Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ergonomic Chairs .. and Font Clarity

Wow, I originally posted this over 3 years ago! When I saw the picture, the exact curve of the chair being almost the exact same as her posture just clicked and I don't recall spending more than 10 minutes on this. On the "Evolution of Dee" scale, I think this might be mesozoic, but it does have some charm. That is one of the most fun things about looking into my archives, seeing where I was and where I'm at now.

I wanted to post this because Tatiana asked me about the use of fonts, and some previous questions as well in how to make them clearer.

What type of font do you use and how do you get it so clear even on back grounds?

 I didn't intend to write too much for her at the time, but since I am not feeling well enough to take out the AC units today (my daughter gives me much joy and pleasure in my life, but I swear, but she is like friggin' Typhoid Mary!) I figured I would try to whip up a post since I feel that I'm almost neglecting my followers lately.

Here is what I wrote, and I may elaborate more here than in the initial reply.

I don't tell people my font, mostly because I think at this point, its a "Dee" style. I would hope that even if people stumble upon it, they'd wink at me, and just use another one instead!

However, I can certainly give you many other tips.

It helps that I use Photoshop. It is the best when it comes to managing fonts. If you have Photoshop, play around with some of the fonts they have until you find something that kerns well, looks good condensed, and is readable regardless of how small it is. I would suggest something like
Corbel or Calabri if you want a standard font, and something like Monotype Corsica if you want something with a bit of flair. Stay away from fonts with lots of flourishes, unless you are trying to duplicate someone's writing.

Once you have a preferred font, I almost always choose "smooth" for my anti-aliasing method. That way, there are little to no "jaggies" in the text. From there, you can play around with italics and bold, etc ... I tend to stay away from bold text, since once again, it can lead to "jaggies".

I always try to pick a text color that fits well on top of my background. I always pick the background first, as it integrates the text and photo together into one coherent piece. Usually I do that by picking a color that is dominant within the photo, and then playing around with it until it works within the confines of what I'm setting up. Once you know the background color, you can figure out what text colors you are using (or just use plain white if there is no dialog, since white will ALWAYS look the best against a darker color) by just plotting different shades against the background. If there are two people talking, I will often choose a color that they are wearing, or a hair color, that can match the quote to the person saying it.

I tend to use drop shadows with my fonts. I have a certain ratio I use that I think works best for my captions. You can play around with how you'd like it to look, or just use their defaults. Either way, it should draw your text out even more.

Lastly, this has nothing really to do with fonts or placement or anything like that. I would recommend that you keep the plot/story to its bare minimum. No matter how good your font and background look, if its too small to read, then people will ignore it. If you have a great story that cannot be edited down anymore, think about trying to find another picture, and stretch it out to a small series. This perhaps may be a guide for you, but I tend to NEVER let a picture be wider than 500 pixels when I am making a landscape caption, so that I can make the entire thing 850 or so pixels. This was done because originally you couldn't have a caption be wider than 900 pixels on the haven. Even with that constriction, I tend to make my fonts no smaller than 18 pt. Most of the time, I am using somewhere between 24 pt and 30 pt. That way I can always scale down the text box if I need a few more sentences written to finish off the caption.)

The main thing I would like to mention though, is that almost everything I've learned has been through trial and error, along with looking at tons of other peoples captions. I have a design background in real life, but I'm best at learning by playing around and messing up, which leads me to the best ways of creating, whether it be music, captions, or whatever I am working on.


PS ... . Also, yes, I am always going to be 666 years old, which is the new age 39!

I cannot stress enough that the tools you use WILL make your work much better, once you get the basics down. For the longest time, I had a copy of Photoshop 6 which was fine. Then when I went back to school for a college course, I was able to snag CS1, and I still use that one today. I just don't have the money to snag the latest version, which does look spiffy. If you have a chance to get Photoshop, I think you should learn it, as there is NOTHING better at photo editing than Photoshop. 

Another caption creation tool I would possibly recommend is Comic Life, which can be had for under 50 bucks I think. If you do use that, please make sure to play around with it. For every Bren or Jennifer, there are a ton of people who's captions all look almost exactly alike.

DISCUSSION QUESTION: I will try to answer any caption creation questions that you may have. Just leave a comment and I will reply. I LOVE to talk shop, and since I haven't had much time recently to exchange ideas with people like Simone and Jennifer. Not plots per se, but the actual construction, style and flair that make up the look of what we do. EVERYONE is welcome to throw in your two cents. I know that Caitlyn often does this because she's quite anal and saves everything, but this might lead to a posting where I might decide to chronicle the steps I take in making a caption. Usually I am an "on the fly" creator, but if I think ahead of time, I'll try to whip something up more slowly.


  1. Great write-up on fonts Dee! I always find it interesting to see what people think of as 'their style'. While I have used several fonts repeatedly, it is never a conscious decision to use the same font. My process is a little different as I write up my story in Word (mainly for spell and grammar checking), then move it into Photoshop. Once the text is pasted in, I start to play with the font, looking for something that will be the appropriate size. Depending on the font itself, I'll go as low as 15 for a font size... but I hate stretching it that far. I try to stay in the 17-20 range.

    And I think the font discussion is very relevant for users of Comic Life. I think one thing that really makes comic life look like comic life is its standard font. With the plethora of free font sites out there, I often wonder why people don't explore more. I currently have over 1200 fonts. About half of these are 'fancy' fonts that I would never dream of using as the text of the story (although I tend to gravitate toward those fonts for titles). Of the 600 'normal' fonts, I would say that it is split evenly between serif and sanserif fonts. For caps I tend to use sanserif fonts, as they get far less 'jaggies'. So even narrowing it down like that, I still have a pool of 300 or so fonts to choose from for the story part of a cap.

    Let me also say that I would love to see you make a 'process' post. My curiosity of how people go about making their caps, has no point where it will be satisfied. And thanks for the 'anal' shoutout!

  2. Thanks for the mention about comic life. My first 2 caps with that program was just awful.. but Now I think I've really got the hang of it and have made some really attractive captions. Quite a few of which has surprised more then 1 person that it was done with comic life.

    I've tried to detail my process, but it's so fast I lose a ton of details. Sometimes I'll have a lot to say as i planed or changed this. but mostly it's a blur from the time I see the pic and get the idea, till I finally post it on the haven/blog.

    @ Caitlyn

    It's not for a lack of trying. I've looked up the fonts and ad-on's for Comic life, but most of the how to's were discussing how to allow the use of your system fonts, were for the mac version. Thankfully, it seems the windows version does it automatically and there was nothing I had to change.