I recently did a run of abusing the images of others, specifically taking movie posters and album covers and inserting the character ROM, Spaceknight into them. This got some very good response, and one commentator was particularly amazed at how well I was able to match the fonts of the existing text when inserting a credit for Rom on the poster or altering the title.
There are actually several ways to go about this, and if you’re messing with images with text, you should be prepared to use any or all of them.
1. Get the actual font
For a lot of things, this is quite possible. There are a variety of online tools to help you – Google “font identifier” and you’ll find ’em. Some have you upload an image of a bit of the existing text and then try to match fonts from their database against them. Others take you through a series of questions about the text you’re seeing to try to find a match. When it finds a font, it may be one you have, or it may be one that’s free online, or which someone has crafted a free lookalike.
I don’t think I did this for any of the ROM images.
2. Find a similar font
For example, in creating this image, it clearly wasn’t a computer set font. The squished W, the flares on some of the letters, this was obviously carefully handcrafted.
In order to extend “Mac” into “Machine”, I found a font of similar attributes – serifed, right height, right-ish weight (it’s a little too light, so it ain’t perfect), added the HIN, and made it look right by using a combination of stroking the letter with the background color and adding a drop shadow to get the added thin lines down and to the right of the letter.
3. Steal letters
For Fleetwood Machine, I wasn’t going to find a font with E’s that matched what came earlier… but because it came earlier, I didn’t have to. I just copied one of the E’s from Fleetwood. For that matter, the first O in ROMOURS is just the second O, shrunk a bit to fit the space and to look designy.
4. Build letters
For letters that aren’t anywhere else on the image, you can often build that letter from pieces of other letters, creating something that looks right.
To convert Run Lola Run to ROM Lola ROM, I relied on this… even for putting the O in ROM when I had an O I cold steal in Lola. The build was really easy – the O is just the bottom half of the U that was there, copied and flipped upside down to make the top. This made it easier to match the surrounding color than copying the O. Similarly, I took the left part of the N and flipped it horizontally to make the right half of the M.
5. Replace the whole font
Really, people don’t have memorized the exact font of a movie poster (well, Star Wars’s they do. Don’t mess with Star Wars.) If you can’t match the font of some of the existing text to your satisfaction, delete that text and rewrite it in a reasonably similar font that you do have.
The font on the Stepmom soundtrack disk looked commonish, but whatever it was, I don’t have it. The M’s on it are so wide that simply sticking a similar R into it wouldn’t work so well, no R wants to be that wide. So, I erased the whole thing, found a similar font, and dropped it in.
It’s not the same font at all, but looking at it, it clearly works. I replaced both the title and the credits at top.
And now that I’ve given you all my tips, you can now challenge me directly at my big-time career of messing up images for free.