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In the previous movie we talked about tracking, which is the adjustment of space across a range of characters. This time we're going to talk about kerning, the adjustment of space between letter pairs. But there are two types of kerning in Photoshop. There is the automatic kerning and then there is custom kerning. Let's look first of all at automatic kerning. So if I choose my type tool, and I just select this word, come to my Character panel, we see we have Metrics kerning applied to this.
We also see that our other options are Optical kerning or no kerning at all, which is not much of an option. We want one of these two approaches. So, Metrics kerning uses the kerning metrics that are built into this font. So the designer of this typeface decided that between every A and W there should be a certain amount of space removed. You see how the W is actually coming close to the A, and if I were to draw myself a guide, you see that W slightly overhangs the A. Now that's happening because of the kerning metrics that are built into this particular font, Adobe Caslon Pro.
Assuming that you're using a decent quality font, then the Metrics kerning is probably the best way to go. It's what I usually use. But we could also see how things might look if we were to change to Optical kerning, which disregards those metrics values and just looks at the character shapes. Typically, not always, it's going to vary from font to font, but typically this will give you a slightly tighter result. So that's Optical. That's Metrics. In addition, you might want to add your own custom kerning.
Now to do this, just insert your cursor between the letter pair that you want to affect. Then you can either use the scrubby slider here, moving to the left, that's going to tighten things up; to the right, it's going increase that space. That's probably not going to give you the kind of precision control that you'd really need here. So I'm going to click out my text frame and then press Command+Z or Ctrl+Z to undo that. But another approach would be to use the keyboard shortcut, Option+Left Arrow or Alt+Left Arrow.
Now every time you do that, you'll see that automatically, it jumped to -85. How did it get to -85? That's because there was already -65 units out of a potential total of 1,000, there were already -65 units applied between that letter pair; those with a kerning metrics for the A and W. But every time I press Alt+Left Arrow I'm going 20 units tighter. That's a little bit too much for my liking. I would like a little bit more fine control than that, so I could put my cursor in the Kerning field, and now if I press my up and down arrows, I'm moving in -10 units.
Now, I know you're thinking, can you change the increment that gets applied when you use the keyboard shortcut? No, unfortunately, you can't. So we're stuck with doing it this way. If you need finer control than this still, you can actually just go and type in the value that you want to use. So as an approach, I suggest that when you are adjusting the space between your letters, you start with the more global, the tracking. You get things more or less as you want them, and then you focus in on individual letter pairs that need further attention.
And you can apply custom kerning by clicking between them and then Alt+Left Arrow or Alt+Right Arrow to remove or add space.
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