Author Archive

Adam Twardoch

Adam Twardoch is Director of Products at FontLab, and a font consultant specializing in font technology, multilingual typography, CSS webfonts, Unicode and OpenType. He also works as the glyph wrangler at MyFonts. He regularly teaches workshops in font creation and is a board member of Association Typographique Internationale (ATypI). Originally from Poland, he lives and works in Berlin.

Free FontLab VI workshops at ATypI Antwerp (Sep 11, 2018)

If you’re in Antwerp on Tuesday, September 11, 2018 — join us at our free FontLab VI workshops that we host as part of the ATypI Antwerp conference! The workshops are free but you need to register.

In the morning, take either an intro to FontLab VI for FontLab Studio 5 users, or the FontLab VI class for everyone, then join us in the advanced workshop in the afternoon! Please bring your own Mac or Windows laptop. If you don’t already have a FontLab VI license, please download the 30‐day trial from http://​fontlab​.com/vi before the workshop.

If you’re participating in the main ATypI Antwerp conference, Thomas, Yuri and Adam will be there as well, so come talk to us if you have any questions about FontLab VI!

FontLab VI for FontLab Studio 5 users

Are you a FontLab Studio 5 user who is ready to try FontLab VI? Learn what is new in FontLab VI, what is different, how your workflow can speed up with the new tools, and avoid that “who moved my cheese?” feeling with this half‐day workshop presented by FontLab’s Thomas Phinney and Yuri Yarmola.

Besides showing specific things you ask for, we will cover:

  • How Elements are better Components
  • Rapid tool vs Pen tool: why and when to use Rapid?
  • Metrics and Kerning workflows
  • How to use Power Nudge, Power Guides, Smart Corners, Tunni Lines, and other new editing tools
  • OpenType Variations support and workflow (replacing Multiple Master features)
  • Working with flexible Layers instead of just Mask and bitmap layers

Type drawing basics with FontLab VI

If you’re just starting your adventure with type design, you need an idea, an eye, a tool and the skill and knowledge to use that tool. In this FontLab VI workshop, Adam Twardoch will help you acquire the latter aspects. Together, we will take an existing mini‐font that has just a few glyphs, and we will extend it while exploring the rich set of drawing, spacing and kerning tools offered by FontLab VI. Adam will answer questions and help you along the way, so when you get your own idea, you’ll be well‐equipped to efficiently turn it into a font.

Advanced type design and font creation with FontLab VI

In this workshop aimed at experienced type designers, Adam Twardoch and Yuri Yarmola will discuss the more advanced concepts of FontLab VI that can help you streamline your type design and font production process: drawing using guides, grids, smart nodes and open contours; creating font families through layers, masters and variation; spacing with expressions, kerning with classes; extending glyph sets with elements and anchors; and technological aspects like OpenType features, hinting, exporting final fonts and interchange with other font creation apps.

FontLab VI 6.0.9 update

The new free FontLab VI 6.0.9 update, together with last week’s 6.0.8, adds various improvements:

Font Info dialog, guides section

The Font Info dialog has a new section for Guides

  • better handling of composite glyphs and auto layers (live composite glyphs), including a quick way to create “auto layers” for multiple glyphs and layers, and a new extended syntax for glyph recipes that allows scaling and flipping of components
  • a better List view in the Font window, where you can decide which columns should be shown, and drag them to your preferred order
  • a new Glyphs Bar to help you navigate through your glyph set, right in the Glyph window
  • a new Guides section in Font Info to help you control font guides
  • ability to manually arrange classes in the Classes panel
  • auto‐complete and drag‐drop support in the Features panel
  • a new contextual Quick Help panel, accessible from the Help menu, and new Quick Tips in the Welcome screen
  • a setting to show and hide placeholders for missing glyphs in the Glyph window (if placeholders are shown, you can now double‐click on them to create the glyphs). (Preferences > Editing > Show missing glyph placeholders)
  • Copy‐Paste buttons in the Font Info sections for Family and Font Dimensions
  • improvements in working with Genius nodes
  • more control over outline conversion from PostScript to TrueType
  • easier ways to add missing extrema nodes and implied TrueType nodes
  • a more human‐readable VFJ file format (the optional FontLab VI JSON format)
  • smaller file sizes for exported bitmap color fonts (Google CBDT and Apple sbix)
  • an optional Profile setting to include open contours in exported fonts
Quick Help showing brush tool.

Quick Help shows contextual help/tutorial information.

The update also has many other improvements, as well as bug fixes. See the FontLab VI Release Notes for details.

Oh, and FontLab VI is still on sale for just $459 instead of $689, until August 31!

Basics of Python scripting in FontLab Studio 5

Video tutorial

The 70‐minute tutorial Basics of Python scripting in FontLab Studio 5 has beed recorded in February 2015 by Adam Twardoch. The tutorial is primarily intended for users who have never written any Python code before, although some tips and tricks for more advanced users are given. Topics include: basics of Python, scripting‐related user interface elements of FontLab Studio, installing Python, RoboFab and FontLab Python macros, writing simple scripts that modify a font and speed up the type design process. See below for additional resources.

Free vfb2ufo font converter

20150127: Updated builds 20150123 available (segmentation fault 11 bug fixed; better handling of guidelines and composites, TTH bug fixed)

FontLab vfb2ufo is a two‐way command‐line converter for Mac OS X and Windows. It’s available free of charge from FontLab.

vfb2ufo converts between development font formats: VFB and UFO (including the compressed variant UFOZ). It converts both ways: from VFB to UFO (or UFOZ) and from UFO (or UFOZ) to VFB. If you supply it with a VFB, it will output a UFO (or UFOZ if you use the -z option). If you supply it with a UFO or a UFOZ, it will output a VFB. It converts one VFB or UFO or UFOZ at a time, but you can write batch scripts to facilitate conversion of multiple files at once.

OpenType Layout feature classification

OpenType Layout features allow for orthographically correct display of complex scripts such as Arabic and Indic and provide a mechanism for the user to apply advanced typographic formatting to text. They are used in the SFNT GSUB and GPOS tables.

This document contains a useful classification of OpenType Layout feature tags. It is based on the OpenType spec version 1.6, with some additional entries about removed features and Microsoft‐only Math features related to the MATH OpenType table.

This document is very technical in nature, and is primarily aimed at software developers who wish to implement user interfaces for applying OpenType Layout features in applications. 

Welcome to the FontLab blog!

It’s been long overdue... I  wasn’t really happy about what the various blog templates looked like, so I have been putting away the creation of our own. But finally, this year, responsive web techniques have become easy to use, the proliferation of web fonts has made it possible to create a page that’s easy to read continuously, so we’ve prototyped a new look, and — well — launched it (semi‐officially).

We have a long line of content articles that shall be appearing here in the coming months. So, don’t bite your fingernails while waiting for revelations here in the next weeks, but feel free to visit us from time to time.

(Also, please bear with us for the time being — there are some design and functional glitches here and there which we’re planning to fix.)


Color fonts. Overview of the proposals for color extensions of the OpenType font format.

Although Fontlab Ltd. debuted the Photofont technology some 8 years ago, the typographic community did not show much interest for multi‐color fonts or typography. In 2013, it changed. Actually, this started a few years ago with Apple introducing the color emoji font into iOS, and then Mac OS10.7. Now, all major industry players (Apple, Adobe, Mozilla, Google and Microsoft) have proposed their formats, which aim to extend the OpenType font format by the ability of including color glyph information. The proposals differ in many aspects. Below is a discussion of the proposals along with some personal comments.

This article is very technical. No completeness or correctness of the information presented below, and all views are personal.

The video tutorial by Adam Twardoch accompanies this article by providing a more practical take on color font creation issues.