Hinting of both 'flavours'

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Hinting of both 'flavours'

Postby Jowaco » Sun Dec 26, 2004 11:04 am

There is a very thought-provoking post to the newsgroup 'comp.fonts' which can be read as indicated below:

Click here.

I do not know how this applies to TFT flat-screen displays but I am quite happy with a high-resolution CRT display and font smoothing. I do realise that some people wish to have hinting for display purposes, e.g. on websites or in their own commercial programs etc., and hinting would be important to them, since they do not know details about the display arrangements at the receiving end.

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Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Dec 26, 2004 4:04 pm

In the Requests and Enhancements poll, I voted for Automatic Hinting just because it the one feature missing from Font Creator that might make people think that it is not good enough for professional font editing.

Personally, I prefer unhinted fonts to hinted fonts, and find that they look better with font smoothing than hinted fonts. A bit grey, but smoother and better proportioned.

Anyone designing for the web should only use the core fonts anyway, so the case for hinting your own fonts is very weak. If you're designing fonts for use on the web, then you might need hinting, but you shouldn't be using non-standard fonts on the web. Better use a GIF image, which you can resize and smooth in an image program.

If you're designing for printing, hinting information is discarded, so unless you're still using a dot matrix printer it is useless.

That leaves only the need to have the best looking display for small text while users edit documents with your fonts. Just zoom in. I always zoom in to type or proof-read. In the old days, small text used to be "Greeked" below a certain point size, as it was assumed that no one would actually try to read text that was less than 9 pixels high. 10 point Verdana Caps height is 9 pixels on a 1024 x 768 display. Line height is about 14 pixels.

Anyone who cannot read 10 point Verdana needs their eyes tested. Anyone who tries to read it needs their brain tested. :)
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Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Dec 29, 2004 9:27 am

I ran some tests on Times New Roman. I stripped the hinting using Font Creator's Tables dialogue, then saved it as a new font.

This is a comparison of the hinted and unhinted fonts at various sizes:

Image

Even to my jaded eyesight the hinted text looks better at normal sizes (10 and 12 point) at 100% zoom especially in a large block of body text. If one zooms in by resizing the image by 400% without smoothing one can see that there is little difference in 6pt text between the hinted and unhinted fonts. At 12 point the unhinted font looks poor. At 18 point, again there is not much to choose between them. One point worth noting is that in Wordpad the tracking of the unhinted text changes. This doesn't seem to happen in Page Plus.

Image

However, the way that I work with text sizes below 12 point — and I nearly always use 11 point body text for publishing — is to zoom in to 150% or 200% because 11 point text is far too small to read comfortably. When we zoom in using DTP or Wordprocessing software the effect is the opposite of zooming in with a magnifying glass or multiplying screen pixels. The effect is like using twice the point size for body text — 22 point or 24 point. In this real life scenario, the unhinted text (bottom) actually looks better than the hinted text (top).

Image
Last edited by Bhikkhu Pesala on Wed Jan 05, 2005 9:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Erwin Denissen » Wed Dec 29, 2004 10:04 am

What happens when, after removing the hinting information, you also change the grayscale support as described here:

Select "Format -> Grayscale" from the main menu . Delete all entries. Now add a new entry and set "Grayscale rendering".
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Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Dec 29, 2004 3:13 pm

Adding greyscale rendering as you suggest makes little or no difference to the 6 point text, but the 10 point or 12 point text is much better.

Image

The more I look into this, the less I think it is worth the effort of adding hinting to fonts. Perhaps your time would be better spent on adding Open Type support or Postscript Type 1 import/export?

Image

This is how the greyscale font looks in Page Plus at 100% zoom

Image
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Re: Hinting of both 'flavours'

Postby sevry7 » Wed Mar 09, 2005 3:12 pm

Jowaco wrote:I do not know how this applies to TFT flat-screen displays but I am quite happy with a high-resolution CRT display and font smoothing. I do realise that some people wish to have hinting for display purposes . . .

Joe.


As I now understand it, this hinting was supposed to be one of the important features of TT fonts, as it was for Adobe fonts. But apparently it was considered a difficult job to successfully hint these. And default/auto hinting is considered generally poor when compared with such manual hinting.

I could be wrong. But as I understand it, hinting involves writing various computers programs for each glyph. An older TTI Comp program with its TTViewer gives some idea of what is involved. And it looks too involved for me.

The disadvantage of not having hinting is not just that the small sizes, about 10pt and under start to look 'funky' on screen, but that it seems a few font sizes larger, even, are a bit greyer than the sharp black of hinted fonts. So there does seem to be a genuine advantage, if a way were present so that it didn't become a difficult chore to hint each glyph.

I see that manual hinting has been suggested in the new features section. I would think a panel could be presented so one could actually type in or cut n paste code. But I would think some visual tool to help hide the programming, to some extent, would be preferable. Since the whole point of hinting is just to move points, slightly, perhaps the visual aid would simply be to render the font in a small 'bitmap' window (with zoom) and allow one to interactively move the points around. A program could then be generated from that, perhaps?

But to be fair to the grayscale option - it does solve a host of these problems. The fonts I created show even better than in the grayscale example just above. They don't look to be 'wrong', even at 7-8 point, even WITHOUT hinting. That's by simply Inserting both Grayscale options and clicking Okay to set the maximum, in Font Creator - and that alone does seem sufficient. Still, it would be nice to have manual hinting and visual design of same, even some preset XML, guidelines, etc for typical functions and characters for 'custom' work (which I knew more about it). Given the generally good appearance of adding greyscale, however, I do understand why something as complex, and perhaps copyright protected by Apple, like hinting, might be relatively low on the list of new features. I still recommend macro/api programming, but preferably not by the declarative Python route of Fontlab and assorted other diverse programs.
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