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Applying basic character settings

From: Illustrator CS5 Essential Training

Video: Applying basic character settings

When you're working with type inside of Illustrator, be it point text or area text objects, there are two main areas or levels where you might apply settings to adjust the appearance of your text. There are character-based settings, for example, things like type size and font and there are paragraph-based settings, things like alignment or hyphenation for example. In general you'll find that paragraph settings are things that can only be applied to an overall paragraph. Character settings however can be applied to any individual character inside of any text object.

Applying basic character settings

When you're working with type inside of Illustrator, be it point text or area text objects, there are two main areas or levels where you might apply settings to adjust the appearance of your text. There are character-based settings, for example, things like type size and font and there are paragraph-based settings, things like alignment or hyphenation for example. In general you'll find that paragraph settings are things that can only be applied to an overall paragraph. Character settings however can be applied to any individual character inside of any text object.

In this movie, we're going to focus specifically on character-based settings. There is actually an entire panel dedicated to these settings and you can find that if I go into the Window menu, scrolling down towards the bottom where it says Type, and then choosing to open up the Character panel. The keyboard shortcut is Command+T or Ctrl+T. It's important to note that the Character panel has many different states, so you might want to come over here to the flyout panel, and choose to show Options. In an effort to enhance user experience, you'll find that whenever you have any text object selected, you'll find some basic character settings here inside of the Control panel and if you need access to more functionality, you could actually bring up the entire Character panel by clicking on the word Character right here.

But for now let's focus on the features using the Character panel right here. Notice that right now my entire point text object is selected. That means that any settings that I now apply will affect all of the characters in this object. However, I can always go to my Type tool and select just a few characters inside of that Type object and now any changes that make to my Character panel will only happen to these selected characters. For now however, I'm going to select the entire object and will go through these settings.

Using the top two pop-up menus here, you can choose a font face and style. If you click on the pop-up here, you'll actually see a Font menu up here and Illustrator will also try to display what that typeface looks like and on the far left it will display an icon identifying what kind of font it is. In other words either a Postscript Type A font, a TrueType font or an OpenType font. We'll talk more about OpenType fonts later on in this chapter. By the way the preview that you're seeing here is actually a preference inside of Illustrator. If you'd go ahead and open up your Preferences panel, I'll press Command+k and switch over here to the Type section.

There is an option where it says Font Preview which is currently turned on. If you'd like to see a bigger sample of each of those fonts, you could change the medium-size to something more larger. I'll leave it set to medium, however, and go back to work inside of my document. There are settings for point size or how big or small your type appears. Kerning information, which we'll talk about in just a moment. Kerning is basically the amount of space that appears between each character inside of your Type object. There is a setting here for leading. Leading is the amount of space that appears between each line of text. Some word processors refer to this as line spacing.

And then there is also settings here for a something called tracking, which is somewhat similar to kerning. In other words, it controls the amount of space that appears between each character. But rather than on individual character by character basis, this is the setting that applies over an entire range of text. There are some less used options down here. The ability to stretch your text horizontally or vertically, the ability to adjust baseline shift and even the ability to rotate individual characters inside of your text. There are buttons here for both underline and strikethrough and if you're working with Web graphics, you can choose which type of anti-aliasing is applied to your text.

However, a feature that's often overlooked by many is this one here on the bottom, Language. Currently this Type is set to English USA. Why is that important? Well, because Illustrator's spell checker is actually multilingual. For example, when you're working with text, you may find that you'll add maybe a Spanish word somewhere inside of a regular English sentence. Of course, when you run spell check, Illustrator will see that Spanish word, but since it doesn't know that it's Spanish, will probably give you some kind of a spelling error. However, if you highlight that one word and you change that language to Spanish, when Illustrator performs its spellchecking, it will actually now go ahead and spell check that one word using the Spanish libraries and dictionaries.

Perhaps even more importantly, by specifying the correct language Illustrator will also hyphenate those words according to their native language dictionary. Now I'll tell you that the key to working more comfortably with text inside of Illustrator is learning all the keyboard shortcuts. Sure, you can always come here to the Character panel and adjust some of the settings, but let's take a look at some of the important keyboard shortcuts that you can use when working with text. First of all, if I actually want to select some of this type, I don't have to physically change to my Type tool. I have my Selection tool currently active and I'm going to double-click on this type object.

When you double-click on a type object, Illustrator assumes that you want to now edit that type, so it changes to the Text tool and gives you the blinking insertion point. I want to work with all of the text in my string, so rather than sit here and try to click and drag to select everything, which depending on how complex my document is can be difficult, I'm just simply going to press Command+A or Ctrl+A on my keyboard to select all the text inside of that object. Next, if I want to adjust the size of my text, I'm going to hold down Command and Shift on my keyboard and then while still holding those keys I'm going to tap the less than sign or the comma on my keyboard. This incrementally reduces the size of my text.

Command+Shift+Greater than sign or Command+Shift+Period increases my point size. Let's take a moment to talk about kerning and tracking. With all of my text selected right now, I can hold down the Option key on a Mac or Alt on Windows and then tap the right or the left arrows to adjust the tracking of my text. Notice this adds a uniform amount of space in between all the characters across this entire range of text. If I want to adjust the kerning or the amount of space between two specific characters, I would place my text cursor between the two characters that I want to work with, in this case these two T's right here, and I'll use the same keyboard shortcut, Option+Left arrow and Option+Right arrow, to add space.

However, there's one other option in regard to kerning that I think is important to know about. I'm going to press Command+A to select all of my text and then in the Kerning settings, I'm going to click on the pop -up here and you'll see something here called Auto. This is actually the default setting for Illustrator and it allows Illustrator to automatically figure out how much space should appear between each character. In reality the Auto setting is not really up to Illustrator at all. It's up to whoever the designer was of that typeface. Most type designers will actually create something called the metrics file and that will determine how much space belongs between each different character.

For example, a lowercase l or a lowercase i, which is a very narrow character, takes up less space than maybe a w or m, which is a wider character. However, you'll also find another setting here in this pop-up menu called Optical. When you choose this setting, Illustrator actually analyzes the letterforms themselves. The Optical setting actually overrides any of the information that a type designer put into that typeface and ensures a good-looking result for your topography. In general, I find the Optical setting to be very helpful and time saving, because I find that I don't have to go in there and manually adjust the kerning by myself.

Another great benefit about working with optical kerning is that if you later decide to change your typeface, the kerning settings update accordingly. So with the information here inside of the Character panel and more importantly, with the keyboard shortcuts that we just learned, you're now ready to set great-looking text inside of Illustrator.

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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS5 Essential Training
Illustrator CS5 Essential Training

126 video lessons · 82818 viewers

Mordy Golding

Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 3m 35s
    1. Welcome
      1m 18s
    2. What is Illustrator CS5?
      1m 46s
    3. Using the exercise files
  2. 12m 37s
    1. What are vector graphics?
      6m 3s
    2. Path and appearance
      3m 42s
    3. Stacking
      2m 52s
  3. 32m 6s
    1. The Welcome screen
      2m 23s
    2. Creating files for print
      6m 7s
    3. Creating files for the screen
      2m 55s
    4. Using prebuilt templates
      2m 40s
    5. Adding XMP metadata
      4m 18s
    6. Exploring the panels
      6m 33s
    7. Using the Control panel
      3m 11s
    8. Using workspaces
      3m 59s
  4. 43m 44s
    1. Navigating within a document
      9m 15s
    2. Using rulers and guides
      7m 26s
    3. Using grids
      3m 6s
    4. Using the bounding box
      3m 37s
    5. Using Smart Guides
      5m 56s
    6. The Hide Edges command
      3m 22s
    7. Various preview modes
      3m 47s
    8. Creating custom views
      4m 3s
    9. Locking and hiding artwork
      3m 12s
  5. 28m 46s
    1. Using the basic selection tools
      8m 50s
    2. Using the Magic Wand tool
      5m 22s
    3. Using the Lasso tool
      2m 28s
    4. Selecting objects by attribute or type
      3m 37s
    5. Saving and reusing selections
      2m 15s
    6. Selecting artwork beneath other objects
      2m 13s
    7. Exploring selection preferences
      4m 1s
  6. 1h 16m
    1. The importance of modifier keys
      1m 52s
    2. Drawing closed path primitives
      11m 38s
    3. Drawing open path primitives
      5m 47s
    4. Understanding anchor points
      3m 43s
    5. Drawing straight paths with the Pen tool
      7m 37s
    6. Drawing curved paths with the Pen tool
      9m 47s
    7. Drawing freeform paths with the Pencil tool
      5m 33s
    8. Smoothing and erasing paths
      3m 8s
    9. Editing anchor points
      7m 21s
    10. Joining and averaging paths
      10m 9s
    11. Simplifying paths
      4m 55s
    12. Using Offset Path
      2m 17s
    13. Cleaning up errant paths
      2m 32s
  7. 48m 26s
    1. The Draw Inside and Draw Behind modes
      7m 34s
    2. Creating compound paths
      5m 56s
    3. Creating compound shapes
      8m 0s
    4. Using the Shape Builder tool
      10m 28s
    5. Using Pathfinder functions
      8m 6s
    6. Splitting an object into a grid
      1m 16s
    7. Using the Blob Brush and Eraser tools
      7m 6s
  8. 49m 5s
    1. Creating point text
      4m 2s
    2. Creating area text
      8m 13s
    3. Applying basic character settings
      7m 44s
    4. Applying basic paragraph settings
      4m 28s
    5. Creating text threads
      8m 25s
    6. Setting text along an open path
      6m 29s
    7. Setting text along a closed path
      6m 24s
    8. Converting text into paths
      3m 20s
  9. 18m 55s
    1. Create a logo mark
      11m 26s
    2. Add type to your logo
      7m 29s
  10. 42m 42s
    1. Using the Appearance panel
      8m 21s
    2. Targeting object attributes
      4m 42s
    3. Adding multiple attributes
      4m 25s
    4. Applying Live Effects
      5m 18s
    5. Expanding appearances
      4m 42s
    6. Appearance panel settings
      4m 33s
    7. Copying appearances
      4m 51s
    8. Saving appearances as graphic styles
      5m 50s
  11. 34m 0s
    1. Applying color to artwork
      5m 57s
    2. Creating process and global process swatches
      8m 54s
    3. Creating spot color swatches
      3m 19s
    4. Loading PANTONE and other custom color libraries
      4m 49s
    5. Organizing colors with Swatch Groups
      3m 31s
    6. Finding color suggestions with the Color Guide panel
      4m 24s
    7. Loading the Color Guide with user-defined colors
      3m 6s
  12. 50m 23s
    1. Creating gradients with the Gradient panel
      8m 12s
    2. Modifying gradients with the Gradient Annotator
      4m 37s
    3. Applying and manipulating pattern fills
      5m 33s
    4. Defining your own custom pattern fills
      9m 13s
    5. Applying basic stroke settings
      5m 22s
    6. Creating strokes with dashed lines
      3m 41s
    7. Adding arrowheads to strokes
      2m 45s
    8. Creating variable-width strokes
      4m 35s
    9. Working with width profiles
      2m 36s
    10. Turning strokes into filled paths
      3m 49s
  13. 32m 46s
    1. Creating and editing groups
      8m 18s
    2. Adding attributes to groups
      12m 17s
    3. The importance of using layers
      5m 9s
    4. Using and "reading" the Layers panel
      7m 2s
  14. 12m 13s
    1. Creating and using multiple artboards
      7m 52s
    2. Modifying artboards with the Artboards panel
      2m 2s
    3. Copy and paste options with Artboards
      2m 19s
  15. 31m 10s
    1. Moving and copying artwork
      3m 55s
    2. Scaling or resizing artwork
      6m 47s
    3. Rotating artwork
      2m 44s
    4. Reflecting and skewing artwork
      2m 34s
    5. Using the Free Transform tool
      2m 15s
    6. Repeating transformations
      3m 39s
    7. Performing individual transforms across multiple objects
      2m 10s
    8. Aligning objects and groups precisely
      4m 27s
    9. Distributing objects and spaces between objects
      2m 39s
  16. 35m 40s
    1. Placing pixel-based content into Illustrator
      5m 14s
    2. Managing images with the Links panel
      4m 49s
    3. Converting pixels to paths with Live Trace
      8m 44s
    4. Making Live Trace adjustments
      6m 9s
    5. Controlling colors in Live Trace
      6m 4s
    6. Using Photoshop and Live Trace together
      4m 40s
  17. 14m 42s
    1. Managing repeating artwork with symbols
      4m 38s
    2. Modifying and replacing symbol instances
      3m 8s
    3. Using the Symbol Sprayer tool
      6m 56s
  18. 16m 57s
    1. Cropping photographs
      1m 59s
    2. Clipping artwork with masks
      3m 22s
    3. Clipping the contents of a layer
      3m 31s
    4. Defining masks with soft edges
      8m 5s
  19. 26m 2s
    1. Defining a perspective grid
      7m 48s
    2. Drawing artwork in perspective
      8m 46s
    3. Moving flat art onto the perspective grid
      9m 28s
  20. 25m 8s
    1. Printing your Illustrator document
      3m 26s
    2. Saving your Illustrator document
      6m 39s
    3. Creating PDF files for clients and printers
      7m 30s
    4. Exporting Illustrator files for use in Microsoft Office
      1m 4s
    5. Exporting Illustrator files for use in Photoshop
      2m 31s
    6. Exporting artwork for use on the web
      3m 3s
    7. Exporting high-resolution raster files
  21. 2m 18s
    1. Additional Illustrator learning resources
      1m 36s
    2. Goodbye

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