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Crisp Vector Type from Photoshop


I am a vector geek. When it comes to printing, vector graphics are the best. Nothing looks better to me than crisp clean printed type. As a vector geek, one of my pet peeves is type set in Photoshop.

When type is set in Photoshop, more often than not, the files that get sent to the printer are flattened (no layers) 300dpi TIFF files. This is absolutely perfect for images, but for text?

The thing is, when you set a line of type in Illustrator or InDesign and it gets output to any device- office printer, inkjet, platemaker etc. vector data (text) is output at the highest resolution possible by the imaging device. This means that for most office laser printers, your text is 600dpi. In the printing world, you text is being output anywhere from 1600dpi-3600dpi! These nice sharp solids are now being output at only 300dpi; in the case of most printing companies, that is about 1/3 of the standard resolution!

Photoshop Type

The worst part is that when Photoshop rasterizes type, it is no longer solid! Look at this image. This is 14pt Gil Sans at 200% zoom in Photoshop. You can see that the edges are less than solid black. This means that when it is printed for press, the edges will have halftone dots! Basically, it will look like there are teeth on the edges of the text.

Illustrator Text

Now look at the same text set in Illustrator. These were captured at the same magnification. Look at the difference in clarity between the two samples.

Illustrator, InDesign and any other piece of software that can edit type will automatically output vector text. Photoshop will not do this automatically.

To output vector type from Photoshop is easier than I am making it seem- I just wanted to underscore why I think it is so important. Really all you need to do is save your file in a format that will send the text to a vector layer- and remember not to rasterize your text layers!
You should see the little “T” symbol in your layers palette; this signifies that there is ‘live’ type on that layer.

Just save as a Photoshop PDF and your text will be saved as vector shapes! I have to warn you though, this will not work if you have applied lots of effects to the text. Gradients, inner glows, beveling and the like will always convert the text to raster on output because many of these effects are raster only.

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