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Help creating tiny, crisp text!


soullifter

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Hi guys,

New member here. I've been designing emotes for a friend of mine for his site on Twitch.

Screen Shot 2016-11-14 at 11.38.32 PM.png

They are a real challenge! They must look good, clear and readable at 28x28 pixels.

I've made several so far, but have such a hard time getting words and text to look clear at that tiny size, especially in today's standards. I do, however, see other 28x28 emotes/pictures with words that look clear, so I know I'm doing something wrong.

In general, I create a new document at 28x28, then choose a font as around 9-10 point then type a word out. Usually then I'll put a drop shadow on it, then sharpen it and that's it. I'm sure I can be doing more, so I'd like some help :) FYI, I need to make these pictures/emotes at 3 sizes: 28x28 (most used), 56x56 and 112x112, all PNGs.

Currently, I'm trying to make the word 'WRONG' work at 28x28. W's are a pain since they are larger letters than most, I know. Here are versions I have come up with as examples.
Screen Shot 2016-11-14 at 11.39.15 PM.png

Here are examples of good-looking, readable text at 28x28 for reference:

1)
Screen Shot 2016-11-14 at 11.39.30 PM.png

2)(this one has 'wrong' in it)
Screen Shot 2016-11-14 at 11.39.49 PM.png

3)(has a few with letters that look good.)
Screen Shot 2016-11-14 at 11.40.03 PM.png

----

I was using TW Cen MT Consdensed Extra Bold at 10 point, then added a dark drop shadow. I'm sure I can find a better font, if someone can point me in that direction. I also noticed that sizing down a 112x112 to 28x28 is not a good move. It seems you have to create the tiny pics from the ground up first.

Thanks for any help!! :)
 

Tom Mann

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Hi soullifter -

Welcome to PSG! Hopefully we can help you figure out what's causing the loss of sharpness.

The first thing I did was to take a look at your first in-line attachment (...the one titled, "Trump SC"). Unfortunately, it confused me because it appears that all of the emotes in it are 56x56 pixels, twice the 28x28 size that you are having problems with.

To try to reproduce the problem you are having, I took a large version (from the vector) of a crying emoji (about 1300 px square), added some text, stroked the text, added (like you) a slight drop shadow, shrunk the whole thing down to 56x56 (using "Bicubic Sharper"), and finally, for easy, direct comparison with your examples, inserted mine into your first attachment. To my eye, at 200% zoom in PS, the sharp edges in mine look just as good as the others in that panel.

OP's_Screen_Shot_2016-11-14_at_11p38p32_ PM-plus_TJM's-01.jpg

BTW, just in case you don't aren't aware of some of the idiosyncrasies of some on-line forums like this, you should never rely on in-line images in the forum to do accurate comparisons, particularly, around sharp edges. This is because the in-forum mid-size previews are usually re-sampled and compressed dramatically to speed page loading. Instead, you should click on the image, expand it to its full, original dimensions, download it, and view it in a high quality image viewer like PS itself.

Back to your problem ... When I have to produce images like these, I never start the work at small image sizes (ie, low numbers of pixels in both directions). Instead, I always start with a much larger image than my final target size, get it looking good at the large size, and then, as the very last step, down-rez to the final (tiny) size. I would *never* do more than one re-sizing (ie, re-sampling) step, and I would never start with an image that's only a few times larger than the intended final size (ie, like your experiment with a 128 px image).

The best way to get us on the same page is if we both are working on the same image, so, attached below is the large version that I started with. My suggestion would be for you to download it, do whatever you usually do to down-size it, post it, and then, we can at least see if we get the same results, discuss methods, etc.

HTH,

Tom M
 

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soullifter

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Hi Tom,

Thank your for the reply. I am unhappy that my links were converted to in-line PNGs. I wanted you to check the link so you could see the 28x28 pixels, how can I do that? How can I make a link NOT get converted to .PNG? It makes this much harder to explain and demonstrate.
 

soullifter

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For example, this is a 28x28 that is quite readable from https://twitchemotes.com/emote/97735

1.png

here are some i have tried, but i think they can be more clear.

temp2.pngtrumpWrong2-28.pngtrumpWrongver3.png

I have heard from other small emote creators that you need to create at 28x28, not downsize from a larger size. so, fonts are tiny at 28x28, as I mentioned I use 9-10 point for a few letters. I may have to ask some other artists how they do it, as they are used to working at these small sized.
 
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soullifter

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Tom,

ok I took your pic, resized it down to 28x28 (Bicubic smoother) then sharpened with smart shapen. still not that clear as you can see.

testing1.png
 

inkpad.t

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Not much good at this stuff but from what i can see all the other images apart from the one you added in the first top images have the text under the graphic, The one at huge plays to me looks as though it the colors that make it stand out and readable. The yellow emo with the test text is to busy and confusing, the colors seem to be too close together, and I would try completely opposite contrasting colors.

Have you tried designing in 28x28 ? , the actual size your looking for. maybe it would look ok as it might need any compression, sharpening what ever as you design at 28x28, only a thought.
 
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