terryw's picture

Curious who is making or using or selling Photofonts?

Any opinions on the future of this format?

Steven Calkins's picture

I ran into an interesting usage in the German magazine Value. The middle pages were printed digitally. The Photofont is made to look like the old mirror-image lead letters used prior to phototypesetting. I include an image of it.

The nifty aspect of it was the ability to use it for personalization within digital print, each copy was different, regardless of the number of copies. The personalization was realized using the Adobe Scripting interface of Indesign and Photoshop.
With marketing become ever more personalized, this new tool is sure to be used often, especially in targeted personalized marketing. Presently it presses the border of realizability within the printing industry. It can only be done in digital printing. The author wrote the script for the automation himself, but customers will be interested in such personalizations. The main body of the magazine was still printed in offset, the cover was printed separately and the middle pages with the personalization were printed digitally.

Best regards,
Steven Calkins

NewGuy's picture

Multiple Master Photo Fonts would be the most redundant font format ever!

blank's picture

From talking to the Fontlab guys at Typecon I got the impression that very few people are using Photofont right now, but that the next version of the technology will support more design programs and be much more likely to catch on.

Stefan Seifert's picture


maybe its the lack of my English,
but will someone explain me again what exactly are “Photofonts“?
Sonuds very interesting.


Miss Tiffany's picture

Stefan here is a little information:

aluminum's picture

so, it's a bitmap file stored in a font file? is it machine readable?

Stefan Seifert's picture

Thanks Miss Tiffany,

for me it sounds like a great idea!

Years ago (more than 10 ;-) I played with the idea to have some kind of typeface that workes digitally but would use in fact analogic designed letters like in old photographic reproduction. So we could keep a hand designed form and not using Bezier curves that changed our world and the way we see forms totally. And I am still not quite sure wether this change was a good thing for I am convinced Bezier curves influence on form. It is no longer natural like a tree, a human hand or what ever. Curved forms had become different from what we see in nature. Thats my opinion.
Ok I see this is another theme, but...
thanks anyhow for this interesting news!


Stefan Seifert's picture

Hello again Miss Tiffany,

by the way, I heard of you,
what is your special interest in typedesign?
I am curious.


twardoch's picture

> so, it’s a bitmap file stored in a font file?
> is it machine readable?

I’m not sure I understand the question. What do you mean by "machine readable"?

A photofont is one or more PNG images stored as separate files or packaged together, along with an XML file that defines the glyph coordinates (i.e. bounding boxes), metrics, kerning, encoding and other font-relevant data.

Currently, BitFonter 3 by Fontlab Ltd. is the only commercial application that allows people to create photofonts. However, the format of a photofont is simple (since it relies on public standards like XML and PNG) and documented and some people have successfully created photofonts using PHP or Python scripts.

At this time, one application that allows people to use photofonts is the Photofont Start plugin for Adobe Photoshop and other applications. It is free and within the next few days, we will release version 2 of the plugin that will support Photoshop CS3 on Intel Macs, and which will be about 10x faster.

Also, em2 Solution’s XcgfK font rendering engine supports photofonts natively, making them usable on mobile devices.

At TypoTechnica 2007, we have previewed our next product, which will be a converter that turns photofonts into Flash files, allowing users to embed dynamic text headlines on their websites using sIFR and similar techniques — something that Typophile uses to render its custom headings as well. The converter is under development and should be available fairly soon.

Fontlab Ltd. is also working on plugins for InDesign and QuarkXPress, allowing users to use photofonts directly in those applications.

Further links:

Adam Twardoch
Fontlab Ltd.

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