I’ve just discovered a relatively easy way to import Illustrator EPS glyph paths into Font Creator that involves nil cost.
Firstly, download a free demo version of the high-end (and highly expensive) font creation program, Fontlab, from any of the servers listed under Downloads at: http://www.fontlab.com/html/fontlab.html
Secondly, open a new font in Fontlab Demo and go through the instructions below, taken from the “[Tips / Drawing] Seamless copy-paste between Illustrator and FontLab” message in the Tips and Tricks section under Messages on Fontlab’s discussion forum at MSN: http://groups.msn.com/FontLab/
I have added additional comments to some of the instructions in square brackets:-
“Seamless copy-paste between Illustrator and FontLab
Patric King and Lune have provided the following tips on how to seamlessly copy-paste your outlines between FontLab and Illustrator. The described procedure works on Mac OS X 10.2.4 with Illustrator 10.0.3 and FontLab 4.5.1, but should also apply to other versions.
1. In FontLab, check ‘Do not rescale EPS...’ in the FontLab Preferences / General. [In my recently-downloaded version of the Fontlab demo, v4.5.2, this check box is located on the General tab under Tools > Options. It was checked as ‘Do not rescale EPS (on import and export)’ by default, so there was no need to change anything.]
2. In Illustrator, change the units to points: 1 point will be equal to 1 unit in FontLab. [Instructions #2 and #3 are only necessary if you want to avoid scaling the glyphs in either Illustrator or FontLab.]
3. Make a box with 1000x500 points in Illustrator, add the baseline, x-height lines and whatever you want, make your drawing.
4. Fill or stroke everything with something. FontLab won't import paths with no fill/no line.
5. Copy in AICB format (you can change this in Illustrator preferences). I don't know if it's necessary, but I have also turned off PDF copy. [I couldn’t find either ‘Copy in AICB format’ or ‘PDF copy’ under Preferences in my version of Illustrator, v8.0, but the instructions worked fine for me just the same.]
6. Paste into a glyph window in FontLab. You'll have to actually open the glyph window, which is annoying.
You can now copy/paste between FontLab and Illustrator without re-scaling your outlines. It also works with Photoshop files, it might be useful when you bring bitmap images as background templates. Bon Appetit!”
Thirdly, paste every glyph you import into Fontlab Demo in several adjacent glyph windows, in order to get round the restrictions of the demo version:
1) Only 20 glyphs can be saved in any one font.
2) 50% of the glyphs will be modified with a (large!) embedded Fontlab logo.
Fourthly, select Generate Font under File on the menu bar. In the Generate Font dialog box that opens, select TrueType in the Save As box. You can then open the font you have saved in Font Creator, and copy and paste the glyphs that have escaped logo embedding wherever you want.
I haven’t played around with Fontlab Demo sufficiently to figure out exactly how many adjacent glyph windows you will need to paste a given glyph into, in order to be sure that at least one of the saved glyphs doesn’t have the embedded Fontlab logo. So far, I’ve struck two different ways that Fontlab Demo selects glyphs for logo embedding:---1) Every other glyph embedded, and 2) Two adjacent glyphs embedded followed by two adjacent glyphs un-embedded. If these are the only logo-embedding patterns, then you will need to paste a given glyph into three adjacent glyph windows in order to be sure that at least one of the saved glyphs doesn’t have a Fontlab logo emblazoned across it.
If what you are seeking is a fairly high quality TrueType rendition of your EPS glyphs, then this EPS import system should work fine.
However, it is worth noting that the TrueType glyphs generated by this import system will have considerably more points than they need to have in order to generate the requisite shape (see the post: ‘Quadratic (TrueType) v. cubic (Type 1) Bezier curves’). The extraneous points will increase the file size of the font, and will limit the ease of editing of the TrueType glyphs---or at least they will limit editability if you retain the overall point configuration on the imported TrueType glyphs. On the other hand, if you figure out which are the extraneous points, and delete them, this will significantly alter the shape of the TrueType glyph, and will therefore necessitate a significant redesign of the shape, perhaps also necessitating the import of a bitmap as a background image to use as a guideline. And if you’re going to export the EPS graphic as a bitmap for use as a TrueType guideline, you have to ask yourself whether it was worth going to the trouble of using this EPS-path conversion system in the first place. I guess the answer to this question depends on the complexity of the particular EPS graphic, and your own ability to quickly draw a TrueType glyph from scratch in Font Creator from a bitmap background image.