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How to Use Swash Fonts in Photoshop

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Knowing how to use glyphs in Photoshop can help you use all sorts of different characters, ornaments, and swashes. Let's find where these are hiding!

Word glyphs and swashes are individual characters that aren't standard to every font. We can say they are an extension of the basic characters we normally find in a set of typefaces. For instance, single characters with different accents are part of glyphs. You'll usually find glyphs in fonts that support multiple languages. 

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Not every font will contain glyphs, and the ones that do will have them in their style. Aside from different accents, mathematical symbols or copyright symbols can also be included. Depending on the typeface classification, you'll also find different styles of glyphs. 

  • Script fonts will often have characters with different swashes for the beginning and ending letters in a word.
  • Calligraphic fonts have ornamented characters and additional flourishes. Different versions of the same characters are also usual. Fonts inspired by handwriting try to include different versions of the same character to make the renderings look real. 
  • Display fonts can have different motifs and icons. Some can even have different border styles. 
Photoshop glyphs panel displaying Quechely fontPhotoshop glyphs panel displaying Quechely fontPhotoshop glyphs panel displaying Quechely font
Photoshop glyphs panel displaying Quechely

What You Will Need to Use Glyphs in Photoshop

For this tutorial, we'll use the Austria font. If you're looking for amazing swash fonts or fonts that include cool word glyphs, be sure to check out Envato Elements and GraphicRiver. Download the assets and make sure the font is installed on your system before starting. When you're ready, let's dive into using these special characters in Photoshop! 


1. How to Find Glyphs in Photoshop

If you're wondering how to find glyphs in Photoshop, start by creating a new Photoshop file. To open the Photoshop Glyphs panel, head over to Window > Glyphs. The Glyphs panel will automatically display the last font used.

Opening the glyphs panelOpening the glyphs panelOpening the glyphs panel

The Glyphs panel will show individual characters. Here are a few of the options on the panel:

  • If you want to change the font, do so through the Set Font Family option from the panel or through the Text option. 
  • Under Set Font Category, you'll find the glyphs category, which will vary depending on the font. 
  • Set Font Style refers to the italics or any of the different font weights (thin, regular, bold, etc.) 
  • Use the Glyphs zoom slider and the Glyphs scaler to make the glyphs larger or smaller, so they're easier to see. 
glyphs panel buttonsglyphs panel buttonsglyphs panel buttons

2. How to Use Swash Fonts in Photoshop

Select the Text tool from the toolbar and click on the document to add text. Select a letter, and the Glyphs panel will automatically find that letter in the list. Scroll through to find other options for that specific character. To replace the letter, you can double-click on the glyph. 

How to use the swash fonts in photoshopHow to use the swash fonts in photoshopHow to use the swash fonts in photoshop

Another option is to go to the Glyphs panel and set the Font Selection to Alternates for Selection. This option will show you the swashes for the letter you're selecting. From there, you can double-click on the swash you'd like to use. Now you're ready to use these special characters in Photoshop. 

Select a single character from your textSelect a single character from your textSelect a single character from your text

Below, you can see the different selections for the character 'm'. The first character is the regular style, the second is an ending swash, and the third one is a starting swash. The last two are perfect if you're using words that either start or end with 'm'.

The different m alternatesThe different m alternatesThe different m alternates

Below, I'm using the words 'Modern Mountain' to show you the different capital 'M' glyphs and the lowercase 'n'. Letters written by hand are different, and even in the same sentence you won't be able to find the same 'n' or the same 'M.' The advantage of these special characters in Photoshop is that a digital rendering of many words can get closer to authentic hand-lettering. 

How to use the capital M alternatesHow to use the capital M alternatesHow to use the capital M alternates

Great Job! You've Finished This Tutorial!

Not every font has swashes and glyphs, but you most likely have a couple in your font library that you can check out. In this tutorial, you learned to open the Photoshop Glyphs panel and how to use glyphs. These amazing characters can be useful if you're working with hand-lettering-inspired fonts. Since hand-lettered characters aren't all the same, using glyphs in Photoshop can help you find the same character in a couple of different styles. 

If you enjoy using glyphs in Photoshop and want high-quality word glyphs and font swash fonts, be sure to check out Envato Elements and GraphicRiver. There's an amazing library to explore, with new items being added every day!

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