I’m nearly finishing work on my new experimental 3D typeface called Plastica. I’m facing few problems I would like to discuss.
It is CFF OpenType made in FontLab on PC. Outlines are very precise and I used atypical custom UPM of 2300 units (23 modules at 100 units). But this should be fine regarding to older nodes on Typophile.
There are two versions: Plastica One (Striped) and Plastica Two (Outlined).
And here is what I struggle with:
1) On-screen rendering issues:
This font is naturally intended to be used at higher font-sizes. It also works quite well when set above cca 70 pt. There is intentionally no hinting at all – I suppose the outlines are way too complex for this - would you agree on this?
However, some weird things are happening at lower sizes. Some glyphs become randomly lighter or bolder and it all mysteriously changes over different pointsizes. Do you have any idea what this could be and how to improve rendering?
(note: all outlines are exactly aligned, correct curve direction set, etc.)
2) Tracking Gaps:
So far, glyph sidebearings are set exactly to zero, however small unpleasant “visual” gaps between letters sometimes occur. Would you perhaps suggest to set some small overlaps? (ie. negative sidebearings?) If so, how big regarding to 2300 UPM? On left, right, or both sides?
(but I’m affraid it could reversely make the transitions to look bolder - that happens sometimes too, see the “rendering" image)
3) Leading Gaps:
The line leading should be also seamless. So far, it is set up to work perfectly when leading=pointsize. However default leading in applications is usually around 120% of the given pointsize. It works this way at least in Adobe apps as far as I know. Is this the cross-platform/cross-app standard?
Ergo, would you suggest to modify font metrics so it connects seamlessly at 120% rather then at 100%?
Unfortunately it is not possible to make traditional kerning - glyphs would ugly overlap. Instead I introduced special alternates to the most extreme letters like AFLTPJVW and some other glyphs. There are up to 3 alternates for each of these glyphs (left, central, right version). In the end it works quite well. However, it is also pretty tedious work to correctly set it up manually by picking different alternates from Glyph palette.
Do you thik this could be possibly automated via some smart OT substitution? I was trying with no success - but I’m not much a programmer. Do you have any ideas?
I would really appreciate any help or advice.
Thanks in advance,
Note: I have also noticed that Illustrator (CS6) omits “space” glyph when converting font into outlines even if it’s not empty. I think this must be an Illustrator’s bug, because it works fine in InDesign. As a precaution I put simple “space” substitution to solve this problem.