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Using Dingbats in Photoshop with Font Xplorer

Use dingbat characters from fonts that are not installed in Photoshop.

Dingbats and Font Xplorer

Dingbats are different than your regular font. For a start, they do not contain any alphabets! Set the font to a dingbat font and type the character A on the keyboard, and you might find an illustration on the screen instead of the alphabet character. Yes, dingbats are fonts that contain illustrations rather than alphabets and numbers. Such illustrations can contain just one single fill color since they are basically font outlines.

Look at this screenshot that contains some of my favorite dingbats.

I love dingbats but have always found it difficult to manage them. Often, I need to use some dingbat character in a design and it makes no sense to have the entire font installed all the time. And that's so much more true when you have zillions of these fonts!

For a long time, I've been looking for a product that can take an uninstalled font and export a single character to the clipboard as a vector illustration. Font Xplorer from Moon Software is a perfect solution. Moon Software is based in Estonia and my contact for this tutorial was Ahto Tanner. Thank you, Ahto.

For the rest of this tutorial, I'm assuming you have Photoshop and Font Xplorer installed on your system. You can download a demo version of Font Xplorer from the Moon Software site.

If you need dingbats, here are links to some dingbat sites.

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Exporting a Shape from Font Xplorer to Photoshop

  1. Make sure that Photoshop has been launched and that you have an open document.
  2. Launch Font Xplorer and choose View | Folder Browser.


  3. Navigate to any folder where you have saved your dingbats. Font Xplorer will show you a preview of these fonts in the right pane.
  4. Click any font to see the entire character table for the font. Then, right-click any chosen character and choose the Copy Symbol as Vector Image option from the context menu.
  5. In Photoshop, choose Edit | Paste to bring the shape into Photoshop as a new layer. Thereafter, use Photoshop's editing tools to delete the white portions of the image.

Here is a shape I exported from Font Xplorer into Photoshop. The shape includes a quick Layer Style applied within Photoshop.

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More Ideas

  • If you have a copy of Adobe Illustrator (or a similar program), you can copy any vector shape in Font Xplorer and paste it within Illustrator. Then export to the EPS format which you can bring inside Photoshop using the File | Place option.
  • If you use some shapes often, you can convert them to a Photoshop shapes library. Here's a detailed tutorial.
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