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Questions from the field...

Bending Type Without Special Software

. . . I had several of our readers in eWorld inquire about "bending type" and "which modification program is best". One reader said they needed to have the top of the type flat, with the bottom arched.


. . . The next time a project came along, and I took the opportunity to follow the production steps in order to illustrate the techniques, and how easy they are.
. . . Isn't it interesting how every technique seems to spawn its own software product? There have been no fewer than six products on the market to do what we'll do here right inside of your drawing program. If you do a lot of these in a year's time, you'll want to invest in a program that does "envelope" modifications on type. Canvas creates "envelopes" for this sort of manipulations as does the latest version of Corel Draw. Illustrator 6 does it as well.
. . . For some reason I haven't invested in type-twisting software since I purchased TypeStyler way back in the '80s. This is a lean little program (from Broderbund) with few frills, but a lot of power in terms of type manipulation. We contacted Adobe, Letraset and HSC Software to take a look at their type modification software -- all said they'd send one out right away... none have done so.

This is so easy, I'll run through it quickly.
. . . The key to success here is to select an appropriate type font for the project. I look for fonts with straight sides, and few curves. The whole exercise took about seven minutes -- I timed myself.

Start with type

. . . We've selected ITC Machine as our type face, and after converting to outlines, we drag out an oval as our guide. In order to get a smooth, gentle oval I moved down the screen and pulled out from the center line. A quick command converts that oval to a guideline that my anchor points will later snap to.
. . . Next, we move in closer and begin dragging down the anchor points to meet the oval. It's as simple as that. (See drawing to right above.)
. . . Once all the base points are dragged down, we'll adjust the middle areas on the cross-bar letters. You'll note that a convincing look for the 'R' is accomplished through the use of the 'shear' tool.
Start with type
. . . (Some software programs call this the "skew" tool. Check your book.) The selected anchor points were 'bent' down based on a center point off to the right. We do the same for the'O'.
. . . We could as easily drag the tops of the letters, but for this layout we only needed the bottom. Our finished piece is ready for output in just a few minutes.
. . . To make this happen for you, be sure to review your software book and understand how to accomplish the various steps I've shown here. For this example I used Illustrator, but FreeHand, CorelDraw, Canvas and most all software packages can do the very same thing as long as they have the capability to convert the letter forms to vectored outlines.

Here we are silver type

. . . If your software doesn't access the actual type outlines, you'll have to trace the letters with the polygon tool, and at that point it might be prudent to go ahead and spring for some software.
. . . There are more ways to skin this type, and sometimes it is easier just to jump in, and do it. Above all, have fun.

Sidebar:
We applied a quick "Inside Bevel" of 3 points, then a 30% transparency drop shadow, offset 5 pixels using Alien Skin's BLACK BOX, dropped in a solid black layer, a layer for our trendy photo of Earth, then flattened the whole mess for output. Slick, easy. The whole process took less than 20 minutes from start to finish.

The finished header

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