Letter Butchering Basics

Blue Collar Prophet Type

After the BOL interview with Jim Wilcox, I decided to expand on the Blue Collar Prophet type treatment and create a full character set (sans punctuation and symbols) to use in a couple of quick type tutorials using Illlustrator.

I decided to keep this tuts basic, explaining two methods I use in creating type.

If you are an experienced Illustrator user, these methods may or may not be new to you. However, if you are just starting out with Illustrator, the tuts touch on a few key tools for editing vector objects.

At the end of the tuts you will find a download link to the full character set (.ai file). Feel free to download the set and use it for any project you wish, personal or commercial. If you do use it, please send me an email so I can see your work. If it’s good, it will be featured on the site.

Why not a font file?

I kept the type set in its finished vector state for those new to creating type treatments to experiment. In this scenario, a font file would be converted to outlines for editing. Think of it as a “pre-outlined” font.

If you have any insight into other methods and techniques that you use, please feel free to share.

Look for more tutorials coming up on BOL. Enjoy the type.

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Cutting Corners

Blue Collar Prophet Type

This is a method I use to create the corner cuts to fit letters. For this we will use the two L’s. Before doing anything, make a copy of the letters and put them on their own layer. Once you have your new layer, place guides around all four sides of the right L, as well as the lower horizontal part of the L. The right L is the one we will be cutting.

Blue Collar Prophet Type

A. Change the color on the left L (any color) and bring it to the front (OBJECT>ARRANGE>BRING TO FRONT) to make sure that its going to sit on top of the right L. Slide the left L to the right so that it is overlapping the corner of the right L (see arrows on left). Pay attention to where the vertical guides and horizontal guides intersect (see diagonal arrow).

B. Now select the left L (the one we changed the color on) and while holding SHIFT enlarge the letter slightly larger than the right L.

Blue Collar Prophet Type

C. Position the left L to where the diagonal angle is positioned exactly where the guides intersect (see arrow). You want to have some overlap.

D. With the two letters overlapping and in position, select both L’s. With both L’s selected, go to your pathfinder tool and click the second option under Shape Modes: Subtract from shape area.

Blue Collar Prophet Type

After the click, the left L should go to a guided outline. When that happens, the EXPAND button will become selectable in the pathfinder. Click on the EXPAND button and BOOM, the left L is gone while cutting the corner off of the right L.

Blue Collar Prophet Type

Now go get another copy of the original L and position it next to the new one.

Done.

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Extending Lengths

Blue Collar Prophet Type

This time, instead of cutting off part of a letter, we’re going to cut it, move some things around and then put it back together. Looking at the two sets of ET above, notice the shorter distance between the two letters on the left compared to the right. Below is one method I use to cut letters, in this case the T, to increase the length of the horizontal part thus adding a larger gap between the letters.

Blue Collar Prophet Type

A. The knife tool is what we will use to make the cuts. This tool used to stand alone before the eraser tool was added. You might have to expand your tool palette to see find it, depending on your version of AI.

B. We want to cut the top horizontal bar of the T twice vertically with the knife tool. First select the T, then with the knife tool above where you would like to make the first cut, hold SHIFT+ALT and drag the knife over the letter. (SHIFT+ALT positions the knife to cut at 45 and 90 degree angles) Then repeat.

C. After the cuts your letter should look like this. What we have here is the original letter now cut into 3 parts.

Blue Collar Prophet Type

D. Holding SHIFT, select the left piece and the middle piece that were a result of the cuts. You will be selecting these pieces individually in the next step.

Blue Collar Prophet Type

E. Select the left piece of the letter (white arrow) and slide it to the left (holding shift). Deselect, then select the middle piece. Here is where you will decide how long you want to expand the letter. Since the middle piece is a rectangle (red arrows), we can expand it as wide as we want. Move the left piece as far to the left as you want, then select the middle piece to overlap the left and right pieces of the letters. Almost done.

Blue Collar Prophet Type

The last thing you want to do is put everything back together. Select all of the pieces of the T. With everything selected, click on the first option in the pathfinder tool under Shape Modes: Add to shape area. Now the EXPAND button will be selectable again. Click EXPAND and everything goes back together.

Blue Collar Prophet Type

Now go get the E and put the letters together again.

Done.

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What are your thoughts?