Join Nigel French for an in-depth discussion in this video Cropped type: Working with large abstract letters, part of Type Tips Weekly.
- [Instructor] This technique is all about creating big, cropped, abstracted type. Let's take a look at some examples. Now the issue that we're going to run into when we do this in InDesign is that when we make our type really big, it falls out of the text frame. So we need to use auto-size frames, and we also want to give ourselves options for changing our minds, so we're going to use paragraph styles, and we're going to use object styles. And in addition, I'm going to show you a trick for how we can have one frame crop another.
So we're going to be using paste into. I'm beginning with a square page, and I'm going to divide this into four equal-sized frames. Now, this is using gridify. As I just click and drag with gridify, I can tap my up or my right arrows to add rows and to add columns. So that I don't have to keep my mouse button held down while I'm doing that, I'm going to come to my margins and columns and set the gutter to zero.
And that means that when I divide into rows and columns, I then don't need to worry about reducing the size of the gutter row or the column row. So we have four frames, and they're currently picture frames. And I'm going to duplicate this layer, because we're going to need to use two layers for this technique. I'll just duplicate the layer. I'll rename the bottom layer Picture Frames, and it's into these frames that we will be copying and pasting into the letters.
And then I'll rename the top layer Type. I'll turn off the picture frames for the time being. So choose a word or a phrase. I'm going with just a short word so that we don't get too bogged down with repetitive processes here. But I am going to select this and let's create a paragraph style for it. I'm going to call it positive, which implies that there's also going to be one called negative, which I might as well create right now.
So while I'm here, I'll hold down the Option, Alt key, click on the Create New Style, and I'll call this one negative, because we'll have some letters in black and some in white. This is based on positive, and I'm just going to change its color to paper. Let's put this type back to being positive. And now I'm going to cut it from there, and I'll come to the first of my frames, click into that to make it into a text frame, and I'll paste it.
What I want is one letter per frame, so I need to thread this through my different frames. Okay, so I only have four characters, but if you're doing this with a longer phrase, then this threading is actually going to be very useful to you. So I'm going to hold down Option, Alt, click on the outport, and then keeping my Option or Alt key held down, click on frames two, three, and four. So I've now created a text thread.
Let's increase the size of the type, and I want to do this through my style definition now that I've got my style set up. So I know that having done it before, I know that I want my type size to be 600 points, and you can see that when I make it 600 points, it's just going to fall out of the frame, it's way too big. Let's go slightly smaller, let's go to 400 points. Still too big, but I am going to press Command or Control + Y to go to my story editor.
Story editor, a great place to solve problems like where is my text? And here, also a great place to edit your text, and that's what I'm doing now. I want to put a return in front of each of those letters. Let's edit the style once again, because we want it to be centered. I'm now going to set my text frame options, because I want the type to be vertically as well as horizontally centered, so I'll select the first of the frames, and then come to the object menu, and to text frame options.
Vertical justification aligned to the center. Now it looks like the letter is closer to the bottom than to the top. To fix that, I'll come to my baseline options and change the first baseline offset to Cap Height. Next,and very importantly, I'm going to come to autosize. So this is how we're going to avoid our text constantly falling out of our frames. Autosize height and width from the center.
Now as the type gets bigger, so too will the text frame, so we fix one problem and we kind of create another one, because we want the text frame to remain the same size. For now I'm just going to come to minimum height and minimum width, and type in the current height and width of the frames, 33 picas. Autosizing is not going to have any effect on threaded frames, so what I want to do next is split my story into four independent frames.
But just before I do that, I'm going to, while I have the frame selected, create an object style based upon it. New object style, and I'm going to call this one positive. And I'll come to my paragraph styles, and I'll makes sure that the positive paragraph style is automatically applied to the contents of this object style. And while I'm here, since I know I'm going to need it, I want another object style.
So I'll hold down my Option, Alt key and click on Create New Object Style. I will call this one Negative. It's based on Positive. It is going to be black as opposed to white, and its paragraph style will be negative. And I don't actually want it applied yet. So let's select all four of these, and we will apply the positive object style to them.
I'll now come to my windows menu and to my scripts panel, because I want to use a script to split my threaded story into four independent frames. This script is in your sample scripts. It's called Split Story. Just double-click on that, and we're now ready to cut each of these four frames and paste them into the frames on the picture frames layout.
Let me just do the next step, and you can see why this is necessary. If I come to my paragraph style options and say right, we want the type to be 600 poiints, you can see that what's happening there is that yes, the type is getting bigger, but so too is the frame, and we want the type to be cropped. Since I've done that I can't leave that as it is. So now I can cut that, turn on my picture frames layer, and paste it into that frame.
And I'll repeat that four times. Not paste, but paste into. Let's just delete that type that's on the paste board. So I now want some interplay between positive and negative, and this is where the negative object style comes in. I'm going to tear off my layers panel. And the reason I'm doing this is because we have frames within frames, and it can get confusing as to what you have selected.
And if I disclose the contents of the picture frames layer, and then the contents of each of the graphic frames on that layer, that's going to make it a lot easier to select the letters themselves. So I'll come to the V, and I will apply the negative object style to that, which makes the frame black, makes the type white. And then I'll do the same thing with the O. Now in addition, I could also click on the content grabber of the frames and crop the type.
So I can just move it around within the frame. Since I have used paragraph styles, it's going to be very easy for me to experiment with an entirely different treatment here. As well as changing the size and the color, I can change the typeface. So I will edit the positive paragraph style, and for a completely different look, instead of a blocky sans serif, I will go with a script face. I'm going to use a script face called Funkydori available on Typekit, and we can see that we now have a completely different look, and let's also make this a little bit bigger.
Now as I do that, you may find that with the negative object style, if you've done any cropping as I did, that you've opened up a few spaces of white around it. What you need to do there is select the frame that contains the text frame, and apply the negative object style to that as well. So there we have our finished version. It may look, at certain view sizes, like you have a seam between the frames.
You actually don't, that's just a screen glitch, and if you zoom out you should be able to confirm that there are no seams between these frames. So admittedly, that was quite involved and fussy, but if you're working with a lot of different letters, rather than just a single word you might be working with a phrase, and if you want the flexibility of changing your mind about type size, color, and if you want the flexibility to change your mind about type face, type size, and color, then work with object styles set to autosizing and with paragraph styles.