Building a New Font Using Background.

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Dave Crosby
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Building a New Font Using Background.

Post by Dave Crosby » Thu Apr 20, 2006 7:11 pm

Simply scanning in and pasting a drawing of your new font often adds tons of points (nodes) that dramatically increase the KB size of your finished product.

You can see and download FrightMareB.ttf at:
viewtopic.php?p=5108#5108

If the glyphs are complex, removing all those extra points can become a time consuming hassle.
If you don’t use extreme caution, you can even lose the main idea behind the original design.

There is another way. Why not just place the points where you want them the first time?
Here is how.

:arrow: #1. Scan in your font and save it as a bmp, jpg, gif, whatever you are comfortable with.
You have three choices:
A. Individual characters. This is best for background tracing, BUT you will need around 60 separate jpg’s for each font.
B. Lines of characters. A good mid-ground choice requiring around 3-6 jpg’s.
C. The full font. Only a single jpg, but will take a LOT of moving X and Y positions to trace them all.
I’ll demonstrate this hardest one.
Image

:arrow: #2. Decide what size you want your font glyphs. If you make them too small, they will be hard to read at 12 points. Too big, and they won’t work well in documents using other fonts.
Most font glyphs are contrived to work with dimensions of the letter “M” for proper scaling.
See: Design Info

A quick look at two of the most successful fonts reveals that the “M” in Arial is 1406 X 1466 units, while in Times New Roman it is 1744 X 1466.
You will probably want to be somewhere in that area.
Image

:arrow: #3. Open FontCreator and click on the white page icon in the upper left corner to create a New File. Give it a Name. Look at the top of FC and notice it is still called “Font1.ttf.” You need to save it in your My Fonts file using the new font name. Open the M glyph Editing Window and decide where you want your overall guidelines. See: TypeFace

Here I’ve decided on CapH = 1550 (bottom = - 40), Mwidth = 1630 (left = 0) and linewidth ~ 140 units just to be obnoxious.

Click on View, Snap to Grid & Snap to Guidlines for easy allignment of on and off contour points. You can make adjustments later by selecting a point (or points!) and using the arrows for moving any direction. Holding down the Ctrl key slows movement to one space at a time.

Image
:arrow: #4. Open a Glyph Editing window, then click on View, Toolbars, Background.
Click on Load and select your Image. Here I’ve saved my image at 800 pixels wide so the original will fit in the Tutorial. For actual work, it should be around 300-600 DPI.

Even with this size problem, FC allows you to continue by changing the current zoom factor to something like 2, then adjusting the scale close to the size you want. Then adjust X and Y position until the proper character is in the glyph window.
It should be obvious why you should work with higher DPI’s and single lines of characters.
Image

:arrow: #5. Increase zoom factor to 20 and make final adjustments to zoom, x, and y positions for this glyph, and begin tracing the outer contour moving clockwise. Go counter clockwise for inner contours. Left Click for on-curve points, right click for off-curve points. Double click on the beginning point to close the contour.

You can turn the background on and off (visible) and fill or no fill, or change from point to contour Mode and make sure the final glyph is just the way you want it.

Then press one of the blue arrows to move on to the next glyph editing window, and start adjusting X and Y position to move the next background character into place.

Image

Beginning with a higher DPI will provide a far sharper background image than that shown above.
Read the manual, check out the forum tutorials and discussions and you will be a pro in no time.


Here is the finished font if you wish to download it.


BulgeOpen
Last edited by Dave Crosby on Fri Jul 21, 2006 1:43 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Apr 22, 2006 2:13 pm

I have never had much success with using a background image. Maybe it is a limitation of Windows ME.

I tried different background images: A-L at about 700% scale factor, A-C at the same scale factor, but each time I tried to zoom in, the background image disappeared, making it difficult to correct the fine details around serifs.

The best I could manage was with a single character big enough to use at 100% — that was a single letter of about 550 x 550 pixels. Then I could zoom in to about 600% without the image disappearing. That is close enough to work on the serifs full screen. Above that zoom level, the image disappeared.
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Dave Crosby
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Post by Dave Crosby » Sat Apr 22, 2006 4:28 pm

I never bothered zooming in, just completed the outlines which was close enough for a graffiti type font.

Accuracy can be determined by the point location information at the bottom of the screen.

I just now tried it using Bulge A-H.jpg
The image is 58 KB, 800 X 134 pixels at 300 dpi.
To get the A in position took scale = 1393, X = - 212, Y = - 198

When I zoomed to 500, the image indeed disappeared ... off to the left!
Scrolling left brought it back into view.

Try this: select a point, then zoom to that point. It should stay at the middle of your screen.
Last edited by Dave Crosby on Sun Apr 23, 2006 10:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Apr 22, 2006 6:47 pm

Though the points and the contour outline are visible, the image is not, so I cannot adjust the points to fit the outline accurately. I can only trace roughly at Fit to Window zoom level, which is not much use. :(

However, I can zoom in just fine if I rotate the image. That way I can zoom in up to 600% before the background image disappears — close enough to adjust the details. All I need to do is make the image in columns rather than rows to work-around the Windows ME limitations.
Last edited by Bhikkhu Pesala on Sat Apr 22, 2006 7:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Dave Crosby
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Rotation Required?

Post by Dave Crosby » Sat Apr 22, 2006 7:18 pm

How odd! It must be Windows ME then. Here is my image at 1000 X.

The image is visible, but the pixels are huge.

Image
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Dave Crosby
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Bulge Open V2

Post by Dave Crosby » Mon May 08, 2006 2:52 pm

I have updated the font and replaced the old version at the bottom of the first posting on this tutorial.
I had to adjust the whitespace around some characters and make adjustments in composits. I also tossed in Greek and Crillic from some other fonts I worked on to make it more useful.
If you downloaded this font prior to 8 May 2006, you may wish to download it again to get the new version.

Image
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Dave Crosby
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Bulge Beginnings

Post by Dave Crosby » Tue May 09, 2006 5:13 pm

By the way, the basic idea for this font was initiated by the attached photo taken in Dallas Texas by Dick Pape.

Image
Last edited by Dave Crosby on Wed May 10, 2006 5:16 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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