Brief Introduction

AliceWonder's picture

Hello, just thought I would say hi before I start asking stupid questions... (I will try search first)

I am not a graphics artist but I have an affection for fonts. I don't have a huge collection, not a hoarder, but I like good looking fonts. I use fonts in desktop publishing (mostly PDF creation)

My favorites are the Lucida Bright family except I prefer to use Lucida Mono instead of Lucida Typewriter. I'm also quite fond of the "base35" Postscript fonts and those are what I actually use most often when writing, Times particularly. And for script fonts, I really like one I found on myfonts.com awhile back called HandsomeClassic - it's my goto script font, especially when typesetting fiction and I want to indicate something the character is writing.

Most of my personal use of fonts is in the context of LaTeX where I like to have the type 1 PFB versions of fonts, which are getting hard to find now, but converters usually work - but the font licensing can be hard to understand if it is allowed, I wish the legalize would be written with a common man interpretation attached. I prefer to buy Type 1 .pfb that specify embedding is OK because it often is hard to figure out what I can and can not do with converted fonts and LaTeX does not yet directly support .otf fonts without converting.

Anyway, why I'm here, I needed to create 8 characters in SVG for a project I'm working on (personal project) and I am toying with the idea of actually going all the way and creating a proper font.

I have no experience in creating fonts so I have a lot to read and learn before if I decide to go on, but even though I can see where I need to improve the glyphs I have created, they actually are turning out quite nicely.

To create them, right now I'm just using a text editor, a browser to render the SVG, and paper and pen for a lot of math. Linux is my chosen operating system, hopefully there is a usable program I can use to import the SVG paths and start seriously working on it. In the past when I tried to use FontForge to convert a TTF font to Type 1 for use in LaTeX it just did not produce usable results, so I had a friend do it on a Mac system, but hopefully FontForge has gotten better since then (at least a decade)

Well, that's who I am, I'm here to read and hopefully avoid common mistakes, and maybe someday I'll finish it.

charles ellertson's picture

You might find

http://www.ctan.org/

a useful site, esp. http://www.ctan.org/tex-archive/fonts.

As far as licensing goes -- in general, if you stay with OpenSource fonts, you can pretty much do as you want. If you stay with Adobe Originals, you can also modify them for your own use, but cannot redistribute the resulting fonts for others to use. Embedding Adobe (originals) is OK, too.

In your position (desire to embed fonts in searchable documents) , I'd skip fonts from the Monotype conglomeration (Monotype, Linotype, Bitstream, etc. And note Monotype is buying up ever m0re font publishers and distribution channels all the time). Also avoid fonts from Font Bureau and Hoefler & Frere-Jones. Again, unless you really want to research the subject, stick with OpenSource and Adobe Originals.

As far as making your own fonts -- See if you can get FontForge loaded & working on your machine. That's likely step one...

http://fontforge.org/

After step one, there is still a lifetime's work here... Good luck to you.

BTW, I use to live near Montgomery Creek. Just take 299 out of Redding, about 2/3ds of the way to Burney. Pretty country.

JEH's picture

You can use OpenType fonts (.otf files) natively using XeTeX (and XeLatex) as well as LuaTeX.

Té Rowan's picture

http://jmn.pl/en, http://arkandis.tuxfamily.org/tugfonts.htm -- Some fonts prepackaged for LaTeX. Very possible they are on CTAN already.

AliceWonder's picture

Well, yes, I know about and use CTAN regularly, but there's a lot of really nice commercial fonts I would have purchased had they been available as Type 1 .pfb and what's weird is a lot of them use to be but for some reason, that purchase option seems to no longer be made available with many fonts.

I can use lcdf-typetools to convert most .otf fonts to type 1 .pfb and then make the metric files needed for use with pdflatex but that's where I'm often un-clear on if I legally can.

A lot of people I know take the philosophy that you take liberties with fonts and stock images etc. until you are specifically told not to but I'm wired in a weird way where I can't do that without feeling guilty. Ah well.

But that's a different issue and not really why I'm here, I'm here to learn about the mechanics I need to know to make my font idea really work, things like how in many fonts the letter X has the top right part of the stem offset a little to give the illusion of being two stems crossed because if you really did two stems perfectly crossed the illusion is that one is offset.

Stuff like that has to be taken into consideration for me to make a font that works well.

With respect to fontforge, I have it up and running. I'm now playing with the best way to format my SVG files so that import of the path into fontforge will require the least post import adjustment.

If I do finish this font, I'll probably release it for free but if I do decide to sell it instead, I'll explicitly state that the user may modify and embed as they need to in order to accomplish the task for which they are using the font in the first place.

It doesn't make sense to me that anyone would buy a font they can't embed in a pdf or ePub document or convert formats if they need to, yet that seems to be how many are licensed.

Free fonts are nice, especially since I'm a big fan of free open source software, but a lot of the fonts that I see that take my breath away are not free, and I would pay for them if I was allowed to actually use them the way a font should be used.

charles ellertson's picture

But that's a different issue and not really why I'm here, I'm here to learn about the mechanics I need to know to make my font idea really work, things like how in many fonts the letter X has the top right part of the stem offset a little to give the illusion of being two stems crossed because if you really did two stems perfectly crossed the illusion is that one is offset.

Maybe others will disagree & give advice, but I think this sort of thing is best done by reading books, where the presentation has been gone over (over time, and way more than once) by an author, a set of editors checking for continuity as well as grammar, a compositor who just might read for content & query anything particularly wrong, etc. etc.

An internet forum is great for certain kinds of things, but IMO, not so good for detailed exposition. Nature of the kind of writing.

Perhaps people could suggest some books or articles that would address the mechanics of how to make ideas work.

Thomas Phinney's picture

> there's a lot of really nice commercial fonts I would have purchased had they been available as Type 1 .pfb and what's weird is a lot of them use to be but for some reason, that purchase option seems to no longer be made available with many fonts.

It's not weird at all. To most of the font-using world, Type 1 .pfb and Mac Type 1 LWFN are essentially obsolete formats, both replaced by OpenType CFF.

The weird part is using a DTP tool that requires a separate standalone metric file for every font file, and that it does not yet directly support OpenType CFF, which has been the dominant format for new fonts in print publishing for a decade now.

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