Welcome to Design House Digital’s School of Design. Today, and every single day in September, we’ll have new blog posts; Informative, detailed, and FREE classes that will take your digital scrapbooking to the next level. Each subject will have a new post weekly (plus two bonus classes to kick things off), and at the end of the month you won’t believe how much you’ve learned!
Mondays: The Theory of Color – Arielle Gordon
Tuesdays: Making Templates Your Own – Crystal Livesay
Wednesdays: Creative Clustering – Mye De Leon
Thursdays: The Grammarian’s Guide to Great Journaling – Audrey Neal
Fridays: Inspiration Everywhere – Mary Rogers
Saturdays: Brushes 101 – Jen Flaherty
Sundays: Photography: Tips & Tricks – Jennifer Valencia
You know that saying “It’s all in the delivery?” I’m a firm believer. Proof positive:
Technically, they are saying the same thing, but I’d rather have the foot massages from Ryan than from Condescending Wonka. Right? Right.
Your journaling is the same way: You can type it up and put it on your layout, and it says what it says. However, change the font, tweak the spacing, and how you perceive what it says what it says is instantly changed. Subtle nuances in your text really can make or break a layout.
Today, we’re going to get a crash course in a few text-related fields. Our syllabus:
- How to choose the best font for your layout.
- Is it necessary to pay for good fonts?
- What are kerning, tracking, and leading, and how can you utilize them?
- Basic and not-so-basic ways to customize your text.
First, let’s talk about the basics of a font:For today’s purpose, I’m going to classify fonts into six basic categories that I see most often in scrapbooking: Serif, sans serif, slab serif, script, monospaced, and display. Serif fonts are named for the features at the ends of their strokes. They are very common in printed materials, and give your text a traditional feel.Sans serif are (literally!) fonts without serifs. These fonts tend to give a more modern, contemporary feel than their serif counterparts.I consider slab serif fonts to be a happy medium between serif and sans. They have a serif, but it’s a more modern, thick one. Slab serifs can sometimes feel a little heavy if used too much, but are great for mixing with other fonts!Script typefaces imitate handwriting. Since they are so decorative they aren’t very readable, and therefore don’t work well for long body text. Best utilized in titles and subtitles.Monospaced fonts are ones where each letter takes up the exact same amount of horizontal space, like an old-fashioned typewriter, but they can also give a futuristic space-y feel. Not great for journaling, because the uneven spacing can lead to ‘rivers’ (long winding spaces in text) and wreak havoc with ease of reading.Display fonts can be from any of the above categories, but they are usually fairly detailed and are best displayed at a larger font size. They should always be used sparingly, for titles and subtitles.You may have noticed a few paid fonts in my examples above. While you can get a good quality font for free, they are often lost in a sea of crap. So, how do you find the good ones? Well, the simple answer: You have to try it out. I know, it’s kind of a pain, but keep in mind that “bad” doesn’t necessarily mean free, and “good” doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. (And, obviously, bad and good are just my opinion!) Sometimes, “bad” can even just mean ridiculously overused, or a rut that we sometimes find ourselves in. On that note…Also, if you *super* love a font, you can often fix it through tracking and kerning. What’s that, you say? Well, let’s take a look at our character palette:Tracking (also referred to as letter-spacing) is the amount of horizontal space between the letters. Bumping it up is very trendy, and can give you a fresh, modern feel. It looks especially nice with all caps or all lowercase text, and while there are preset options, you can type in any number you want.Kerning is sort of like tracking, but it references how two specific letters work together. This is one of the biggest reasons that good fonts can be so darn expensive. Font designers can spend far longer adjusting the kerning for a typeface than they do on the actual letter designs. Here is an example of a font with the kerning set back to zero, and then how it looks with the kerning enabled:As you can see, bad kerning doesn’t affect every letter, but it’s very noticeable between the A and the V. When you go to adjust it, you’ll see a few preset options: Optical and Metrics. Optical is the settings that the designer set manually, and metric is calculated using an algorithm. The visual differences are slight, so which you use is up to you.Unfortunately, PSE doesn’t yet have the capability to do so. There is a slight workaround though, that gives you some results. Go to Preferences > General and check the ‘Show Asian Text Options’ box. Next, select the Text tool, then click on your image and type. Highlight your text, and then click on the symbol at the top to adjust. (Disclaimer: I haven’t tested this yet. I’ll be installing my version of PSE to double check it and add screenshots soon!)
Leading (pronounced lehd-ing, not lee-ding) refers to the amount of space between your lines. Although it can be counter intuitive, increasing the leading can give you a more pleasing result than leaving the default spacing, and make it easier to read! Long text bodies especially can benefit from this.
Now, on to my favorite part: Customizing your text! I’ll admit that this is one reason that I often splurge for paid fonts. Customization is very fun to me, and I love the totally handwritten look I can get with script fonts in particular. They typically come with a few different glyph options for each letter, as well as alternate combinations. For example:Another font trend I love right now are the dimensional, shadowed fonts. These come with multiple variations of the same font and, when layered, give a very detailed effect. Take a look at these examples:Want to do something similar with a basic font? Try this:Want to really change things up? Here’s a few more ideas:
- Change the angle of your text
- Warp your text
- Mix in decorative letters for visual appeal
- Add lines above and below your words to give impact
- Give your text aspects of its background
- Make your text an outline only by adding a stroke and lowering the fill opacity to zero
So, there it is: All about text, and how you can use it effectively. I hope you’ve found this useful, and I’d love to see layouts in our gallery implementing some of these techniques. Class dismissed!
Extra Credit Reading and Resources: