Editable, Formatted Text from InDesign to Photoshop
In the current issue of Layers magazine, a reader wrote in bemoaning the lack of a Glyphs palette in Photoshop. It’s hard to locate a unusual glyph without it, that’s for sure. Type expert James Felici replied that the “best bet” would be to set the type in InDesign or Illustrator and export it to Photoshop. (Otherwise, he said, you could try Window’s Character Map or OS X’s Character Palette, though neither is as useful or functional as Adobe’s Glyphs palette.)
I read that advice and wrote back to Layers, asking the editor to please ask Jim how exactly you’d set type in InDesign and export it to Photoshop, so that the text came in with the same formatting and was editable. I mean, think about it — sounds impossible.
But after I sent the e-mail, I figured out a way. It’s kind of a hack, but it’ll do until Jim (or one of you) tells me of a better way.
The Illustrator CS2 method is easy. In Illustrator, after setting your funky-glyph-laden block of text, you could choose File > Export > Photoshop and in the Options dialog box, turn on Write Layers and Preserve Text Editability. When you place that file into Photoshop, it comes in as an editable Smart Object, transparent background, all weird ligatures and such intact. When you edit the Smart Object, a separate Photoshop window opens with a live type layer containing all of your formatted text. Easy.
But InDesign has no “export to layered Photoshop file” function. You could export to JPEG or to EPS, but both of those methods rasterize the type in the end. (If you don’t care about editing the text after placing it in Photoshop, EPS works fine, I’ve found. Maybe this is what Jim was talking about.)
Okay, so what I discovered while fiddling with this was to export the text as a PDF from InDesign. That is, put the frame containing the formatted text on its own page and then export just that page to PDF. Place that PDF into Photoshop (choose crop to bounding box at the prompt so only the frame is placed). The text comes in as a Smart Object with its formatted type sharp with a transparent background just like an EPS, but when you double-click the Smart Object, instead of rasterizing the type as it will do with an EPS, it opens it up in Illustrator as live text!
What’s so hacky about this? Well, smart guy, when’s the last time you opened a PDF to edit the text in Illustrator? Yechhh. All the text gets broken up into small chunks of “point type” making it very difficult for anything but minor edits. Also, if you delete or add lines of text, then save your changes and return to Photoshop, watch out for some severe type distortion as Photoshop updates that Smart Object, rendering it unusable.
Wouldn’t it be better if we could, say, place an InDesign snippet in Photoshop? It would come in as a Smart Object, and when you wanted to edit it, it’d open in a temporary InDesign window, same as how it works now for placed Illustrator Smart Objects.
I don’t know how often I’d ever need to do that, but it seems like the missing link in the whole Smart Objects thing to me. Doesn’t have to be a snippet, of course. (It’s just that I feel sorry for snippets and am always trying to find ways to use them outside of InDesign…)