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Text size in Adobe illustrator

Discussion in 'Designs & Layouts' started by Daniel Boucher, Oct 19, 2019.

  1. Daniel Boucher

    Daniel Boucher New Member

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    Is there an easy way to make text to an exact size. If i make my font 3" it makes the text block 3" but my actual text is smaller.
     
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  2. Johnny Best

    Johnny Best Very Active Member

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    Make a 3" box and turn your text into outlines, vector. Then adjust your type with scale tool to fit to size of box.
     
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  3. Bobby H

    Bobby H Very Active Member

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    I have been bugging Adobe about this in their feature request forums for years, and also in their beta user forum. Adobe Illustrator, like PageMaker and so many other graphics applications, only sees type as objects that relate to a point-based layout grid on a printed sheet of paper. The actual physical size of the letters means absolutely nothing under this model. The only thing that matters is the distance between the baseline of one line of text and the next line of text. Obviously sign design does not work like that at all. And there are plenty of other kinds of graphic design that do not treat type in that way at all either.

    In sign design we mainly reference the size of lettering based on cap height. We position and align type to other objects based on the size of capital letters. If there are multiple lines of copy we also measure the distance between the baseline of one line of copy and the cap height line of the next line of copy. Adobe Illustrator doesn't do this. If we're going to be honest, CorelDRAW doesn't really do it either (although the program lets one cheat with geometric san serif faces via how it measures characters in "artistic text").

    I requested Adobe include an additional way to measure, align and position type based on cap height. It would not replace the traditional type functions, but would be an alternative to them for specialized purposes -things we do frequently when designing signs, logos, pixel-based type elements for LED displays, etc. Every typeface has built in dimensions that define several parameters, including baseline, cap height (M-height), lowercase height (x-height), ascender and descender. If we want to type out some 2" tall letters in a given typeface the appropriate text sizing filter should be able to examine the selected typeface and its dimension and then extrapolate that to set lettering in the desired size. It's easy enough to do this kind of thing consistently if you're setting type in something like Helvetica. But if it's a script face or weird display face then there won't be anything visible to clearly define those boundaries. That's where having something like a proper text sizing filter that gives you the true baseline to cap height line distance of any font would be really valuable.
     
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  4. gplough

    gplough Member

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    Outline it (Ctrl-shift-O)
    Use the transform tools to make it the size you want
     
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  5. Daniel Boucher

    Daniel Boucher New Member

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    That's what I've been doing. It just seems like there should be a better way.
     
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  6. Bobby H

    Bobby H Very Active Member

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    The better way would be Adobe incorporating new features as I described above.

    Currently Illustrator users have to employ all sorts of time-wasting hacks to do basic things with editable text objects, such as vertically aligning a text object in a box or some other container. It's easy enough to center the text item horizontally, but centering it vertically is almost impossible without converting the text to outlines. Illustrator vertically aligns the stupid, meaningless blue box around the text, not the cap height of the text itself. I call that container box meaningless because it's arbitrarily defined. The box is not the same size as the font's UPM (or em) size. And it doesn't appear to correspond with any baseline grid dimensions either. But that stupid blue box is what gets used if you want to center a text item in some graphical container.

    Adobe is working on trying to accommodate large format/outdoor design better in Illustrator. But this stuff about how text is handled really has to be fixed. This is very basic, elementary stuff. If I want to create some 2" tall lettering and center it in a 4" tall container it shouldn't take me more than a couple or so clicks to do that. Illustrator has never worked like that because the app developers (and much of the Illustrator user base) can't think past how type works on a physical page for print publishing. Different approaches are applied in different mediums.
     
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  7. Johnny Best

    Johnny Best Very Active Member

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    I do not see a problem with the way Illustrator does this. It takes maybe 10 to 15 seconds. I can see where AI will take over our jobs after awhile.
    If you had to do a third of the stuff Illustrator does 50 years ago then I see a big time user, but using your brain outside the box once in awhile is good for you. It takes me longer to read a Bobby H reply than it does to do the sequence of sizing a letter.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2019
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  8. myront

    myront CorelDRAW is best

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    Correct, Corel's text size isn't true size either (see below). I do, however, use a macro to size text properly. SignLab has it right, no matter what font you use.

    upload_2019-10-21_7-48-32.png
     
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  9. Johnny Best

    Johnny Best Very Active Member

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    On Adobe Support Community:
    "A typeface is designed on an imaginary relative space called the em square. When you specify type size in software, you are specifying the height of the em square and the glyphs are scaled proportionally and positioned relatively to it.
    The reason is not just an archaic throwback to pre-computer type casting.
    Even in a single typeface, not all glyphs measure the same height. Rounded characters are taller than other characters. Ascenders and descenders differ in their heights.
    Typefaces are designs. They vary widely in stylistic shape; geometric sans-serifs to flourishing scripts and everything in between. In a line of type, if you change a word or phrase to, for example, the italic version of the same font, the actual height measures often differ from the corresponding regular glyph. So you wouldn't want the specified type size to be an actual measure of the glyphs; you'd want the glyphs of the italics, punctuation marks, symbols, etc. to be correctly proportional to the non-italics.
    So the em square serves as the "proportional equalizer" within a typeface. The actual glyph shapes are drawn in relative position to the em square, but are not necessarily constrained to fit within it. A flourish of a decorative script may exceed the bounds of the em square both horizontally and vertically (something not even possible in the pre-digital physical type slugs often cited as the reason for why type size is not specified according to the actual height of the glyph outlines).
    The problem with using Illustrator's Use Preview Bounds setting is that it does just that: It simply causes the height and width fields to display measure values of the "painted" result of effects applied to the paths. So using it to set the height of text with the Outline Object effect applied will yield differently-sized results, depending on which characters are typed.
    Usually, when someone wants to specify type by the "height of its characters", they really mean they want to specify the measure between the baseline and cap height (two guides within a typeface usually corresponding to the height of non-rounded capital glyphs). This is a common and legitimate need, for example, in the sign trade. CorelDraw provides an option to do just that, and it's one reason why Draw is popular within the sign trade."
     
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  10. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    I like the red em & ems.


    [​IMG]
     
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  11. myront

    myront CorelDRAW is best

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    Informative.
    I agree in real word typeset i.e. paragraphs, editorials, etc., the default way is necessary. However, in the sign world, it would be nice to have an option to set type by height of caps. I tested the Corel macro with various fonts, to include scripts, and it works as I'd expect. So since we know it can be done we just need to pressure these software giants to work it into their programs.
     
  12. TimToad

    TimToad Very Active Member

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    Can't you just go in "preferences" and under "units" set your type to inches instead of points?
     
  13. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    Yes, but it's still not the true size, it's still working off the ems.
     
  14. eahicks

    eahicks Magna Cum Laude - School of Hard Knocks

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    LOL....I am pretty sure they have it set that way....but still type does not come out the size you set as far as the capital letters. It measures top to bottom of all letters.
    This is one of the many reasons I do not use Illustrator.
     
  15. TimToad

    TimToad Very Active Member

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    So if I need to match a cap height EXACTLY, I take about 5 seconds and use my rectangle box tool to draw a box with no fill and a thin stroke exactly the height and/or width I need and adjust my text to it incrementally. Holding the shift key while adjusting sizing speeds the process up greatly until you zero in on it.

    The whole process adds a few seconds in those rare instances where I need to do it. For all the OTHER great tools and advantages that Illustrator offers us, this seems like a relative minor quibble to critique.
     
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  16. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

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    As far as Ai and/or DRAW implementing changes, I've always thought of Ai and DRAW to be more general purpose programs (when being used for niche industries such as signs or apparel decoration) and I actually expect some workarounds in order to shoe horn it's use in those more niche areas. This is why niche programs dedicated to a specific industry/target audience tend to get things like this right (if done correctly), it's designed from the ground up for a specific industry try to use it outside that industry and see how far it takes you.

    Corel, in apparel decorating, is commonly used (I was an outlier with Ai, but I digress) and even then, despite it's dominance with the apparel decorating industry, it still had to have extensions/plugins/macros to handle specific tasks for that design workflow in mind. I had actions out the yin yang for Ai and that's true with Inkscape now for me as well.

    Ultimately, in order to help mitigate how much time work arounds such as this takes, look into automating it. Scripts/macros/actions etc. May take some time to set them up, how much depends on a few variables, but for future use, it helps shave off time versus not having them.

    Now, should programs like this have every conceivable workflow thought of and compensated for, that's debatable. Especially with programs that I would consider "general purpose" (as in trying to appeal to as big of a target demographic as it possibly could). As much as "we" would like programs to be one size fits all, it just doesn't work out that way in practice.
     
  17. myront

    myront CorelDRAW is best

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    Not sure if that was in reference to me but my settings are always "inch", "pts" is pointless (pun intended) until customers says "make the font 24pt".
    btw I can type 24pt, cm, mm, px etc. in my text size and it will be correct, it just tells me in inches what 24pt is.
     
  18. shoresigns

    shoresigns Very Active Member

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    I'll admit this is a crappy workaround, but here's how I resize to make the cap height a specific size.
    1. Add a flat capital letter to the text if there isn't one (i.e. A, X, K, I, L).
    2. Ctrl+Shift+O (keyboard shortcut to convert the text to outlines).
    3. A (direct selection tool), then select a capital letter and copy its height from the transform panel.
    4. Type the height you want into a calculator, divide by the pasted height from the transform panel, multiply by 100 for a percentage. Ctrl+C to copy.
    5. Back to Illustrator, Ctrl+Z once or twice until you're back to an editable text box.
    6. Paste the percentage into height in the transform panel or font size in the character panel and add a % symbol. Press Enter.
    It looks lengthy, but in reality this only takes 20 seconds, and for most jobs we don't need an exact cap height anyway.
     
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  19. myront

    myront CorelDRAW is best

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    1. use the Smart Fill tool, click inside the letter you wish to size to i.e. capital
    2 reize that shape to the size you'd like. Take note of the percentage of increase or copy that percentage
    3. select text then paste the percentage in and hit enter. Text is now sized
    4. delete shape that was created
     
  20. Johnny Best

    Johnny Best Very Active Member

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    Maybe someone touched on this already but there is another way to size typ to a specific size.
    Type in your letter, create outline, go to Transform (in Window column) and type in your height. Make sure it is set so it has the constrain height and width proportion. I find it faster this way.
     
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