Typographical Flourishes The Easy Way

by Karen Stillman


TypeStyler is the best way to make your typography WOW! fonts_fest_mug Flourishes Add Pizzazz . . . Typographical flourishes can turn ordinary type into awesome headlines or logos. Examples are all around us, from sports logos to packaging graphics to even this cool DTG Fonts Festival mug.

The traditional way to do typographical flourishes requires artistic talent and skill with vector editing tools. But happily, there's an easier way.

Collections of vector elements are available on the web. Search for "free type flourishes" -- You may get lucky and find exactly the element you need, ready to use. But my favorite way to make eye-catching flourishes is to borrow suitable pieces from font glyphs and trim and modify them to be just what is needed. The_Jammys

The Project

Recently, I had to design the cover for a DVD that documented this year's local musicians reunion banquet, called The Jammys 2013. This was a great night of music, reminiscent of The Last Waltz* concert by The Band*, so I decided to use that as my inspiration. At right is what I came up with

Obviously, making the text elements for "THE JAMMYS" was easy to accomplish. And the musicians' silhouettes graphic was a piece of cake using Photoshop's Magic Wand tool, and then inverting them and tinting them gold. The only challenging element was the flourish attached to the 3 of 2013.

Finding the Flourish

The first step was to find an existing flourish that's close to my needs. I didn't find any suitable candidates in the Mona Lisa font used to make the 2013 text. So I looked through other fonts to find a glyph I could use.

You'll need a tool that will show you all the glyphs available in a font. I used TypeStyler's Glyph tool but there are many other similar glyph browsers, such as Apple's Font Book. A good source of fancy flourishes is the Zapfino font. Perusing the Zapfino glyphs, I saw that Glyph ID 1126, an alternate ampersand, had a tail that was very close to what I needed. Depending on which program you use, you may have to enter this as text and then choose "Create Outlines" to get your vector element. In TypeStyler, I simply grew this glyph to the appropriate size using the Glyph tool.

Editing the Glyph

The keys tools needed for isolating and attaching the tail to the 3 are the various path combination features. These "Path Magic tools" are available in TypeStyler's Object menu. In Illustrator, they're in the Pathfinder tab.

Path Magic tools - are available in TypeStyler's Object menu

First, I flipped the glyph horizontally and slightly rotated it to get it into the proper position needed to attach it to the bottom of the 3.

Next, I chopped off the unneeded part of the ampersand glyph by creating an oval object that covered the unneeded path parts, selecting the two objects and then choosing Punch Out from TypeStyler's Object menu. (In Illustrator this tool is called "Subtract from Shape Area" or the "Minus Back" Pathfinder tool.)


Use another oval to Punch Out and chop off the unwanted bottom part of the 3.

Uniting the Pieces Make sure to extend your tail element so it can overlap the area you wish to connect it to on the 3. You can do this with the Direct Selection tool (the white arrow). But the easier way is by adding to the piece with a oval-shaped object, and then joining them, using the path combination tools. This is the "Unite" option in TypeStyler (or "Add to Shape" mode in Illustrator).


Position our flourish element over the 3, then select all three parts and choose Unite (or "Add to Shape") to combine the objects, attaching the flourish to create one vector graphic.

Smoothing the Curves

The final step is to smooth out the junction of the glyph and its flourish. An accomplished vector artist would use the path editing tools to adjust each curve by hand. An easier way, however, is to make a custom shape to trim the curve -- rather like a fancy cookie cutter or how an artist uses a French curve. In this case, it's simply an oval with the top chopped off. Use this to refine the curve by selecting it and the 3 and again using the Punch Out tool from TypeStyler's Object menu (or Illustrator's Subtract from Shape Area).



There you have it -- a quick and easy way to create an elegant flourish!

GO Get TypeStyler at iTunes.Apple.com

And, thanks for reading



TypeStyler, the venerable graphic text-manipulation app, makes it easy for graphic designers of all skill levels to quickly create eye-catching graphic headlines, logos, posters/flyers and other designs. Ken Stillman, author of the program, his wife Karen, and brother Dave Stillman own and operate Strider Software in Menominee, MI. TypeStyler is available at the Mac App Store or directly from Strider Software from its web store for $59.99.

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