Anti-aliasing of text

I’ve been doing some work on a colour PhotoShop page incorporating a lot of text these past few days, and I discovered, when it was all finished (or so I thought) that the text looked a bit jagged. That would be when I realised I had turned the anti-aliasing in the “character” menu to “none” a while back. I did that because last spring, working on a project that involved putting captions below photos, I’d ended up with fuzzy black on white text, with the anti-aliasing on. It wasn’t noticeable on-screen, but when the thing was printed — eek. Fuzzy edges. So I went back and set anti-aliasing to “none” for the text layers on all the storyboard pages I’d done, and made sure to leave it off as I did more. No-one wants to read a hundred pages or more of fuzzy, out-of-focus dialogue.

However, when it comes to colour printing, it seems a bit different. There’s always going to be less edge contrast than in stark black and white text, and thus, perhaps, the edges can be smoothed without the appearance of fuzziness. That’s my guess as to what’s going on, anyhow. I experimented with different anti-aliasing settings for the text on my colour piece, and found that, especially in large font sizes, the choice could make a huge difference. I used “strong” for small (8-10) Times New Roman, which made it much smoother and gave a better contrast (black text on medium-pale, coloured background), and “sharp” on much larger font sizes. One very curly, ornate, large font looked awful with both those; one version almost doubled the weight of the lines, for some reason and gave it a puffy, balloon look. (I think that was “sharp”? Odd effect.) For the curly font, “crisp” gave the best result.

So, my conclusions from all this are …? Um … certainly having anti-aliasing off (set to “none”) for text in the storyboard pages seems to be best. My test printings look very clean. But for colour on colour, anti-aliasing is a Good Thing.

This isn’t the promised post on Dark Ages (and earlier) musical instruments, and research thereupon. We’ll get to that soon ….

About K.V. Johansen

The author of Blackdog, The Leopard, The Lady, and Gods of Nabban, epic fantasies from Pyr, I also write for teens and children, including the "Torrie", "Warlocks of Talverdin", and "Cassandra Virus" series, and the "Pippin and Mabel" picture books, as well as a couple of short story collections and two works of adult literary criticism on the history of children's fantasy literature. I have a Master's degree in Mediaeval Studies, and read a lot of fantasy, science fiction, and history. Blog at
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