Fontographer Vs. Fontlab...

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Thomas Phinney's picture
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Joined: 3 Sep 2002 - 11:00am
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However, that stuff won't see the light of day until 2006. So "Rooted" still needs to make a choice based on what's available today or at least within the next few months. The imminent release of FontLab Studio 5 may be a factor, but a Fontographer upgrade in 2006 probably shouldn't be.

T

Levon Kardashian's picture
Joined: 18 Feb 2005 - 2:42pm
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Yes, you are right abou the timing.

But since the project at hand, as Rooted describes it, is well within the capabilities of Fontographer, I think purchasing FOG is a good investement. 1. It is capable of completing the project in an easy-to-use interface with much less complexity that FL, and 2. It will be upgraded, so it will become a useful tool even for more complex projects in the future.

Peter Howe's picture
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Joined: 11 Oct 2004 - 3:36pm
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I have a small question concerned with an earlier part of the discussion (I apologise for interrupting the debate). I am using Illustrator to draw my characters (I draw them by hand first and then scan). I then export into FontLab 4.
What do people think about using Illustrator for drawing type? I find freehand is virtually the same in terms of control, but should I be digitising it in another package to gain more control and refinement?

Levon Kardashian's picture
Joined: 18 Feb 2005 - 2:42pm
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alphapeta, whichever makes you happy is ok.
Drawing in FontLab would be much faster if it were as easy as illustrator. The problem may well be acquaintance. Personally, I feel more comfortable working in illustrator, so that's hpw I do it. Others may feel it is easier to work in FontLab, that is how they should do it.
Which program are you comfortable working in? Use that program.

Peter Howe's picture
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Joined: 11 Oct 2004 - 3:36pm
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Thankyou for the feedback.
So the level of control is the same when drawing beziers?
There is no difference?

Mark Simonson's picture
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Joined: 3 Dec 2001 - 11:00am
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I switched to drawing glyphs entirely within FontLab about a year ago. Previously, for many years, I drew in Illustrator and imported into Fontographer. It took some getting used to, but now I prefer my new method. It's much faster (mainly due to fewer steps) and more controllable. I actually find it more difficult to draw in Illustrator now.

You should be aware, however, that there are big differences between drawing in Illustrator and drawing in FontLab. The biggest one is that Illustrator allows practically infinite precision in point placement, whereas FontLab constrains you to whole em-units. This can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. Being able to work in unconstrained units avoids rounding errors that can occour when scaling outlines, but it also gives you a false sense of how precisely you can place points in glyph space (which is always constrained to whole em-units).

Consequently, if you work in Illustrator, you must check for rounding errors when importing the artwork into FontLab. If you draw directly in FontLab, it's essentially WYSIWYG and there's no need for that step.

Chris Lozos's picture
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Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
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I like the way curves "spring out" in FontLab when you delete a point instead of collapse like a popped balloon as they do in Illustrator. This really helps smoothing curves.

ChrisL

Mark Simonson's picture
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Joined: 3 Dec 2001 - 11:00am
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I like that, too, but there is one little caveat: Make sure neither of the two adjacent points is the first point in the path, otherwise it will make a straight line between the two when you delete the point. Reportedly, this will be fixed in FLS5.

Adam Twardoch's picture
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Joined: 3 Dec 2002 - 7:36pm
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> there are big differences between drawing
> in Illustrator and drawing in FontLab.
> The biggest one is that Illustrator allows
> practically infinite precision in point
> placement, whereas FontLab constrains
> you to whole em-units.

I should add that this limitation is not there for arbitrary reasons. The coordinates in digital fonts (PostScript Type 1, OpenType PS, OpenType TT) must be integer units. FontLab imposes this limitation onto the designer during the entire process, so you're always WYSIWYG. Fontographer goes a different path: it allows you to draw in fractional coordinates but when you generate the font, the coordinates get rounded to the next integer coordinates. So there is no final control over what will end up where (although it is possible to "snap" the points manually before generating the font). Both methods have their supporters and opponents.

Regards,
Adam

Mark Simonson's picture
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Joined: 3 Dec 2001 - 11:00am
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I admit to being a proponent of fractional coordinates at one time (mainly because of the scaling issue), but I have since moved to the other camp. There's nothing like seeing all your careful work messed up when you generate a font (from FOG) and all the points are rounded to the nearest whole coordinate. It's better to work with the limitations of the coordinate system from the start than to pretent it doesn't exist. If you need finer coordinates, you can always use a larger em-square.

Nick Curtis's picture
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Joined: 21 Apr 2005 - 8:16am
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I agree with Mark about the whole-coordinate approach. I also think that working with proper extrema points (90-degree intervals and no obtuse angles) makes curve editing a lot easier and a lot more predictable. As I mentioned earlier, I prefer to generate my oultines in CorelDraw 9, but the "best tool" for creating outlines is the one you're most comfortable working with.

Jason Alejandro's picture
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Joined: 15 May 2005 - 2:43pm
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AKA rootedideas...don't know why I can't log in under my profile.

I would like to thank all of you for your input and suggestions regarding my questions. I have learned a lot from the information you have all provided. My faculty advisor has decided on FontLab from information received in this thread as well as the recommendations from type designers Matteo Bologna (Mucca Design/Typo) and Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich (Bembo's Zoo). These two gentlemen will also be aiding us along as we take our first steps in type design with FontLab sometime in July. Again thank you to everyone who contributed to this thread, I'm glad I asked.