The Color of Letters

We explored how to manipulate the hue/darkness of the graphic by variating the density of the texts. Texts can be arranged into different fonts, size, margin, etc. One interesting term we learnt in class is the “lid”, which represents the space between two lines of letters.  “Cap height”, on the other hand, is the length from the baseline to the top of capital letters, and the “x height” is the length from the edge of the baseline to the top of lower case letter x.

I started with a picture with a woman’s face. This picture is specifically chosen for this project because this is a typical “vector” picture: edges are clearly defined by lines/variation of solid color blocks.


The pen tool is fabulous! Pen tool is the great one to start with if you want to crop a specific shape out of a picture. It is very easy to use. You can either chose straight lines to trace the outline or curved lines (which should be more detailed). Here I simply used straight lines, since the texts will always have less well-defined edges and they may mess up the outline even if I’m being specific here. Another reason for the straight lines is that my high school art teacher always said that “things are made of straight lines”. He was absolutely right. This is also the wisdom of derivatives and integration in calculus, isn’t it?

Now, tracing is not the essential goal here, creating locked shapes is. The pen tool can close connected lines and make them a shape where you can fill in colors.  After the shapes are drawn, I changed them into a path where I can type.

Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 12.22.35 PM

Here comes the most exciting step: fill in the letters. The outer shape is filed in with letters with point 3, leading 3 pt and tracking -50. The inner most layer used font 2 pt and leading 1 pt, tracking -100. As expected, the larger the leading is, the more space in between the words, the smaller the tracking is, the more dense the whole text form is. (At least from my experiment.)

Screen shot 2013-09-13 at 10.10.04 AM

Next step, finish all the filling, change the letters into outlines, divide them up to fit into the four 3 x 3 inch squares.

Screen shot 2013-09-13 at 12.26.02 PM

Since I still want to add some density into the background, I filled the squares with texts as well.

Screen shot 2013-09-13 at 12.28.33 PM

The last step, add them up together.

Screen shot 2013-09-13 at 12.28.52 PM

I also thought about adding some hair for her, since the hair would add more depth to the graphic.  Finishing the hair requires me to create new shapes. The process should not be difficult, but given the time constraint, I’ll leave it for now.

However, this is not the only picture we can work with, pictures without a clear-cut edge like this can also be used for such methods. The process is similar to making a collage, you just have to be sober about the darkness of each shape that you create.


~ by xilain on September 13, 2013.

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