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Using Guides to Align an Alpha

by Toiny Westberry on 1 March 2012
in Photoshop CS+ Pin this scrappy stuff!

I love alpha’s!  It takes all the hard work out of making the perfect title to match my layout, and I really love matching.  But alpha’s can be hard to use, with an alpha you lose the automatic alignment and kerning the font tool provides.  Today we are going to use a guide to align an alpha as our title.

Guides appear as lines that float over your layout.  Guides do not print.  You can move, remove, add multiple guides (horizontal and vertical) and lock guides.   You can show or hide your guides rather than removing.  Go to: View -> Show/Hide Guides.

My Supplies:

Step 1

I open Tylann Stacker #3.  I drag in my photo of Tess and apply the resizing, border & shadow style covered in How to Add a Photo to a Stacked Paper.  Finally I open and drag in each letter I need from the Tylann Alpha, doubling the “s” for Tessa.

Step 2

I move the letters down to approximately where I want them.  I also resize them to fit my layout style.  I keep the “e” a little bigger, with the cute little bow it’s Tessa’s favorite letter in this alpha.  But with the differing sizes, the alignment looks too disorderly.   Using the alignment tool doesn’t help, so I insert a New Guide:
View  -> New Guide

Hint: I usually choose to have my New Guide appear smackdab in the middle by choosing the 6 inch mark as my position.

Step 3

I need to move my guide down to where my letters are.  I do this by hovering my mouse over the guide until the equal sign ( =) with arrows appears.  I can slide the guide into place by dragging (clicking + holding with the mouse).

Step 4

I use the move tool to manipulate my letters into position, aligning the bottoms perfectly onto the guide (except for my wayward “e”).

Hint: with the move tool selected, hold down the control key (Ctrl) and use your arrow keys to minutely adjust your alpha (or element or paper, etc.).  Conversely, with the move tool selected, hold down the shift key and use your arrow keys to rapidly move your alpha (or element or paper, etc.)

Step 5

You can keep the guide there, it won’t print, or clear it by dragging the guide outside the image window.  If you have multiple guides set up, it’s quicker to go: View  -> Clear Guides.  Add any additional touches to your layout and that’s it!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Donna 2 March 2012 at 3:46 pm

Your tutorials, tips & techniques are helping me sooooo much!!! I just used an alpha on a layout for the 1st time (yep, I’m a newbie!!) & I worked forever on getting the placement the way I wanted it! I’m very happy with the way it turned out, but I could’ve save a lot of time by using this trick! I’d also like to tell you how much my family and I enjoy your stories about Germany, especially Garmisch…we’ve been there several times & think that it must be one of the friendliest & most beautiful places in the world!! Thanks for stirring up some wonderful memories for us!!


2 Toiny 2 March 2012 at 3:55 pm

You are so welcome Donna! I’m open for questions & suggestions. Some of the things I do are almost automatic, I try to write as I do each step and include my little short cuts… without being confusing. It’s little tricky, just like photoshop LOL.


3 Carol 2 March 2012 at 6:47 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have always had such a problem with this — this is such a great help. I do appreciate it. I hope this will work in PSE as well. Guess I will find out as soon as I try it.


4 Donna 5 March 2012 at 8:26 pm

Just a little update for ya’…IT WORKED LIKE A CHAMP!!!!!! I wanted to use an alpha last night, I couldn’t remember the steps so I pulled up your tutorial & you walked me right through it. Easy Peasy!!!! Now I need to find someone that I can impress with all this new knowledge I’m gaining!


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