September '22

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3 2 G R A P H I C S P R O • S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 2 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M 3 2 G R A P H I C S P R O • S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 2 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M S I G N A G E & P R I N T I N G S I G N D E S I G N | M A T T C H A R B O N E A U LEARN TO KERN FOCUSING ON THE SPACES IN BETWEEN LETTERS T o kern, or not to kern, that is the question to ask your- self regarding your latest sign design project. LEARN TO KERN Challenge: Fonts are designed to work within certain plat- forms, and code is written that gives the font the ability to flow out into sentences where uppercase L's are nested next to an uppercase T. However, once you use the font in artis- tic mode, rather than paragraph mode, the font's ability to self-kern is sometimes less than acceptable. e creator of the font designed its space and distance (nesting) behaviors and developed it as either a True Type or an Open Type font. What does that mean to you and the requirement for proper kerning to occur? Unless you are a code guru, the font is what it is, and it will most likely do a less-than-optimal job of self-kerning when used in artis- tic mode. Solution: Learn to kern – it's not difficult; it simply takes patience, distance, and lots of experience in the various kern- ing violations that we see play into use every day. Nobody really sees it, nor really gives it the attention it deserves. Case in point, there are several companies whose logos violate kerning basics so egregiously that I simply can't ignore them. So, how does something like kerning slip past the obviously very talented graphic designers and creative directors at these large firms? Is it simply the fact they don't see it themselves? I call this having a bad case of seeing something so many times that it no longer identifies in the brain as a word, rather it takes on a whole weird new identity as the word tries to reestablish itself in your brain as a graphic. Have you ever had this happen to you when you are work- ing with a quirky word or phrase, where your brain suddenly refuses to recognize it as the word it is? It's suddenly look- ing like a strange new language you are not familiar with. Kerning becomes easier when this disassociation within the brain occurs. 7 STEPS TO KERNING Step 1: Start out being very negative … that means I instruct my design students to create a large black box on the page and place their word or phrase on top of that black area, then change the font or logo text color to white. With this sharp, clear, and well-defined high-contrast approach, your eyes can more easily pick out the kerning problems a lot faster than leaving the text black on a white background. Step 2: Stand back from your monitor or screen, way back, so you can see where the hot spots are. ese are pretty darn

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