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Working with Type in the Adobe Illustrator CS5 Perspective Grid

Article Description

In print or online, readers are unimpressed by text that's just plonked down onto a graphical background. On the other hand, type with tasteful effects can make a publication or web page much more inviting. David Karlins, author of Adobe Creative Suite 5 Web Premium How-Tos: Essential Techniques, shows how to manipulate text in Adobe Illustrator CS5 to lend great visual perspective.
Challenges of Using Type in Perspective Grids

Challenges of Using Type in Perspective Grids

After you place type on a perspective grid, a couple of problems become apparent. One is that the stroke width didn't adjust with the perspective, so the stroke width on smaller characters is as wide as the stroke width on the larger ones.

This issue isn't unique to type. Strokes don't scale proportionally to adjust to applied perspective. This is one of those "rough around the edges" flaws that I mentioned in the introduction to this article. It would make more sense to have stroke width adjusting along with the rest of the perspective—guess I'll add that to my wish list for CS6.

Another challenge: Spacing between the characters does adjust with perspective (letters are closer together as they get farther out on the grid), but that spacing requires some tweaking, because the distance between the larger letters is too large.

There are two basic approaches to solving these issues:

  • Convert type to outlines, and then edit those outlines with the Perspective Selection tool. The editing process is the same as with any path on a perspective grid. For details, hop back to the tutorials I referenced at the beginning of this article.
  • Manage these issues by working with the type as type on the perspective grid.

Let's see what's involved with the second approach.

Editing Type in Perspective Mode

For a number of reasons, you may want to maintain the editability of type in a perspective grid. You may be working with type that you anticipate will change. Also, editable type can be tweaked using the tools in the Character panel, giving you more flexibility in controlling the final appearance of type in a perspective grid.

Follow these steps to tweak the kerning (space between letters) and stroke width of individual letters in the perspective grid:

  1. Double-click the type, using either the Selection tool or the Perspective Selection tool. The type appears in Perspective Text isolation mode, with the Type tool selected.
  2. Use the Type tool to select two adjacent characters. Then use the Kerning pop-up in the Character panel to adjust the spacing between those characters, as shown in Figure 8.
  3. Figure 8 Adjusting kerning in Perspective Text isolation mode.

  4. Press Esc twice to exit Perspective Text isolation mode, so that you can view the result of the kerning setting you chose in the preceding step.
  5. To change stroke width, double-click the type again to open the type in Perspective Text isolation mode. Use the Type tool to select an individual character. Now change the character's stroke width, as shown in Figure 9.
  6. Figure 9 Adjusting type stroke width in Perspective Text isolation mode.

As a final step, you could use the Save for Web & Devices window in Illustrator CS5 to choose an output format. In Figure 10, I'm exporting the type in PNG format. I chose a transparent background so that I can place the type over the website's background color or image, with the background showing through the type.

Figure 10 Exporting perspective text for the Web.

5. Final Advice on Working with Type in a Perspective Grid | Next Section Previous Section