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Text and Typography

Photoshop has never been renowned for its typographic prowess; infact, it has long been downright painful to get good-looking type out of it. But all that changed in Photoshop 6. It's like the folks on the Photoshop team took a look at the typography in InDesign and suddenly said, "Hey, we can do that!" So, not only can you now type directly on your image (instead of that dorky dialog box you used to have to type in), Photoshop lets you tweak kerning, leading, color, hyphenation, and more to your heart's content. You can set beautiful type in Photoshop... but that doesn't mean you should.

If you're setting more than a few words, you should probably set them in QuarkXPress, InDesign, PageMaker, Illustrator, FreeHand, or some other program. But if you're hell-bent on using Photoshop to lay out text, here are some tips to help you do so more efficiently.

Tip: Making Text Blocks.

Most people who have used Photoshop for years use the Text tool by simply clicking on their image. That works, but if you're going to type more than one line's worth of text, the click-and-type procedure is a pain because you have to manually break lines by hitting Return. Instead, drag out a text frame with the Text tool before typing. When you drag out a frame, Photoshop automatically wraps the text to fit that frame. Plus, you can always reshape the frame by dragging its corner or edge handles, or rotate the text block by dragging outside of the frame.

By the way, keep your eye on the lower-right corner handle; when there's too much text to fit the frame, Photoshop places a little + sign there.

If you want to create a new text block near or on top of another bit of text, you might have trouble because Photoshop will think you're trying to select the existing text. No problem: Shift-click or Shift-drag with the Text tool to force Photoshop to create a new text layer.

When you're done creating or editing text, press Enter on the keypad, or Control-Enter (Windows) or Command-Return (Macintosh).

Tip: Rendering Type Layers.

Type layers are special; you can't paint or run Þlters on them, or do anything else that relies on pixel-editing. If you need to do something like that, you have to render them (turn them into proper bitmaps) by selecting Type from the Rasterize submenu (under the Layers menu) or from the context-sensitive menu you get with the Type tool (Control-click on Mac, right-click in Windows).

However, note that in general, it's best to do all the transformations (rotating, scaling, positioning, skewing), and layer effects (drop shadows, and so on) that you need before rendering the type layer. That way, you can be assured of the highest-quality type.

Tip: Making Text Masks.

Earlier versions of Photoshop offered several different Text tools, including one that made type layers, one that created selections (or masks) in the shape of type, and one that made text vertically instead of horizontally. Now, there's just one text tool, but you can still get all the same functionality in the Options bar (the icons on the buttons are self-explanatory). However, when it comes to making selections from text, we create a normal type layer and then Command-click on it in the Layers palette. By actually creating a type layer, we can preview it in the image before clicking OK, we can edit the text later, or use the type someplace else (even in another image). If we had simply used the Type Selection tool, we'd have nothing but an ephemeral group of marching ants.

By the way, if you already have a selection made, don't forget that you can add to that selection by Command-Shift-clicking on the type layer in the Layers palette. Conversely, you can remove from the selection by Command-Option-clicking.

Tip: Converting Text to Paths and Shapes.

David recently designed and built a business card for a client entirely in Photoshop. However, he knew that his printer (the company that would burn the film and print the card) didn't have the proper font. He might have sent the font along with the file, but there are too many things that could have gone wrong. So instead, he simply converted the text to a layer clipping path (see Figure 4). It's easy to do: select the text layer in the Layers palette and choose Convert to Shape from the Type submenu (in the Layer menu). This is a shortcut for selecting Create Work Path (from the same place), adding a Solid Color adjustment layer, and then deleting the text layer.

Once you convert text to a layer clipping path, there's no reason to have the font anymore. Of course, you also can no longer edit the text. Note that this is dangerous if you have a lot of text, because highly- complex clipping paths can take forever to print (or not print at all).

Figure 4 When you convert text to a shape, it changes to a layer clipping path on a Solid color adjustment layer.

If you have a lot of text, it's probably better to try exporting the file as a PDF file; in this case, you can actually embed the font in the file so you don't need to convert to outlines.

Figure 5 Formatting Text

Tip: Beware of Leading.

Leading ("ledding") determines the amount of space between lines in a paragraph. Bruce, who is accustomed to PageMaker and InDesign, finds Photoshop's leading feature intuitive because in all three programs, leading is considered (Bruce would say "correctly considered") a character attribute. In QuarkXPress, however, leading is a paragraph attribute. If you're used to XPress (like David), you need to be extra careful when changing leading. If you want the leading to be consistent throughout a paragraph, you should either select every character in the paragraph before you set the leading in the Character palette, or you should apply the leading while the text layer is selected in the Layer palette (but no text on the layer is selected).

By the way, while the Auto leading (in the Character palette's Leading popup menu) is tempting, we rarely use this. Auto leading sets the leading at 120-percent of the text size (you can change this percentage by choosing Justification from the popout menu in the Paragraph palette). If every character is the same size, this is okay, but if you make a single character even one point larger on a line, the leading for that whole line changes, causing inconsistency within the paragraph (read: "ugly"). We much prefer to set the leading manually, to an absolute value.

Tip: What's That Font?

You might notice fonts in your Font menu (in both the Options bar and the Character palette) that don't appear in other programs. That's because Adobe has instituted a system in which any font placed in a special Fonts folder shows up in Adobe applications only. On the Macintosh, that folder is inside the System Folder>Application Support>Adobe folder. In Windows, it's inside the Program Files>Common Files>Adobe directory. We find this incredibly annoying, but that's life.

Also, note that if you have more than one font installed with the same name, Photoshop kindly informs you by placing a "(TT)" next to the TrueType version, a "(T1)" next to the PostScript version, and an "(OT)" next to the OpenType version.

Tip: Changing Text Color.

The fastest way to change the color of one or more characters in a text block is by selecting them with the Text tool and then simply picking a color in the Options bar, or the Tool, Character, Swatches, or Color palette. Or, if you already have the color chosen as your foreground or background color, you can select the text and press Option-Delete (to apply the foreground color) or Command-Delete (for the background color). If you want to apply the same color to every character on a type layer, then select the layer in the Layers palette and press these same keystrokes. (Photoshop acts as though Preserve Transparency-what's now called Lock Pixels-is always turned on for text layers.)

Tip: Keyboard Type Shortcuts.

There are a number of keyboard shortcuts that can help you speed up your text formatting (see Table 1). Remember that the extra time you take to learn these now will come back as time saved later.

Table 1 Type tool keyboard shortcuts

To do this... this

Show/Hide type selection Command-H
Move right one word Command-Right arrow
Move left one word Command-Left arrow
Select right one word Command-Shift-Right arrow
Select left one word Command-Shift-Left arrow
Move to next paragraph Command-Down arrow
Move to previous paragraph Command-Up arrow
Increase size 2 points Command-Shift-. (period)
Increase size 10 points Command-Shift-Option-.
Decrease size 2 points Command-Shift-, (comma)
Decrease size 10 points Command-Shift-Option-,
Increase leading 2 points Option-Down arrow
Increase leading 10 points Command-Option-Down arrow
Decrease leading 2 points Option-Up arrow
Decrease leading 10 points Command-Option-Up arrow
Set leading to Auto Command-Option-Shift-A
Increase kerning 2/100 em Option-Right arrow
Increase kerning 1/10 em Command-Option-Right arrow
Decrease kerning 2/100 em Option-Left arrow
Decrease kerning 1/10 em Command-Option-Left arrow
Remove tracking Command-Shift-Q
Increase baseline shift 2 points Option-Shift-Up arrow
Increase baseline shift 10 points Command-Option-Shift-Up arrow
Decrease baseline shift 2 points Option-Shift-Down arrow
Decrease baseline shift 10 points Command-Option-Shift-Down arrow
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