Text and Fonts

For the sharpest possible results, typography should usually be done with vector graphics, which you look at in the next chapter. However, in some circumstances, using a bitmap (pixel-based) program like the GIMP to put text on an image is appropriate. Creating graphic buttons for the Web is a common example, because bitmaps should look the same in any web browser.

Click the icon for the Text tool, which is a big, black, bold letter A. In the options panel of the GIMP's Toolbox, you see the default font, size, and color. In the version of the GIMP that comes with Ubuntu GNU/Linux, this font is Sans, 18 pixels high, in black. When you click with the Text tool in a highresolution photograph, notice that text 18 pixels high looks very small.

Your computer may have different fonts installed, particularly if you're running the GIMP on Windows or a Mac. You can easily download additional font packages for Ubuntu using System >

Administration > Synaptic Package Manager on the main GNOME menu. Try searching for font or ttf among the package names; the latter is an acronym for TrueType Font.

Note that the height measurement is in pixels rather than the typographer's traditional measurement of points. (Computer printers have standardized on 72 points to the inch; but in the era of typesetting by hand, the exact size of a point varied from country to country.) If you prefer to work in points, or fractions of an inch, a drop-down menu to the right of the Size box lets you specify your choice.

When you click the image with the Text tool, a pop-up window appears in which you can type. You can also open a prepared file and import the text from that (see Figure 3-30). By default, the Text Editor window is set up for Western left-to-right languages, but the RTL button enables you to switch to right-to-left typing. As you type in the editor, the text appears on the image in your chosen font, size, and color. The text area has rectangular handles in the corners that you can use to reposition the type in either direction. Exactly where the text sits in this area depends on the justification and spacing options you choose in the GIMP's Toolbox. When you're done, click the Close button in the editor to hide the pop-up window; it reappear the next time you click the image with the Text tool active.

Figure 3-30. The Text tool has a Text Editor window that can import text from a file. Drag the text area to the correct position, and then justify and space the text with the tool options.
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