Typesetting: Aligning Signs [this silly text is here only to align the title with the pictures below...]

Aligning signs is actually pretty easy, but for some reason many typesetters fail in this area all the time.
I'm not sure if they don't know how to do this or they're just too lazy to do it right, but it's pretty lame
because just aligning the sign correctly will make it look a lot better.

The tags you use for this are the three rotations - \frz, \frx, \fry, shearing - \fax, \fay,
and to get the \frx and \fry right, the origin point of the rotations - \org.

Let's try a basic example. Let's say you want to put a sign on this balcony:



This is pretty typical for anime. You will need to make lots of signs of this type, whether it's the notorious nurse's room at school,
a sign above or on the door of an office, or various signs on buildings etc.
These signs usually have a horizontal slant, but vertically they're pretty much straight.

This is important to acknowledge if you don't want the sign to look like shit...



This could be the first thing to do - use \frz to rotate the sign.
Unfortunately that's where some typesetters end. If you can call them typesetters.
It's the same people who will also pick an incredibly shitty font,
often some M$ or Adobe nonsense that looks like crap but is 10 MB large.
Anyway, we'll get to fonts later...
So if you actually want to do some real typesetting, here's the next step...



The tag you use here is \fax. When used with a negative value, like \fax-0.1, the effect is like using italics.
With positive values it leans in the other direction.
You have to use low values, usually in the range of 0.05-0.5.
It seems that many typesetters don't even know this tag, or are too lazy to use it
because unlike the rotations this one doesn't have a tool in aegisub and has to be typed out.
It is, however, more useful than \frx\fry, because anime doesn't have much of 3D effects.
Most of the time it's really just horizontal slant while vertically it stays the same.

So now you have a sign that's fairly well aligned. Now you just need it to blend in a bit better...



...which you achieve by changing the color to match whatever is relevant in the picture.
Here I don't have an original sign to imitate, so I just go with the outline of the balcony.
You will also notice that i used blur.
On signs, using at least 0.5 blur is a must if you don't want them to look obviously added and out of place.

So now you have a pretty decent sign. You might as well go with it.
If you look more carefully though, you'll see that it's aligned to the bottom of the balcony but not the top. Why is that?
Well, because here you actually have a sort of 3D effect, where the left end of the balcony is taller than the right.
So what now? Since we've gone this far, we're not gonna redo it with rotations, so we'll use a simple trick...



Looks better, doesn't it? (By the way if you don't see the difference here, you should probably not be a typesetter.)
So what sorcery is this? Very simple. The original font size was 50.
If you want the end of the sign to look smaller than the beginning, instead of all kinds of rotating and skewing you can do this...
Sa{\fs49}mp{\fs48}le {\fs47}Te{\fs46}xt
As you can see, after each 2 letters i decreased the font size by 1.

If you're learning to typeset, this should be good enough.
If you're pro, you'll notice the end of the sign is still a bit too tall, the 'p' is too close to the bottom etc.
And obviously you'll want something better than Arial. Then again if you were a pro, you wouldn't be reading this guide.

So we have what we wanted, but let's look at other ways of doing this.



This is without using \frz and \fax, but using \fay instead.
Often this is more convenient because you don't have to use any rotation. It'll work fine for signs on/above doors much of the time.
The problem with \fay is that you can't use additional tags in the text like I did for the font size before, because of a vsfilter bug.

The last way to do this that I'm gonna mention, possibly the most pro if you can do it right [but epic fail if you can't],
is using just the rotations and moving the origin point.
This means we're gonna use \frx and \fry, instead of \fax and \fay and do it right.
Why would I do that when I've described how \fax\fay is a lot more convenient?
Because the rotations actually can give you a 3D effect when you need it,
and we've noticed that the balcony here is "closer" on the left.
We've managed to bypass it pretty well with the font size, but that may not always work. Like when the sign is only 2-3 BIG letters.

First let's look at what will happen if you use rotations without moving the origin point.



You'll see many "typesetters" create these abominations. It's possibly even worse than our first example in black color way above.
What you have here is a sign where maybe 2 out of 10 letters are aligned somewhat correctly.
The rest is FUBAR. This is like "I has Aegisub so I can into typesetting yeah?"
Nope. You can't.

So what now?

If you try playing with those rotations, you may find out that no matter how much you rotate it around, it just doesn't fit.
It will always be aligned at one end and not the other. Why?
Because if your default alignment is \an2 or \an8, it will always align to a vertical line that goes through the center of the sign.
That means both sides of the text will lean towards the center, like you see above.
Now if you use \an1, 3, 4, 6, 7 or 9, you may get slightly better results, but still pretty derp.

So what you need is to move the origin point.
The tag is \org(x,y), but you can use the rotation tool.
You'll use the tool for \frx\fry and rotate slightly to the side - like \fry7.
Usually you want to use only a little of these rotations and get the rest done with \org.
If you use too much, you'll get too much difference between one side and the other.

When you adjust \fry, you grab the triangle in the center of the grid and move it.
In the tags you'll see \org appear and you'll notice the sign changes alignment as you move it.
Then you just have to go and find where to drag it to make it align right. It may often be off the screen.
Once you go off the screen and let go, you won't be able to grab the triangle again but you can adjust the numbers in the tag.
But since that's inconvenient, try to learn to get it right the first time by dragging.

Now, you'll notice that while this will let you get the alignment right, it may drag the whole sign away from its position.
This is not a problem, you'll get it back, just get it to align right first.
When it seems fairly good, you switch to the Drag tool. You will now see 2 points you can drag - the regular square and the triangle.
You won't see the triangle if it's off the screen, but the red line will tell you roughly where it is.
So now you drag the the sign back to position with the square. If it misaligns the sign, you need to drag the triangle a bit again.
It may take a while to balance them out, especially if the triangle is off screen & you have to change the numbers in the tag or try again.
With a bit of practice though, you'll learn to do it more easily. More importantly, you'll get some good results...



You can see that the sign looks pretty good and the only tags creating the alignment are \fry and \org.
(\frx0 can be deleted, it's just that the tool adds both tags even if they're 0)
The script resolution is 1280x720 so you see the origin point is off the screen in this case.
This method is especially useful when you need to do something more complicated
like you'll see in the last example at the bottom of the page.
Of course you can still fine tune this using \fax and/or \frz.

You may use various approaches and combine the tags as you wish.

For static signs \fry\org may be the best, but if you need the sign to move, you can't use \org,
so go with \frz\fax and possibly scale down the font size for some perspective if needed.


So, that's about it. Now you know how to align signs and do it right.








A few examples of signs I've found in some groups' releases...




On the left is the original sign, on the right is my quick adjustment.
Clearly this looks bad and totally out of place - alignment is terrible, even the \frz isn't quite right.
You can also see the color is off. I didn't like the choice of font either but that's the least of its problems.
Even my sign doesn't look too great, but at least it doesn't look retarded.





While in the previous example it was only \frz and good-bye, here some "pro" went for \frx and \fry, clearly without a clue how to use it.
It is sad, because it only takes a minute to do what I did on the right. Whoever did the one on the left should be fired.
I wanted to just quickly fix this to make an example so I went for \fay. If I actually wanted to release this,
I'd use \frz and \fax, and then change color after every 2-3 letters to match the change of color on the japanese sign.





It just keeps happening, doesn't it. I'm not sure why groups that have been around for years have problems with this.





Now this... is admittedly not an easy one, but this implementation is pretty poor, especially with each line having different (mis)alignment.
The "When would be good?" line is so bad that I'm guessing the author must have been in quite a hurry to finish this.

Here's where \fax and \fay won't be enough and you'll have to use rotations, and you'll have to use the \org tag, if you really want it to look good.
One other thing you'll have to use is blur. Its lack in the one above makes it even worse. And the colors are off as well.
It will certainly take more than a minute, possibly even 10-15 minutes to get all the 4 lines right.
But hell, if you look at the one above, and the one below that I made, you'll have to admit that it's worth the time.







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