Character Spacing

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Erwin Denissen
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Character Spacing

Post by Erwin Denissen » Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:50 am

One of the beta testers requested options for character spacing:
Would an option to specify the "character spacing" be useful?
I could for example provide these options for character spacing:
Script (LSB -20, RSB -20) (for connected characters)
Condensed (LSB 30, RSB 40)
Normal (LSB 60, RSB 80) <-- this is how Scanahand sets the bearings right now
Extended (LSB 90, RSB 120)
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Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Feb 05, 2008 10:47 am

It would be more useful to let users enter values for left and right bearings if the default setting is not satisfactory. The dialogue could offer a droplist with sensible presets, but would also allow entry of any value.
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Post by Timo Kähkönen » Tue Aug 12, 2008 6:28 pm

The feature that lacks nearly all the font programs in the market is horizontal spacing calculation that is based on glyph outline shape.

If the autokerning feature is hard work to code, how about character LSB/RSB (left/right side "margin") calculation?

In practice this means that for example I has wider horizontal margin than O. And when characters (e.g. I and O) has optimized horizontal metrics there is no so much need for kerning them with kerning pairs. Some font's glyphs has such shape that kerning pairs are totally unnecessary, but this is very rare.

Automatic horizontal metrics calculation would be great feature and it CAN be calculated automatically. The best examples are:
- iKern, http://www.ikern.com
iKern vs. Adobe Optical Kerning
http://www.typophile.com/node/10317
- Adobe CS/2/3 Indesign/Illustrator/Photoshop Optical Kerning

iKern is a Igino Marini's kerning service that is based on his iKern program. It costs 100 EUR per font and 300 EUR per font-family of four fonts. The spacing and kerning result is excellent but as manual service it is fairly expensive (vs. feature rich professional font editors cost 400-800 EUR).

Hopefully this program is coming to sale some day because most average font designers (Scanahand users) are not capable of paying 600 EUR of spacing and kerning of two font families.

Adobe Optical Kerning is also nearly as excellent as iKern, but spacing and kerning calculation with it is slow because of processing speed of its scripting features. But it's possible and finding kerning values this way takes about 7 minutes, when we iterates through 6000 letter pairs. I made a script for Illustrator and step-by-step instructions: viewtopic.php?f=22&t=2969#p15175

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Re: Character Spacing

Post by Timo Kähkönen » Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:29 pm

Scanahand 4.0 is out now and the features can be seen here: http://www.high-logic.com/font-generato ... story.html.

The enhancements from previous version (3.1) seems to be minor, but I had the opportunity to see a glimpse of the new very promising spacing algorithm, which did not come without great effort of High-Logic personnel.

The newsletter of Scanahand 4.0 said that "This version includes a brand new algorithm for calculating the optimal amount of space before and after each character within the basic Latin character set." And I heard that this new version calculates only LSB/RSB, not kerning pairs or classes.

This is fine for some portion of user base, but we in northern Europe are in need of proper spacing/kerning calculation of extended character sets (ÅÄÖÆØ etc.) and my Russian friends appreciate also АБВГДЕЖЗИЙ etc (Правильно я говорю, мой друг?).

I understand that the development work was huge, but why to stop here?

When we finally get a Scanahand which produces fonts that are USABLE AS SUCH - without need of producing spacing and kerning in other programs and without need to send fonts to professional spacing firms (eg. Igino Marini iKern)?

My suggestion is to skip this 4.0, which should have named 3.2 because of it's support for spacing is so limited. Of course if basic Latin is enough for you, then 4.0 is for you.

We are waiting the next version.

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Re: Character Spacing

Post by Timo Kähkönen » Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:58 am

This is fine for some portion of user base, but we in northern Europe are in need of proper spacing/kerning calculation of extended character sets (ÅÄÖÆØ etc.) and my Russian friends appreciate also АБВГДЕЖЗИЙ etc (Правильно я говорю, мой друг?).
Any updates done regarding above? We are considering Igino Marini's service based solution or Scanahand, but in version 4.0 there was not support for auto kerning and other than the basic Latin character set.

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Re: Character Spacing

Post by Erwin Denissen » Wed Mar 26, 2014 8:44 am

You know we try to do our best to satisfy all customers, but even though this feature request is on our to-do list for a long time, there are many more things we would like to implement first.

If only more people would let us know they are in need of this feature,m then we are likely to give this feature request a higher priority...

So for now I'm afraid we can't help you, but I'm glad to know you have other ways to accomplish this.
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Re: Character Spacing

Post by Timo Kähkönen » Wed Mar 26, 2014 6:21 pm

Why not to apply LSB/RSB calculation to all glyphs? Is it then too slow?

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Re: Character Spacing

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Mar 26, 2014 7:15 pm

Calculating Optical Metrics in FontCreator Pro takes 10-20 minutes, or more, depending on hardware. It would certainly slow down Scanahand font generation. However, calculating Autokerning is fast enough

I think it would be better to provide a manual method of adjusting side-bearings for individual glyphs after generating the font and an automated way of adding kerning pairs.
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Re: Character Spacing

Post by Timo Kähkönen » Wed Mar 26, 2014 7:23 pm

Calculating Optical Metrics in FontCreator Pro takes 10-20 minutes, or more, depending on hardware.
What causes the slowness?

Does FC Pro support both LSB/RSB and autokerning calculation for all glyphs? If so, then it may be a solution for us.

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Re: Character Spacing

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Mar 26, 2014 8:16 pm

Optical metrics must do a lot of calculations on a fairly limited set of glyphs to optimise their left and right side-bearings. If a font contains composites like Á À Ä etc., after generating optical metrics the user will need to recompose them, then the composite will use the same metrics as the base glyph. They are not calculated and do not need to be.

If the font contains kerning pairs, they will also need to be edited.

Autokerning works in one of two ways:
  1. Import kerning pairs from a file. FontCreator comes with a couple of text files, but users can create their own.
  2. Automatic calculation based on white space between glyph pairs. The user selects a range of Glyphs, say A-z, then FontCreator calculates pairs for all permutations: Aa to zZ dropping any that are below the value of 50 funits (or whatever the user selects). It will also generate positive values if required. Then the user can select another range of glyphs to generate pairs for, e.g. Small Capital A - Z, and add those to the former. There is a limit of 256 glyphs (IIRC) that can be calculated at one time.
Since large fonts can contain 2,000 or more glyphs, the number of kerning pairs using the latter method can get very large. Just open Gabriola from Windows 7 and take a look.
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