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cdeonis
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Typography effect

Apr 9, 2012 7:30 AM

Version: CS5

Machine and OS: Mac Pro / OS X 10.7.2

 

I see this trend a lot but can't figure out how to do it. Screenshot attached because I don't quite know how to describe it effectively. Essentially, it seems like a thin stroke line that traces the center of each letter. I tried recreating this by creating outlines of a black font, adding a red stroke and adjusting its thickness until you could only see a bit of the black and the effect was similar but it was not clean by any means.

 

Any help? Screen Shot 2012-04-09 at 9.17.38 AM.png

 
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 9, 2012 8:05 AM   in reply to cdeonis

    Even if the striped drop shadow was added in Illustrator, the outlined font may have been created that way.

     

    But if I wanted to make this stuff in Illustrator, I'd add a second fill to the text object and use the effect "Offset path" on it.

     
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    Apr 9, 2012 8:06 AM   in reply to cdeonis

    cdeonis,

     

    To get a constant width of both the outer dark part and the inner pale part, each lettershape must have a constant width.

     

    You can create such lettershapes as simple stroked and filled paths, adjusting the Stroke weight (and position).

     
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    Apr 9, 2012 11:10 AM   in reply to cdeonis

    cdeonis,

     

    All (three now) images are based upon lettershaped paths. For a start, you can:

     

    A) Create the centre line (stroke/nofill), Apearance palette/panel flyout>Add New Stroke, then drag the new stroke beneath the original one and increase the Stroke weight to get the outer shape and change the colour;

     

    this corresponds to the way the centre line ends in the third image and the C in the second image;

     

    B) Create the centre line (stroke/nofill), Object>Path>Outline Stroke, then Object>Offset Path to get the outer shape and change the colour;

     

    this corresponds to the way the centre line ends in the first and second images except for the C.

     

    After that, you may Object>Expand Appearance and do other things to get the different colours.

     
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    May 17, 2012 9:32 AM   in reply to cdeonis

    It's can be pretty difficult and time consuming to create an accurate center line effect inside lettering. First, lettering with a fairly monotone stroke must be used rather than lettering with higher contrast (varying degrees of thick and thin) in the stems. Then you have to break apart the original letter forms into various path segments and use object blend tricks to create the centerline. Honestly, this is something I can do much faster/easier in CorelDRAW due to the way its blend tool works and other tools like "reverse path direction" that help properly orient the resulting path blends.

     

    Depending on the project, it will be a lot faster (and maybe even cheaper in terms of labor savings) to simply purchase a typeface that has a built in center line already.

     
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    May 17, 2012 9:46 AM   in reply to Bob the Sign Guy
     
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    May 17, 2012 9:53 AM   in reply to cdeonis

    Truth is... most are lazy. I'm certain Intro isn't the only font with an inline. I can name at least one other (Pipeline from letterheadfonts.com). The path of least resistance is generally the answer. I'd hazard a guess that it's almost always a font used and the inlines are rarely manually created.

     
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    May 17, 2012 10:06 PM   in reply to cdeonis

    You can get something very close using CorelDraw:

    centerline trace 02.png

    Convert the text to curves, convert the curves to a bitmap, use the Bitmap Trace (Centerline).  The centerline trace is above the bitmapped text and can have its stroke width and colour easily changed.

     

    You need to carefully select the typeface, and still you can see the limitations in the curved parts of the lines and with diagonal lines....

     

    Ken

     
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    May 18, 2012 1:31 AM   in reply to photodrawken

    The tracing method would work in Illustrator as well.

     
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    May 18, 2012 3:04 AM   in reply to Monika Gause

    Monika's first suggestion makes the most sense to me because you can keep your text as live text.

     

    1. Create your text.

    2. Using the Appearance Panel, add a new Fill and make it (for example) black.

    3. Add a second new Fill (again from the Appearance Panel). Make that fill white.

    4. Select the White Fill in the Appearance Panel and click on the fx button at the bottom. Add the Path/Offset Path effect.

    5. Adjust the numbers until the White Fill shrinks down to where you need it.

     

    Like others here have said, if the font doesn't have a constant width, then the white line won't be either. 

     
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    May 18, 2012 8:38 PM   in reply to Monika Gause

    Monika,

     

    How does the tracing method work in AI?  I don't see an option for "Centerline" trace.

     

    Ken

     
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    May 18, 2012 10:12 PM   in reply to photodrawken

    You can doi this in Illustrator but there is some mechanical manpulation as well it is not the same feature  Centerline, Iseem to remember that feature is an old one for Corel  Draw if i am not mistaken.

     

    But it he OP nees to see what I did I can do a video.

     

    It is not complex but it is not simply automatic either.

     

    zHere is what I gotI did this by actualy adding a stroke and not a new fill and then giving the new stroke a negative offset then expanding the appearance and deleting and move some of the remaining paths.

     

    Screen Shot 2012-05-19 at 12.44.46 AM.png

     
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    May 18, 2012 10:13 PM   in reply to photodrawken

    A centerline feature woould be handy for a lot of purposes

     
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    May 18, 2012 10:40 PM   in reply to Wade_Zimmerman

    Thanks, that looks really good.  I think I understand what you did, will have to experiment.

     

    For the original samples posted, if a ready-made centerline font wasn't used, I reckon the artist got as close as he could with automatic features and then did some manual manipulation.

     

    Ken

     
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    May 19, 2012 4:08 AM   in reply to photodrawken

    You can select to trace "Strokes" instead of "Fills". You'll have to edit the options associated with it and then you'll have to expand the trace and make the strokes lighter.

     

     

     

     

    How does the tracing method work in AI?  I don't see an option for "Centerline" trace.

     
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    May 19, 2012 3:17 PM   in reply to photodrawken

    It takes a little finesse but you sound like you know what to do.

     

     

    Monika

     

    There is no centerline trace in AI, that is what was posted, they have it in Corel Draw though.

     
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    May 19, 2012 5:58 PM   in reply to Wade_Zimmerman

    There is no centerline trace in AI

     

    Yes, there is:

     

     

    It's result—like autotracing in general—is often crap, but you can trace as centerlines.

     

    This is CS5, as specified in the thread post. I have no idea yet whether this has improved at all in CS6.

     

    JET

     
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    May 19, 2012 6:10 PM   in reply to JETalmage

    Yes, there is:

    Good try, but no soap!

     

    So clever of you.

     

    Screen Shot 2012-05-19 at 9.06.59 PM.png

     

    Clearly only works with very certain fonts and  probably you still have to delete the a pathe on top of another path.

     

    But good try.

     
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    May 19, 2012 10:44 PM   in reply to Wade_Zimmerman

    Wade,

     

    OK, I tried it in AI CS6.  I see that by converting a copy of the text to outlines, creating a stroked copy, and re-positioning that stroked copy, one can then modify the strokes to get the original effect.  It also means deleting a lot of path segments...

     

    I did this on just 3 characters, which was enough to see how much work is involved.  I learned something -- if I need to do this, I'll save a lot of time by using CDR's centerline trace to get a centerline that I can modify.  I found out that copying the CDR centerline path to the Clipboard and pasting it over the text created in AI works great -- all paths and anchor points, etc., are fully editable in AI.  Good stuff.

     

    Ken

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    May 20, 2012 5:30 AM   in reply to Wade_Zimmerman

    Clearly only works with very certain fonts and probably you still have to delete the a pathe on top of another path.

    AGAIN, Wade, the original question is specific to CS5.

     

    Centerline traces are done by turning on Stroke, turning off Fills. The tracing algorithm tries to match the resulting open paths' stroke weights to the thickness of the pixel areas it tries to follow. You don't have to delete "the a pathe on top of another path"--whatever that giberish means. The screenshot I posted is from CS5 and shows the unmodified raw results. The paths are open paths and I did not delete any paths.

     

    The key to it (for those here who can actually listen) is to understand that the Max Stroke Weight slider does not refer to the stroke weights of the resulting paths. It refers to the "thickness" of the pixel regions that are to be treated as strokes during the trace. Carefully read the tooltips that appear when you mouse over the various sliders.

     

    So no, it is not limited to "very certain fonts." It is, of course, not limited to "fonts" at all, because autotracing doesn't know didly about "fonts." It just sees pixels.

     

     

     

    The centerline functionality has been there since the beginning of the LiveTrace feature. It's interface is cumbersome and unintuitive crap; and one's time is better spent drawing the centerlines properly. But centerline autotracing functionality most definitely IS included in this poorly executed, overblown autotrace feature.

     

    Again, I have not yet installed CS6 and taken a look at its rework of this hideous feature. So I don't yet know if it is better or worse; or whether its functionality has actually changed or remains the same with merely new window dressing and simplified UI. (The marketing hype claims it has been rebuilt.) But the same checkbox set is obviously still there:

     

     

    So my guess would be that the same or similar functionality is, too. An autotrace feature without centerline functionality would, after all, be exceedingly lame.

     

    (This checkbox set would be more accurately labeled "Open Paths" and "Closed Paths", or "Trace Around Shapes" and "Trace Along Centers", or "Outline Mode" and "Centerline Mode" [if the options were mututally exclusive, which they are not] or some other such, since "Fills" and "Strokes" is counter-intuitive, given the program's own terminology. Fills and Strokes can, of course, be applied to either open or closed paths.)

     

    My only reason for posting in this thread is to correct the repeatedly-stated misinformation that there is no centerline functionality (i.e.; open path tracing) in LiveTrace. There is, and always has been. That doesn't mean I recommend it for this purpose. I don't.

     

    JET

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    May 20, 2012 7:14 AM   in reply to JETalmage

    It still works in CS6

    http://www.vektorgarten.de/img/tut/centerline-trace-cs6.png

     
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    May 20, 2012 9:49 AM   in reply to Monika Gause

    You two guys are joking right are those satisfactory results or even reasonable results!

     

    If Monika looks at the paths tey are one not cnetered ,two not conforming to the letter form and three not necessarily one path as in the C

     

    As far as JETalmage that's not even close to what the OP wants and fixing those paths has got to be even more work then the method I suggested which is intself a bit of a nightmare.

     

    No you are both wrong there is no way to do a centerline trace in AI not an acceptiable at any rate.

     

    The Op found the solution in this case they have a good result without all the shortcomings.

     

    But at least the two of you have pointed out that the Image Trace cans ill use a little more development and or there is a need for another feature reating type effects which is one of the topiccs that comes up often in the forum.

     

    Such as the 3D type effect in another thread though Monika showed how it could be done the method left little leeway for adjusting the angle and orientation of the extrude return.

     

    You both demonstrated the need for improvement. Good job!

     

    And JETalmage I still say no soap!

     
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    May 20, 2012 11:42 AM   in reply to Wade_Zimmerman

    Oh, give it a rest. Who do you really think you're fooling, Wade? You simply didn't have a clue that LiveTrace could work in centerline mode, you stuck your neck out with a bunch of overstated misinformation, and now you're trying to save face like you usually do, acting as if you're the anointed holy judge of all posts in this forum.

     

    Try this for a change: "Gee. I didn't know that."

     

    JET

     
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    May 20, 2012 12:42 PM   in reply to JETalmage

    JETaImage,

     

    Wade is correct on this one.  His points about Monika's example are valid.

     

    The best one can say about attempting to use AI's Image Trace to get a centerline is that it only works on very skinny objects, and not very well, at that.

     

    One only needs to look at CorelDraw's centerline trace to see how a "real" centerline trace should work.  As I pointed out in my earlier example, it's not perfect when used on type, but is a true centerline regardless of the font weight.

     

    Ken

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    May 20, 2012 1:24 PM   in reply to photodrawken

    photodrawken wrote:


    His points about Monika's example are valid.

     

    One only needs to look at CorelDraw's centerline trace to see how a "real" centerline trace should work.  As I pointed out in my earlier example, it's not perfect when used on type, but is a true centerline regardless of the font weight.

     

    I highly doubt that Corel Draw will get better results. Because it's autoatrace after all. The CD example in this thread shows round letters, so of course the results cannot be compared. The stroke being not in the middle of the letters: my screenshot was taken zoomed out and shows the path. If zoomed in the result is better. Just try it yourself.

     

    As for the typography example in the other thread: I don't know what that has to do with the problem here.

     
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    May 20, 2012 2:36 PM   in reply to JETalmage

    Oh really Talmage, you're one to talk.

     

    There is no center trace feature in Image or Live trace and it what you call center trace is not even close to such a feature.

     

    And you can try to confuse the situation all you want no one is going to buy it.

     

    No soap buddy!

     
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    May 20, 2012 2:39 PM   in reply to Monika Gause

    Monika it does not work in Illustrator and that really is the issue whether Corel does it better or not is really irrelevant since the OP needs to accomplish what they need to do and not what they can settle for and if they fond that it worked for them then I would say they know from their own results.

     

    Pretty clear to me.

     

    Hard to argue with success!

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    May 20, 2012 3:34 PM   in reply to Monika Gause

    Monika Gause wrote:

     

    I highly doubt that Corel Draw will get better results.

    Then you should compare the two programs when using Bauhaus93 at 72pt.  CDR gives a complete centerline trace, while AI gives four short squiggly little lines.

     

    I'm now convinced that AI doesn't have the ability to do a centerline trace.  As I said before, only when using skinny objects does one get something "sort of" close.

     

    I want to take the opportunity to emphasize that I'm not here to start a flame war of CDR vs. AI.  I'm just an AI rookie trying to learn the strengths and weaknesses of AI.  If I discover that something isn't there, or is awkward and clumsy to accomplish, I'll call it as I see it.  As I said in a different discussion, I had thought that installing AI would mean I could un-install CDR, but now I know that that was a false hope.  I'll need to keep both programs and use each one for what it does best.

     

    Ken

     
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    May 20, 2012 3:54 PM   in reply to photodrawken

    You;'re not startig a flame war I am not currently auser of Corel and think that though I liked it it unfortuntely did not work on the Mac very well.

     

    I think you are correct and the other stuff might not be an actual reaction to anythiong you posted but more a reaction to what I posted and you should know there are two users on this thread who have never  ver said they were wrong or mistaken about anything even when they clearly were.

     

    So it will not get a response as too you are correct they see your point or anything like that it just will not happen never has and they never will admit to a mistake or error or that hey misunderstood.

     

    So I think you answered your own questions and solved your own problems and I think though I am a fan of Illustrator this is a short coming of the program.

     
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    May 20, 2012 7:26 PM   in reply to Monika Gause

    I highly doubt that Corel Draw will get better results.

     

    It's marginally better. Does a better job more often with right angles and crossing the point of the A, but otherwise makes the same "decisions" as Illustrator's treatment.

     

     

    Because it's autoatrace after all.

     

    It's all pretty much standard fare. Until mainstream autotrace features get serious with shape recognition and geometry intelligence, autotracing will be what it's always been; a last-resort that should only be used for a small handful of situations. It's never been the automagic panacea that the marketing hype leads newcomers to think it is.

     

    Draw's Smart Drawing tool dinks around a bit with shape recognition, but not really beyond what's been in other programs years before. The name escapes me, but I even remember a short-lived modest little Aldus-marketed program that was doing this stuff, in combination with live connectors.

     

     

    JET

     
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    May 20, 2012 7:59 PM   in reply to photodrawken

    Then you should compare the two programs when using Bauhaus93 at 72pt.

     

    Far be it from me to defend Illustrator's overblown autotrace feature—especially for this purpose. But not seeing a whole lot different of any real value going on here.

     

     

    JET

     
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    May 20, 2012 8:10 PM   in reply to JETalmage

    That not very good in either case and still points to the need for such a feture for various purposes and not just for text.

     

    I would say from lloking at these examples if they are indicative of the best results one can achieve then my mothod would be even if a bit time consuming, all though not ll that time consuming, would be the best approach if one wanted a reall good result.

     

    A better feature would serve Illustrator well. I guess a skelton tool would be very cool.

     
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    May 20, 2012 8:59 PM   in reply to JETalmage

    JET,

     

    How did you get that result in AI?  In AI CS6, I use these settings:

    ai trace settings.png

    The result (below) looks like this:

    ai-trace-results.png

     

    The CDR result looks like this:

    cdr trace final.png

     

    Ken

     
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    May 20, 2012 10:11 PM   in reply to photodrawken

    Ken,

     

    That's what I was explaining here:

     

    The tracing algorithm tries to match the resulting open paths' stroke weights to the thickness of the pixel areas it tries to follow....the Max Stroke Weight slider does not refer to the stroke weights of the resulting paths. It refers to the "thickness" of the pixel regions that are to be treated as strokes during the trace. Carefully read the tooltips that appear when you mouse over the various sliders.

     

    For example: Suppose you have a scan of a line drawing that uses several different line weights. It might be anything from a coloring book drawing to a technical illustration. Illustrator's centerline setting for LiveTrace (Strokes on, Fills off) tries to match the several different line weights represented in the scan by individually applying different stroke weights to the "centerline" paths it creates.

     

    The Max Stroke Weight slider defines a threshold (of image pixels). That threshold is where the autotrace decides whether to trace a closed path around a region of contiguous pixels, as opposed to trying to trace an open path along the "middle" of a region of contiguous pixels. (The autotrace feature can do both in the same trace.) So the higher you set that slider, the more often the trace will "choose" to draw a "centerline". So if you're not interested in anything but centerlines, just set that slider to its higest value (100). That tells Illustrator, "If the area you are trying to trace along is 100 pixels or less in 'width', then keep trying to trace it as a centerline, not as an outline."

     

    But remember the first paragraph above: as it does this, it will still be trying to mimic the stroke weights of the paths to the "widths" of the pixel regions it is tracing along. It's still drawing "centerline" paths; it's just also giving them stroke weights as it goes. After the trace is done, though, it's a simple thing to just apply a single stroke weight to the resulting group of autotraced centerlines.

     

    I never said it was intuitive. "Counter-intuitive" is what Illustrator does best. Nor am I "defending" Illustrator. You can badmouth this overrated program all you want to; if your complaint is factual, I'll quite willingly agree. I was simply demonstrating that Illustrator's autotrace feature does indeed include a "centerline mode" comparable to similar autotrace features in other programs in this category, lest anyone be misled by the repeated and completely erroneous assertions in this thread to the contrary.

     

    I also clearly stated that I was not and am not actually recommending trying to use autotracing for this task, just as I very seldom recommend autotracing for anything. Autotracing is a cheap, substandard, amateurish practice for all but a very few special-case situations, wherein it just serves as a "necessary evil" workaround. Especially something as simple as centerlines in headline text like the subject of this thread should be done accurately and cleanly (i.e.; manually), and that's how I do it. If I needed to do it often, I would either buy a font, or use Fontographer or FontLab to edit a font. (This is a good example of the practical utility of CorelDRAW's ability to modify font files—something Illustrator cannot do, and just one of several quite valuable unsung utilities included in Draw.)

     

    In AI CS6, I use these settings...

    As I explained, I have not yet installed CS6. According to the marketing hype, the autotrace feature has been rebuilt. So I can't speak to the settings in CS6 or whether their behavior is the same. My guess is that they pretty much are, but I'll see that for myself when I get around to it. The original post was specifically in the context of CS5. Monika's screenshot is from CS6 and also suggests that the functionality is pretty much the same in this regard.

     

    JET

     
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    May 20, 2012 10:12 PM   in reply to JETalmage

    JET,

     

    If one of your previous examples was the result of tracing 72pt. Bauhaus93 in Illustrator, then I ask again:  how did you do that?  Step-by-step, please.  Not trying to argue the point, just that I'm an AI rookie and want to see how it's done.

     

    Ken

     
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  • Mathias17
    451 posts
    Feb 20, 2012
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    May 20, 2012 10:17 PM   in reply to cdeonis

    Let's keep this forum's atmosphere upbeat and helpful shall we? No drama. Oh no no drama. Yeah, I just used a Fergie reference. That just happened.

     

     

     

     

    This is definitely a custom work thing.

     

    As already stated, you have to use a typeface with letterforms that faclilitate it in the first place - ones with uniform width.

     

     

    Not that we haven't beaten this dead horse well enough . . .

     

    One manual trick that may help could be to draw lines across the shapes, perpindicular to each letter's width, drawing the line across the width, and giving them centerpoints. This would create a framework of lines you could then draw on top of, with the pen tool, and draw your own center lines.

     

    And I'm reminded of hard chiseled bevels - how they give that metal, roman lettering look where the very middle of each letterform is raised and tapers down towards the each letter's edge, like a sword blade. I thought, hmm, maybe that's a decent way to find the letter-shapes' centers. At least a rough starting point if you're serious about the "center-line look" for your dressed up type.

     

     

    Photoshop results   (using two weights of Myriad Pro and Bodoni)

     

    beveltext.PNG

     

     

     

    Illustrator results   (using same fonts. click to enlarge)

     

    text gone wild.PNG

     

     

    If you're wanting something to trace, Photoshop is by far superior. If you Expanded one of the Illustrator results to use as a starting point, the amount of clean-up required would be very counter-productive.

     

    This whole thread is interesting, but I think the subject is being over-analyzed a bit.

     
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