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Archive for August, 2009

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.

Adobe Illustrator Typography 101 – Part 1: Type Tools

With the rising amount of designers turning to tools like Adobe Illustrator, those who are at the novice level may not be as familiar with the many typography features Illustrator has to offer.  Part 1 of our series on Adobe Illustrator Typography introduces the user to the six Type Tools in the Illustrator Toolbox (sometimes known as functions).  Below you’ll find a description and example of how each Type Tool works.

Type Tools Panel

Type Tool

Type Tool Text

By using this tool, the user can click anywhere on the canvas or artboard and type out text.  The text will type in the direction native to the language selected.  In the United States, the text will be typed from left to right.

Area Type Tool

Area Type Tool

The Area Type Tool allows a user to select a closed path and be able to type within the path’s boundaries.  For example, a rectangle or ellipse could be drawn and the user would be able to type text within the boundaries of the rectangle by using the Area Type Tool.

Type on a Path Tool

Type on a Path Tool

Draw a line or curve object anywhere on the canvas and use this tool to write along that line.  This tool comes in handy when creating diagonal text for a design.

Vertical Type Tool

Vertical Type Tool

This tool has the same properties as the Type Tool, except from a vertical point of view.

Vertical Area Type Tool

Vertical Area Type Tool

Much like the Area Type Tool, the Vertical Area Type Tool allows for a user to write text within the boundaries of objects like rectangles and ellipses. Again, the vertical flow of text is implemented in this tool.

Vertical Type on a Path Tool

Vertical Type on a Path Tool

Adding a vertical flow of text on a line or curvy path is what this tool was designed for!

Tomorrow, we will be investigating some of the Panels in Illustrator, such as the Glyph and Character to name a few.

EDIT- Here are the rest of the posts on the Adobe Illustrator Typography 101 series:

Mike’s Car Dealership Adventure

Today one of our marketers, Mike, reflects on his experience at a car dealership today and gives some perspective on effective use of stickers and labels.

Sitting in the waiting room at our local car dealership, waiting for my wife’s car to be repaired got me thinking.   There was no access to the Internet as I hopelessly tried to retrieve email from my laptop, which left me no other option than to browse their showroom (probably by design).  Walking from car to car, I got an overall visual impression of each vehicle then ended up in the same place, staring at the window sticker reading each option, its details and associated costs.  Looking at the window sticker I began to think more critically about the uses for stickers and labels and what qualifies one as either good or bad.

By most standards the window stickers that I was looking at were utilitarian, used strictly to

  1. Communicate costs and pertinent details about the product
  2. To further strengthen the dealership’s brand through some visual, although some would argue “appealing” graphics.

What makes these functional stickers work, is that the automotive industry has studied the role that these stickers play in the selling process and have taylored the size, color and amount of information in which they provide to maximize their odds of getting the prospective buyer into the salesman’s hands.  So why does any of this matter?  I’m getting to that.  What the automotive industry has successfully done is take the time to understand what role the window sticker plays in the buying process for the consumer.  The window sticker (or product labels in many cases) provides enough information for a prospective buyer to make a qualifying decision about the purchase of the product, then leaves the complex task of upselling service contracts, financing options and ultimately closing the deal to the salesman.

Now in other industries we don’t always have this kind of control, the ability to figure in the human element of persuasion in the sale of our product.  Your product may be cheaper, more expensive, sold on the Internet or sold in the checkout line at Walmart.  With an inherent lack of control over the selling environment and your competition, it’s worth taking the time to think more critically about what role your label plays in the selling process, and ultimately how the contents of the label will influence the decision to buy.  Thinking about size, use of color, placement and the very written contents of the labels are critical in cases where your label is doing the selling.  In essence, the product label or sticker may very well be your salesman. Is he saying the right things?

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