Truly Personalized Return Address Labels in Adobe® Illustrator
By Pariah S. Burke - WorkflowCreative.com
are 2.625 inches wide and 1-inch tall, so in the Transform panel's W:
field (for Width) I'll type in 2.625 in, and in the H: or Height field
I'll enter 1 in.
information page also tells me the margins of the pre-cut label sheets
I've ordered, so I need to position my label design relative to those
margins so that the design prints correctly on the labels. That's where
the X: and Y: fields come in. Illustrator works in two dimensions-horizontal
and vertical-with X representing an object's horizontal position relative
to the top-left corner of the page (artboard in Illustrator parlance)
and the Y denoting the object's vertical position. It's important to
note that the vertical position, the Y coordinate, is not relative to
the top-left corner of the artboard; it actually begins at the bottom-left
corner. Therefore a value of 0 in puts the object's selected reference
point at the bottom-right corner of the artboard. (Yes, it is peculiar
and a little difficult to get your mind around at first.)
that the X: and Y: fields control the positioning of my object-specifically,
of the selected top-left corner reference point-I can easily set the
margins. According to the WL-875 product page, the label sheet's left
margin is 0.1875 inches (a little less than a quarter of an inch). Entering
0.1875 in into the X: (horizontal positioning) field and pressing Return/Enter
precisely aligns my rectangle's left edge to the margin and thus to
the left edge of the pre-cut labels on which I'll print the design.
vertical positioning I have to take an extra step. The top margin of
the label sheets is 0.5-inches-a straight forward half an inch-but because
Illustrator measures vertical coordinates relative to the bottom of
the artboard rather than the top, entering 0.5 in in the Y: field will
put my rectangle at the bottom of the page rather than at the top where
I want it. I know that the label sheets are standard 8.5 x 11-inch American
letter-sized pages, so I know that subtracting the half-inch top margin
from the 11 inch total artboard height means that I must vertically
position my rectangle's top-left corner at 10.5-inches. Entering 10.5
in in the Y: field and pressing Enter/Return does the trick.
as your address information remains selected with either the Selection
Tool or the Type Tool, changes you make in the Character panel will
immediately apply to that text. Using the Font Family, Font Style, Font
Size, and Leading fields, style your address the way you'd like using
any font on your computer. Feel free to experiment and tweak!
to make the return address very readable. You are zoomed in and viewing
the label onscreen much larger than it will actually print, so you must
remember to make the text large enough to be legible when printed. On
a light background, with a crisp-edged, easily readable font, the minimum
size should be 8 pts. On a dark background the same kind of font should
be set no smaller than 10 pts. If you're using a font with a script,
handwritten, or funky look, try to stick within the 12-16 pts size range.
For my Halloween-themed return address labels I chose the font Bones, which, despite its letters being comprised of cartoon bones, is remarkably readable at 12 pts (see the sidebar "Check This Out" for the address to hundreds of free Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Valentine's Day fonts you can download and use in your designs). For this particular return address label I opted to leave out the sender's name and only include the address, giving me more room for decoration
|Making Your Label Unique|
|This is the point at which the step-by-step instruction must pause. A return address label that perfectly expresses me, my interests, or my perspective on a holiday, season, or event will not express you, your interests, your perspective. If I walked you through a step-by-step creating my personalized return address label, I would be doing you a great disservice. What I have done above (and more below) is to train you in the basic skills you'll need to create your custom label-any custom label, however you'd like to design it. I firmly believe in teaching a man to fish, as the saying goes, rather than giving him a fish. Using what you've learned above and a few more nuggets of information I'll convey just below, you'll be ready to draw from the ocean of Illustrator any fish you desire.|
|Although you can add photographs, clipart, and custom drawings to any design in Illustrator (see the "Adding Photos and Clipart" section below), the fact remains that most personalized return address labels are designed entirely from type and fonts. For instance, both my Halloween label and the Valentine's Day label were created entirely out of fonts-no photos, no clipart, just text (see Figure 10). Of course, the readable text like "Happy," "Halloween," "Valentine's," and "Day" are all from free holiday themed fonts, but so are all the other elements. The witch, ghost, moon, and spider web (in the O in "Halloween") are from free symbol or dingbat fonts, as are the Cupid and heart border in the Valentine's Day label|
now you're probably asking yourself two questions: Where do I get these
fonts? And: Once I have a symbol font installed, how can I pick from
the available symbols?
In order to answer the second question-once I have a symbol font installed, how can I pick from the available symbols-allow me to present another Illustrator panel, the Glyphs panel (see Figure 11). Access it from the Window > Type menu. "Glyph" is the correct term for any single character or symbol in a language or font, and the Glyphs panel provides instant access to every glyph in any installed font. Choose the font family and style from the dropdown menus at the bottom of the Glyphs panel, and the grid will fill with the glyphs present in that font. With normal, readable fonts, you'll see all the letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and other glyphs, and when viewing symbol fonts like Helloween, you'll see all the symbols. The two mountain-like buttons next to the Font Style field zoom the grid view out or in, showing more glyphs or greater detail.
particular characters is just as easy as viewing them.
Instant clipart that behaves like text-you format its size and style
on the Character panel-and can be colored instantly with the Swatches
and Color panels.
you already have some symbol fonts installed on your computer. Although
your fonts may vary, Windows users might find Wingdings, Webdings, and
Marlett already on hand, and Mac users should look for Zapf Dingbats
Remember: You can reselect text-the address, inserted glyphs, any text-with the Selection Tool at any time and continue to make changes. If you find a typo and want to fix it, choose the Type tool and carefully click it at the baseline, the imaginary line running directly beneath the text, to enter and edit previously created text.
|Adding Photos and Clipart|
there are hundreds of thousands of excellent glyphs available to you
from symbol fonts, such glyphs must be, by their nature as parts of
a font, fairly simple drawings. They cannot contain multiple color or
shades (although you can draw in those bits in Illustrator if you want
to), nor can they be photorealistic. Of course, they probably won't
contain pictures of your pet, grandchildren, or hobbies. That's where
importing or placing comes in.
place into Illustrator all the popular photographic image formats such
as JPG, GIF, TIFF, PNG, BMP, PSD, and PDF, and all the common clipart
file types like EPS, WMF, EMF, PCX, AI, and PDF. All you have to do
is choose Place from the File menu, navigate to the picture or clipart
file on your computer, select it, and click the Place button. Illustrator
will place the image on your artboard, ready to be moved or resized
with the Selection Tool or Transform panel.
In Figure 12 you can see two return address labels I created. The first includes a photograph of my cat, Chloe (the background design I created directly in Illustrator). In the second, for a fictional editing service, I've placed and sized the photo of torn and crumpled paper as the background and also placed a clipart logo I created in another Illustrator .AI document.
of settling for a generic clipart picture of a dog from the mail order
return address label printers, why not make your own labels that include
your particular dog? How about pictures of your newborn to help announce
your joyous news to all your friends, family, and utility companies?
Fisherman? I bet you've got a beautiful shot of your boat or big catch
that would look spectacular in the top-left corner of your outgoing
Your imagination is the only limit on what photos and clipart you can add to your personalized address labels.
|Continued Page 3|
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