Type is a key element of almost any graphic design — from choosing the perfect font for a corporate identity piece to crafting a type-driven design for a concert poster or the cover of a magazine. However, manipulating individual characters once your design has been implemented has always been tedious and time-consuming — mainly because words were treated as one object, thus making it impossible to quickly tweak or experiment with individual characters.
Did you notice that I am writing in the past tense? That's right. I recently started working with the Touch Type tool in Adobe Illustrator CC. This new tool enables you to work with letters as individual objects. Imagine that. You can now select a character or letter, a single word, or a series of words; change the font; and then scale, rotate, and move your selection (among other things). Its simple and familiar bounding box–like interface brings a whole new level of fun and function to designing with type.
But that's not all. This tool is called Touch Type for a reason. It's compatible with touchscreen or direct touch devices, including Windows 8 touchscreen computers and the Wacom Cintiq 24HD. You don't need a touch device to use this new feature in Illustrator CC, but if you have one, it makes the Touch Type tool even more intuitive and organic to use.
In this article, I show you how to get started using the Touch Type tool.
Figure 1 shows a text object in Illustrator CC. I am starting with a simple layout using the font Trajan Pro. The 8 is a separate object, while Tropical Treks is one text object.
I need to transform the characters to create a design for a marketing piece about eight outdoor adventures. Before the Touch Type tool, I had to convert the text to outlines or type each letter as a separate text object. Now with the Touch Type tool, I can edit and transform these characters as if they were individual objects and keep the text live (editable).
First I select the Touch Type tool, which you will find as one of the Type tool options in the toolbar or in the Character panel (see Figure 2) or by using the shortcut Shift+F7.
Next I use the Touch Type tool to select the A in the word Tropical. Using the bounding-box handles, I can transform the selected character. The four corner handles give me proportional scale, vertical- or horizontal-only scale, and free movement. The top handle above the bounding box gives me free rotation (see Figure 3).
As you can see in Figure 4, after rotating the A, it stays in line with the rest of the word, and the L shifts to the left to make it fit.
Using the Touch Type tool, I can also scale and move the rest of the letters to create a headline design that looks like Figure 5.
In Figure 6, you can see that the final version changes to Terrific Treks but maintains the same transformation appearance. The best part is that the text is still live so I can edit and change the content without having to readjust or re-create the transformations.
Using the Touch Type tool, I can go from simple text to a complex transformation with ease. The next example starts with a logo using the font Mesquite Std (see Figure 7).
Using the Touch Type tool, I can easily transform these characters and rotate the word (see Figure 8).
Next I add a photograph of barn board underneath the text and some texture on a layer above the text. Figure 9 shows the completed logo.
As you can see, with the new Touch Type tool in Illustrator CC, you now have total control over type. To learn more about the new features in Illustrator CC, check out the following videos on Adobe TV:
Kevin Stohlmeyer is an Adobe Certified Instructor, user group manager, and Adobe Community Professional based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has been teaching Adobe products since 2000, both in higher education and at C2 Graphics Productivity Solutions. He has been featured in Photoshop User Magazine and is a NAPP member. You can find Kevin on Twitter @kstohl or on Facebook at facebook.com/kevin-stohlmeyer.