a user wants the text to be.  The photo above shows the text at 36 pt while the text on the right has the text setting at 24 pt.

4. Leading

Leading Tool

Leading determines the space between lines of text.  The origina Leading settings in the first two lines of text was 36 pt while the Leading between the third and fourth lines is set to 60 pt.  As you can see, there is a major difference in the spacing between the two sets of text.

5.  Kerning

Kerning Tool

Kerning is one of the most significant aspects to typography and is many times overlooked by novice or budding designers.  Kerning is the process of adjusting the width of the space between characters in a block of text or a word.  In many cases fonts are created where the distance between two characters is not equal or consistent throughout every word or group of letters.  Also, extra or less space between characters can be used for expressive or creative reasons.  The above photo demonstrates text without kerning on the left side, while the right side has a setting of 200 in the kerning tool’s properties.

6.  Tracking

Tracking Tool

Tracking has similar qualities to kerning except tracking deals with creating equal spacing across multiple characters rather than just two.  Tight tracking is when characters are spaced close together where loose tracking is when characters are farther apart from each other.  A key concept to remember is that tracking is always applied to the *right* side of the character.  The setting for the text on the left was originally set to zero while the text on the right is set to a value of 200.

7.  Horizontal Scale

horizontal scale

The Horizontal Scale tool is used to stretch out or shrink text on the horizontal plane.  In the screen capture above, the text on the left is set to 100% while on the right it is set to 150%

8.  Vertical Scale

vertical scale

The Vertical Scale tool serves the same purpose as the horizontal, except it manipulates text vertically.  Settings are the same for the two text examples as in the horizontal example.

9.  Baseline Shift

baseline shift

The Baseline Shift alters where the height of the invisible baseline where text sits upon.  The value in the image is set to zero whereas the text on the right is set to 12 pt.

10. Text Rotation

text rotation

The Text Rotation tool allows for the user to rotate the text to create an added effect.  The left text has no rotation while the right has a 45 degree rotation added to it.

11.  Underline and Strikethrough

underscore and strikethrough

These two options add an underline or strikethrough in the user’s text. See above.

12.  Language

Sets the language for the text. Note: The text will not change to the selected languages native alphabet. Use of the proper fonts will accommodate for this.

Tomorrow we will investigate the Paragraph Panel.

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