Potentially dumb FontLab question

Curioustype's picture

You have the lower case "e" window open (or any letter, really), with all guides, hints, colors off; in essence you have just the outline of the letter and that's it.

However, in the very spot where the bottom left node on the inner contour would be, a very slight line appears heading in a downward direction ... almost as if you have a curve point there instead of a corner and the program is reading a slight extension of the southward point. However, you know after checking that indeed it is a corner point.

So on a whim you click the point at the top of the arc, move the left handle in two spaces (reducing its setting), and that tiny southward-pointing line goes away.

This happens all the time in various forms. The question is, have you improved the overall look of the letter by clicking that left handle in two spaces and removing the line, or is that just a little quirk of the program? I ask because if it does help, I need to go check all my letters for this minor anomoly.

Curioustype's picture

my best try at providing a visual of what I'm trying to say.

Mark Simonson's picture

Can you make a screen snap in which the control handles and nodes are visible? Kind of hard to tell what's going if those are hidden.

Curioustype's picture

Ordinarily that would help but in this case my problem can only be seen with everything turned off. To get an idea of what I'm looking at, open a font in FontLab, then any letter, and under "View," turn off everything until only the skeleton of the letter exists.

In other words, click off everything under the "show layers" menu option. Once you've done that, you'll have in the window a letter that looks similar to the one above. Once you do that, if you look real close in your open font you might see that little extra space pictured to the right of the arrow on the left "e." (which isn't there on the right "e," which is what happens when I move that upper handle a few spaces to the right)

If you don't see it when viewing any of your letters, you can try moving a handle in a direction perpendicular to the direction in which that faint little line is showing. I know my description blows, but once you've seen a skeleton of a letter in FontLab, my renditions above will make more sense. Those aren't screen shots, I made them manually. Hopefully this will help some. I appreciate you taking the time to check it out.

Nick Cooke's picture

That doesn't help at all. The problem is your glyph - not ours.

Do a screen grab at large magnification with points and handles showing, (or just select all and do a screen grab). A picture is worth a thousand words of description.

Nick Cooke

Curioustype's picture

I apologize for lacking the knowledge - or perhaps the software - needed to produce a screen grab. Let me attempt to be more succinct.

In the above diagram is an lc "e," with the fill outline turned off and just the outline itself showing. In the yellow area immediately to the right of the No. "1," there is a small line dipping below the long horizontal bar of the inner contour. This small line is not visible when the fill outline is on ... only when it's off.

As you can see in the green shaded area numbered "2," that small overlap is gone. After some machination I discovered that if I move the handle next to the number "3" a few spaces to the right (using the arrow button on my keyboard), that line eventually disappears.

My inquiry, then, is as follows: since all computers run on or are based in mathematics and equations, this small line next to the No. 1 obviously figures into how the entire glyph will be rendered since I can see it on my screen and can make it disappear when I move the handle next to the No. 3. Hypothetically, if the equation 5+5+3 ordinarily results in the visual we know as the inner contour of the "e," logic dictates that the left glyph - with the overlap - would require an equation of 5+5+1+3, taking into account what I can see in the yellow shaded area. This leads me to wonder ... could this small overlap - which potentially could exist in an assortment of other glyphs in the font - be a monkey-wrench in the overall look of a completed font? Or is it more likely just a grain of sand no one will ever know exists?

Also as an aside - Mr. Cooke I noticed your collection recently has been made available on myfonts.com. I hope you're successful with that.

Mark Simonson's picture

One way I know of to get the effect you are getting at the corner is to construct a curve like this:

This happens when you push the curve around counterclockwise forcing the bottom left control handle below its node. The solution is to move the control handles so they look like the curve on the right.

Another thing that can happen is when you have a curve point and a corner point at the same location, like this:

The solution in this case is to move one of the overlapping nodes away, delete the segment between them, and then rejoin the two nodes (thus creating a single node).

Mark Simonson's picture

By the way, you don't need special software to make a screen snapshot.

On Windows, the process is described here:


On the Mac, the process is described here:


Curioustype's picture

Sorry for the delay in responding, especially when I need to thank you for taking time to share such great information.

I went through your description of possibilities, but unfortunately none were the case in this situation. Both points on the horizontal inner contour bar were corner points, and neither handle in the top curve point extended past the horizontal position of either corner point.

I suppose in reality the ultimate answer really isn't that critical since the best thing to do would be to simply remove these little overlaps from any glyphs in a font I may be creating at any given time. I can't imagine how removing them could do anything but help in the end, aside from perhaps being an unnecessary waste of time. However, between my knowledge of computers and my instincts where they are concerned, everything tells me these little nuisances are worthy enough to rectify.

Also, I went to the link you posted, copied the instructions and gave the screen grab thing a shot. It didn't seem to work for me though. I'll keep trying. In the meantime, when you again find yourself working on a new typeface, try going into the show layers tab, unchecking everything, removing the fill color of the glyphs, and see if you encounter one of these little pests ... which invariably appear at corner points. If you do see one, trying to fix it will show you what I've encountered.

Thanks again for the time.

dezcom's picture

Can you email the glyph?


Curioustype's picture

I'm pretty sure I can, once I've A.) found the .vfb file in which I first discovered the anamoly and B.) found another glyph with the same problem since I corrected the one in the "e" reflected in the above figures. Since even I'm smart enough to figure out your interest is in seeing an affected glyph and not my technological/communication skills, I suppose I'd need to know where to send it once a similarly diseased glyph is located. I tried to obtain your email via your profile and then your website, but at the moment your address appears to be "type some body text here." I'd definitely appreciate it if you were to take a look under the hood and share your observations, so if you'd prefer I post my email address here I'd be glad to do it. You could then contact me with yours since one address I have exists specifically for public disclosure and occasional hazards that go with it.

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