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Defining and modifying character styles

From: Illustrator Insider Training: Type and Text

Video: Defining and modifying character styles

In the previous movie, we discussed the concept of hierarchy as it applies to text styles inside of Illustrator, and because of that, when I'm working inside of Illustrator, I usually focus on defining my character styles first. In fact, the very nature or the kind of documents that I create inside of Illustrator, just the way that I use text, a lot of point text objects, a lot of smaller blocks of text, I'm usually focusing on just the font and the font size, a few basic settings. So I'm usually working within the realm of character styles. And remember, those sit higher in the hierarchy than paragraph styles do.

Defining and modifying character styles

In the previous movie, we discussed the concept of hierarchy as it applies to text styles inside of Illustrator, and because of that, when I'm working inside of Illustrator, I usually focus on defining my character styles first. In fact, the very nature or the kind of documents that I create inside of Illustrator, just the way that I use text, a lot of point text objects, a lot of smaller blocks of text, I'm usually focusing on just the font and the font size, a few basic settings. So I'm usually working within the realm of character styles. And remember, those sit higher in the hierarchy than paragraph styles do.

So when I need to add things like Tab settings or space before or things that are specific to paragraphs, I then go ahead and create a paragraph style to override or to add on additional features to my character styles. This is very different than the approach I might take in InDesign, where I'm usually building paragraph styles first and then I modify or override some of those settings using character styles. But here inside of Illustrator, character styles always comes first, and then if I decide I need something little bit extra, I then build the paragraph style on top of that. So let's take a look at this flyer right here.

I am working in this document called character_styles.ai, and I want to create some styles here for maybe my headline, my body copy, and maybe my tagline here. So before I get started, it's important to realize that I already have a character style defined in my document, which is my Normal Character Style. That's my default style. So I am going to be creating styles that sit above that Normal Character Style. I am going to go to the Window menu, I am going to scroll down to where it says Type, and then I will choose Character Styles to open up my Character Styles panel. And there are two ways to really go about defining styles inside of Illustrator.

One way is what I call the Flying Blind method. That's simply when I have nothing selected in my artboard. I click this button here on the bottom to choose Create New Style. Then I double-click on the style, and I will give it a name, and I start going through the settings: Basic Character Formats, Advanced Character Formats, so on and so forth. And remember that these are not necessarily blank; they are just inheriting the settings from the Normal Character Style that already exists inside of my document. So if I already knew in my mind exactly what I wanted to create, maybe I am already working for a certain client. I know what the typeface I am going to be using is.

So I am going to start specifying that information right here. I am building it basically just from whatever exists inside of my brain. However, many times when I am working inside of a document I am designing things first on my artboard, like I've done here. I actually just set my text. I see kind of how it fits, what basic size I want, and then once I have gotten this down and I now I'm creating styles, because I need to create multiple versions of this. Maybe I am doing a whole campaign of flyers or maybe I am creating an English flyer here, but I also need a Spanish version and other languages, for example.

And I might want to be using styles in order to make that process easier. I will build my styles from my existing document. So I am just going to select this character style here and simply delete it. I will choose Yes over here. And now I am going to select this text for the headline. I wanted to create a new character style, and I can certainly click on this button here to create a new character style, but then to actually change its settings and change its name, I need to double-click on it, which is an extra step. So what I do instead--I am simply going to go ahead now and delete this one-- is I come over here with my text selected, to my Character Styles panel, hold down the Option key on my keyboard-- I am on a Mac, but if you are on Windows, that would be the Alt key--and then while holding that key down on your keyboard, click the Create New Style button.

This automatically now opens up the Character Style Options dialog box, so I can give it a name. Let's call this one header. And I could jump to right over here where the settings are, so I can make sure that I get all the settings that I want, even if they go above and beyond what I have already set inside of my document. For example, you can see that Font Family, Font Style, Size, Kerning are all chosen here for me, because they are picking up these values from my selection. However, where Leading and Tracking are set right now, it could be that I don't have those settings. I have never set them explicitly for that selection here inside of my document for that text object.

So Illustrator is actually setting those to inherit them from the Normal Character Style. But I may not want that, so I am going to choose a specific value Other, and for Tracking I will set it to 0. I am also going to choose Normal for Case and Position. And before we go to the next dialog here, I just want to show you that these check boxes for Underline, Strikethrough, and Standard Vertical Roman Alignment have a little dash through it. That is what we call a neutral value, but it means that it's picking up that value again from the Normal Character Style. So check boxes, when working in this way, have three different states.

They have a state of being off completely, of being on, or of being neutral, or meaning inherit the setting from the previous style. I don't want it to inherit that setting. I want it specifically to be off, so I am simply going to go ahead here and make sure that these check boxes are not turned on at all. Next, I will go to Advanced Character Formats. I will choose again 100% in both Horizontal and Vertical Scale, and for Baseline Shift and Character Rotation, I am going to choose 0. For Language, I am going to choose English: USA. I will discuss more about the values of working with language a little bit later on in the next chapter.

Next, I will go to Character Color. I will choose Black. I will turn off Overprint Fill. I will go to OpenType Features and I want my Figure set to default, my Position set to default, and I do want my Standard Ligatures turned on, but I don't really want any of the other settings for OpenType right now at all. So I am going to turn all those off, and now that I have set all of those settings I am going to click OK. Great! So I have now used my selection to create or define a new character style, but I haven't applied the style to that text.

Now that the style exists, I am simply going to go ahead and click on it and now I have applied that style to this selection right now. Now you will notice a little plus sign appear next to the word header. We will actually learn more about what that means a little bit later inside this chapter, but for now I am going to click on this option again to basically tell Illustrator that I want this to be pure settings that I have applied with this header character style. Now let's focus on creating styles for both the body copy here and the tagline. I am going to select the body copy here. This is an area text object, so again, it doesn't make a difference what kind of text object I am using.

I am now going to hold down my Option key, or the Alt key on Windows, click on the Create New Style button here to create a new character style. Let's call this one body. I am going to jump to where it says Basic Character Formats. Again, notice all these options are already chosen for me, because it's picking that up from my selection. Let's uncheck these three options, and let's set the Case and the Position to Normal. Next, I will go to Advanced Character Formats. Let's set these to 100. Set my Character Rotation here to 0. Some of these were already filled out, and that's because maybe I have already modified those settings or specified them here inside of my text selection when I first set this text.

And again, I will set my Language to English: USA. Let's go to Character Color, set it to black, turn off Overprint Fill. Go to OpenType Features, go to Default Figure here, go to Default Position here. Turn on Standard Ligatures but turn off the other options. Finally, we will click OK here and now let's apply the style to this body copy. So I am going to click once to apply it and then once again to get rid of that little plus sign. And again, we will talk more about that in a later movie. Next, I am going to come here to the tagline and select it.

Option+Click to create a new style. Let's call this one tagline. Let's go to Basic Character Formats. Let's choose Tracking 0 here. Again, I am just scanning for areas that are not actually specified. Set my Case and Position to Normal, uncheck these options here. Go to Advanced Character Formats. Let's choose 100, 100, 0 and 0 for Baseline Shift and Character Rotation. Set my Language to English: USA. Let's go to Character Color. Let's choose Black.

I am actually turning off Overprint Fill here, although if you speak to most printers, they probably do want black text to overprint. But for now I am not getting to the print production aspects of it. I just want to have one consistent setting and you will see later on, because I am using styles here, it could be very easy for me to turn Overprint Fill on across all my text very quickly. Next, I will go to OpenType Features, set my Figure and Position to the Default, turn Standard Ligatures on, but turn all these other settings off. Now I am going to click OK, and again, click on tagline once and then click on it again to now apply the style here.

Now I am going to click anywhere on my artboard here just to deselect it, so I have nothing selected now in my document. And let's focus now on how I might modify character styles. Maybe I want to experiment and the tagline doesn't really stand out enough. Maybe I want to make that tagline bold. Well, what I could do is I could actually modify the style, and one of the most beautiful things about working that way is that when I modify styles I can have a Preview setting turned on, so I can actually see that as it's being applied to the text. Now you might ask yourself, why don't they just simply select that text to make it bold? I can certainly do that; however, the real benefit of working with styles is when I have multiple areas where the text is applied.

So I can now make that change in multiple areas inside of my document. True, right now I only have one flyer that I am working with, but my ultimate goal is to have maybe an entire campaign of flyers, or maybe I have some flyers that are in English and some are in Spanish and other languages. So I might want to make a change across all the different flyers that I am working on. So by working with styles, that process becomes that much more easy. So now with nothing selected, I am going to come to my Character Styles panel and I am going to double-click on the tagline character style. Notice over here on the left-hand corner I have the Preview check box which is turned on.

So if I go to Basic Character Formats and I decide, hmm, what would this actual tagline look like if it were set to bold. So I can choose where it says Font Style, change that to Bold, and you can see how that automatically now changes in the artboard. I see there is a problem automatically right here because now that I have made that bold, it takes up too much space and it runs into the logo. So maybe I want to change the point size of that tagline to maybe 24 pt. That looks pretty good. So now when I click OK, I can see that that change has already been applied to my text, even though I haven't had to select the text.

And again, the main benefit here is that if I had 10 flyers in this document, simply by changing this one character style definition, all the other styles inside of my document will get updated as well. So this should give you a really good idea on how character styles work inside of Illustrator. In the next movie, we will talk about going one step further in the hierarchy of styles, dealing with paragraph styles.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Illustrator Insider Training: Type and Text
Illustrator Insider Training: Type and Text

52 video lessons · 14661 viewers

Mordy Golding
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 6m 13s
    1. Welcome
      1m 24s
    2. Art, typography, and Illustrator
      4m 23s
    3. Using the exercise files
      26s
  2. 38m 30s
    1. Knowing Illustrator's limitations
      5m 47s
    2. The three type objects in Illustrator
      11m 18s
    3. Area type, point type, and the bounding box
      4m 35s
    4. The difference between type and text
      3m 42s
    5. Unicode: consistent type for all
      4m 23s
    6. Bringing text from Microsoft Word into Illustrator
      8m 45s
  3. 39m 51s
    1. Understanding font types
      6m 28s
    2. Using the Glyphs panel
      8m 30s
    3. OpenType support and automatic glyph replacement
      9m 43s
    4. Previewing fonts as you use them
      5m 0s
    5. Converting text into editable vector paths
      6m 19s
    6. Using the Find Font feature
      3m 51s
  4. 49m 4s
    1. Setting up the document
      12m 26s
    2. Basic character settings and keyboard shortcuts
      7m 28s
    3. Kerning, tracking, and optical kerning
      13m 6s
    4. Using horizontal and vertical scaling
      4m 38s
    5. Using the Baseline Shift and Character Rotation options
      7m 28s
    6. Using underlines and strikethroughs
      2m 5s
    7. Working with small caps, superscript, and subscript
      1m 53s
  5. 46m 36s
    1. Basic paragraph settings and keyboard shortcuts
      6m 47s
    2. Setting tabs and leaders
      11m 51s
    3. Setting indents and spacing
      9m 6s
    4. Understanding hyphenation and justification settings
      10m 28s
    5. Understanding the composers in Illustrator
      8m 24s
  6. 16m 7s
    1. Threading text across multiple objects
      8m 17s
    2. Adding multiple text columns in a single object
      3m 29s
    3. Specifying an inset for area type objects
      4m 21s
  7. 32m 53s
    1. Text styles in Illustrator
      7m 6s
    2. Defining and modifying character styles
      10m 40s
    3. Defining and modifying paragraph styles
      5m 0s
    4. Understanding the style override
      5m 3s
    5. Sharing styles across documents
      2m 10s
    6. Changing default type settings
      2m 54s
  8. 37m 9s
    1. Aligning text margins and indents optically
      3m 53s
    2. Creating non-breaking text
      2m 36s
    3. Changing case
      1m 39s
    4. Using smart punctuation
      5m 12s
    5. Selecting type objects easily
      3m 20s
    6. Understanding hidden text codes
      2m 20s
    7. Checking spelling
      3m 3s
    8. Using language support to your advantage
      3m 41s
    9. Changing text with Find and Replace
      3m 54s
    10. Finding substituted fonts and glyphs
      3m 55s
    11. Wrapping text around objects
      3m 36s
  9. 16m 47s
    1. Setting type along a path
      10m 22s
    2. The difference between open and closed paths
      6m 25s
  10. 10m 57s
    1. Understanding legacy text
      4m 23s
    2. Updating legacy text
      6m 34s
  11. 1m 16s
    1. Next steps
      1m 16s

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