Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Basics of the Photoshop Text Toolbar/ Character window

This is not a tutorial that is going to throw around terms like "ligature" and "kerning" and "tracking" and so on. For those kind of typography basics you can read elsewhere. My purpose is simply to make you aware of the existence of the character window and to show you that working with type in Photoshop is not as complicated as you might think.

So for the sake of demonstration, I took this photo of my daughter's stuffed dog (who apparently can't rest without a sleeping mask)...

and then I took a random "sleep"-related quote (by William Blake, I think) to use as text. I have pretty ambivalent feelings about the result, but it does show that you can manipulate text in a lot of ways without even creating a bunch of different text layers.

There is a good chance that you don't have the handy little "character" window visible, so first you will need to make sure it is selected from the window menu:
Now you will see all kinds of options that will help you work with text. Here, I have highlighted just a few (I warned you about the lack of official terminology):
So we're ready to type something and play around with those settings. First, hit "T" to get the text tool. Then, click and drag (as opposed to just clicking) to create a text box that will help contain your text. Whenever your text box is active you can drag the handles to resize it.

The first thing I do is simply enter the text in a size you can read. Don't worry about formatting yet:

When you start adjusting words, remember that you are free to change individual words within the group without creating separate text layers for each word. Just highlight whatever word (or letter or group of words) you want to change, and then adjust the settings for your highlighted selection in the character window.

I decided to highlight "Think" and increase the font size.

(Note: You aren't stuck with 72 pt as your highest setting. You can type any number at all in the box)
Then I did the same for the other imperatives and also added a return at the end of each sentence.

At this point, I know I will want to make more changes (colors, fonts, etc.)  I know that the automatic spacing between those returns is not to my liking, so I can highlight those four lines (I could just as easily do two or three) and make adjustments. Make sure you highlight what you want to change first:

Now, instead of "auto," I can adjust the settings from the pull-down menu or type in whatever number I want:

Look what happens when I set it at 20 pt:

And here is what 72 pt looks like:

Type in various numbers and you quickly get a feel for the effect.

Not only can you adjust settings of individual letters and words, you can even select and adjust the spaces between words. You really just have to experiment, as I did below:
You can see that I highlighted individual words and changed their color by clicking in the color box in the character window. I also changed fonts and experimented the spacing between lines. You can see, for example, that the "Think/Act" lines and the "eat/sleep" lines are close together, but that I made more space between the two groups. All of these changes were made within a single text box, just by messing with the settings in the character window:

You can see in the layers shot above that I added a white layer as the background and then decreased the opacity of the photo layer to 35% so the image wouldn't compete too much with the text. Then, above that layer is the text, and finally, the curves layer was just an afterthought. Final result? meh. whatever. I'm not sure that quote even makes sense to me. Mine would be more like "Be groggy in the morning. Eat in the noon. Eat again in the evening. Stay up way too late writing blog posts at night."

There are all sorts of cringe-worthy errors that I'm sure you typographers are noticing (but seriously, if you're a typographer, why would you still be reading this?), but hopefully my little tutorial has helped demystify that character window.


Vanessa 2010 said...
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Vanessa 2010 said...

I'm here via Pinterest. Your blog is so great. Clean and full of beautiful photos! We're following!

Light Trigger

marc said...

Thanks! :)

michaela said...

Great tips. Plus you are always funny.