Importing EPS glyphs into Font Creator

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Chris Eilers
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Importing EPS glyphs into Font Creator

Postby Chris Eilers » Fri May 02, 2003 4:49 am

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.

Fred Goldman
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Re: Importing EPS glyphs into Font Creator

Postby Fred Goldman » Thu Jun 04, 2009 1:21 am

This really isn't necessary. If you scale the vector to a really big size you can copy and paste it straight to FontCreator and it will be just as good.
Fred

Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Importing EPS glyphs into Font Creator

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Jun 04, 2009 5:02 am

Erwin Denissen wrote:FontCreator version 6 will contain basic vector import support for ai, eps, pdf.

Importing vectors will be many times faster than tracing bitmaps, especially high resolution ones. This new feature will certainly justify the upgrade price for many users who have been asking for this for years. It should also result in smoother curves with fewer points, and therefore contours that are easier to edit.
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Fred Goldman
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Re: Importing EPS glyphs into Font Creator

Postby Fred Goldman » Thu Jun 04, 2009 12:53 pm

Did I hear FontCreator 6? Will this upgrade be coming soon? I will be first in line to purchase an upgrade. I have so impressed with FontCreator. While FontLab may have more features I find FontCreator's implementation of the features so much easier to use vs. FontLab. Just before I posted this I was trying everything to get my eps files into FontLab but it would never import the bezier curves and points correctly. I can't wait until FontCreator 6 comes out.
Fred

Dick Pape
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Re: Importing EPS glyphs into Font Creator

Postby Dick Pape » Thu Jun 04, 2009 1:29 pm

Have you tried to convert the EPS to some other format and then import them? I had problems reading some EPS and used IrfanView to convert them to jpg or bmp files. Importing was straightforward and as far as I could discern accurate.

Dick

Fred Goldman
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Re: Importing EPS glyphs into Font Creator

Postby Fred Goldman » Thu Jun 04, 2009 1:39 pm

Yes, of course, but the big supposed advantage of being able to import and eps file is that it's vector so you should be able to have the same bezier points and curves and it will be EXACTLY as the original. As far as importing images go, FC is just as good if not better than FontLab at tracing the images, but neither of them will give you exactly the same thing as the original.
Fred

Erwin Denissen
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Re: Importing EPS glyphs into Font Creator

Postby Erwin Denissen » Thu Jun 04, 2009 3:13 pm

We are close to a RC1 for FontCreator 6.

Fred do contact me and I'll give you a link to the latest FontCreator release, if you are willing to test it's new capabilities.
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Re: Importing EPS glyphs into Font Creator

Postby Erwin Denissen » Thu Jun 04, 2009 6:02 pm

Fred Goldman wrote:Yes, of course, but the big supposed advantage of being able to import and eps file is that it's vector so you should be able to have the same bezier points and curves and it will be EXACTLY as the original.

The import is very close to the original but it is not 100% equal, because vector based formats use cubic bezier curves, and those are converted to quadratic bezier curves.

Fred Goldman wrote:As far as importing images go, FC is just as good if not better than FontLab at tracing the images, but neither of them will give you exactly the same thing as the original.

I assume FontCreator has a better conversion from raster to vector, but I've never compared it to the one used with FontLab :wink:
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artbraune
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Re: Importing EPS glyphs into Font Creator

Postby artbraune » Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:44 pm

Erwin,

Let me know if you are interested in having FC6 RC tested in Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit).

Art

Erwin Denissen wrote:We are close to a RC1 for FontCreator 6.

Fred do contact me and I'll give you a link to the latest FontCreator release, if you are willing to test it's new capabilities.

Erwin Denissen
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Re: Importing EPS glyphs into Font Creator

Postby Erwin Denissen » Tue Jun 09, 2009 9:48 am

Great. We can use some more serious beta testers! I'll send you a message with a link to the latest beta version.
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