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By Colleen Wheeler | Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Deke's Techniques: Fixing badly kerned composite characters

If you, like Deke, recoil at the sight of badly kerned text, then this week’s type-geek technique is just for you. Sure, adjusting the spacing between full-fledged characters is fairly straightforward in Photoshop: Click in between two characters with the type tool and use the Alt (or Option) key in combination with the right and left arrow keys as needed. Simple, intuitive, effective. But what about the percentage symbol, for instance? It’s actually made up of three sub-characters (a small superscript zero, a fraction-slash, and a small baseline zero). Figuring how to kern between those three components is just the kind of challenge Deke likes to take apart. And taking apart the percent character is the key to this technique.

So imagine that you have this ’100%’ text (against a background of 100% wood-free wood Deke created in last week’s free episode). It’s easy enough to kern the number characters closer together, but when you do, the percent symbol looks oddly loose, as you can see indicated by the cyan circle below. The percentage symbol uses about twice the space as the other characters. Also, the fraction character (the slash) is extending beyond the top and bottom of the respective small zeros, as indicated by the magenta lines below.

By changing the text to outlines, separating out the paths of the component pieces of the symbol, and adjusting them, Deke was able to create this much more aesthetically pleasing version:

Every week there is a new free technique from Deke, in which you get to benefit from Deke’s obsessions as well as his creativity and Photoshop and Illustrator experience. Members of the lynda.com Online Training Library® also have access to additional exclusive techniques. In fact, this week Deke will show you how to take this painstakingly kerned text and emboss it into the wood background.

Are there similar detail-level design problems that vex you into the wee hours? What are your typographic pet peeves?

Related links:Deke’s Techniques courses on Photoshop in the Online Training Library® courses by Deke McClelland in the Online Training Library®

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