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 at TypeCon 2018

picture of Thomas

Thomas Phinney

TypeCon in Portland is about two weeks away, August 1 – 5, 2018. FontLab will be there! I (Thomas Phinney) will be teaching “FontLab VI for FontLab Studio 5 users.” There are still a few spots left in this half‐day workshop (Wednesday August 1, 9 am — noon), so sign up now!

If you’re not in the workshop, feel free to ask me questions any time you see me, get an impromptu demo of some feature, or just say “hi!”

Conferences — including TypeCon in particular — are a great way to meet people of all levels in the type community. Even many of the top folks in fonts are amazingly friendly and approachable! Not to mention all the amazing talks and panels. Highly recommended!

 

Encoding choices for symbolic fonts

Sometimes people make fonts that don’t have letters and such in them, but instead have some kind of symbols.

In many cases such symbols have legitimate encoding slots in the Unicode standard, which is used to dictate encoding for most fonts made today. But working with unusual characters from Unicode can be a bit of a pain. So sometimes people assign unusual symbols to the same slots as A, B, C, etcetera. This is technically wrong, but often convenient.

Here is a quick guide to the options and tradeoffs when creating a symbol or “pi” font. This advice is applicable across all font creation tools, not only ours.

Options:

  1. Use “proper” Unicode codepoints for all glyphs in your font. This means looking up correct Unicode codepoints for the symbols.
    • Disadvantage: People won’t be able to type the symbols directly, unless you create custom keyboard drivers for your font. Likely they will need to use a character picker built into their OS or app.
    • Advantages: If they switch fonts to another one that has the right symbols properly encoded, their content will remain correct. Unicode/text purists won’t complain.
  2. Use “normal” codepoints for your symbols, so that your symbols are assigned to a, b, c, 1, 2, 3, etc.
    • Disadvantage: If people switch fonts, the symbols will turn into alphabetic gibberish, and it may not even be apparent what was intended. Also, that alphabetic gibberish really is the underlying text, so this approach will confuse screen readers, search, and other things that rely on understanding the text. As a result, it is considered technically “wrong.”
    • Advantage: Can by typed off the keyboard!
  3. Use Private Use Area Unicode codepoints. These are codepoints reserved for special purposes, that have no pre‐set meaning.
    • Disadvantages: Has all the disadvantages of using proper Unicode, plus most of the disadvantages of of assigning the symbols to alphabetic codepoints
    • Advantage: usually none, unless others have used these PUA codepoints in some consistent way.

How to Choose

Personally, if the font is going to be used to create public documents and text, I will tend towards option #1. If nobody is going to need to manually enter text using the font, or not often, I will tend towards option #1, If neither of those things is true, and the content will have more limited use or be in a closed system, I will tend towards option #2.
What if your symbols don’t even have proper Unicode codepoints? In that case, the first option is unavailable to you. You might consider whether there is a semi‐standard solution being used for those symbols (for example, there is a block in the Private Use Area that has often been used for Klingon).
Thanks to the user who wrote me the question that prompted this blog post!

Better font outline construction free FontLab webinar

Better Glyph Point Placement for Better Fonts
with Thomas Phinney
Tuesday 9 February 2016
9:00 am Pacific / noon Eastern / 18.00 CEST
FREE Live Webinar
Register now

Learn how to construct better outlines for fonts, and why it matters.
Make your fonts render quicker and better on screen, and your glyphs easier to edit.
Discover why so many designers think they have points at extrema when they don’t.

Note: to submit a font for live feedback during the webinar, write to “info” at the obvious domain (fontlab​.com).

Webinar Agenda

  • Why outlines matter
  • What to do
  • Issues
  • Tools for Better Outlines
  • LIVE feedback and example outline corrections on several real users’ fonts
  • Q&A

About Thomas

Thomas Phinney is a type designer, educator, and font geek who used FontLab for 20 years before joining FontLab in 2014, and becoming President in 2015. Previously he worked at Extensis (web fonts and font management tools) and Adobe (product manager for global fonts and typography). Thomas teaches typeface design with Crafting Type, and has been a repeat guest lecturer for MA Typeface Design at the University of Reading. He is also secretary of ATypI, the international typography association. His typeface Hypatia Sans is an Adobe Original with over 3000 glyphs per font.

There are a limited number of seats available for this webinar, so don’t be disappointed: Register now

Free FontLab Webinar: Typerobics Type Design Exercises

Please join us for an exciting new free webinar for beginning type designers!

Typerobics: Type design exercises
with Fábio Duarte Martins
Tuesday 16 June 2015
9:00 am Pacific / noon Eastern / 16.00 GMT / 18.00 CEST
Register now!

The video from the webinar is now available!

Are your letters feeling out of shape? Do you aspire to win the regional kerning championship? Typerobics is a type‐making workout régime intended to shape up your Bézier biceps. Every sport requires exercise, and so does type design. Typerobics is your type design fitness plan: pick a word, pick a typographic style, draw that word in under 40 minutes‐then repeat at least three times a week.

Multiple Masters for Bigger, Better, Easier Font Families, Oct 28 with T. Phinney

How to use just a few master fonts to generate dozens of refined final fonts with bigger character sets!

It’s easy: that’s why almost every Adobe typeface is designed using this technology.

When & Where

Tuesday 28 Oct 28 2014
9:00 am Pacific / noon Eastern / 18:00 CEST.

Register now!

9:00 am Pacific / noon Eastern / 18:00 CEST.

USD $24.95 (to watch live and/or view the recording at any later date)