Any way to lighten a glyph in InDesign?

charles ellertson's picture

So, within the layout program (say, InDesign), you can make a glyph heavier --bolder -- by stroking it. Very slight adjustments are possible.

But *Stroke* won't take a negative value. Can anyone think of another technique to lighten a glyph?

George Thomas's picture

You can apply a colored stroke to it to match a single-color background. If the background is an image or other art, then no.

That being said, this technique is not something I would do because you're creating a potential problem for yourself or others.

Theunis de Jong's picture

Add a paper coloured stroke, maybe? (Hold on, I'm going to try...)
Yup. Default stroke alignment is "outside", set it to "inside" or else it won't do anything visible.

Theunis de Jong's picture

Majus, I don't think there is a technical problem with this. Typographically, sure, but so is making a font bolder with an added stroke.
What else can you do when you need a slightly bolder (or, in Charles' case, lighter) font? I do this to match the visual weight of, say, Myriad Pro Greek characters, when my sans of choice doesn't contain any.

hrant's picture

What George said - be careful not to ruin it, since few letterforms will tolerate much of that sort of thing.

What else can you do when you need a slightly bolder (or, in Charles' case, lighter) font?

Uh, edit the beziers?

hhp

charles ellertson's picture

Ruin a typeface? Usually I'm trying to save one.

Sure, I can edit the beziers, but some licenses forbid that. When you have to use one of those silly fonts, what to do? Fortunately, we're fast approaching the point where you can do most of the things in a layout program that you can do in a font editor. Even better, looking only at the print edition, who could tell where the work was done?

But aside from that, lightening might be useful when, say, the font was drawn using a 12-pont master, and you need to set 42-point display. Not as good as starting over and drawing up a set of glyphs designed to work at that size, but (maybe) better than nothing.

Remember that post by the person who complained that at a large size needed for the title page, Trump looked too heavy? A .02 point or so reduction in stroke would help a fair bit, I'd think.

hrant's picture

Trying is wonderful. Succeeding isn't half bad either. Suffice it to say that type designers (even the -generally- low-end "open" variety) don't derive weights* [exclusively] through algorithms**, and any algorithms they might use aren't as brutish as stroking. Are they wasting their time?

* Even super-subtle "grades", like at FB.

** http://www.typophile.com/node/81774

Concerning what to do about EULAs: I've always advised ignoring unreasonable clauses at will, while remaining prepared to pay for getting caught. Just like I can't advise people to take the "nothing must be hanging from the rear-view mirror" traffic law seriously. So: go ahead and modify any font, just make dead-sure it doesn't leave your drive. Unless there's an ethical impediment, which might cost you.

The things at play here are quality, ethics (not violating a EULA) and economy (not commissioning a custom weight). Everybody will find a different balance, but I for one class the first highest (unless my own ethics happen to coincide with the font house's).

we're fast approaching the point where you can do most of the things in a layout program that you can do in a font editor.

If you mean what one can do manually: no way. If you mean what one can do algorithmically: even in font editors it's not good enough.

looking only at the print edition, who could tell where the work was done?

It's not just about what a reader's conscious eye notices; stuff happens -and goes wrong- way deeper than that. To be fair though if we're talking about minute amounts it's generally OK (although it does depend on the font in question).

(maybe) better than nothing.

That would be one massive Maybe.

hhp

George Thomas's picture

Theunis, I agree there's no technical reason stopping one from doing it, but as Hrant said, there certainly are aesthetic ones, and then there are the problems it can cause others.

charles_e, you wrote: Even better, looking only at the print edition, who could tell where the work was done?, and that is very true which brings me to the problems it can cause others.

Pity the poor artist or customer service person who is trying to match what you did four years earlier in reducing the weight of a headline, who isn't aware of such a technique and has just spent an hour or more going through type catalogs trying to find the vendor that made that particular weight because the one he/she has on hand is slightly heavier, and the boss and/or customer insists it has to be an exact match.

Perhaps I'm just too old-school, but I have a strong aversion to modifying types from their original look.

charles ellertson's picture

Pity the poor user of type, now caught between the geeks on the one hand, and the museum-notioned type designers on the other. Or maybe it's pocket-book notioned, I'm never sure.

Old school? Prefer the other old-school thinking of people like Carter.

hrant's picture

Make a text font, then we'll talk.

hhp

charles ellertson's picture

No,hhp, we'll never talk.

hrant's picture

I on the other hand am always open, even though you've called me names and you think I'm wasting my life worrying about quality - those constituting a greater offense than any "insult" I've ever leveled at you.

hhp

Rob O. Font's picture

Excuse me for interrupting all this kissing.

Are you trying to lighten a glyph, a typeface, or something in-between?

hrant's picture

It seems to me he wants to lighten InDesign's rendering (presumably "live", not-from-outlined) of a lot of text.

BTW since you're here it would be useful to compare Charles's desired degree of weight change to FB's weight "grades": if it's equal or greater then we have at least one -profitable- foundry that does go to the trouble to do it right.

hhp

charles ellertson's picture

Are you trying to lighten a glyph, a typeface, or something in-between?

David, what I'm really doing is exploring the always-legal ways to modify the appearance of font using a layout program, versus the often illegal way by modifying font data using a font editor. It is amazing just how much can be done, with no discernable difference.

* * *

In passing, I remember your kindness to Richard Eckersley at the AAUP meeting - Toronto, was it? - by agreeing to make up that PostScript version of Juliana. I'm sure it wasn't very profitable for you, but was much appreciated. A fun gathering of smokers and friends on that hotel balcony - users of type - George Mackie, Richard, Mary Mendell, Cameron Poulter, Rich Hendel & a couple others...

Rob O. Font's picture

"...I'm really doing is exploring the always-legal ways to modify the appearance of font using a layout program..."

So, it's a font. Is the designer alive?

Reason I ask, is I would not use InDesign to stroke a font lighter for a couple of reasons. First, it seems that all other stroke-able objects allow one to specify where the stroke is going, (inside, outside or on the contour), but nay on fonts. And second, as you see in an "Illustrator vs InDesign" comparison, InDesign (CS3) cannot seem to stroke simple postscript curves. Both treatments contain identical specs for a .5 pt white line, same color background, same font, same glyphs. (Look at InDesign's take on the tails of /h and /i!? (Maybe it doesn't print this way, but I'd check every glyph I was stroking with ID.)

So, (and I remember Toronto as a lamb-chop-bone to my throat between courses forcing a promise of either Pilgrim or Juliana, and then dessert... thanks) — old school says adjust the process, doesn't it? New school may or may not say change the font, but if it's important enough to one, get on with it... or is someone gonna come along and say, "Hey, That's my font, but it's so light? I'm gonna get you! " No. ;)

I wish we had variation technology in the OSs. FB have many of our families in this state, ready willing and able to deliver size masters, weights, widths, grades and animations. But the Janitors are scared of extending what was designed as extendable, (the SFNT font format). "Adding tables would break every single application on the face of planet earth." (And then they add tables and wrappers useless to users, that break no new ground, but apps still have to rewrite to use 'em.)

What can you do, 'cept go underground:)

hrant's picture

nay on fonts.

I wonder if this is a bug or a feature... And if it's the latter, is it to make Illustrator more valuable, or to forestall bad typography (like how ID doesn't force-Italics, or at least makes it harder)?

is someone gonna come along and say ....

Glad to see agreement on this.
BTW Charles, if you intend to never break a EULA I think the first step when you want to modify a font with a no-mod clause is to ask the font house for permission; especially if it's a very gentle, across-the-board mod they might be pretty likely to say yes. On the other hand modifying a font is much more time-consuming (read: expensive) than the sort of solution you seem to be looking for, so maybe that's a non-starter.

One thing to note here BTW is that the latest version of FL has inherited Fontographer's weight-change algorithm, which means it's much improved.

FB have many of our families in this state

Impressive.

hhp

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