Screen version of font

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Gahlord Dewald's picture
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Joined: 17 Feb 2003 - 12:40pm
Screen version of font
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Hey all. So I’m finally getting down to making some type instead of thinking and talking about it. My first experiment is on a (sorry in advance) handwriting font to match up with one of my clients’ corporate face.

I’m running the Scanfont/TypeTool combo (sorry, I won’t be upping the ante to FontLab until I get my sorry ••• up to OSX).

The specific problem I’m encountering now is that the screen version of the font looks quite terrible. For the most part this doesn’t bother me as it’s printing alright. But I’m thinking if I get around to letting this face into the world then I should do what I can to make it more usable for folks.

What is it that I need to learn to make a font display sort of ok on screen?

Thanks in advance, free beer in Vermont, Hello Hrant,

g

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Hey Gahlord — you’re alive!  :-)

Assuming you’re not going to upgarde to FontLab (which may be able to auto-hint your font satisfactorily — but maybe not, since it’s handwriting), you have four choices:
1) Hint it manually using Fog. This is the normal practice for high-end fonts, but mucho work, plus Fog’s hinting is half-baked.
2) Edit the GASP Table so that it renders anti-aliased at all sizes, so that the lack of hinting doesn’t matter. Problems: you’ll need special software (although VTT is free); and it assumes the font will be used on an operating system that has smoothing enabled.
3) Edit bitmaps. This isn’t as bad as some people will have you believe, although it’s too much work if you have to do too many point sizes, plus some OSes won’t support it.
4) Leave it as is and tell the client they can’t afford the real thing.

hhp

Gahlord Dewald's picture
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Joined: 17 Feb 2003 - 12:40pm
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Yeah. Still kicking. It came damn close a year ago though (if anyone is considering rewiring their insides drop me a line, I know a good surgeon in sourthern MN).

Great tips. Couple more questions: What’s the GASP Table? What OSes won’t support the hand edited bitmaps?

tia, g

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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The GASP table is something in a TT font that tells the screen renderer at what PPEM (screen point) sizes to use hinting and/or bitmaps. The only no-cost way to edit it that I know of (short of hand-editing binary code) is by using VTT:
http://www.microsoft.com/typography/links/News.asp?NID=655
What you would do is tell it to ignore hinting at all sizes.

> What OSes won’t support the hand edited bitmaps?

Good question…
I’m behind the times on the Mac side, but I’ve heard that newer MacOSes ignore bitmaps.  :-(

Insight into this would be really appreciated.

hhp

Gregory Cadars's picture
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Joined: 8 Jan 2003 - 3:39am
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About Mac OS 7 to 9 versions, the bitmap suitcases for TT and PS work perfectly.

About this eXotic “newer MacOS” , the screen font rendition still buggy, and with forced-bitmap fonts, even well-builted system fonts, can sometimes produce strange defaults and extra pixels in graphic applications.

Still embedding, : )

gregory.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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So it’s just buggy, but they actually intend[ed] to support embedded bitmaps? BTW, note that system font (as well as most “high-end” fonts) don’t have embedded bitmaps; they use delta-hinting to get clean 1-bit rendering.

hhp

Gahlord Dewald's picture
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Joined: 17 Feb 2003 - 12:40pm
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Man you gotta slow down. I know what a letterform is, what inktraps are, the differense between beaks and slabs and drops and all that. But the frickin’ tech is going to slay me (where’s my jeweler’s file!).

Hrant, do you have a handy tutorial on things like GASP, Delta Hints, etc?

g

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Well, I don’t have any tutorials (not really qualified to write them anyway), but the MS Typography site* has gobs of stuff. Anyway, first figure out what the client needs (and/or what you want him to think he needs) before you go crazy trying to learn everything there is out there — it’s too much stuff.

* http://www.microsoft.com/typography/default.asp

hhp

Gahlord Dewald's picture
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Joined: 17 Feb 2003 - 12:40pm
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As far as the client goes, I’m set. I’m thinking long range. The client isn’t buying exclusive rights to the face (but is funding a very small piece of the font development… it’s a good client).

Sooner or later I’ll get done with it (it currently supports Western European languages, I want to support as many languages as House Industries does with Chalet, they’re sort of my model in terms of language support; a future version would hit Greek, Cyrillic, Armenian, and Papazian style alphabets and a 3rd version might tackle Chinese and Katakana). And I want it to be considered a well made font. It prints as intended, I want people to feel the the computer representation is accurate enough.

What beginning computer font designers realllllly need is a basic tutorial on the issues. First a big gloss of the main issues, then the nitty gritty…

Hrant (since I know you know a lot of this, and I know you’re going to read this)… What would the table of contents of a book called Digital Typeface Development look like?

thx, g

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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I have an alphabet? Could I please get a sect to go along with that? If you mean my reform stuff, that’s great to hear! And if you ever need help with the Armenian, I’m only an email away. Anyway, it’s great to see such ambition.

BTW, I totally agree that we need a book. I think there’s really only one person out there with the sufficient combination of both graciousness and knowledge to do it right: Carter. Ask him.

hhp