Recently a blogger posted about having trouble making Subway Art. I tried to help explain what went wrong for her, but then thought, why don't I just make something and use it as a tutorial, because it's not really that hard to do. You can just use any word processing program. I used Pages on my Mac, but Word does the same things.
The key to making successful subway art is to make everything fit in a rectangle. If it all lines up, it will likely work. The most simple subway art has one word or phrase on each line, and stretches all the way across, like:
Each line is the same length.
For something a little more complicated like this:
the text still fits inside a rectangle, but it's a bit more like fitting together a puzzle.
First open a document and use the guides to outline the size you want to use. For this project I set my guides for a 8 in. x 10 in. image.
For every phrase, word, or quote I used a separate text box. I did not worry about any kind of formatting; I just had each phrase in its own text box. This part is more about getting down all the options.
Some parts of the finished product will stand out more than others, so I chose what phrase I wanted to dominate. Since the theme was "Boys" I wanted "Boy, n. a noise with dirt" to be very prominent, so I started with that. (Don't think about color at all yet. Just fonts and sizes.)
Then I built on to that phrase. Sometimes a new phrase would pop into my brain and sometimes I realized something had to be eliminated.
The key is patience. You need to tweak things often. And many times it is moving something just a tiny bit.
In the above picture I found a couple issues. The Accidents quote wasn't fitting right and needed more tweaking. And then, Mischievous and Off on an Adventure both used the same font and went vertical facing the same way. I either had to change one (and I really liked both phrases in that font where they were) or I had to balance it out somehow.
So I again used the same font, similar size and on the vertical but flipped it to face the other direction with the word Curious. Big improvement.
For each phrase, treat it like a mini subway art piece. Make it fit in the given dimensions. In this box, I used just about every trick possible to make it fit the way I wanted.
Each line is it's own font size and several lines had the kerning adjusted. I also had to adjust the line spacing, but it works. This little box by itself makes great subway art.
Once I was pretty confident with my layout, I then began to introduce color. I decided to stay monochromatic (only one color), but I used many variations on blue.
Tips and advice:
1. The sizes listed in the drop down menu for the fonts are not the only sizes. You can make it any number you want. If 64 almost fits, but not quite, type in 62. Keep trying until you find the right fit.
2. You can adjust the space between each letter. If just adjusting the size of a font won't make it fit properly, adjust the space between each letter (kerning). In Pages it's under the text button in the inspector. There's a menu that allows this in Word too, but it's been awhile so you'll have to play around to find it.
3. You can adjust the space between lines, tuck them closer together or space them out more (leading or line spacing).
4. You can change the size of a single word within the rest of your text. Highlight it and change the font size and it will apply only to that word.
5. Keep it simple. Limit yourself to only a few fonts. Too many and it will get confusing. Limit your color palate as well. You don't need every color of the rainbow. Use each font and color more than once for continuity.
6. But, make sure that different phrases right next to each other have enough difference that they don't blend together. You don't want to confuse people. It shouldn't be work to look at it and read it.
And finally, if you've read this far and you like this, but don't want to do it yourself, shoot me an email and I'll give you this PDF. :)
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