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In Illustrator CS5 Essential Training, author Mordy Golding explains the core concepts and techniques that apply to any workflow in Illustrator, whether designing for print, the web, or assets for other applications. This course includes a detailed explanation of the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of the Illustrator drawing tools. Also demonstrated are techniques for combining and cleaning up paths, organizing paths into groups and layers, text editing, working with color, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
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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