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  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default Howzit Done? The Tutorial Section

    We’ve established in this forum that there are at least four—probably more—font creation programs that fit the criteria of someone who owns Xara and wants to create typefaces using their favorite drawing program.

    I received a member PM the other day, asking about how one could make a typeface that only contains certain hard-to-access, but frequently needed characters, such as a copyright symbol and a trademark symbol. The member has FontLab v 5, I’m only up to version 4.5, but after checking out FontLab’s site, there isn’t a “day and night” difference between versions.

    Here, I’m going to run through the least you need to know, to create this custom font (let’s call the font “Trademarks”) with FontLab. Even if you don’t have the program, you might want to read this because there are some things you need to do in Xara and in general that apply to all font creation software.

    First things first: I’ve created a TM symbol here. Its relative size compared to other characters really isn’t relevant here, so I’m making it about 5” tall because, hey, there will be no other character to compare its size to in this font. WARNING: if you want to make a real typeface with characters and everything, stay consistent from character to character. A 7” capital “D” for example, should be positioned bottom left on a standard size page, while this font’s TM symbol would float toward the top right of the cap height of the font and would be perhaps 2” in height.

    Clearly, the “TM” is composed of two shapes. They need to be combined into one, because there is only one path per character in fonts. So either Add the two, or use Join Shapes, both off the Arrange menu in Xara. Then Export the selected character to Adobe Illustrator file format with the *.ai file extension.

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    Launch FontLab and then hit the File>New icon on its toolbar.

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    Make sure the empty font palette is set to Default encoding and that Names is chosen; see my screen cap here.

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    Double-click the Trademark “slot” on the typeface palette in front of you to let FontLab know you’re going to add a character to this slot. Then double-click it again to open the editing window for this character. Now choose Glyph>Import from EPS from the main menu and then choose the character you exported to AI file format out of Xara. Someday, if no one else volunteers, I’ll explain the diff’ between the *.eps and the *.ai file formats. For now, you don’t care, you almost always use AI when a program mentions either Illustrator or Encapsulated PostScript (EPS), and your character should land in the editing window.

    And it might be too large. If the glyph (the proper name for a “character”, and also shorter to type here) is a red outline, that means it’s selected and can be moved and scaled. If it’s black, press Ctrl+A to select all, and a weird looking Selector tool is your current tool. Click the Scale tool and get prepared for an unfamiliar scaling technique: drag just a little to the left and down to start shrinking the glyph. Then hold Shift to constrain the scaling to proportional. You don’t hold Shift from the get-go. Release when the glyph is a size that suits you, and then move it to where you believe it should go within a hypothetical box that surrounds characters in a font. The left dotted guide is called the left bearing for the character, and it’s quite seldom a character extends to the left of it. The bottom guide is called the baseline and there’s a right bearing, too.

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    Let’s just suppose there are no more characters to this typeface. The “TM” register (“slot”) is filled and if you click on the New Metrics window button on the toolbar, you’ll see that your work looks pretty good.

    But if you want to use or sell this font, someone out there is not going to thank you for creating a font that has only one register entry, because they and you will have to remember the entry, which in this case is accessed by holding Alt and then typing 0151 on the num keypad, then releasing the Alt key.

    What you want to do is tedious: you click the slot, press Ctrl+C to copy, then click another slot and press Ctel+V to paste. Me, I usually fill the lowercase slots, and perhaps the uppers, because only masochists like to hold Shift while typing a special key, when the lowercase registers have the same characters and holding Shift isn’t necessary.

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    Now that you’ve got quite a few entries of the same character, the very least font information you need to code in is the following:
    1. Choose File>Font Info. This is the Basic Font Name page, one of about 20. No, as a novice you don’t have to fill in 20 pages of data, but you will in the future and you’ll want to learn what all the junk is about before filling in the fields. For now, this is an amateur font with an amateur amount of font data.

    2. Type the Name of the font, choose Regular as the family member (The Weight field), and then click Build Style Names, then click Build Names down towards the bottom, and then click Apply.

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    3. Click the Next page button at top right. Let’s make this an OpenType-legitimate typeface, because I say so, and why not? Click the Build OpenType Names button and essentially you’re done, except for saving and exporting.

    Tip: when you see a green gem-like icon on a code page, this is what our Russian friends who originally designed the program call the “Magic Stone”. Basically, it’s a “do it for me, but do it correctly” button. Which can save your backside if you don’t know what the params mean on a code page.

    Choose File>Save As, because File>Save will put the resulting VFB file anywhere it likes on your hard drives. If anyone wants to share a FontLab file, as the person who PMed me did, this is a TalkGraphics forumware thing, and has nothing to do with FontLab!!! You zip the stupid thing and upload it—the board won’t accept a VFB file type any more than it would accept a 3D Studio Max or Poser file type. Zip stuff you want to upload.

    Now, you choose File>Generate Font, choose a destination (Venice is nice this time of year), and then choose Opentype-CFF (*.OTF) from the Save as Type dropdown, name it, you’re finished in FontLab.

    To install a font (this should be a forum FAQ, shouldn’t it?), in Windows 7, you right-click the file icon, and then choose Install from the context menu.

    Note: Actually, for the purposes of this forum, we don’t have to save proprietary font files to be able to share and collaborate on a font. You just don’t lock permissions when you export the typeface, and just about anyone with any font editor can open the OTF or TTF file. Read-only permissions are on a page in the Font Info area of FontLab, and I didn’t cover naming the author or how to lock a font in this mini-tute because it gets into legal issues and we really don’t want to go there for now. This font, as I’ve taken you through the steps to create, can be freely shared, you haven’t added any legal hassles to it.
    Enjoy, and I’ll be back after these brief ellipses (Alt+0133)…

    :)

    Gary

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Reading. UK
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    6,284

    Default Re: Howzit Done? The Tutorial Section

    I'd like to start by saying thanks very much, Gary.

    So, here's what I've been playing with.

    Feel free to use the FontLab file and you could probably tell me what I've done wrong?!
    Feel free to install the font and again feel free to tell me exactly where the characters should have been placed.

    I just wanted a font that I could access when I need the copyright, the trademark and the registered trademark symbols.
    Also, it's something that I wanted to have a go with, and Gary, very kindly and extremely quickly put the tutorial together.
    Attached Files Attached Files

    Featured Artist on Xara Xone . May 2011
    . A Shield . My First Tutorial
    . Bottle Cap . My Second Tutorial on Xara Xone

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
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    Liverpool, N.Y.
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    Default Re: Howzit Done? The Tutorial Section

    I looked at your vfb file, Rik, and suggest the following:

    Consistency. Your TM symbol doesn't touch the baseline, in fact it's positioned and sized exactly like a trademark symbol in a regular font. Scale it to the same size as your copyright symbol, and flush it left to the left sidebearing, and drag the right sidebearing a little to the right so there is some breath between the right side and the right sidebearing guideline thing there.

    Same deal with the registered trademark.

    The font you use or give to someone else has only three characters, which is not what I recommended if you read the entire tutorial, Rik. Why don't you fill all the lowercase with copyright, all the uppercase with registered, and then all the number registers with the trademark symbol?

    If you share this and the person types a character that calls an empty cell, how will they know the font's not broke?

    Be patient and perhaps read the tutorial more thoroughly?

    My Best,

    Gary

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Howzit Done? The Tutorial Section

    OK. Here's another go at it.

    Why on earth would you have all the lower case letters with exactly the same symbol?
    Well, I might know that pressing the 'c' gives you the copyright symbol, but how am I going to communicate that to others, through the font?
    So, you see (Rik) that's why Gary said to copy the symbol into all the other letters!

    Lower Case Letter: copyright symbol
    Upper Case Letters: registered symbol
    Numbers: trademark symbol

    I've also tried to make the symbols fill the same sort of area but I think I've got a bit to learn there.

    Anyhow. Attached are the new files.

    EDIT: Attached are NEW files now. Playing with different parts of FontLab earlier in the day, I had added information that I have been advised that I should not have. I have removed that information.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by Rik; 25 February 2012 at 04:01 PM. Reason: additional comments

    Featured Artist on Xara Xone . May 2011
    . A Shield . My First Tutorial
    . Bottle Cap . My Second Tutorial on Xara Xone

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Location
    Red Boiling Springs TN USA
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    Default Re: Howzit Done? The Tutorial Section

    Rik have you used the FontLab font audit view? Use Ctrl+Shift+F to turn it one.

    The Red Arrows will point to areas of a glyph that FontLab has determined should be corrected.

    Clicking an arrow will open a new dialog.
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    Soquili
    a.k.a. Bill Taylor
    Bill is no longer with us. He died on 10 Dec 2012. We remember him always.
    My TG Album
    Last XaReg update

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Howzit Done? The Tutorial Section

    Hi Bill.

    Thanks very much indeed and I will have a look at that.

    I'm totally new to FontLab and I have not looked at that feature.

    I also think that I need to move the 'TM' up.
    I looked at other fonts and the TM appears towards the top.

    Featured Artist on Xara Xone . May 2011
    . A Shield . My First Tutorial
    . Bottle Cap . My Second Tutorial on Xara Xone

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Location
    Red Boiling Springs TN USA
    Posts
    19,208

    Default Re: Howzit Done? The Tutorial Section

    Rik the placement would depend on where you would like it to appear when used. Often you will see the TM glyph appear near the top of the text it is associated with.

    FontLab has been on my computer for years but I have not used it extensively, mostly to cleanup a font for use in a project. Free fonts often have issue(s) of one type or another. Most of my projects have been for personal use or for a friend, no paying projects. But I hope to change that to help supplement my retirement income.
    Soquili
    a.k.a. Bill Taylor
    Bill is no longer with us. He died on 10 Dec 2012. We remember him always.
    My TG Album
    Last XaReg update

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Reading. UK
    Posts
    6,284

    Default Re: Howzit Done? The Tutorial Section

    Bill, I wish you the best in becoming a successful Fontographer. If that's not a real word, at least you know what I mean.

    Once I've had another go at what I'm doing (I hope I remember to look at the areas that might need fixing!) I'll post the file again.
    Thanks.

    Featured Artist on Xara Xone . May 2011
    . A Shield . My First Tutorial
    . Bottle Cap . My Second Tutorial on Xara Xone

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Location
    Red Boiling Springs TN USA
    Posts
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    Default Re: Howzit Done? The Tutorial Section

    Thanks Rik, but I doubt I would make a good fontographer. I meant that I needed to fix a font for a graphic design that was not a paying project. It seems that a needed glyph in a free font will need some tweaking to make a graphic design 'just right'.
    Soquili
    a.k.a. Bill Taylor
    Bill is no longer with us. He died on 10 Dec 2012. We remember him always.
    My TG Album
    Last XaReg update

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Liverpool, N.Y.
    Posts
    5,794

    Default Re: Howzit Done? The Tutorial Section

    "Fontographer" is the name of a font creation program originally distributed by Macromedia and created by Altsys.

    So I guess Bill would make a good fontographer.

    Bill, for sure, creating an original typeface these days is a labor of love and begs a significant amount of free time.

    But given what you know and what you share, me, if I had a typeface design all set up in Xara, I'd come knocking on your door, man.

    You just know so much about stuff that interests me, and happily, the rest of tg!

    Peace,

    Gary

 

 

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