When it comes to design, Typography is the element that separates great design from okay design. Most users simply settle for the Photoshop Type tool’s default settings when there is so much more available. Here are a few quick tips that can help your use of type really standout. This article is not an in depth exploration of the Type tool, but rather an intro to some of its hidden gems.
First let me say this. While the use of Layer Styles will enhance the visual impact of your designs, they can also signal that you don’t know anything about typography. Just be careful. It’s a good idea to always minimize the use of Layer Styles. Why? If Layer Styles get in the way of your message and can make the type unreadable. When your type is ultimately unreadable your message is lost. The whole point of type is to be read.
Let me cite a couple of pointers about using Photoshop’s Type tool. First, the Type tool has two adjunct panels associated with it, The Character panel and the Paragraph panel. These panels control the typographic styles of the type you’re using. There’s a lot in there so experiment and discover what’s there. The Type tool also has a context menu you access by right clicking when in the tool. For example, some fonts may not have a bold or italic style. Just highlight the font, then right click on it and select Faux Bold or Faux Italic. This menu also has the spell checker, so explore what's in this menu.
Next, is choosing the typeface or font. An easy way to see which typeface or font works best with your design is to highlight your text. Then hold the Alt-PC or Opt-Mac and click in the Font Family box in the Option Bar. Now just simply use the up and down arrows on the keyboard and you’ll be able to scroll through the font list of your computer. If the black box makes it difficult to view your design, just hold the Ctrl key + H key on a PC or Cmd + H key on the Mac and it will disappear.
Now let's look at the concept of character and line spacing, known as Kerning and Leading respectively. If you want to increase or decrease the space between characters, hold the Alt key PC or Opt key Mac and use the left and right arrow keys. The left arrow key brings the type characters closer together and the right arrow key pushes them apart. When you have more than one line of text, again, hold down the Alt-PC/Opt-Mac and use the up and down keys. The up key moves the lines of text closer and the down key movers them away from each other. Sometimes, when you first use the up arrow key it may move the bottom line over the top line. Just use the down arrow to move them apart.
Finally, you can work with your text or type without having to use the Type tool at all. If you don’t need to change the content elements of your text, you can use the Free Transform command. Select the Type Layer you want to work with and click Ctrl +T keys on a PC, Cmd +T keys on Mac. Using the bounding box handles you can scale, rotate and skew the type. If you need to constrain the proportions, hold down the Shift key. When you right click on the type you’ll have access to the flip, rotate, and warp commands. Because when using the Type Tool you are working with vectors, you will not have access to the Distort, Perspective, and Content-Aware Scale commands.
These are a just a few of Photoshop’s quick tips and tricks for working with type in your designs. Use and experiment with them. They will make your design workflow go smoother and faster.