Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced

Side bearing, kerning, and tracking


Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced

with Deke McClelland

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Video: Side bearing, kerning, and tracking

In this exercise we're going to discuss the two main ways to adjust the amount of space between neighboring characters of type, here inside a Photoshop. And their names go by Kerning and Tracking, and just so as you know, if you're new to this topic I'm going to be throwing a fair number of vocabulary words at you. So just keep a keen ear out for them. I'm still working inside this image called Gratuitous effects.psd, and I am going to go ahead and zoom in on 365. So it's taken up a bunch of room onscreen here.
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  1. 40m 2s
    1. Welcome
      2m 1s
    2. Making Photoshop your default image editor
      7m 43s
    3. Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      8m 10s
    4. Remapping OS shortcuts
      7m 37s
    5. Installing the Best Workflow color settings
      4m 31s
    6. The color settings explained
      6m 54s
    7. Loading the CS5 color settings in Bridge
      3m 6s
  2. 1h 5m
    1. What you can do with Photoshop
      1m 46s
    2. The mission-critical eyes
      2m 44s
    3. Copy Merged and Paste in Place
      6m 52s
    4. Sharpening details to match
      4m 34s
    5. Masking eyes
      9m 22s
    6. Working with clipping-mask layers
      9m 5s
    7. Shading with layer effects
      8m 10s
    8. Color and highlight effects
      4m 2s
    9. Refining layer masks
      5m 43s
    10. Fabricating the highlights in the pupils
      7m 33s
    11. Using a merged copy to sharpen
      5m 34s
  3. 2h 14m
    1. Highlights, shadows, and midtones
      1m 16s
    2. Introducing the Auto commands
      7m 23s
    3. Adjusting Cache Level settings
      6m 8s
    4. Reading a channel-by-channel histogram
      6m 21s
    5. How the Auto commands work
      5m 22s
    6. Auto Tone, Auto Contrast, and Auto Color
      7m 7s
    7. Blending the Auto results
      4m 4s
    8. Introducing the Levels command
      6m 15s
    9. Using Levels as an adjustment layer
      3m 12s
    10. Applying custom Levels adjustments
      6m 8s
    11. Understanding the gamma value
      7m 39s
    12. The futility of Output Levels
      2m 56s
    13. Selections and adjustment layers
      5m 48s
    14. Opening up the shadows
      3m 40s
    15. Previewing clipped pixels
      4m 51s
    16. The black, white, and gray eyedroppers
      5m 7s
    17. Gray card tips and tricks
      6m 5s
    18. Making channel-by-channel adjustments
      7m 29s
    19. Introducing the Curves command
      7m 44s
    20. Curves dialog box tricks
      7m 16s
    21. Curves adjustment layer tricks
      5m 45s
    22. Correcting an image with Curves
      5m 32s
    23. Filling in the highlights
      5m 42s
    24. Neutralizing casts and smoothing transitions
      5m 37s
  4. 1h 46m
    1. The art of enhancing edges
      1m 26s
    2. How sharpening works
      6m 2s
    3. The single-shot sharpeners
      6m 7s
    4. Introducing Unsharp Mask
      6m 19s
    5. Radius and Threshold
      6m 24s
    6. Sharpening colors vs. luminosity
      5m 56s
    7. Gauging the ideal settings
      8m 59s
    8. Unsharp Mask vs. Smart Sharpen
      7m 1s
    9. Using the Remove settings
      9m 30s
    10. The More Accurate checkbox
      6m 8s
    11. Saving your Smart Filter settings
      5m 31s
    12. The Advanced sharpening settings
      7m 52s
    13. Accounting for camera shake
      6m 18s
    14. Sharpening with the Emboss filter
      6m 43s
    15. Sharpening with High Pass
      9m 23s
    16. The new and improved Sharpen tool
      6m 22s
  5. 1h 34m
    1. Edge's evil twin: noise
      1m 12s
    2. Color vs. luminance noise
      7m 21s
    3. Reducing color noise
      7m 45s
    4. Reducing luminance noise
      4m 59s
    5. Relegating an effect to the shadows
      6m 27s
    6. Switching between layer and mask
      6m 59s
    7. The Dust & Scratches filter
      4m 56s
    8. Adjusting shadow saturation
      5m 52s
    9. Combining High Pass with Lens Blur
      6m 57s
    10. Masking a layer of Lens Blur
      7m 34s
    11. Painting away High Pass sharpening
      8m 22s
    12. Building up a noise pattern
      6m 40s
    13. Converting noise to texture
      4m 24s
    14. Bleeding colors into paper
      6m 16s
    15. Matching different noise levels
      8m 31s
  6. 1h 32m
    1. We are the stuff of light
      1m 24s
    2. Applying automatic lens correction
      5m 53s
    3. Introducing Shadows/Highlights
      3m 44s
    4. Shadows/Highlights in depth
      7m 59s
    5. Creating a "bounce" with Gaussian Blur
      4m 43s
    6. Sharpening on top of blur
      7m 3s
    7. Sharpening the merged composition
      6m 16s
    8. Grouping and masking layers
      5m 40s
    9. Adjusting the density of a mask
      7m 14s
    10. Creating a Shadows/Highlights shortcut
      5m 47s
    11. Restoring detail with Shadows/Highlights
      6m 23s
    12. Changing the Shadows/Highlights defaults
      6m 21s
    13. Smoothing skin details with Gaussian Blur
      3m 56s
    14. Smoothing with High Pass
      5m 44s
    15. Lowering contrast with Gaussian Blur
      7m 4s
    16. Inverting a sharpening effect
      7m 5s
  7. 2h 32m
    1. Color becomes monochrome
      1m 31s
    2. Converting an image to grayscale
      6m 49s
    3. Extracting luminance information
      7m 37s
    4. Introducing the Channel Mixer
      10m 23s
    5. Aggressive channel mixing
      9m 42s
    6. Proofing CMYK colors
      7m 49s
    7. Color settings and intent
      7m 6s
    8. Practical Channel Mixer variations
      4m 30s
    9. Saving variations as layer comps
      7m 57s
    10. The default grayscale recipe
      8m 55s
    11. Creating a custom black-and-white mix
      6m 59s
    12. Shadows/Highlights in black and white
      4m 58s
    13. Introducing the Black & White command
      5m 55s
    14. Adjusting Black & White settings
      9m 39s
    15. Mixing a Black & White portrait
      6m 32s
    16. Black & White vs. Channel Mixer
      9m 21s
    17. Adding tint and color
      8m 0s
    18. Introducing the Gradient Map
      7m 10s
    19. Loading custom gradients
      4m 32s
    20. Editing gradient color stops
      9m 58s
    21. Colorizing with blend modes and Opacity
      7m 13s
  8. 2h 10m
    1. Two great commands working great together
      1m 18s
    2. Introducing the Color Range command
      5m 13s
    3. Setting key colors and Fuzziness
      5m 38s
    4. Predefined vs. sampled colors
      3m 57s
    5. The Localized Color Clusters option
      5m 41s
    6. Defining a selection with care
      4m 44s
    7. Introducing the Quick Mask mode
      5m 20s
    8. Testing edges with the Magic Wand
      5m 14s
    9. Hand-brushing a selection
      5m 39s
    10. Saving and loading an alpha channel
      4m 35s
    11. Converting a selection to a layer mask
      2m 46s
    12. Switching between an image and a layer mask
      6m 58s
    13. Protecting elements with a layer mask
      8m 5s
    14. Duplicating and editing a layer mask
      7m 34s
    15. Introducing the Refine Edge command
      4m 46s
    16. Accessing the various Refine Edge options
      5m 35s
    17. Refine Edge's preview options
      6m 21s
    18. The Adjust Edge values
      4m 11s
    19. Edge Detection and Smart Radius
      6m 5s
    20. Using the Refine Radius tool
      8m 8s
    21. Using the Decontaminate Colors option
      7m 30s
    22. Old-school masking adjustments
      7m 7s
    23. Four micro mask adjustments
      8m 33s
  9. 3h 13m
    1. Photoshop's vector exceptions
      1m 11s
    2. Making text in Photoshop
      6m 18s
    3. Creating and editing a text layer
      6m 56s
    4. Font and type style
      7m 35s
    5. Type size and color
      7m 52s
    6. Combining layer effects and type
      10m 57s
    7. Drawing a custom shape layer
      8m 34s
    8. Side bearing, kerning, and tracking
      10m 36s
    9. Point text vs. area text
      8m 26s
    10. Selecting and formatting a paragraph
      5m 19s
    11. Copying and pasting unformatted text
      7m 45s
    12. Creating text inside a custom path
      6m 26s
    13. Creating text along a path
      8m 13s
    14. Adjusting baseline shift
      6m 16s
    15. Drawing a fading arrowhead
      7m 29s
    16. Fading a shadow with a layer
      5m 32s
    17. Logo creation and Fill Opacity
      7m 44s
    18. Stretching a background element
      6m 9s
    19. Drawing with shape outlines
      6m 18s
    20. Combining vector-based shapes
      6m 42s
    21. Masking vector-based shape layers
      6m 7s
    22. Correcting spacing problems
      7m 44s
    23. Drawing the ultimate specular sparkle
      8m 45s
    24. Preparing text for commercial output
      5m 9s
    25. Saving a high-resolution PDF file
      7m 11s
    26. Inspecting the final PDF document
      7m 8s
    27. Saving large poster art
      9m 32s
  10. 2h 36m
    1. What filters ought to be
      1m 25s
    2. Layer effects vs. filters
      6m 14s
    3. Carving with an Inner Shadow effect
      7m 45s
    4. Selling an effect with Drop Shadow
      7m 17s
    5. Creating blurry shadow type
      5m 30s
    6. Saving custom default settings
      6m 22s
    7. Creating a custom contour
      7m 3s
    8. Introducing Bevel and Emboss
      7m 35s
    9. Adjusting Angle and Altitude
      7m 8s
    10. Exploiting global light
      8m 11s
    11. Gloss and edge contour
      5m 8s
    12. Applying and creating layer styles
      6m 45s
    13. Loading, saving, and merging styles
      6m 17s
    14. Creating a textured bevel effect
      6m 56s
    15. Using shadows as highlights
      7m 39s
    16. Combining filters and effects
      6m 58s
    17. Working with random effects
      6m 55s
    18. Smoothing with Gaussian Blur and Levels
      6m 13s
    19. Masking blacks from whites
      4m 37s
    20. Applying liquid styles
      4m 36s
    21. Simulating liquid reflections
      8m 12s
    22. Finessing and cropping a liquid effect
      7m 25s
    23. Initiating a displacement map
      6m 17s
    24. Applying a displacement map
      7m 37s
  11. 1h 12m
    1. Two words: Free Transform
    2. Scale, rotate, and constrain
      6m 30s
    3. Using the transformation origin
      7m 42s
    4. Applying a slant (aka skew)
      3m 37s
    5. The four-point "perspective" distortion
      7m 51s
    6. Two ways to make gradient text
      5m 59s
    7. Building complexity from a simple shape
      4m 42s
    8. Duplicating a series of transformations
      6m 3s
    9. Rasterizing a layer with its effects
      6m 41s
    10. Applying a custom warp
      7m 24s
    11. Blending and softening a warped layer
      4m 39s
    12. Creating spherical highlights
      6m 30s
    13. Using a center-source inner glow
      3m 51s
  12. 2h 42m
    1. Distorting reality
      1m 33s
    2. Extracting a foreground element
      6m 45s
    3. Introducing the Puppet Warp command
      7m 20s
    4. Setting and manipulating pins
      7m 48s
    5. Rotating pins and switching warp modes
      6m 41s
    6. Expanding and contracting the mesh
      6m 11s
    7. Changing the Density setting
      8m 0s
    8. Adjusting the pin depth
      5m 18s
    9. Winding an image into a pretzel
      6m 2s
    10. Applying Puppet Warp to type
      6m 30s
    11. Warping single characters
      6m 25s
    12. Editing puppet-warped text
      8m 24s
    13. Extending an image with Free Transform
      8m 46s
    14. Extracting from a white background
      10m 5s
    15. Tracing a shape with Puppet Warp
      9m 1s
    16. Introducing the Liquify command
      5m 4s
    17. Warp, Twirl, Pucker, and Bloat
      8m 53s
    18. Saving and loading a mesh
      5m 59s
    19. Push, Mirror, and Turbulence
      11m 49s
    20. Lifting and slimming details
      8m 22s
    21. Warping fabric, arms, and legs
      7m 1s
    22. Masking and finessing the results
      10m 8s
  13. 3h 3m
    1. Welcome to the digital darkroom
      1m 44s
    2. Introducing Camera Raw
      7m 40s
    3. Adjusting white balance
      7m 0s
    4. Selecting and synchronizing images
      6m 9s
    5. Making automatic adjustments and saving changes
      7m 19s
    6. Creating and managing snapshots
      8m 23s
    7. Adjusting the Exposure value
      6m 24s
    8. Working with clipping warnings
      5m 5s
    9. Adjusting Brightness and Contrast
      7m 35s
    10. Vibrance, Saturation, and Clarity
      9m 25s
    11. Recovery and Fill Light
      6m 57s
    12. Using the Graduated Filter tool
      7m 2s
    13. Painting edits with the Adjustment Brush
      9m 44s
    14. Straighten, crop, and geometric distortions
      7m 49s
    15. Applying manual lens corrections
      7m 19s
    16. Vignette and chromatic aberrations
      6m 21s
    17. Introducing the Tone Curves
      6m 9s
    18. Parametric curves and targeted adjustments
      6m 26s
    19. Correcting a low-noise photograph
      7m 35s
    20. Sharpening and high-noise photos
      8m 25s
    21. Selective Hue/Saturation adjustments
      5m 34s
    22. Selective Luminance adjustments
      5m 39s
    23. Adding grain and vignetting effects
      5m 23s
    24. Mixing a subjective black-and-white image
      7m 53s
    25. Colorizing with the Split Toning options
      4m 29s
    26. Opening a raw image as a Smart Object
      5m 39s
    27. Camera Raw wrap-up
      8m 38s
  14. 55s
    1. Until next time

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Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced
26h 24m Intermediate Aug 13, 2010 Updated Aug 31, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, updated for CS5, follows internationally renowned Photoshop guru Deke McClelland as he dives into the workings of Photoshop. He explores such digital-age wonders as the Levels and Curves commands, edge-detection filters, advanced compositing techniques, vector-based text, the Liquify filter, and Camera Raw. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details, smoothing over wrinkles and imperfections, and enhancing colors without harming the original image. Exercise files accompany the course.

Recommended prerequisite: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals.

Topics include:
  • Using blend modes, adjustment layers, and layer styles
  • Organizing a layered composition so it is fluid and editable
  • Creating and editing type in Photoshop
  • Using blur effectively
  • Using adjustment layers to add color
  • Combining layers into a clipping mask
  • Working with Camera Raw
Design Photography
Deke McClelland

Side bearing, kerning, and tracking

In this exercise we're going to discuss the two main ways to adjust the amount of space between neighboring characters of type, here inside a Photoshop. And their names go by Kerning and Tracking, and just so as you know, if you're new to this topic I'm going to be throwing a fair number of vocabulary words at you. So just keep a keen ear out for them. I'm still working inside this image called Gratuitous effects.psd, and I am going to go ahead and zoom in on 365. So it's taken up a bunch of room onscreen here.

Now here is how things normally work. How various letters are spaced away from each other, that spacing information is defined inside the font. And then the various applications: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and so on, just go ahead and follow the instructions included in the font. And that spacing information is designed to make the characters legible at small sizes, but once you increase the size of your characters, you may notice that either the characters need to be spaced closer to each other, or you may notice spacing anomalies, where there appears to be more space between, say the 3 and the 6 than their does between the 6 and the 5.

Depending on how override you want to get about this. Now, where headline text is concerned you may want to spend a little bit of time massaging the character spacing. When you're talking about logos and corporate identities then Kerning and Tracking become very important. So, let's examine how it works on the first place. Everything is dependent upon this stuff called Side Bearing. Every single character includes this, but the 3 includes a little bit of right bearing, which is the space that 3 needs, so it doesn't feel violated by neighboring characters.

And so there is a little bit of right bearing, right there. And then that meets the left bearing associated with a 6, and together the right bearing of the 3 and the left bearing of the 6 add up to the amount of space between those two characters. And that's the way it works with most pairs of characters whether they are letters or numbers or symbols as you type away inside of Photoshop and the other applications. But there are some pairs of characters that look as if they are spaced way too far apart from each other when the standard bearing is observed.

For example, this is the stereotypical example. I'm going to go ahead and select the Type tool and click in front of the 3, in order to add some text. And you can't see it's slightly off- screen there, but I do have a blinking insertion marker going off here to the left-hand side. There it is. And now I'll enter a capital A and a small v, like so. And notice how these guys invade each other's territory, the A is slipping under the space occupied by the v, and the v is slipping over the space occupied by the A.

So what in the world is going on? Well, I'm going to go ahead and select Av, like so, by dragging across those letters, and they appear inverted when they are highlighted which is a big mess, and it gets in the way of seeing what the heck is going on? So I am going to press Ctrl+H or Command+H to hide that highlighting. The letters are still selected so you have to take care. You don't want to press the Escape key, for example, because you'll lose them. However, we can't see what's going on inside of the Image window. All right, now I am going to bring up the Character panel either by clicking on this Final icon in the options bar, or I could click on this A here in the column of icons or, because I have text selected I get access to a new group of keyboard shortcuts;, and it's Ctrl+T or Command+T for Type, which brings up the Character panel.

By the way, Ctrl+T or Command+T normally invokes a Free Transform command. There has to be text active for Ctrl+T or Command+T to bring up the Character panel instead. Now notice the options we have available to us. We've got font, we've got type style, we've got type size which Photoshop, and the other Adobe apps call Font Size, but normal people call it Type Size. Next door we've got Leading, and Leading is the amount of vertical space between rows of type in a paragraph.

You might hear it called Line Spacing inside of another program, but it's called Leading inside of the design applications. Next we've got these two spacing values, one of which is Kerning as you can see here, and the other of which is Tracking, and I'll explain the distinction in just a moment. But notice that they both include Av in their icons because A and v are the classic Kerning pair. Anyway, right now, if I click the down- pointing arrowhead I can see that I'm observing the Metrics. That is Photoshop is looking into the font file, and it's finding the list of so-called Kerning pairs, which are pairs of characters that have to be specially kerned, that is specially spaced when they appear together and Av is one of them.

Now I can override that information and if I assign a Kerning value of 0, so I am overriding the Metrics information, then I am spreading the A and v way apart from each other. So I'm observing the small amount of right bearing, that's associated with a capital A because it leans, after all. And a small amount of left bearing that's associated with lowercase v because it leans as well, so it's always going to want to be close to its neighbors. And I am applying this to ride on top of each other and what that means is as I zoom out here, and I'll go ahead and hide my Character panel, that it looks like the v, and the 3 are sufficiently close to each other, but the A and v almost look like they are part of separate words so that's no good.

So that's why we need Kerning inside of the various design applications. And in order to reapply that Kerning you click the down-pointing arrowhead and you switch back to Metrics, like so, and then Photoshop goes ahead and reapplies that information that's built-into the font file's Metrics, and that's where that term comes from. All right, I am going to go ahead and get rid of the A and the v, like so, just select them, get rid of them. And this time let's press Ctrl+A, or Command+A on the Mac, to select all of 365.

And then I'll press Ctrl+H, or Command+H on the Mac, in order to hide that selection so once again I can see what I'm doing. Now, you can switch between Optical, apparently Optical is active for 365 here, or Metrics. So Metrics goes ahead and observes the information that's built-into the font file. Optical will override that, and it will tell Photoshop to actually examine the character forms. So this is a more intensive operation for Photoshop, but it examines the character forms, and it decides how the characters should be spaced, independently of any information that's built into the font, sometimes it's more accurate.

And what I would suggest you do if you're looking at a sequence of characters, and they just look wrong then try switching for Metrics to Optical and see what happens. And in our case things get spaced together a little more closely. But let's say I want to space the characters more closely still. Well, there are two varieties of spacing here. If you're spacing a bunch of selected characters you use the Tracking value and if you are spacing just a pair of characters then you click between them and you override the Kerning option. So I am going to go ahead and adjust the Tracking, and you can do so by entering a Tracking value, which is a little bit confusing, because when you are changing the Tracking value manually you are entering a value that is measured in thousandths of an em space.

Basically an em space is a space that is as wide as the type size is tall. So our type size is 192 points and em space would be 192 points wide, and then we're talking about thousandths of that, so 192 divided by a thousand. So in this case we're talking about .19 points. So that aside, because you don't want to get too wind up about that. What you really want to do is just adjust this value from the keyboard. That is using a special keyboard trick. And the keyboard trick is Alt+Left Arrow to move the characters together or Alt+Right arrow to move the selected characters apart.

On the Mac that's going to be Option+Left Arrow or Option+Right Arrow. If you want more information than that you can adjust that value in five times the normal increments. So notice by default it's -20 or +20 depending on whether you pressed Left Arrow or the Right Arrow. If you want to adjust the value in five times an increment, it's Ctrl+Alt+Left Arrow, or Command+Option+Left Arrow on a Mac. It'd be Ctrl+Alt+Right Arrow to move the characters apart or Command+Option+Right Arrow on the Mac.

Anyway, -20 is just fine for our purposes, and then I might click between the 6 and the 5, which to me look like they are still a little bit farther apart than the 3 and a 6. And now I could adjust the Kerning value, notice the Tracking value is not dimmed because I don't have any characters selected. When you just have a blinking insertion marker like this you override the Kerning value, and I could press the exact same keyboard shortcuts. I could press Alt+Left Arrow or Option+Left Arrow on the Mac in order to move those characters together. And you might look at that and say, hey Deke! I thought that I was moving the characters together by 21 thousandths of an em space, and I have changed this value or at least you have, looking at the screen here to -44 so what happened? Well, my Optical value, I wasn't seeing what it was previously, but it must have been -24, and now by virtue of the fact that I have subtracted another 20 from it, it's down to -44.

Well, you know what? I'm going to override that value, and I am going to say -30, and I actually like that effect quite fine. So I'll go ahead and close my Character panel there, and I will press the Enter on the keypad or Ctrl+Enter or Command+Enter on the Mac, and I end up getting this result right here. So this is the before version of the text, so I'll press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac, and wow! They were so far apart from each other on the Mac. And now if I press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z, again you can see that they are closer together.

And they look a little more consistent as well. Now this is one of those things that you have to decide whether it's important to you or not. You're going to find pairs of characters that are just screaming to be kerned. And once you really get into it, the funny thing is you go out into the real world and you look at signs and you go, oh my gosh! Look at that horrible Kerning. Look at those characters so far apart from each other, what were those people thinking? Anyway, it is quite the fastidious thing to get into, if you want to. In the next exercise, I'm going to show you how to create Area text inside of a rectangular boundary.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced .

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Q: The instructions for installing the dekeKeys don't work on my computer (which is running Mac OS X Lion). Is there an update to these?
A: The dekeKeys distributed with this course will still work for Lion. You just need to add them to a slightly different folder than in previous versions of OS X.

Open a new Finder window and choose Go > Go to Folder. Type the following file path exactly as written below. Copying and pasting may result in an error.

~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5/Presets/Keyboard Shortcuts

Move and/or copy/paste the dekeKeys to this folder and follow the rest of the instructions as outlined in the video, "Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts."
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