Categories / Tutorials
4 Really Under-Used Photoshop Tools to Work With Fonts
Kevin Whipps March 31, 2021 · 7 min read
Match FontI’m going to cop out to this one right off the bat, because I always forget that this is a thing. Let me explain. Here’s the scenario: you’ve got a project to do, and you need to find out what font some other designer used to make their thing. Maybe it’s redoing a logo, or just revamping some existing design, but either way, you have no idea what fonts are in play in the design. What do you do? Back in Photoshop CC version something-or-other, they introduced the Match Font tool, which made matching fonts a lot easier. The idea was that you import an image with the font you need to match, then pull out the Match Font tool and go to work. Since Adobe and Typekit are now buddies, Photoshop pulls from that database too, so you can see if it’s a font you can just grab quickly. So does it work? Yeah, and it’s not too shabby, either. It’s by no means perfect — I’ve had some misses here and there — but it’s one of those tools that I never remember exists until I’ve exhausted my other options. Maybe I should switch the sequence of those things. And if you want a good tutorial on how the whole thing goes down, check out this article at Digital Arts Online.
FontselfTo call this under-used might be a bit of a misstep. Admittedly, Fontself is quite popular, but to me, it’s magic. And since I don’t use it as much as I think I should, I’m putting it down as part of this list. So there. If you haven’t heard about it, Fontself (available here at Creative Market) is a font creation plugin for both Photoshop and Illustrator that you can use to make your own fonts. Is that a big deal? Heck yeah it is, because for a long time now creating your own font seemed to require a combination of witchcraft and voodoo that I just couldn’t understand. Fontself makes it a ton easier, and since you can purchase plug-ins for both Illustrator and Photoshop, you’ve got a ton of flexibility. The Photoshop version does have one secret, though: you can design color fonts. Yes, you can hop onto the next big thing using Fontself, and that’s pretty sweet. I personally think that color fonts will take off in the next year, and I can’t wait to see what happens with them next. And if you want to one-up things even more, why not sell your Fontself-made fonts right here at Creative Market? There’s a whole group of people doing just that, so you’d be in great company.
GuideGuide for PhotoshopI cannot heap enough praise on GuideGuide. It is one of my favorite tools, and I love it so much that I wish I wasn’t married so that I could marry it. It is an amazing way to get perfect guides all over my Photoshop (and Illustrator) projects. But wait — what does this have to do with fonts? Trust me buddy, I’ll get you there. Just clear some room for a sec. Here’s how GuideGuide works: you fill in a few details about your guide requirements. Say you’re designing a business card and you need to have a bleed, you can place the guides in the “visible” range. Or you want to layout a rough spread for a magazine, and need columns placed automatically. Between the numbers that you fill in and the automatic buttons (vertical center, horizontal center, etc.), you have infinite options for your guides. And if you’re a touch OCD like me, that’s your fantasy. So. What’s this have to do with fonts? EVERYTHING. I use guides for most of my font work for a ton of different reasons. Maybe it’s to ensure the x-height matches on two different but adjacent fonts, or it could be just to see if the spacing is correct. And if I’m using guides, and I need them to have any kind of symmetry, GuideGuide is my best friend. Instead of doing the math in my head, I just ask GuideGuide to do the work for me. Seriously, this thing is freakin’ magic, and it’s my favorite tool ever. OK, I’m done gushing over it now. It is just a plugin, after all. But still, I dig it.
Font Explorer X ProI will admit, my love for Font Explorer X Pro has been a difficult goal to hit. We’ve had some bumps along the way, and even though things aren’t perfect, I think we might just work it out. But never mind my emotions about a piece of software, let’s talk about what makes it so great. If you’re like me, you have quite the font collection. And even if it’s meticulously organized, it’s probably not very functional. At some point having more than 500 fonts will start to slow down your software, and when it’s past 5,000, well you need to get something to sort that out. Font Explorer X Pro is a font management program. It lets you sort your fonts into categories, create smart lists, and organize them in a ton of different ways. It also can activate and deactivate fonts for you at will, which is pretty critical. It’s the only way to truly manage having a ton of fonts without making your computer run slower than a slug stuck in molasses. Right, now that’s all cool, but the big thing comes in the form of font requests. Let’s say you’ve got a client and they send over a file. It’s got a few fonts in it that you don’t have, so Photoshop dings up and says, “I don’t have this font.” But you know you have it, you just have to dig around, find it, and activate it. That takes time. Font Explorer X fixes the issue. In the same scenario, instead of Photoshop pulling up a dialogue box, Font Explorer X pulls up the font request. And it says, “Hey, I see Photoshop wants this font. You’ve got it. Want me to turn it on?” Magic, right? Now it’s not all roses and honeydew. I’ve had my fair share of issues with the software, and sometimes it can be a bit clunky. But between the cache cleaning and Adobe integration, it’s pretty much a killer tool to have, and that’s why I’m glad it’s part of my arsenal.
Tools of the TradeAre these the only tools you need to bring fonts and Photoshop together? No, of course not. But these are some of my favorites, both under-used and arguably under-valued (by me, at least), and I think they deserve some praise. Not only do they make my life easier, they could probably do the same for you. And anything that can help you work faster and more efficiently is a win in my book.
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