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Best fonts for text heavy cards?

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Evil ColSanders
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I've printed my game and used Franklin Gothic Medium. A common irk (not quite a complaint) among a lot of playtesters was the legibility of the cards.

What would be a simple, free font to use? I wanted to use MPlantin like the older magic cards or Optimus Princeps (which I believe is a rip-off of Trajan Pro, used by Dominion). Both of those seem sketchy. I've been up and down font squirrel with not much luck. I didn't realize how difficult it was to choose a font.

let-off studios
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Suggestions

I found a font about a year ago this month that I've come back to time and time again: Chuck Noon. I'm personally a fan of all-caps fonts with thick lines. It also has a character all its own, which is nice to see.

http://www.dafont.com/chuck-noon.font

Meanwhile, I did a quick check of a few non-serif fonts in MS Word, and these might also work for you:
Arial Narrow (another personal fave)
Calibri
Candara
Corbel
Segoe UI
Verdana

I think these are all 'vanilla' install fonts, not downloaded from somewhere.

A few other font tips that have helped me in the past:
- always use a contrasting colour match between text and background
- Try not to mix font colours
- It may be helpful to use all-caps (though I have heard here and there that reading all-caps is an issue to some who are differently-abled)

If you're really fancy, here's what I recommend to add a coloured halo round your text. I use Photoshop CS2 for my design projects (there's a free, unsupported version available out there).
1. Layout your text in Photoshop or another graphics program.
2. Make it black text, if it's not already.
3. Select all your text, and enlarge the selection by like 3 pixels.
4. Create a new layer, and arrange it behind the layer with your black text.
5. Select a light colour, like white, ivory, or light yellow.
6. On the new layer, fill the selection you made earlier with the lighter colour.
7. De-select the lighter, filled-in text selection.
8. Apply a slight gaussian Blur filter on the lighter text layer.

The result is black text that has a halo-style glow around it of a lighter colour, resulting in readable black letters of text regardless of the card/board background.

If you have questions, let me know. I'm not quite a font nerd (my main goal is clarity, not necessarily a distinct style), but I do tinker.

radioactivemouse
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A little PS and Graphic Design.

let-off studios wrote:

If you're really fancy, here's what I recommend to add a coloured halo round your text. I use Photoshop CS2 for my design projects (there's a free, unsupported version available out there).
1. Layout your text in Photoshop or another graphics program.
2. Make it black text, if it's not already.
3. Double-click the text layer, check, "Outer Glow" when the Layer Style window pops up, then select the tab to see its settings:
4. Make sure you make the settings:
Opacity: 100%
Blend Mode: Normal
Color: White
Spread: 0
Adjust size accordingly

The result is black text that has a halo-style glow around it of a lighter colour, resulting in readable black letters of text regardless of the card/board background.

Layer properties have been around a long time in PS. Plus Adobe operates on a subscription service now...$10/month for Photoshop which is reasonable or $20 for most of the suite. Cracked PS versions are so pre-2010s.

Imo, if you want to use readable text, use Arial bold or narrow. If you want thicker text, use Impact. Play around with the fonts and note the tips below.

The general rule of thumb is clarity. You want to stay away from fonts that have fancy wisps at the end (i.e. serif) The official term is "sans serif". Make sure the text can be read in caps, lowercase, large, and small. Also make sure (if you're downloading a font) that the fonts have all the characters you need...some don't have lowercase...some don't even have numbers.

Some fonts, while incredibly thematic are mainly used for logos and not for card text.

When designing a card, you don't want any more than 3 fonts. 2 is ideal.

Try not to use like-color font on like-color background, i.e. red font on burgundy background. It's really hard to read.

let-off studios
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Yeah, what he said.

I bow to your skills, sir.

radioactivemouse
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lol.

let-off studios wrote:
I bow to your skills, sir.

There's many ways to do things in PS, sir. Some are just faster than others :P

But as long as you get to what you want, then it doesn't matter which route you took. :)

JewellGames
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If you use PS and the adobe

If you use PS and the adobe typekit, Korolev and its condensed/compressed versions are very clean and have a handful of weights.

Evil ColSanders
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I tried every one of

I tried every one of everyone's suggestions, then did a few searches on legibility. Arial Narrow seemed a bit too squished for my taste. I ran them by my brother (since he is always near as an objective observer). Libre Baskerville (which is close to MPlantin) won out, followed by Tahoma, then Verdana, and finally Arvo. I really appreciate everyone's input! It really helped drive home the decisions.

mcneipl
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Look for narrow or condensed fonts

One solution might be to look for condensed or narrow fonts. This allows you fit more text without having to take the font size down as far. Often this makes the text easier to read while still getting more into a small space. This is especially true of headline text where you want large text without wrapping.

One of the best tricks I used to tell my students (I am a former Graphic Design professor) was to select a font with many variations. For example, my favorite is Helvetica Neue. It has dozens of variants, including condensed versions. Then as you work on a project you can use 2 or 3 variations of the SAME font and it will naturally look great together.

For free fonts a good place I find to go is Google Fonts. You can check the "width" option to look for narrow fonts. Then you can see how many variations a font has...so you can pick a font with multiple weights AND a good condensed option.

https://fonts.google.com/?width=1

Open sans is a good font that come in many variations (13):
https://fonts.google.com/?query=open+sans

Oh, and you can download and use all the Google Fonts on your machine.

I hope this helps!

Desprez
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Be careful with Outer

Be careful with Outer Glow.

There's some kind of obscure memory overflow bug with it.

I came across this when doing multiple cards per page that had some complicated art.

It was causing a printer out of memory error when the printer had plenty of memory. Eventually got a new printer that also had twice the memory. Still got the error.

Replaced all the Outer Glow instances with Drop Shadow, and the error went away.

Drop Shadow can be manipulated to do what Outer Glow does.

funamite
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Depends on your themee.

Depends on your themee. Fontsquirrel.com and Google Fonts are my go to sites.

radioactivemouse
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Outer Glow

Desprez wrote:
Be careful with Outer Glow.

There's some kind of obscure memory overflow bug with it.

I came across this when doing multiple cards per page that had some complicated art.

It was causing a printer out of memory error when the printer had plenty of memory. Eventually got a new printer that also had twice the memory. Still got the error.

Replaced all the Outer Glow instances with Drop Shadow, and the error went away.

Drop Shadow can be manipulated to do what Outer Glow does.

I believe this is caused by the gradient on the outer glow the memory has to account for. Personally, I use Outer Glow on a case by case basis, but typically, I stick to a 100% spread (where the outer lines are crisp instead of faded).

It may also be the lack of computer memory (?), though there may also be other factors in memory overflow. I've taught Photoshop for years and I haven't had any memory issues with Outer Glow.

Desprez
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radioactivemouse wrote:It may

radioactivemouse wrote:
It may also be the lack of computer memory (?)
It was specifically a printer memory error. The computer was fine.

If I removed half the cards, it would print, suggesting that double the memory should have worked. It didn't. Which then suggests some kind of geometric or exponential leak.

But yeah, if you're using that kind of spread, drop shadow won't help.

radioactivemouse
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My bad

Desprez wrote:
radioactivemouse wrote:
It may also be the lack of computer memory (?)
It was specifically a printer memory error. The computer was fine.

If I removed half the cards, it would print, suggesting that double the memory should have worked. It didn't. Which then suggests some kind of geometric or exponential leak.

But yeah, if you're using that kind of spread, drop shadow won't help.

I didn't read "printer", ugh, I gotta get better glasses, lol.

The only thing I'd suggest if you have to get rid of the drop shadow/outer glow, is create a space where the text will contrast with the background i.e. a white box to put black text on for maximum contrast. If art is being covered, bring down the opacity of the white box to see the text better, but still enough to contrast the black...hopefully the printer doesn't go nuts with that.

Desprez
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radioactivemouse wrote:The

radioactivemouse wrote:
The only thing I'd suggest if you have to get rid of the drop shadow/outer glow...

Sorry, you misunderstand. Outer glow has the problem, drop shadow doesn't. And even then, it only manifested with heavy usage.

I was able to use drop shadow to exactly duplicate what outer glow was doing. (But it your case, drop shadow won't duplicate how you were using outer glow.)

I was just mentioning a tip in case anyone starts having mysterious problems with it.

questccg
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PNGs???

Desprez wrote:
...Outer glow has the problem, drop shadow doesn't. And even then, it only manifested with heavy usage...

Just convert the PSD to PNG at higher print resolution (like 300 DPI) and who cares about the "Outer glow" memory problems.

Are you actually printing the PSDs directly??? I convert everything to PNGs. And then there can be 0% problems...

Desprez
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questccg wrote:Just convert

questccg wrote:
Just convert the PSD to PNG at higher print resolution (like 300 DPI) and who cares about the "Outer glow" memory problems.

Are you actually printing the PSDs directly??? I convert everything to PNGs. And then there can be 0% problems...


Now that we've completely hijacked the thread...

Actually, this in Illustrator, so I'm mainly working with PDFs.
But Illustrator shares functionality with Photoshop with regard to raster effects. (So presumably the code-base, and errors too)

For me, I've found Illustrator be much better suited for card design work. Typically, cards feature text, icons, borders, and heavy changing and re-positioning of elements during development. All of this is well suited for vector art. And the ability to easily modify icons, text, lines, and positions is as must.
Additionally, the symbols feature is fantastic when working with game icons; I don't know what I'd do without it.

At any rate, when working with many documents during development, it's an incredible pain on the workflow to export or convert the entire thing to another form every single time you want to print or update a card. I've had to do this in the past, and I never want to go back.

Now naturally, you may have to convert the final when sending to a shop, but that's a little different, since you aren't having to do it over and over.

Converting the file to avoid a bug would be a last resort sort of work-around.
More likely, if I came across something that just couldn't be done, I'd convert that individual element to a high-resolution image and save it as a symbol or placed artwork. Still, losing the ability to edit it in place, and having to re-save it every time a change is needed, would be less than ideal.

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