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Learn to kern

Have you ever looked at the text on a poster or an ad and felt something was not quite right? That’s probably because the kerning of letters was not well executed. Kerning is to adjust the space between two letters, so it doesn’t have big, weird and uneven gaps between them. Kerning done right, makes the letters looking consistent and therefore makes your design look polished.

But why do letters do not have the same amount of space between them? Well, think of each digital letter being in a box. Each letter has space around itself (as each letter has a unique shape). When put next to each other, some letter combinations either get more space or less between them (for example the W and the A). Even though the boxes have the same width. And on top of that the type of the letter also has an influence (thick, thin, slanted etc). So it’s basically a puzzle. The letters need enough space between them, to fit nicely and to be visually consistent.

Design programs usually have a default kerning option (an optical kerning button), however that doesn’t always solve every kerning problem as it works from a mathematical point of view and kerning is actually more of a visual ‘problem’. More or less it’s an optical illusion if you may say as sometimes a letter has the same distance but it still feels it’s too close or too far from the letter next to it. It is therefore best to always check the text yourself before you send your design to a client or a printing office.

‘But how do I check it?’, you may ask. Squint your eyes while scanning the text. It will show you where the gap is too big and manually adjust the spaces where needed. Check your kerning skills at the fun online game Kerntype:

Do you pay attention to kerning and if so, what’s the best trick that helped you make kerning easier?

Bad color combos vs good color combos

Did you know color combinations can make or break a design? Usually colors emphasize an atmosphere or a feeling. For example think of red as danger or as passion and warmth. It can therefore enhance the message you want to communicate.

However not all colors are a good combination, especially for text. When a bad color combo is used, it can actually bring the effect of your design down. Even though it looks very cool and you have printed it on a 2 by 4 meter billboard banner. For example: red letters on a black background, or purple on red are very hard to read, even more so for colorblind people. And no matter the size, a design will lose it’s message when it’s not readable. Something you definitely do not want as a designer. 

Colors that do work good together are called Complimentary (but of course!) Colors and are basically found opposite of each other on the color wheel. They bring out the best of each other and when used in a good way, they can even make a design look like it is giving light and bring it to life. This enhances the readability of a design in the distance and that’s basically what we all want, right?

So that’s exactly we try to achieve every time we design: making sure it brings out the message from every distance while still looking cool. Besides that, we always try to keep the clients wishes in first place, but if we know a color combination is not working, we will show why and alternatives.

Do you pay attention to color combinations in design (advertisement or posters for example) or never really thought about it consciously? Let us know in the comments below!