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Three-dimensional type

From: Foundations of Typography

Video: Three-dimensional type

In this video I'm going to talk about two different kinds of type in 3D. But don't worry, you won't need any special glasses to watch this video. First, there is type that uses a lot of special effects to appear three-dimensional, though it's on a flat surface. And second, type that is actually physically three-dimensional. Programs like InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator make it very easy to create three-dimensional effects using typography, there are plenty of great lynda.com movies that can show you how to do that.

Three-dimensional type

In this video I'm going to talk about two different kinds of type in 3D. But don't worry, you won't need any special glasses to watch this video. First, there is type that uses a lot of special effects to appear three-dimensional, though it's on a flat surface. And second, type that is actually physically three-dimensional. Programs like InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator make it very easy to create three-dimensional effects using typography, there are plenty of great lynda.com movies that can show you how to do that.

But I'm going to talk about some pitfalls you should try to avoid and to give you some advice about how to make your 3D type really pop from the page and to be readable. Drop-shadows, glows, highlights, outlines, extruded, and beveled type, and combinations of filters and effect can be overwhelming. So my advice to you is that less is more. Even one or two of the filters or special effects are probably fine for most uses. Illusions of depth are fun and even a bit addictive.

But the more you pile on the effects, the easier it is to obscure the type's counter spaces or the parts of the letters that define its character and then you weaken the most essential function of type, its ability to be read. It's fun to explore all of the tempting options this software offers, but it takes some mastery to make these effects work well. It needs to do more than just look cool. In this book cover the type is coming forward in anatomy and the type appears to be receding into the distance in the word design.

Highlights, bevels, and extrusion are used very effectively and yet the type retains its legibility. Then we have the truly three-dimensional letters, these are another story. You can think of these as more like type sculptures, typographic forms that you can walk around and admire from many angles. I love to collect three-dimensional type because it's a reminder that once upon a time and still today for letterpress shops, all type was physical, expressed in 3D, height, width, and depth.

The depth of three-dimensional type adds to its drama. This sign is emphasized by the shadow it creates mid-day. If it were a painted sign it wouldn't give that impression of depth. And at night, neon tubing brightens the typography on this classic landmark. In this signage the type actually wraps around the edge of the building. It gives different effects as the light changes from day to night. And this three-dimensional signage appears to float above the building.

Designing for three-dimensional typography requires special considerations. It should be legible at a distance, readable from different angles, and under distracting circumstances. I recommend keeping a swipe file of three-dimensional type effects and having a close look at why they are working well. Then you can try creating those same effects on your own projects. That's a good way to start understanding the advantages and limitations of 3D effects using type.

Whether you're creating the illusion of 3D type or designing actual 3D type, the effective depth can make your typography more powerful. In the next chapter we're going to take a look at more three-dimensional typography within the context of environmental graphics.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Foundations of Typography
Foundations of Typography

46 video lessons · 30607 viewers

Ina Saltz
Author

 
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  1. 9m 5s
    1. Welcome
      1m 58s
    2. Why good typography matters
      1m 55s
    3. The power of type
      1m 53s
    4. The theory of typographic relativity
      1m 53s
    5. Getting the most out of this course
      1m 26s
  2. 23m 49s
    1. Serif vs. sans serif
      3m 27s
    2. Display type vs. text type
      3m 39s
    3. Type history
      2m 48s
    4. Type classification
      4m 8s
    5. Other type categories
      3m 24s
    6. Guidelines for combining typefaces
      3m 49s
    7. Using cases
      2m 34s
  3. 18m 28s
    1. Anatomy: Parts and shapes of type
      4m 35s
    2. Size and measurements of type
      2m 18s
    3. Type families: Widths, weights, and slopes
      3m 53s
    4. Reviewing the terminology of type, based on function
      3m 27s
    5. Working with color and tonal weight: Exercises
      4m 15s
  4. 20m 27s
    1. Kerning and kerning pairs
      3m 33s
    2. Tracking and leading
      3m 49s
    3. Exploring variations in type alignment
      3m 55s
    4. Hyphenation and justification
      3m 13s
    5. Indents, outdents, and hanging punctuation
      2m 26s
    6. Other typographic best practices
      3m 31s
  5. 10m 3s
    1. Where type begins: The mark of the hand
      2m 28s
    2. Related parts and shapes: Family resemblances
      4m 35s
    3. Designing a typeface
      3m 0s
  6. 22m 19s
    1. How legibility and readability differ
      3m 48s
    2. Examining factors affecting legibility
      4m 46s
    3. Hierarchy and functionality
      4m 29s
    4. Systematized hierarchy
      3m 52s
    5. Paragraphs, drop caps, and entry points
      2m 41s
    6. Typographic abominations
      2m 43s
  7. 11m 8s
    1. Opposing forces of typography
      3m 8s
    2. The grid: A structure for containing type
      3m 6s
    3. Contrast and scale
      4m 54s
  8. 9m 41s
    1. Typographic expressiveness
      3m 22s
    2. The emotional impact of type
      2m 47s
    3. Three-dimensional type
      3m 32s
  9. 8m 55s
    1. Working with numbers
      2m 10s
    2. Expert characters and analphabetic symbols
      1m 56s
    3. Using typography to navigate content
      1m 51s
    4. Using typography to navigate the environment
      2m 58s
  10. 9m 14s
    1. Managing fonts and building your type library
      3m 14s
    2. Developing your typographic eye
      2m 31s
    3. Breaking the rules
      1m 41s
    4. What's next
      1m 48s

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