FontLab Studio Ligatures

Hallock's picture

I'm currently a student majoring in graphic design--more particularly 3D visualization/animation--but type is an integral part of my daily routine. I decided to involve myself more with the process of creating typefaces to better understand their purpose.

Right now, I'm currently doing my first design off of my handwriting. I figured it'd be an easy exercise as opposed to redeveloping Univers or something. I have all the letters, numbers, symbols, etc., placed and kerned properly so they are writing. The problem I'm having is getting ligatures to work.

To make clear, I understand the purpose of ligatures and the vast amount of them there can be. Most of the discussions I searched for here on the forum seem to involve those notions in one way or another. My trouble is that when I have f_l in Fontlab, when I go to type out fl the ligature does not appear.

This is most likely due to my own naivety with the program as a novice and was thus wondering if I could get some basic help.

Here is a panagram of what I have, it is fairly close to my handwriting, but I'm interested in adding more 'connective' ligatures like th, letters I commonly hook together.

Any help is very appreciated.

RachelR's picture

What program are you using to test the font - some programs like Indesign allow you to switch ligatures on or off, so you might just have ligatures switched off.


Hallock's picture

Right now I'm just using the quick test in Fontlab Studio.

John Nolan's picture

Have you defined your ligatures in a liga feature, compiled the feature, and selected the liga feature in the Opentype features preview?

RachelR's picture

Well of you are testing in Fontlab I think you would use the keybroad for that character, so for the mac shift/alt 5 would give you the fi ligature

Hallock's picture

John, no I don't know how to do that at all yet.

Rachel, when I hit that nothing shows up. What is strange is when I export the font as an opentype, InDesign recognizes it and displays the ligatures. Photoshop, however, doesn't recognize it as an OpenType.

charles ellertson's picture

You're missing a lot of the basics.

I'm not sure this is the right place to get them, but first of all, have you made an OpenType font, or a PostScript Type 1 font?

For ligatures to work in OpenType, you have to write a "feature" program, as John was describing, then any application that supports OpenType will support the basic features, like automatic ligatures. For Type 1 fonts, some applications programs can be instructed to switch the fi and fl ligatures on, other can't. For programs that don't have a ligaturing switch (Photoshop is probably one) you have to call them directly by a keyboard command.

I haven't tried it but I'd imagine FontLab's *preview* won't generate the fi and fl ligatures automatically with a Type 1 font. With an OpenType font, yes, if you've written & complied the appropriate feature.

Another way of making this point is that fonts are now software, and that "software" extends beyond just drawing the characters. I think it very wise of you to begin to get a handle on fonts, but it involves more than graphic design.

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