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Aligning text precisely with Outline Object

From: Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials

Video: Aligning text precisely with Outline Object

For the most part, we think about appearances as fills and strokes and applying effects like drop shadows, but the reality is that sometimes we can use these effects to solve everyday problems that we have inside of Illustrator. Let's take this file for an example. It's called buttons.ai, and it's several buttons that I'm working on maybe to create some navigation for a web site or some other kind of design. Now you're probably familiar with the Align panel inside of Illustrator, which helps us align things. In fact, I'm going to open up the Align panel because we're going to use it in this movie. I am going to go to the Window menu and choose Align.

Aligning text precisely with Outline Object

For the most part, we think about appearances as fills and strokes and applying effects like drop shadows, but the reality is that sometimes we can use these effects to solve everyday problems that we have inside of Illustrator. Let's take this file for an example. It's called buttons.ai, and it's several buttons that I'm working on maybe to create some navigation for a web site or some other kind of design. Now you're probably familiar with the Align panel inside of Illustrator, which helps us align things. In fact, I'm going to open up the Align panel because we're going to use it in this movie. I am going to go to the Window menu and choose Align.

Let's move it about over here, so we can take a better look at it. And we can see that we have some text that appears inside of a button. But if we look at it, the text does not appear vertically centered inside the button. It's kind of a little bit up to the top over here. I just want to show you if I move let's say the text over here--I am going to select both elements. We know that when we're using the Align panel, if we want one object to stay and we want another object to move, once we've made our selection, we can just click again on the object that we want to remain stationary. Notice how it becomes a darker blue.

That lets me know that that object now is what we call a key object inside of Illustrator. In fact, if we look over here on the user interface, a little teeny key appears here. And in the Align panel here, I am going to choose align by their centers. So even though I've aligned it to the center, the word Home does not appear perfectly in the center here. Again, it looks like it shifted up a little bit higher than the exact center. Now, why is that happening? The answer is is that text kind of fits a different profile when it comes to alignment. If I select this object and I have my bounding box turned on, you can actually see that the bounding box for that text is perfectly centered inside of that object.

You see there is an equal amount of space between where the object ends here, the bounding box ends and the shape, and where the bounding box ends here on the shape here. The real difference that we have is that within the bounding box itself the text does not appear to be centered. Well the reason why is because every single font that you use calculates the baseline in a very different way. The font has to also take in to account characters that may drop below the baseline, called descenders--like, for example, lowercase Gs or lowercase Ys--or ascender characters.

Those are characters that extend higher above the X height or above the cap height of a font. In fact, in typography terms, we actually refer to this entire area as the slug. The slug area refers to how much space top-to-bottom my entire font takes up. Now when Illustrator calculates the bounding box of a type object, it's going by that slug size. However, when I'm using all caps, like in this case here, I don't have any letters whatsoever that fall beneath the baseline. So really, I want to align this visually, not by the slug size itself.

Now, how can I do that? The easy way, of course, is to convert the text to outlines. Once I convert my text to outlines, there is no more slug anymore. Now, I'm simply looking at the bounds of the paths themselves, and then I can align it perfectly to the object. However, we all know that once I go ahead and I actually convert this text to outlines, I can no longer make changes to that text. I can't change the font, I can't change the point size, and I certainly can't change it to be different words. Or if I make a typo, I can't make any changes to that either.

So I'd really like to keep this text live and editable, but at the same time I'd really also like to align it visually, not by the slug size. Well, guess what? We can actually use an effect to help us achieve our goal. Now, in order to get this to work, we need to do two things inside of Illustrator. First, we're going to apply an effect to this type object. The effect that we're going to apply is the Outline Object effect. Now remember, we know that if we convert this text to outlines and Illustrator is focused on just the outlines itself and not the slug of the font, we will get a perfect alignment. But I don't want to lose my editable text.

However, if we outline that text as a Live Effect, then Illustrator is giving us those outlines, and we haven't lost the text element. Next we're going to make a slight modification to the Align panel settings to make sure that we get the result that we need. So let's start off by first applying the effect. I have my type object selected. If I look in my Appearance panel right now, I see that my type object is targeted. I'll now go to the Effect menu and I'll choose Path > Outline object. Great! So at this point right now, Illustrator actually created an outlined version of this text.

The only difference is I can't see it right now. Next, I am going to go to the flyout menu of the Align panel, and I am going to choose this option here called Use Preview Bounds. Now normally when you align things, Illustrator looks at the actual structure-- the vector paths themselves-- in order to make the alignment. However, if we choose the Use Preview Bounds option, Illustrator goes by the actual presentation settings-- in other words, the way that the object actually looks and is not actually built.

So I am going to choose this option here, and now I am going to select both elements. I'll click on the actual path itself to turn that into the key object, and now I'll choose to align by the center. And take a look at that. I now get a perfect alignment in my text. Of course at this point once I've aligned it, if I want to, I could simply now remove the Live Effect from that text object. But let's see how easy it is to do now for the other objects. I can take these three objects, hold down the Shift key, and select them.

I can choose Effect > Path > Outline object. What's interesting to note here, by the way, is that when I click on the object, you can now see the bounding box is the exact size of the text itself. Remember how before the bounding box was the size of the slug? Well, since I've applied the Outline Object effect, Illustrator now is looking at the paths and not necessarily the text element. So, I'll select these two elements here, make this the key object, align that to its center, and I'll do the same for the remaining two that are here as well.

Let's select both of these, set the background object as my key object, and align that to the center. Now remember, these are still live and editable text elements. So I could still take my Type tool and highlight the text to make changes to it, because I haven't lost that capability. At the same time, I use the Outline object effect to help me align the text perfectly.

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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials
 
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  1. 8m 22s
    1. Welcome
      1m 15s
    2. Exploring the Illustrator Timeline
      5m 12s
    3. Getting the most out of this training
      1m 30s
    4. Using the exercise files
      25s
  2. 16m 27s
    1. Starting off on the right foot
      27s
    2. Knowing the difference between structure and presentation
      4m 38s
    3. Understanding paths and attributes
      4m 56s
    4. Distributing stroke weight along a path
      2m 25s
    5. Bottoms up: Object hierarchy and stacking order
      4m 1s
  3. 51m 9s
    1. The all-important Appearance panel
      37s
    2. Understanding attribute stacking order
      6m 45s
    3. Targeting individual object attributes
      7m 32s
    4. Adding multiple attributes to a single object
      9m 31s
    5. Modifying appearances with Live Effects
      7m 11s
    6. Using multiple strokes to create a border design
      4m 36s
    7. Using multiple strokes to create a map
      5m 52s
    8. Using multiple fills to mix spot colors
      4m 59s
    9. Using multiple fills to create textures
      4m 6s
  4. 46m 2s
    1. Learning to live with appearances
      30s
    2. Basic appearance vs. complex appearance
      4m 27s
    3. Clearing or expanding an appearance
      10m 52s
    4. Controlling the appearance of newly drawn art
      5m 11s
    5. Saving appearances with graphic styles
      6m 54s
    6. Changing artwork by modifying a graphic style
      7m 39s
    7. Uncovering a treasure trove of graphic styles
      5m 1s
    8. Copying appearances with the Eyedropper tool
      5m 28s
  5. 33m 28s
    1. Why do we create groups?
      1m 48s
    2. Applying an effect to a group
      4m 38s
    3. Understanding the difference between targeting and selecting
      4m 44s
    4. Knowing the dangers of ungrouping artwork
      2m 21s
    5. Using Isolation mode to preserve group structure
      6m 59s
    6. Adding a stroke to a group
      6m 13s
    7. Adding a 3D effect to a group
      3m 36s
    8. Extending the concept of groups to type objects
      3m 9s
  6. 46m 34s
    1. Are you a layers person?
      33s
    2. Learning to use the Layers and Objects panel
      9m 27s
    3. Making selections and editing stacking order
      6m 38s
    4. Reading and using the target circles
      8m 43s
    5. Copying artwork and appearances
      5m 37s
    6. Adding effects to layers
      9m 56s
    7. Getting the most out of the Layers panel
      5m 40s
  7. 47m 19s
    1. It's more than just a drop shadow?
      48s
    2. Adding basic texture with Mezzotint
      7m 50s
    3. Generating custom textures with Texturizer
      12m 22s
    4. Adding a stroke to an image with Outline Object
      5m 54s
    5. Aligning text precisely with Outline Object
      6m 31s
    6. Adding callout numbers with Convert to Shape
      4m 36s
    7. Enhancing performance with Rasterize
      2m 30s
    8. Avoiding pitfalls when using effects
      6m 48s
  8. 31m 59s
    1. Asking yourself the "what if?" question
      33s
    2. Outlining artwork with Offset Path and Pathfinder Add
      5m 36s
    3. Adding captions with Convert to Shape and Transform
      7m 1s
    4. Creating a crosshatch effect with Scribble
      5m 44s
    5. Creating buttons with Round Corners and Transform
      13m 5s
  9. 25m 21s
    1. Working with other people's files
      36s
    2. Setting up a workspace that makes sense
      9m 43s
    3. Learning to "read" an Illustrator file
      5m 48s
    4. Controlling pixel resolution
      9m 14s
  10. 1m 2s
    1. Next steps
      1m 2s

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