What is Converting Type to Outlines, and How Is It Done?

Joseph Caserto
A free video tutorial from Joseph Caserto
Design Professional :: Educator :: Consultant
4.2 instructor rating • 12 courses • 5,959 students

Lecture description

See the fundamental concepts behind how a font is created, and use the Convert to Outlines command to create vector paths from any typeface loaded in your system. (See External Resources for links to websites in this lecture.)

Learn more from the full course

Converting Type to Outlines in Adobe InDesign

Make Vector Paths from Any Font, to Use As a Frame or Graphic Element.

36:22 of on-demand video • Updated March 2015

  • Convert any font active in Adobe InDesign to vector paths, as if drawn with the Pen Tool, to be used as a custom frame or shape.
  • Use vector type to streamline prepress production.
English [Auto] Just what does it mean to convert type to outline in order to understand this it's going to help to explore some of the background of how a fun gets into our system what really happens is that someone draws each letter or glyph with any one of the drawing tools usually in Adobe Illustrator but they're the same ones that we have here in Indesign the pen tool the shape tools et cetera. So if I go to a blank page that I've set up and I take my rectangle shape tool and I just draw a rectangle and I switch to my pen tool and I'm doing this very quickly and I add an anchor point and I add another anchor point and I switch to my direct selection tool. Select the top right corner to Raggatt down. I've just created a letter L I'll just go to my swatches and change the color of black just to make it easier see. So I've only got 25 letters left to go to draw my own alphabet in uppercase create the lowercase characters and then of course there's punctuation and so on and so forth. How does this get inside your computer. So when you press the letter L key and the shift key together you get a capital letter L. Well the answer to that is well beyond the scope of this course. But in short the topographer or type designer we use a font editor like font lab studio and you can check that out at Funt lab dot com along with some other programs that they create. So when we convert type to outline what we're doing is we're taking that font that's started from outlines and bring it back to its foundation so I can select any of these letters because their funds they've been loaded into my system. There's a particular type of file that my computer can read that allows me to work with these letters and create words from them using my keyboard. So for example if I wanted to change the word type to typo I'd simply select the letter and I change the E2 info and I'm going to do that while creating outlines is very very simple. I first need to select the frame that holds the type or I need to select the type itself with the type tool. So I either use my selection tool to select the container and its contents. In this case the type or the type tool to select the contents. Now I really want to start by using the Selection tool and selecting both the container and its content and we'll see why when we go to the next step when I go to my typed menu with the frame selected and dragged down to create outlines or use the keyboard shortcut command shift. Oh on the Mac or control shift o on the PC Indesign will take those letters and convert them back to how they were drawn originally. So if I switch to my direct selection tool I can see that each letter has a series of anchor points and I can move those anchor points around and I can distort the font. Not that I necessarily want to but I can do that. Undo those moves. What might I use this for. Well if I had a design that required the downstroke of the piece to be really long if I select both of those anchor points and drag them down I can extend it. Typography purists would be freaking out right now doing that. It's almost like copyright infringement you're taking someone's very careful work and you're kind of bastardizing it for your own use. In other words the ascender of that P that I just extended was specifically set to that height by the type face designer and it shouldn't be messed around with. But I'll leave that to you to make the decision as to whether or not you want to do it. I often warn my students just because I can do it doesn't mean I should do it. Here's the thing about creating outlines from type once it's done it's done so I can actually undo it now because I haven't closed my document but if I do it closes and reopen it will not be able to select the outline type. Go back to my type menu and find an option called create fonts. It's just not there and it's for this reason that I like to make a copy of the live type on a hidden layer just so I can refer back to it if I need to. Now I'm going to undo this and step backwards. So here's my fun back again. Again this is only because I haven't closed my document. If I hadn't I reopened it I would not be able to do this. But if I select all of these letters now with my type tool and I go to my type menu and again down to create outlines I'll also be able to convert the type that way. Well where did it go. One actually in preview mode. So when I typed my W key to enter normal mode so I can see my guidelines and my frame edges I can see I've got an overset box but when I click that frame and expand it what has happened is it's taken this type inside a frame and it's treating it as anchor text. So it's an object in text. If I take my cursor and put an insertion point and start typing letters you'll see that the object flows with the type. It's actually not flowing very well because this is not set up to be text. It's set up to be more of a headline or a display element but the same principle applies. I can see if I switch to my direct selection tool that this anchored object has points that can be selected. And because it's anchored it's not really behaving the way you might expect it but you get the point it's there. So let me just delete it rather than select the points and move it just to prove my point that these letters are objects. OK. So again I'm going to undo that to clean up the mess that I just made. And really that's the basic concept of converting type to outlines. It's taking the font information and using it to go back to the original drawing that the type I prefer the type designer had created.