Loss of Clarity of Fonts

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Loss of Clarity of Fonts

Post by dthomas1209 » Wed Mar 16, 2005 6:58 pm

I have created a number of symbols in CorelDraw and exported them as both .bmp and .wmf files. These images look great when I import them into Font Creator. However, when I go to use the fonts in my mapping software they appear hazy and lacking in clarity. Does anybody have any idea what may be going wrong. I am new to creating fonts and am learning as I go. Any assistance would by much appreciated.


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Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Mar 16, 2005 8:35 pm

It is probably lack of hinting that is the cause of the loss of clarity. Adding grayscale tables (GASP) may help. Look at another font like Times New Roman to get suitable values to add.

See this other thread for a discussion on Hinting of Both Flavours (Automatic and Manual hinting). Font Creator doesn't currently support either.
My FontsReviews: MainTypeFont CreatorHelpFC13 Pro + MT10.0 @ Win10 2004 build 19041.746

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Post by William » Sat Mar 19, 2005 1:45 pm

I wonder if some readers might like to know of a technique which I use, which I devised myself, which, for purposes of discussion might perhaps be called "mathematical hinting", though whether it is hinting as such is something which perhaps needs to be discussed: maybe it needs to be called "mathematical pseudo-hinting" instead.

I devised the method for use with my Quest text font: I have used the method successfully with other fonts too, though my experience is of using them on a Windows 98 system with an 800 pixel wide by 600 pixel high display where 12 point is 16 pixels. So maybe on other systems the effect is not so good, I do not know.

A copy of the Quest text font is available from the following web page.


Quest text is designed on the basis of being as if a calligrapher were drawing the letters with a pen 256 font units wide by 168 font units high, upon guidelines on a 256 font unit by 256 font unit grid, locking a line edge to a grid line wherever possible.

I imagined having contours made out of wire and imagined placing them onto courtyards paved with square slabs. That is, each paving slab in the courtyard is to be either black or white in its entirety, whether it is black or white depends upon whether the area of the particular paving slab is mostly inside or outside the black area of the contours. It is not only the shapes of the contours yet how they are arranged in relation to the paving slabs which is important.

The slabs are 128 font units for 12 point, 85.3 font units for 18 point, 64 font units for 24 point and so on. So I used lines 256 font units wide and 168 font units wide wherever possible, locking the lines onto the edges of the square paving slabs. The 168 aligned on the grid gives 128 plus 40 at 12 point, so a black pixel and a white pixel. At 18 point, 168 font units aligned on the grid gives 2 black ones and a white one. And so on for various sizes.

The figure of 256 font units was selected on the basis that Microsoft Word 97 and WordPad on the Windows 98 platform which I am using uses 16 pixels for 12 point, so the 256 font units for the grid spacing is from 2048/16, where 2048 is the number of font units in whatever point size is being used to display the font.

The intention of this design strategy was to produce a font which looks very clear and distinct at 12 point and reasonable at 18 point yet at larger sizes shows a distinctive style. So I rounded some of the corners with curves 128 font units in curvature distance.

So, I wonder if the symbols mentioned in the original question would benefit from being drawn so that vertical lines are at x equals a multiple of 256 font units, that is 256n font units, where n is a whole number such as 1, 2, 3, 4 and so on, or at x equals 256n + 88 or x equals 256n + 168. Similarly for the y values of horizontal lines. I have found that symbols and letters look good at 12 point, 18 point and 24 point using this method, though 14 point can look awful in some cases!

I used the technique in my Style font, making the lines 80 font units wide, always with one side of each line aligned on a 256 font units measurement. So, from 176 font units to 256 font units horizontally, 432 font units to 512 font units and so on: that is, from 256n -80 font units to 256n font units. Vertically, I went from 0 font units to 80 font units, 256 font units to 336 font units and so on: that is, from 256n font units to 256n + 80 font units.

I hope that this helps. I would be interested to know if this technique works for you and whether the way that I have used it works on displays which are other than 800 pixels wide by 600 pixels high.

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Hi William

Post by Hutschi » Sun Mar 20, 2005 9:46 am

In Windows XP, your font looks very clear at 12 point on a 1280x1024 screen in the font preview. But it has two disadvantages: 1. It is rather bold, and the main form are squares. So we can generalize this method for this kind of fonts.
I do not know whether it works when kerning is swiched on. You did not include kerning pairs. The distances between the letters are equal. But in some cases, the do not look equal due to optical reasons.
The font has some similarities with a texture font. It is very regular. This makes it harder to read. Each letter looks very good but I think it is not for poetry and larger texts. I formatted some of my texts, and they are harder to read.

At 18 Points, it looks clear, but some of the strokes loose symmetry on my screen (especially some horicontal strokes seem to be thin.) This doesn't matter, however, when you print the text.

So it is a very good method where it fits.

Best regards

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Post by William » Sun Mar 20, 2005 2:27 pm

Thank you for your comments. They are very helpful.

There is on the web an example of using Quest text in art. However, Adobe Acrobat reader says that the font is called New and the name Quest text is not shown. That is because at the time when I produced the picture the then version of the font had been made using the Softy program, using which the Macintosh platform name is not settable and is always New.


That picture is part of a collection which I produced over a period of time in 2004.

http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~ngo/u ... dfonts.htm

The fonts used in the Using graphics and fonts collection are mostly those supplied with the Serif PagePlus program, or fonts supplied by Serif with other products: the others are my own font designs.

There are a few other art-style displays using fonts at the following web page.


Two which I feel are particularly interesting typographically are the following.



Both of those feature fonts made using the Alphabet Synthesis Machine and also feature the first font which I made which started as artwork using the Microsoft Paint program, rather than the mathematically-drawn method of Quest text. It was produced using the Softy program and thus the name of the font does not show in Adobe Acrobat reader. However, readers might like to know that the name of the font appears in the following document, displayed with a sample of the font.


The font seems to me to work much better in the two documents where it is being used to display text than in the above document: perhaps that is due to the effect of the capitals all together.

The Alphabet Synthesis Machine, of which I became aware from a post in the Unicode Mailing list, was where I became interested in the possibility of making my own fonts.


I produced some fonts at the Alphabet Synthesis Machine, read in the notes of the Alphabet Synthesis Machine about quadratic Bezier outlines and wanted to learn more and to learn how to produce my own fonts. I got started using the Softy program, which is a very nice program.

I have just had a look at the archive of the Alphabet Synthesis Machine and find that, thus far, five fonts have been produced today.

Some of the fonts which I produced using the Alphabet Synthesis Machine are available from web pages linked from the following web page.



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Post by Hutschi » Mon Mar 21, 2005 9:55 am

The moon font in the pdf document looks very good.
The chronicle007 looks good, too, it is an interesting font with extreme heights. On my screen it looks clear.

By the way, I have Softy, too, until the last version. Mr. Emmett died, and so no new versions will be developped. It was one of the first font design programs at that time. (The first, I had, was the "Truetype Designer" of Mr. Albracht, a kind of special edition of his Type Designer.) (Later, he stopped this and now he distributes the FontLab program and the TypeTool.)

The High-Logic program has the best user interface, (in my opinion) - and I like it.

The Softy-program (Shareware) allows you to create screen fonts and printer fonts. You can import the truetype fonts, create screen fonts, adjust them by adding and removing points and use them. (The Softy program implemented a subset of the allowed truetype specification, so some letters may be destroyed.)

The TypeTool has automatic hinting. I tried it with a test version, the destroy many letters to avoid using it, so I cannot see, wether it is useful or not. I just cannot see wether the hinting is good or not.

I could use the Font Creator tool for some times befor buying it, and that was a good idea. I have it from the first version and helped in beta testing of the third version. It makes, what you need, and it has a lot of helpful tools.

The sad thing is missing of hinting. So your advice may be very helpfully, where the font design allows, using it.

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Post by William » Sat Apr 16, 2005 10:35 am

Regarding the mathematical pseudo-hinting technique.

A few days ago I was updating my Quest text font and I remembered Font Creator 5.0 has the facility to adjust the grid setting to 256 font units.

I then had a look at some characters from Quest text using the following settings in the Grid Options dialogue panel.

Solid colour Red 244, Green 209, Blue 11
Solid colour preset Red

The fill outines button not pressed.

This shows the Quest text characters in black outine upon an orange grid.

I like to call that particular shade of orange Fontmaking Orange.

I was delighted by the display as it shows the alignment of the vertical lines on the 256 font unit grid and helps to indicate the alignments on lines 88 and 168 font units from them, that is, at one third of the way across the cell and two-thirds of the way across the cell. The idea being that at 12 point, where 16 pixels corresponds to 2048 font units, the 88s are treated as 128 font units and the 168s are treated as 128 font units. At 18 point, the 88s are treated as 85.333 font units and the 168s are treated as 170.667 font units.

I then had a look at some of my other fonts using the same settings.

I found that the Galileo Lettering and Style fonts look particularly good when viewed in this way.

So, returning to the original question of this thread, perhaps setting the grid as mentioned above when designing the symbols would be of help.


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