Friday, April 13, 2012

[Question] I know this is a bit technical...

I love technical questions!

I know this is a bit technical and I'll get techo here: Recently I've got a bunch of fonts to try it. And even tried it in my last caption post, but not so sure with the end results so I'll keep experimenting. 

For the sake of readibility I prefer them to be bold and sometimes to have a semitransparent box behind. So which kinds of fonts you normally use? Have you used any special one for titles in captions before? Have you ever thought of putting words over the picture instead inside a box?.How do you set them to shine in the text boxes you use? 

Thanks for your patience, because those are lots of questions mixed in one :)

Before I directly tackle this question'a'palooza from Alectra, I have to talk about about my vision (or more precisely the problems with my vision).  I was born with bad vision.  One eye had a severe muscular drift, and the other eye tended to move in the opposite direction to compensate for it.  That's the nice way of saying I was very cross eyed, or medically speaking I had strabismus.  I also had opposing refractive errors.  One eye was fairly near sighted (myopia) and one was severely far sighted (hypermetropia).  And just to thrown in some extras, I had/have severe astigmatism in both eyes.  Add it all up, and I went through just about every eye treatment you can think of as a kid.  Patches, glasses, eye drops (I still can't stand getting eye drops), and the worst was the patches/glasses combinations (putting that privacy glass sticky stuff on one lens).

To correct this, and give me good vision in the future, I had several surgeries on my eyes while I was still an infant (surgeries is probably to big... more of procedures), and one surgery (this one was real.. anesthetic and all) when I was 5.  In that final surgery, several muscles in my right eye were cut so that they wouldn't pull my eye in so strongly.  Well... it worked beyond what the surgeon thought it would, and made it so that I would permanently have anisometropia.  That's where the eyes see so differently (from looking in different directions and all the mismatched problems).  When you have this go uncorrected (and the surgery made it so that it was uncorrectable) your brain basically ignores the 'bad' eye.

I can see out of both eyes... but I just don't use them together.  I have no 3D vision (which it looks like will save me a bundle on a new TV and theater tickets!).  I see the world primarliy out of my left eye, while my right eye just provides some peripheral vision.  If I close my left eye and only look out of the right, it will give me a sever headache.  As it was explained to me, its because I'm using my right eye in a 'new' way, and its hard to process.

That alone doesn't really effect me designing or viewing caps.  But even with glasses, I still have horrible vision.  It just isn't correctable.  And like most people my age, my visual acuity is decreasing.  It doesn't matter that the acuity started low... its getting worse.

Putting all the together really adds up to this.  I don't see well.  I have a hard time keeping anything in focus, and its almost impossible for me to see small text.

So how does that effect my cap making?  Well first off, I try to use a largish font.  I'm not exactly making billboards, but I keep my text larger than most.  That's not for you the viewer, that's for me the creator. If the text is to small, I simply can't read it.  And if I can't read it, I have no hope of lining up the text well, or catching any errors.

I also tend to stick with simply sanserif fonts.  The more 'fancy' the font is, the larger it has to be for me to read it clearly.  And by fancy, I'm not talking about just script style fonts... I'm talking about Times New Roman.  Serif fonts are harder for me to read than sanserif fonts.  I'll still occasionally use them for the body of a cap, but the font has to be larger than normal for me to do so.   'Fancy' can also mean any embellishments.  Things like an outline (stroke) or shadow can make it harder to view, so I rarely add these effects to the body of my caps.

And it effects how I read caps as well.  My vision gets worse throughout the day.  If I don't have to tax my eyes, I can see fairly well all day.  But if I sit at the computer, do design work, read a book or other things that force me to focus more, my eyes get harder and harder to focus.  By the end of most days, I find it impossible to focus on small text.  So if I come upon a cap that has that in the evening, I generally won't even make an effort to read it.  I'll just try to remember to read it in the morning.  If I don't remember... well I just don't get to read it.

So now that I have eight paragraphs about me.... let me dive into Alectra's question.

You say that you prefer your fonts to be bold and have a semitransparent box behind them.  I can get behind the semitransparent box (I'm sure you've noticed that I do the same in most of my caps).  The one thing to look for though is that perfect balance.  You should be able to see some of the image behind the box, but not enough so that it disrupts the text.  I've seen people use a semitransparent box that was so transparent, it really served no purpose.  Other times I've seen the opposite where only upon close inspection can you tell that its transparent at all.

As to bold fonts... it's hit or miss for me.  Some fonts look better in bold (are easier to read), while others get so 'fat' that it actually becomes harder to distinguish the individual letters.

I said earlier that I mainly use sanserif fonts.  But really there are a ton of sanserif fonts out there.  Enough that I can still pick and choose a font that helps with the mood of the cap.  If its a light hearted cap, I can use a softer or more curvy font.  If its a darker cap, I can use a bolder sharper font.  Both would be sanserif and fairly plain, but they give subtle differences.

Now that's all for the body of the cap.  The title?  Well its generally big enough that I can use more special fonts.  And in the title, I really try to match up the font to the feeling of the cap.  I used to search more for fonts, but I have a pretty good collection now, and I rarely can't find what I'm looking for in my own collection.  There's enough so that I can also not over use a font.  Beyond focusing on script style fonts for a 'feminine' feel, I don't really focus on one particular type of font.   I just write up the title, and then start scrolling through the fonts... when one matches the tone of the cap and catches my fancy, I use it.  And lately I've been playing around with the title itself by emphasizing certain words in the title.  I emphasize them by using a different font from the rest of the title, and making it larger.

As to putting the words over the photo directly without a text box.... hmm... I would like to do that, and I believe I've done it a few times.  But it takes a special photo for me to be able to do it.  I want the text to remain easy to read, so the area of the photo I put it over has to be fairly plain.  It doesn't help that I often crop out the plain parts of the photo.  If the area of the photo is too busy, or has too much contrast, it isn't worth doing in my opinion.  The only way to make sure all the text would be visible is having an outline around it, and as I mentioned before, that makes it harder to read for me.

Now this last part of your questions.... "How do you set them to shine in the text boxes you use?".  I'm not really sure what you are asking.  I don't add any effect to the text when its inside of a text box.  The only thing I do is have it contrast with the box.  So if the box is dark, I use a very light color for the text.  If the box is light, I use a very dark color for the text.

If you have a an example on where I set the text to 'shine' I can talk about it specifically.


  1. Well, that explains why you like my captions! Easy to read, good-sized fonts, with not too many words overall. I like to think my captions are easy on the eyes!

    I think you should go with a font that is legible at many different sizes, kerns well, and doesn't clash with the background. I agree with Caitlyn that san serif fonts are much better, then can usually be condensed thicker into a block of text if you need more space AND stretched out more if you want to fill it out some.

    I use drop shadows for my text, especially if I am doing something directly on top of a picture, so that it pops more visually and defines itself against the backdrop. Because of this, I don't usually use darker font colors, since it tends to blend in with the shadows.

    1. Well I'd like your caps even if I had to squint to read them Dee. Its just a happy coincidence that I don't have to do that with your!

      I agree that a font should look good at multiple sizes. As for the kerning... well I let that play itself out. If it looks good at the size I want... I'll use it. If it doesn't, I'm not going to mess with that type of option. I'll just move on to the next font.

      And the shadows on your text doesn't bother me as much... but again the text size is big enough that its easy to focus on.

  2. I've been finding it really interesting recently reading about the many insights into how other people write and structure captions. My golden rule has been to always keep it plainish, simple and readable. It needs to look 'nice' but at the same time I don't want anything detracting from the writing...

    1. I love reading about the processes that other people use to make their caps! It's one of the reasons I write so much about what I did or what I thought. I figure someone out there has to be interested in it.

      I completely agree with the readable part. As to plainish and simple, well I can see that point of view but disagree with it. I think so long as adding style and visual interest doesn't take away from the readability, then its a welcome addition.

  3. Now I feel bad, whenever I set mini fonts sometimes :(

    If you don't add a special effect and you use contrast... then that's must be something with my vision. I have myopia and lazy eye in my right eye (thanks to someone who threw me a medicine ball to my face on porpuse! This provoked that my eye lost acuteness and to be deviated a little from the original position.), so thats make me unable to tell sometimes if something is shiny or obscure, while pointing my vision to objects. That also makes more difficult for me to pinpoint distances between objects... :$

    Well I must be someone who don't apply to the rule. Because I thought the main focus of the people was to read the story with "fancy" fonts. Normally I use Deja Vu condensed but it's too thin even with bolds applied. So I keep experimenting and taking my vision to account: IF I can read it, then is good to go! I don't like Arial or Times New Roman because I think they are too plain. Even tried Comic Sans :D (I know the hating of that one is shared, believe me) or Verdana or Ghotic or Garamond. Those kind of fonts I use them for works at Uni but not for captions.

    Recently I found a website specialized with fonts:

    So basically what I get from this is to set the font big enough to be read. Now perhaps, what I find difficult is to set that with my writing style. If I make the font to big, then I have less space, so less story and viceversa. Finding a happy marriage is way too difficult sometimes!

    Hugs and Kisses Alectra

    1. Don't feel bad... I'm way to far on the fringes of visual acuity to write for. Yes, there have been some of your caps that I had trouble reading, but that just puts you in good company as I have the same trouble reading a lot of caps.

      I don't think there is a 'rule' to be broken. Everyone writes with different points of view that colors and changes the caps. You like 'fancier' fonts, and Evie lies 'plainer' fonts. Neither is wrong.

      A site that I used to use a lot was I liked it because they had a lot of fonts in a lot of various categories. I'd say the majority of my 'fancy' fonts came from there.

      As to fitting your story in... I don't focus to much on where the text will fit, unless I have a design in mind before hand with a very specific space for text. Otherwise I look at the image 'raw' and then write the story. I then place the text where it seems appropriate, in a size that is readable. Sure, sometimes I have to edit the story down to fit into the design, but its rarely anything major.

    2. Well, as a point of reference, among other things I do is design newsletters and things of that nature.

      I tend to use Tahoma as a basic font. It conforms to all the things I mentioned in my comments above AND when applying another format change (ie. bold, italics, underline, condense or expand) it really does stand out from the normal font.

      Book Antiqua and Goudy Old Style are decent fonts if you want a somewhat fancy font, and Garamond and Century Gothic aren't bad for basic fonts.

      Fancy, Elaborate fonts don't usually play well for a caption. Perhaps a title, but definitely not the body of a text box. Could you imagine trying to read a caption with Death Metal fonts?

  4. I'd suggest moving from a san serif font to a normal serif font. I;d also suggest that you stop using magenta on black/gray as a colour scheme.