FontLab Studio Ligatures

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Matt Hallock's picture
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Joined: 24 Feb 2008 - 2:28pm
FontLab Studio Ligatures
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I'm currently a student majoring in graphic design--more particularly 3D visualization/animation--but type is an integral part of my daily routine. I decided to involve myself more with the process of creating typefaces to better understand their purpose.

Right now, I'm currently doing my first design off of my handwriting. I figured it'd be an easy exercise as opposed to redeveloping Univers or something. I have all the letters, numbers, symbols, etc., placed and kerned properly so they are writing. The problem I'm having is getting ligatures to work.

To make clear, I understand the purpose of ligatures and the vast amount of them there can be. Most of the discussions I searched for here on the forum seem to involve those notions in one way or another. My trouble is that when I have f_l in Fontlab, when I go to type out fl the ligature does not appear.

This is most likely due to my own naivety with the program as a novice and was thus wondering if I could get some basic help.

Here is a panagram of what I have, it is fairly close to my handwriting, but I'm interested in adding more 'connective' ligatures like th, letters I commonly hook together.

Any help is very appreciated.

Rachel Roberts's picture
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Joined: 21 Feb 2007 - 12:23pm
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What program are you using to test the font - some programs like Indesign allow you to switch ligatures on or off, so you might just have ligatures switched off.

Rr

Matt Hallock's picture
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Joined: 24 Feb 2008 - 2:28pm
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Right now I'm just using the quick test in Fontlab Studio.

John Nolan's picture
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Joined: 6 Dec 2002 - 11:00am
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Have you defined your ligatures in a liga feature, compiled the feature, and selected the liga feature in the Opentype features preview?

Rachel Roberts's picture
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Joined: 21 Feb 2007 - 12:23pm
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Well of you are testing in Fontlab I think you would use the keybroad for that character, so for the mac shift/alt 5 would give you the fi ligature

Matt Hallock's picture
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Joined: 24 Feb 2008 - 2:28pm
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John, no I don't know how to do that at all yet.

Rachel, when I hit that nothing shows up. What is strange is when I export the font as an opentype, InDesign recognizes it and displays the ligatures. Photoshop, however, doesn't recognize it as an OpenType.

Charles Ellertson's picture
Joined: 3 Nov 2004 - 11:00am
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You're missing a lot of the basics.

I'm not sure this is the right place to get them, but first of all, have you made an OpenType font, or a PostScript Type 1 font?

For ligatures to work in OpenType, you have to write a "feature" program, as John was describing, then any application that supports OpenType will support the basic features, like automatic ligatures. For Type 1 fonts, some applications programs can be instructed to switch the fi and fl ligatures on, other can't. For programs that don't have a ligaturing switch (Photoshop is probably one) you have to call them directly by a keyboard command.

I haven't tried it but I'd imagine FontLab's *preview* won't generate the fi and fl ligatures automatically with a Type 1 font. With an OpenType font, yes, if you've written & complied the appropriate feature.

Another way of making this point is that fonts are now software, and that "software" extends beyond just drawing the characters. I think it very wise of you to begin to get a handle on fonts, but it involves more than graphic design.