In this article I will offer up a few basic tips for using type as a design element. Today when we casually speak of type we think of a Font and Typeface as interchangeable terms. In Typography there is a distinction between font and typeface. A font is a specific member of a type family such as roman, boldface, or italic type, while typeface is a consistent visual appearance or style which can be a "family" or related set of fonts. For example, the typeface, Arial, may include roman, bold, and italic fonts. During the age of metal type and photo typesetting, a font also meant a specific point size, but with digital typesetting outline fonts this difference is no longer valid, as a single font may be scaled to any size.
Okay, enough for the history lesson. First, there are four basic categories of type:
Type that uses a line to cross the main strokes of a character. Times Roman is an example.
2. San Serif
A typeface that does not use serifs. Arial is an example
Type designed to suggest handwriting or writing that uses a brush. Vivaldi is an example.
Type, because of its size or weight, is used to attract attention, usually in a headline. Bauhaus is an example.
Photoshop is an image processing program, not a layout or word processor. When using Photoshop with type, you will be creating a one page design or a campaign of one page designs. These one page designs will still be using “body text” for several lines of information. These lines of information need to be easy to read. So the first tip is to use either Serif or San-Serif typefaces for body text. If the body text is small or consist of several lines use a serif typeface. The little serif “feet” at the base of the font create a line that is easier to follow and read.
Next, there is a myth about only using one typeface or font in a design. While it’s usually a good idea not to go font happy using multiple fonts or typefaces, it’s okay to use two, no more than three. When designing a nameplate for a newsletter or title for a poster, flyer, magazine cover business card, etc, using two different type categories can create a nice visual play to the design. Using a script and serif typeface together can be classic and classy. Also think about using one typeface with a couple of its different styles. It’s a good idea to look at this first before you start throwing Layer Styles at the design. My rule of thumb is. “If you can’t be sexy, be elegant.”
Another tip when designing titles and nameplates is use two lines when possible. When you do, have the two lines intersect each other. Once again, when using Layer Styles start simple using stroke and/or simple color overlay. Once the text can be read, then move to more advanced effects if desired or needed. Ir as Scott Kelby President of NAPP used to say, “When in doubt, use a drop shadow!” Just be gentle and subtle.
Now that text in Photoshop is vector based, you can use the Direct Select tool and pull, push, and warp some of the characters just like in Adobe Illustrator to create a custom font for your design project. If you’ve never touched Illustrator and the concept of vector points is a bit foreign to you, use the Free Transform/Warp command to achieve some of the same effects.
Finally something that can be overlooked when working with Photoshop and text is using Grids and Guides. To make the Grid in Photoshop visible simple hold the Ctrl +’ keys PC (Cmd+’ Mac). If you don’t think in points, picas, or pixels you can go to Preference/Guides, Grids & Slices and change the measurements to inches. I would recommend creating a line every inch with four subdivisions. To create Guide lines, invoke the ruler by holding the Ctrl or Cmd key plus R key. Then bring the cursor inside of the ruler and pull your guide into place. To change the position of a guide switch to the Move tool and click & hold on the guide to move it. Also, when you are in the Preference/Guides, Grids & Slices command you can change the color of grids and guides if they are hard to see on your project document.
These are just a few simple tips when work with text and type in Photoshop. They are a good place to start when staring at that one or two words as you begin your design project.