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Auto / Manual Hinting

Posted: Tue Apr 12, 2005 5:46 pm
by johnmcork
About Sorting and Hinting/Grayscale

First, Font Creator is an excellent product. A steep learning curve with powerful features is much better than a dumb learning curve with weak features.

I have just finished a trial run to make an alphanumeric plus connection point font for parsable diagrammatic notations. I partly completed the alphanumeric glyphs and completed the connection point glyphs. I added the connection point glyphs to Lucida (Bright, Sans and Console) to give me something for software development, but I wish to buy Font Creator and complete the project later in the year with auto hinting.

I tested all my glyphs using gray scaling with Windows font smoothing turned on. I estimate that the on screen legibility for 6 pt size was equivalent to the 5 th from bottom row of an opticians eye chart (third row is 20/20 vision and the stokes and gaps subtend 1 minute of arc). The printed results were better.

Auto / Manual Hinting

First my experience of a comparable process is Xilinx’s gate arrays. When first introduced you could either manually or auto place and route gates and registers. About 1990 they introduced incremental place and route with a guide file - a major improvement.

For Font Creator you could flag each glyph as: H hinted, P partially hinted, N not hinted and D don’t hint. A user could then run auto-hint on a per-glyph or all-glyphs basis and test the results. They could then partially un-hint a glyph, repeat the auto-hint on the glyph, and if still not satisfied they could manually hint. The auto-hint algorithm would preserve existing hints as a guide and complete the task.

Why should repeating the auto hint produce different results on a second pass? Well Xilinx incremental place did. I am guessing but a hinting algorithm’s strategy might be to select and order on-curve points and then choose the bit mapped position for them (call that the gridding part) based on a recommended choice preference (left = right – width, right = left + width, width = right – left) (call that the hinting part). Now manually re-hinting only one of the un-hinted points will cause the rest to be different, and even if no un-hinted points were re-hinted the partial hints may change the algorithm’s choice a hinting preferences.

This approach will save a serious amount of work and preserve the designer’s ability to refine the details.


When you create a new file you get characters with a background that shows the shape in I guess locale class order. However sorting glyphs in code point order is valuable when manually checking with other documentation e.g.’s unibook.exe.

John Cork

Re: • Auto / Manual Hinting

Posted: Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:00 am
by Bhikkhu Pesala
Automatic Hinting was implemented in FontCreator 7, but not Manual Hinting yet.