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Using Type Tools

Many graphics made with Illustrator are for commercial use and often involve unique logos and text. Now that you know the basics of creating shapes and simple illustrations, you can learn the basics of the type tools as well. The Type Tools, which consists of the Type Tool, Type on a Path Tool, and Vertical Type Tool, can all be used to create graphics with unique, customizable text. Note that the following section will not cover the Vertical Type Tool because it works just like the Type Tool, only it places text vertically instead of horizontally.

Basic Type Tool

Create a new layer in the Layers panel and rename it to "Text". If the new layer is not already located at the top of the list in the Layers panel, move it to the top by clicking and dragging the layer upwards. Having this layer at the top of the list makes it so none of the text will be covered up by the objects below the "Text" layer. Create a sublayer on "Text" and rename it to "Basic Type".

There should be seven layers titled "Text", "Basic Type", "Character", "Lines", "Colors", "Leaf", and "Template" respectively.

Select the Type Tool (T) from the left toolbar. You may find the tool nested underneath a different type tool depending on which one you used last. On the right of the artboard, click and drag the Type Tool across the leaf and rectangle to make a centered, slightly smaller rectangle. When you release your click, the text box may automatically create small placeholder text. Placeholder text is often useful in graphic design because it serves as a preview for visual mock-ups. Here, the placeholder text is unnecessary. Press Backspace on your keyboard to delete the text. The text box should still be visible and highlighted with the color corresponding to its layer.

Screenshot demonstrating the placement of the text box.

Make sure the Character panel is visible so that the text can be customized. The panel may be collapsed under the Character "A|" symbol at the top left of the panel groups, or you may have to go to the menu, click Window, then Type, then Character to reveal it.

Screenshot of the Character panel's location. See information above.

Type "Mr. Tom Nook" into the text box, then select the text by clicking and dragging the Type Tool across it. In the Character panel, you can see that there are many options to customize your text. The "Set the font family" option, found across the top of the panel, sets the font. Underneath that, the "Set the font style" option sets the style of the fonts to be regular, bold, italicized, etc. Under that and to the left is the "Set the font size" option. You can see what the other options do if you hover your mouse over them.

The default appearance for text has Myriad Pro font with a Regular style at a 12 pt size, as well as many other customizable details. In the drop-down "Set the font family" menu choose "Cambria" either by scrolling until you see the font or typing the name of the font into the panel's search bar. In the "Set the font size" box, delete "12 pt" and replace it with "40 pt." Hit Enter from your keyboard.

Screenshot of the text, "Mr. Tom Nook" and its specifications in the Character panel. See information above.

Click on the space to the right of the "k" in "Mr. Tom Nook" and hit Enter from your keyboard to insert a new line. Type "Owner/Director" in this space underneath "Mr. Tom Nook." Highlight "Owner/Director," then change its font size to 20 pt and its font to Arial. You may have noticed that this font comes in multiple styles such as Italic, Bold, and Bold Italic. Using the "Set the font style" drop-down menu directly under the font family drop-down menu, change the style of the text to Italic.

Screenshot of the text, "Owner/Director" with its specifications in the Character Panel. See information above.

Fill in the rest of the text box by either typing the following text or copying and pasting it into the text box two lines below "Owner/Director":




You can change the fonts, font styles, and font sizes to whatever you would like. In the image below, "CALL", "EMAIL", and "WEBSITE" are given Cambria (Bold) at 20 pt and the rest of the new text is given Arial (Italic) at 20 pt.

Screenshot of all of the text in the text box. See information above for details on font family, font style, and font size.

Type on a Path Tool

The Type on a Path Tool can create simple and customizable text like the Type Tool, however it can only place text on existing paths. This tool is useful for when designs require text to be in a specific shape rather than the default rectangles. You will be using this tool to place the character's business's name around him.

Toggle the lock on the "Basic Type" layer, click on the "Text" layer, then create a new sublayer. Rename it to "Type on Path".

There should be seven layers titled "Text", "Basic Type", "Type on Path", "Character", "Lines", "Colors", "Leaf", and "Template" respectively.

Move your view of the artboard to the left side with the character, then select the Curvature Tool (Shift + `) from the left toolbar. In the Swatches panel, make sure None is selected for the fill color and any other color for the stroke color. Make a curved path above the character's head, that starts just above the tip of his left ear, slightly curves away from him, and ends just above the tip of his right ear. Press Esc on your keyboard to end the path.

Create a second curve underneath the character. This time, the curve should be parallel with the bottom of the character's face without extending too far from the sides of his face. The new curve should be nearly touching the character. You can use the Selection Tool to move it into place if you need to.

Screenshot demonstrating the placement of the curved paths.

Select the Type on a Path Tool from the left toolbar. You might need to right click on the Type Tool to find it. With the tool in hand, click on the far left side of the curved path that you just created. Notice how the path becomes invisible and that placeholder text automatically fills the path, starting from where you clicked and ending right before the end of the path.

Delete the placeholder text by pressing Backspace on your keyboard, then type "NOOK'S" in all caps. Highlight the text with the Type on a Path Tool, then choose Cambria from the "Set the font family" drop down menu and Bold from the "Set the font style" drop down menu. Because you placed the text on the far left of the path, "NOOK'S" should be off center.

Screenshot of the text, "NOOK'S" and its specifications in the Character panel. See information above.

Select the Selection Tool (V) from the left toolbar to fix this. With the path still selected, you should see its bounding box and three brackets coming out of the selection. The leftmost bracket marks the beginning of the text path, the rightmost marks the end of the text path, and the center bracket marks the middle.

Screenshot highlighting the location of the path brackets. See information above.

"NOOK'S" can be centered by adjusting the leftmost bracket at the beginning of the text path. Hover over the beginning bracket with the Selection Tool. Notice that the cursor will have an arrow symbol pointing to the right when you hover over it. Once you see the symbol, click and drag the bracket to the right until the text is centered above the character's head. You do not need to move the center or ending brackets.

Screenshot of the text, "NOOK'S," centered.

Repeat this process with the curved path underneath the character's head to finish off the logo. Using the Type on a Path Tool, click on the far left side of the bottom curved path. Delete the placeholder text with Backspace, then type "HOMES" in all caps. This text should have the same font, style, and size specifications as the top text. The text should be overlapping with the character's face.

Screenshot demonstrating the placement of the bottom text, "HOMES."

We can fix the overlapping text by selecting certain options for it. From the program Menu, go to Type, then Type on a Path, then Type on a Path Options. If you are unable to click on these options, you may need to select the bottom text with the Selection Tool (V) and try again.

In this window, you can see that there are options for Effect, Align to Path, and Spacing. Effect options alter the way each letter sits on the path, Align to Path options alter where the text is located in relation to the path, and the spacing will effect the space between each letter in the text.

Leave the Effect as Rainbow and the Spacing as Auto. Change the Align to Path option to Ascender by clicking on its drop down menu. Click OK to apply the changes.

Screenshot of the Type on a Path Options window. See information above.

With the Selection Tool, move the leftmost bracket to the right until "HOMES" is centered underneath the character. With that, the mock business card is complete.

Screenshot of the completed mock business card.

Concluding Type Tools

In this section you learned:

  • How to place text with the Type Tool.
  • How to customize font attributes.
  • How to place text with the Type on a Path Tool.
  • How to customize font orientation on a path.

If you would like to see more tips for the Type Tools, watch the video tutorials listed below to learn more. These resources will also be listed at the end of the tutorial so there is no need to watch them immediately. You can move on to the next section, Exporting Files, when you are ready.