What's the easiest learning software?

4juka's picture

Hey I just got into font designing now.Tryed using fontlab to make a display font, even got that book, "learn fontlab fast", but I just feel the interface is kind complicated I don't know, I think I will eventually get used to it, but since I intend to just do display fonts I don't think all that stuff, so I would like to know if there's a more easy to use software to make professional display fonts.


metalfoot's picture

Fontlab is pretty easy to learn compared to some packages out there. You might want to try Font Creator Program, as it's pretty simple too, but, as with anything, there's bound to be a significant learning curve! I think Corel Draw can still output to TTF, so if that's all you need...

Ken Messenger's picture

Fontlab also makes a number of other less feature laden programs. Have you tried any of them? Could be something like ScanFont is all you're looking for.

Rodrigue Planck's picture

I cannot vouch for PCs but on a Mac Letraset FontStudio is great and easy, I use it on OS 8.1 and OS 9.22. Fontographer version 4.x (the last update before Pyrus/Fontlab bought it) was easy to use too. FontMonger is kinda hard to do node editing, at least for me. For free you can try Fontmaster (dtl.nl) is free, kinda clumsy, but if you are using less than 257 characters, it is, free and has a unique setup. Fontmaster Manuals were kinda tough to get through.

The Truth shall set you free

Thomas Phinney's picture

FontStudio has been unavailable for something like 12-15 years now.

Many other programs are easier to use than FontLab, but the overwhelming majority of professional font developers use it because it has a lot more of the features we want/need than anything else out there. (I never did see the compiled results of the Typophile survey on this subject, which would have been interesting. But the trend of the raw data was pretty clear.)

But if you just want easier to use, try TypeTool or Fontographer. TypeTool is probably the better choice because it is essentially "FontLab Lite" and what you learn using TypeTool will largely be applicable if you move on to FontLab later.



Rodrigue Planck's picture

Thomas, he is looking for a program that is easier to use than FontLab, and there are other programs available outside of Pyrus/FontLab products.

Regardless of age, FontStudio is great and much easier to learn than FontLab. I know Lucas de Groot uses FontStudio, so I know I am not the only person who thinks highly of the program.

I think that there is a prevailing thought not just on Typophile, but on many technological forums that old means useless, and this is just not so.
The Truth shall set you free

4juka's picture

thanks for helping me guys

It's not that I found FontLab that hard to learn, it's just the amount of features I tought kind overwhelming and needless for me, at least now, since I'm into designing display, poster fonts not the next Garamond. So I guess I'll take a look at TypeTool and Fontographer since I'm on PC.

The only question I have is will I be able to make professional, I mean sellable fonts with these softwares?

Thomas Phinney's picture

Mr Planck,

It's not that FontStudio isn't easy to use, it's that there's pretty much no legal way to get a copy. So what's the use of recommending it?

Also, OP said they wanted to make "professional" display fonts. To me, that implies certain capabilities that are lacking in many applications, including FontStudio.

I should say that I am assuming the original poster only wants to have one application. A moderate number of folks use some other application for initial letter drawing and then move the results over to FontLab for final font output.



blokland's picture

>’[…] and there are other programs available outside of Pyrus/FontLab products. […]’

Thomas has also supported DTL FontMaster over the time, for instance by giving a presentation at the FM Track during the ATypI Conference in Brighton September last year. Nevertheless I can’t fully agree with all his conclusions concerning font production software in general.

>‘[…]it has a lot more of the features we want/need than anything else out there […]’

I seriously doubt this. Perhaps in case of DTL FontMaster this idea is caused by the fact that a lot of the functionality in FM is well hidden and/or not described in the manual yet (we will work on this).
In my opinion there is a clear distinction between functionality for the design process and for the actual font production and there is quite some unique functionality in FM in both these areas and probably more than in anything else out there, if only for the support for manual digitizing.

>‘[…] the overwhelming majority of professional font developers use it […]’

A highly professional minority use our tools at the other hand.

Ease of use is in my opinion relative anyway. Maybe the learning curve of FM is somewhat steeper than that of some other font tools, but for instance the fact that the OT layout features can be automatically generated using a centralized features file, makes this process quite easy to control at the end.

Reproducibility is a prerequisite for professional font production and FM is structured for this more than anything else out there, I think. Actually I am curious of what the audience of the FM Track in Brighton thought of the direct comparison by Miguel and myself of the font production tools used at respectively Adobe and DTL.

By the way, within a couple of weeks we will release a new version of FM, that includes a number of new functions, besides the inclusion of the OT SDK 2.0 version.

dezcom's picture

Can you send me information on your software?
You can email me at ChrisL(at)dezcom.com


k.l.'s picture

Hello Mr Lozos, even though it is very technical and more or less describes functions one by one, the best sources are the manuals at http://www.fonttools.org in the second pulldown menu from top in the left column. (I wonder, wasn't there an all-in-one PDF?) Also http://www.dutchtypelibrary.nl -- click "FontMaster" in the navigation, then there is a pulldown menu with some PDFs. Maybe these are more helpful to get the idea than the detailed manual?

Mark Simonson's picture

Frank, are there any plans to release FM for OS X? Currently, I see there is a beta of CompareMaster, but the rest of the tools apparently require Classic on OS X, which means they can't run on any of the current crop of Macs, which all run on Intel processors.

dezcom's picture

Thank you Mr. Luecke :-)


Thomas Phinney's picture

I do often mention DTL FontMaster as well. I think its strengths come most prominently into play when it's a multi-user environment and/or the users are more technically inclined than the average type designer. As a consequence, the people I'd be recommending considering FM to have already made their font tool choices or are making those choices on their own.

I'm curious as to what other Typophiles think of the learning curve and ease of use of FontMaster vs FontLab glyph editing tools.

Another thing that we haven't mentioned is price. FontLab is pretty expensive, and DTL FontMaster even more so.



dezcom's picture

"Another thing that we haven’t mentioned is price. FontLab is pretty expensive, and DTL FontMaster even more so."

This is typical of niche market software. With the amount of work it takes to design type, there are fewer folks among the masses that are willing to take up the task as a hobby. Iwonder what Adobe's reasoning was with the old Letraset FontStudio? There must have been a business reason for letting it wane and die?
Once the market is saturated, where can growth come from? The danger with underpricing to a small market is that raising prices later is greeted with negative feelings from the customer base who have grown accustomed to the lower pricepoint. From the developers point of view, you have to be able to afford the resources to continue development and support. From the customer's perspective, who wants an underpriced application that won't be supported or improved?


dan_reynolds's picture

>FontLab is pretty expensive

Isn't that a bit relative? FontLab Studio 5 is cheaper than a lot of other graphic design applications…

blokland's picture

> ‘[…] the best sources are the manuals […]’

Basically they are, but at the other hand some thorough updating has become necessary because not all functionality in FM is actually (fully) covered in the manual. Functionality as for instance the T-disconnector in the editors (see illustration below) and the generation of command files by DataMaster and the subsequent editing and use of these, are not described in the current edition.

The new version of the manual will also provide more detailed information on technical stuff, like the modification of Adobe’s Hatch OpenType Tool (HOT) at URW++ under the supervision of Dr. Juergen Willrodt, which makes the automatic generation of the OpenType layout features possible.

> ‘[…] are there any plans to release FM for OS X […]’

This is a somewhat complicated issue. Although an OS X version of the BE and IK editors would be nice as such (for instance the programmers would love to develop this) and the availability probably would enlarge the interest from the Mac community, from a font production point of view there is not a real necessity. The Windows version is fast and, more important, stable and reliable. With the Intel based Macs, running the Windows version of FM under BootCamp, Parallels or VMWare Fusion is from a technical point of view no problem. Especially the Coherence Mode in Parallels works very nice in my opinion.

We calculated the man-years needed for the development of OS X versions of the editors and quite a substantial investment would be required. Because FM is targeted at the niche part of a market that is already niche of itself, it is not very realistic to expect a return on investment or even a profit.

An important factor is also that we simply don’t have the capacity to supply extensive support for FM at a very basic level. Also for that reason we are targeting at the high end of the market with the full package and are we releasing the Light, unsupported, version for free.
Making an investment for an OS X version purely to conquer more market share, would also mean that we would have to change our way of working completely. At the moment we are just only making our proprietary software available for the market and we simply like it that way (which does not imply that FM is not or will not be continuously under development).

So, for the moment it makes more sense for us to focus on the enhancement of the functionality of the editors, especially the automation part, and to use our resources mainly for that. But maybe we will change our opinion in the future, one never knows.

All new FM modules, like CompareMaster (a lot more functionality will be added the coming time), will have an OS X and Windows version and also some of the batch modules, like DataMaster (because this is necessary for generating Mac PS Type1 and TrueType), will become available for OS X.

dberlow's picture

I hear someone concerned about complexity, not cost. I would use illustrator to design if I were you, and FontLab to produce.


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