Typesetting: Positioning Signs

There are several things that determine how good a typeset is and how well it blends in.
Obviously, the colors and sizes of font, border, shadow. Then of course the choice of font.
The next thing would be the positioning of the sign.

Beginners will have this idea that the typeset for a sign should be as close as possible to the original sign.
Please get this idea out of your head, because half of the time that won't work very well.
It is especially unnecessary for typesetting titles.
If it's a sign that belongs to a specific place on the screen, then sure, you wanna get your TS close to that.
But an episode title has little relation to what's on screen in terms of placement,
so no need to go crazy trying to match the position and orientation of the sign while sacrificing readability.

I used an episode of Nichijou for a test, here are the results from some guys.

Kanji is often written top-to-bottom, rather than left-to-right.
It works great with kanji. It does not with English.
So don't try rotating the text like this just to match the orientation of the japanese sign.
It decreases readability and doesn't really look that great.
You might think of using M\No\Nt\Ni\Nv\Na\Nt\Ni\No\Nn. In other words top-to-bottom, without the rotation. Well... try it.
For one, you will usually have large spaces between the letters. But even if you pick a font that doesn't do that,
or do each letter separately, you'll run into another problem. Kanji has pretty consistent width. English letters don't.
The difference in width between M and i can be anywhere from 500-1000%, depending on the font. So this will usually not work either.

Also here ^ the white 'shadow' is missing.

This is a pretty good placement. It's much better to sacrifice font size and orientation if the result is well readable and looks good.
The shadow is a bit too thin and jagged but this is overall fine, except that the font should be a serif one.

You can do something like this. Pick a font that will look good, you can make it large enough so that it's both readable and close to the
size of the kanji, and keep at least some kind of alignment when posotioning it, in this case the top aligned with top of the the kanji.

You can even put it on the other side of the screen for overall symmetry.
If you want it top-to-bottom, it may be better this way than rotating, but I'd say it's almost always better to keep it left-to-right.
Trying to split the text like this will rarely work well for a number of reasons, like the width inconsistency that you see here.

Another title. Here I think if the font was larger, to match the span on the kanji precisely, thicker, and placed a bit farther,
it might actually not look too bad (putting aside the readability issue)...

...but clearly this works much better. It's aligned to the centre of the kanji, looks fine except for the font.

Here aligned to top, with a different font.

There's never one "correct" place for typesets.
Rather than following some rigid logic for where a sign should be, just make it "look good."
It doesn't even necessarily have to be aligned with the original sign in any way.

Here it pretty much ignores the jp sign.
Instead it's in the middle of the "background" area - the sky - where it doesn't interfere with the foreground.
It's kind of where you'd put it in the first place, if the jp one wasn't there at all...
pretty much the most natural place for a title on this screen, assuming the title is horizontal.

If the jp is in the middle, and you can't exactly fit the typeset in the middle as well, you may split it like this (if the words allow it).

This should be pretty obvious. You don't want the sign over Yukko's head, and you don't want it over the papers above either.
The neutral green area is the most suitable place. If you split the title in 2 lines, you could put it in the large green area on the left.

Here you have 2 typesets and main dialogue, so first of all you want to avoid any of them overlapping.
The title is where it is pretty much out of necessity. There's hardly any other place suitable for it.
The office sign... many would try to fit it on the white board, along with the japanese.
That can certainly be done, but you'll have to have really small font size and it'll still look cramped.
So I put it above, and matched the width of the sign and thickness of the letters roughly.
It looked too artificial without that shadow, so that was added to give it some sense of space, even though as a "shadow" it's illogical.

Here again trying to squeeze the Shino Labs on the signboard would be frustratingly difficult & just wouldn't look good no matter what.

On an unrelated note, did you know sharks can fly?


One other option is to simply replace the jp sign with the English one.
That will, however, only work well if the background is one solid color.
Here's one where it will be simple enough:

You'll be creating 2 layers. One will just draw a blue rectangle over the kanji.
The other will put the English text over it.
Normally I make the actual sign first. Then I duplicate it and delete content.
Then paste this instead: {\p1}m 0 0 l 100 0 100 100 0 100{\p0}
That's a basic square in drawing mode. Nuke border/shadow if present.
Expand it using the scaling tool (\fscx\fscy) to the size needed to cover the kanji.
Add \blur1 to make the edges softer to prevent them from being noticeable.
Match the blue color and adjust layers so that text is on top of the rectangle.
The result will look like this:

And just in case this was difficult to comprehend, here it's disassembled:

You could create more complex shapes than a rectangle.
More on drawing and other stuff in this section.

...possibly more examples coming later...

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