Join Mordy Golding for an in-depth discussion in this video Text styles in Illustrator, part of Illustrator: Type and Text.
I've always said that one of the most powerful aspects of using a computer for creating artwork is not in the actual creation of that artwork. It's not easy to actually create art on a computer. However, once that art is already on the computer, it's easy to edit or make changes to that artwork. So the real power of a computer is that once you have content on your screen, if you want to be able to experiment with different looks or different settings, or based on feedback from your client, or just things that you want to do, if you've built your file correctly, it should be relatively easy to make changes throughout your document. And that really is the core of how valuable text styles are, because if you use styles and you tag your text accordingly, you can make a single change that ripples through your entire document.
But before we dive into styles here inside of Illustrator, I want to take a step back and give you an overview of exactly how styles are different here inside of Illustrator than you might expect from seeing in other applications, for example, like Adobe InDesign. I am going to create a new document here, Command+N, and I am just simply going to click OK. I just want a regular document here. I don't really care what the settings are. And if I go to my Type tool here and I simply click and start typing, you can see that this text over here is set to Myriad Pro Regular, at 12 point.
So there are already some settings that exist inside of my document. How are those settings here? Where does that come from? Well, if I go to my Window menu and I scroll down to where it says Type and then I choose Character Styles, I'll see that my document contains something called a Normal Character Style, and it appears inside of these square brackets here. Every single document that you create, just like every document always has layer 1, you always have to create some kind of artwork on a layer, you always have to have checks that matches a certain default style.
That default style is our Normal Character Style. And if I double-click on that to see what setting it's set to, I can see over here for Basic Character Formats that my default Font is Myriad Pro Regular, at 12 point. Kerning is set to Auto; Case is set to Normal. I have Leading and Tracking settings here. And notice that in each of these there are values here. Even Horizontal Scale and Vertical Scale are set to 100% each. Baseline Shift is set to 0. If I go to Character Color, it's set to Black.
OpenType Features here have certain items chosen here for me already. So let me go back here to Basic Character Formats for a moment. The important thing to realize here is that, like it or not, every single text object that you create inside of Illustrator already has a style applied to it, and by default, it's the Normal Character Style. I guess the point I am really trying to make here is that it's impossible not to have any text inside of Illustrator without a style. And the default style settings for each document are found in this file here, or this setting here, called the Normal Character Style.
Let me click Cancel for a second here. Let's say I want to go ahead now and create a brand-new character style. I am actually going to go ahead and switch to my Regular Selection tool and deselect this object. Now I am going to come to the Character Styles here and choose Create a New Style. Now it says Character Style 1. I am going to double-click on that style, and let's take a look at some of the options here that are available. If I go to Basic Character Formats, notice now that there is nothing that appears inside of any of these fields. They're blank. It doesn't mean that I haven't chosen anything yet.
A blank state inside of any kind of style that appears inside of Illustrator means that that setting inherits whatever was defined before it. Meaning that whenever you create a new character style, the new character style inherits the settings from the normal character style that already exist in my document. So Font Family here doesn't mean None; Font Family here actually means Myriad Pro, because since this is undefined, it's automatically choosing the default setting here found inside of Normal Character Style.
Likewise, when it comes to for example, Size, it doesn't mean blank. It means that the new character style that I'm actually creating is going to automatically pick up the actual font size that was defined in the normal character style, which was 12 points. The reason why I am pointing this out is because, as we're going to see inside of Illustrator, there is this hierarchy that exists. In fact, those of you who might be familiar with web design, know that a very similar concept exists inside of CSS. We can go ahead and we can define different CSS styles inside of our web sites and web pages, but we also know that if I don't set any settings specifically inside of CSS, then that CSS rule or that style is going to inherit whatever the setting is inside of the browser.
Or if I am creating nested styles, styles will always inherit settings that appear higher inside of the hierarchy. So let's go a step further. If I click Cancel here and I go to Paragraph Styles, and I choose now to create a new paragraph atyle, and I double- click on it, you can notice over here, when I go to Basic Character Formats, again, it's blank. This means right now that Illustrator is taking the paragraph style and it's inheriting the settings of the character style. So if we go in the order of hierarchy here, Illustrator always looks at the Normal Character Style first.
Whenever you create new character styles, the next step in that hierarchy is going to be the character styles that you define. When you create paragraph styles, the paragraph styles then inherit the character styles beneath it. In fact, if I go back here to Character Styles for a second and I double-click on Normal Character Style, you can see that Basic Character Formats has all the values filled in, Advanced Character Formats have all the values filled in, Character Color has the value filled in, and OpenType Feature is the same thing as well. If I go back here to my Paragraph Styles and I choose our Normal Paragraph Style, you can see that Basic Character Formats is empty, meaning it's inheriting it from the Character Style, Advanced Character Formats also inheriting from the Character Style.
If I jump down to Character Color and OpenType Features, those as well are being picked up from the character style. However, if I look at Indents and Spacing, these already have specific values here, because these settings are not available inside of character styles; they only apply to paragraph styles. So there is nothing to pick up from. I am now using the paragraph style to define these basic settings. Same thing applies to Tabs, Composition, Hyphenation, and Justification. So that's why you'll always see values here inside of these settings.
So I just want to get this point across before we actually start building character and paragraph styles, that when you see a setting here that has no value applied to it, it doesn't mean that it's blank or that it's empty or that it has a default setting; it actually means that it's inheriting that value from something else. Once we keep that in mind, as we start building our styles, we'll avoid running into any pitfalls or any problems. Now that we understand how text styles work here inside of Illustrator, let's go through the process of both defining and modifying character and paragraph styles.
We'll start doing that in the next movie.
- Understanding the three type objects in Illustrator
- Importing text from Microsoft Word
- Using the Glyphs panel
- Converting text into editable vector paths
- Kerning and scaling characters
- Setting indents and spacing
- Threading text across multiple objects
- Sharing styles across multiple documents
- Understanding style overrides
- Changing text with Find and Replace
- Wrapping text
- Setting type along a path
- Updating legacy text