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Lesson 6. Creating Text Effects > Creating, Formatting, and Styling Text Layers

Creating, Formatting, and Styling Text Layers

The first step is to place your text at the appropriate time using project markers, and in the appropriate space relative to the background. After entering text using the Text tool, you will adjust its format and style in the HUD and the Inspector. You’ll work with an updated Mountain Gorilla project similar to the one you finished in Lesson 5.

Open Lessons > Lesson_06 > Lesson_06_Start and save it to the Student_Saves folder.

If the playhead is not already at the start of the project, press Home (or if your keyboard lacks a Home key, press Fn-Left Arrow). Then press Command-Option-Right Arrow to move the playhead to the first marker at 00:29.

Let’s place the main text at this marker.


You can add your own marker by selecting a layer and pressing M. If no layer is selected, the marker is added to the Timeline Ruler.

In the Layers list, select the Sidebar group. Click the New Group (+) button to create a new group, and name it Text. The Text group is created above the Sidebar group. To create a text layer, use the Text tool.

Press Shift-Z to view the entire Canvas. In the toolbar, select the Text tool, or press T.

Click just above the gorilla’s head, and type Mountain. Press Return, and on the next line type Gorillas.


Your text font may appear differently than the font used in the following figure depending on the most recent font you used in a Motion project. The screen shot is best used to get a rough idea of the placement of the text and not its appearance.

Press Esc to return to the Select/Transform tool.

With the title typed, you can format the text to better fit the space provided and to match the style of your graphic.

Open the HUD, if necessary, and drag the Size slider to 75 points. From the Font pop-up menu, choose Trebuchet MS Bold, and under the font name, click the Center Alignment button.


If you drag through the list of fonts, the text in the Canvas will update the font in real time, so that you can see exactly how each font looks in your project.

It’s a good idea to turn on the safe zones to help place the text.

From the “View and Overlay” pop-up menu at the top right of the Canvas, choose Safe Zones, or press the ’ (apostrophe) key.

The outer blue rectangle represents the action-safe area, and all critical action should happen within it. The inner blue rectangle represents the title-safe area, and critical text shouldn’t extend outside it.


Although the safe zones were designed for broadcast television viewing, they ensure that you don’t crowd the edge of the frame no matter which delivery system or display device your audience is using.

In the Canvas, drag the text while watching the dynamic guides, and center the text over the gorilla’s head within the title-safe area.

You can continue to modify the text format and style in the HUD, but to access even more parameters, use the Inspector.

Close the HUD and press F4 to open the fourth pane of the Inspector, which is now the Text pane. The Text pane contains a large number of parameters in three panes: Format, Style, and Layout.

The Format pane contains many of the parameters also found in the HUD, such as the font family, typeface, size, and tracking.

In the Format pane, change the line spacing to −15 to bring the two text lines closer together. Then, change the tracking to roughly 25% to spread the characters farther apart. Lastly, at the bottom of the Inspector, select the All Caps checkbox to convert your text to capital letters.

In the Inspector, click the Style pane.

In the Style pane, you can customize four attributes of a text layer: Face, Outline, Glow, and Drop Shadow. Each attribute has a similar group of adjustable parameters. The text color is pure white by default, so it doesn’t quite match the jungle colors you’re after in this project.

Click the Face color eyedropper icon, and then click the yellow line coming down to the right of the text to apply that color to the text layer.


You can also change the text color using the color well in the HUD.

An outline could help distinguish this text from the background.

Select the Outline checkbox, click the arrow next to the color well, and select black. Increase the Width to 2.

That more clearly sets off the text, but a soft, subtle drop shadow would add some depth.

Select the Drop Shadow checkbox. Change Opacity to 80% and Blur to 2.

You can often improve the appearance and readability of text by adjusting the distance between individual characters, a technique called kerning. Some letters in Gorillas look a little too far apart relative to the others, but you can fix that.

Double-click the text in the Canvas to select it, and then click once between the o and r of the word Gorillas to place the insertion point.

Press Control-Left Arrow a few times to reduce the space between the letters.


If you are using Mac OS X Lion, be sure to disable all Mission Control keyboard shortcuts located in the Keyboard System Preferences to enable Control-Arrow shortcuts in Motion.

Press the Left and Right Arrow keys to move the pointer between the other characters, and adjust the kerning as you see fit. Press Esc to exit the Text tool, reposition the text layer as necessary, and save your work.


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