Layers Panel

How to Use Dingbat Vector Graphics to Create Images

You’ve probably seen dingbats before.  As you scroll through fonts looking for just the right one they suddenly appear.  You may even laugh when you see them.  Why would anyone use images for a font?  No one could ever read that.  This is true, but since most people don’t understand how dingbats can be used they miss an amazing graphic resource.

Although they are categorized with the fonts, dingbats are just graphics that can be used for a variety of reasons.  Think about it.  What are the characteristics of fonts?  They are vector images which means they maintain their integrety at any size, you can make them any color, and once you have installed the font on your computer you can use it in any program that recognizes fonts.

Since discovering dingbats I have started using them for just about every graphic project I do.  I am going to show you how you can use these free vector graphics to enhance your artistic projects in Photoshop CS3.   We will be using 7 skills in Photoshop.  All of these fonts can be found for free at

First, I will be using Aierbazzi.  This font is composed of various wildflower images.  I will start with a white background and use black for my font.  I am going to type a different letter in each layer as you can see by my layers panel.  This allows me to move each image around individually.

Layers Panel 

I now have a black and white bouquet. 

Black Bouquet

But I want to add more color.  So I am going to go back into each layer and change the colors so I have a multi-colored bouquet.

Colored Bouquet

I am going to hide all but one flower for this next example.  Say you want to change a dingbat so that it is several colors, or has effects on it.  Right-click on that layer in the layers panel and choose Rasterize Type.

Rasterize Type

Click on Select in the Main Menu and choose Load Selection.  Click OK in the box that appears.  This will select everything in the layer you are currently  in. 

Load Selection

With your image now selected you can choose a color in the Color Palette and paint a portion of the image.

Colored Flower

I am going to switch to a different font for this next example.  This font is called Printers Ornaments One.   I am going to type the letter M.  Duplicate this layer by right clicking on the layer in the Layers Palette.  I am now going to arrange this image to create a repeatable background image for a website, wallpaper, or digital scrapbooking page.

Dingbats Background

Now select one of the M layers and click on the fx logo (add a layer style) at the bottom of the Layers Palette.  I am going to add a Drop Shadow and Bevel and Emboss each with their default settings.  You can add other effects in this same manner.  The image on the left is the original dingbat.  The image on the right has the above mentioned effects applied to it.


I am going to switch to another font called Christmas Debbie.   Using these last two methods, I am going to create an image of two candy canes in a stocking.  Type the letter c for the stocking.  Rasterize this layer.  Now choose Select in the Main Menu, select Load Selection, and click OK.  Go to Select in the Main Menu again and choose Modify>Contract.  Contract the selection by 5 pixels.  Choose a red color and fill the selected area with red using the Paint Bucket Tool.  Select the transparent portions of the stocking and fill them with white.  Right-click and choose Deselect.  You should now have a red and white stocking. 


Change the foreground color back to black, create a new layer, and type the letter o.  This creates a candy cane.  Make the candy cane red and white by following the same steps used for the stocking.  After you have deselected the candy Ctrl+T to free transform the image.  If you hold the Shift key down as you resize the image it will maintain its proprotions.  Right click forf additional transforming options such as Filp Horizontally.  I duplicated the candy cane layer and transformed the new candy cane additionally to make the image below.

Stocking and Candy Canes

Drag the candy cane layer to the top of the Layers Panel so the candy canes are hidden behind the stocking.  Follow these steps to add additional items to the stocking.  This is my completed stocking image.

Full Stocking

Now that you know how to use dingbats, have fun creating.  You might actually start collecting dingbat fonts.

To find out how to install a font go to:

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