Bezier Drawing Fontlab VS Illustrator

Goran Soderstrom's picture

I am so very strong in my opinion on this, so I'm not even go into this :)

The reason for posting is this:

Is there a plugin for Illustrator that makes the bezier drawing tools to mimic more of how FontLab (or even Fontographer) is working. I'm getting so used to FontLab so it almost hurts when I have to draw in Illustrator.

I have some memory that there is somekind of plugin that does this? Is it true? Anyone knows?

blank's picture

I sympathize, Goran, Illustrator is just terrible after getting used to Fontlab. I’ve heard that better handles is good:

Goran Soderstrom's picture

Cool, I will check that out and see if the pain in my arm goes away. Any other options out there aswell?

Chris Keegan's picture

If you're getting arm pain I'd recommend trying a drawing tablet - Wacom, etc. I used to get a lot of wrist pain from mouse use. Since switching to a tablet I rarely have any problems. You can also switch between the two.

Goran Soderstrom's picture

The pain is more "mental" if you understand. I use Wacom, it is great, I agree.

paragraph's picture

For me, Illustrator is lame. Always was. Thanks god for FontLab (and FreeHand in the old days).

Chris, did you try a trackball? Big trackballs are good for sore wrists, you do not hold anything down, just flick the cursor or handles around and click or let go again to set. Saved my carpal tunnel.

exfish's picture

I actually started out with Photoshop and Illustrator long before I ever got into type design. When I finally started working with Fontlab, I found the vector tool really weird, and for a while I insisted on drawing in Illustrator. As I've worked more and more with Fontlab, I've grown used to its tools, and often find them better than Illustrator. They're definitely better for doing certain kinds of precision work...but for some jobs Illustrator is better. They're both based on different philosophies about how vectors should work. Going back to illustrator doesn't bother me. I think in part that's because I use it for different sorts of work.


Nick Shinn's picture

I especially like the customizability of FontLab's drawing tools, the way one can change selection behaviour.

Ess.P9's picture

Anyone a corel draw user? I’ve always found the vector manipulation fine in corel. I agree with the views on fontlab, I was really surprised how easy it was to use and to get used to. Nice bit of kit.


Goran Soderstrom's picture

Please, someone – make a FontLab-plugin fo Illustrator! I want the exact same behaviour. Now.

paragraph's picture

A.S.A.P. I'll pay for one! :-)

Dr jack's picture

Yes Ess.P9,
Have used and still have CorelDraw installed on my PC.
Also have and use 'Illustrator' all the time.
Used 'Macromedia FreeHand' too before it died a sad public death.

Program preference is personal and usually biased.
If you get a job somewhere and they make you use a certain program you soon learn to like it to some extent. (It's like getting bad 'free' coffee at work) ;-)
I've had that experience with programs and types of computer all my career.(Macs & Pcs)

Great Graphic art and programs were around before Illustrator.
Great Fonts were around before FontLab.
What is boring, is evangelism.
(I've rid myself of that with Computers, still struggling with Apps)

Just curious Goran...Chicken or the Egg?
Why not a Plug-In that makes FontLab act like Illustrator?
Or CorelDraw?
Or FreeHand?
Or has FontLab after all these other Apps supposedly failed, achieved bezier drawing nirvana?

russ_mcmullin's picture

I like Fontlab's tools for tweaking, but I prefer Illustrator for drawing. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of things Adobe can do to improve Illustrator, but drawing the basic drawing tools work great for me. This topic comes up from time to time, and I've been curious to know what the actual problems are that make people hate it.

Mark Simonson's picture

I really liked Illustrator 8's drawing tools. I'm not quite sure what they did in the later versions, but they don't feel quite the same. Since I started using FontLab a few years ago, it's become harder for me to work in Illustrator. It's mainly because of FontLab's keyboard shortcuts for moving Bézier control handles and nodes, being able to slide nodes along a curve, being able to enter values for the length of control handles, and other little things that come in especially handy for drawing glyphs.

Nick Cooke's picture

There's an excellent article in the March issue of Creative Review (UK) regarding Freehand users. There are still a surprising number of designers still using this sadly obsolete software. I have always preferred Freehand to Illustrator for drawing letters as it is just so much easier to use. Switching to FontLab was an easy transition as its' drawing behaviour is almost exactly the same as Freehand. I hate so many things about drawing with Illustrator - the way that you can't constrain angles when pulling a handle being the main gripe, selecting handles, having to use different pointers (why?), not being able to manipulate a section of a glyph, etc. It's a shame that when Adobe acquired Freehand they didn't incorporate Freehand's ease of drawing into Illustrator instead of just burying it. I still draw all logos in Freehand and then export the file to Illustrator and resave.

I hope Freehand never becomes incompatible with the latest operating system otherwise Im buggered. Or maybe I'll have to use FontLab and copy and paste to Illustrator.

Nick Cooke

russ_mcmullin's picture

You can constrain angles when pulling a handle with Illustrator. Holding down the shift key does it.

I started out with Freehand back in the 80s but abandoned it after coming into contact with Illustrator. Illustrator's tools made more sense, and it was a lot more accurate at the time.

Nick Cooke's picture

I tried that - I must be doing something wrong, it only constrains to horizontal and vertical and 45 degrees - not arbitrary angles.

Nick Cooke

Jason Walley's picture

Nick and Russ,

This too is my major beef with Illustrator. I had been rather devout until I started designing letters. A friend of mine mentioned in passing the other day that there is a plug-in that lets you hold handle angles like Freehand does. I believe the plug-in he mentioned is the same one that is linked to above. I'm downloading it as I type to see for sure.

Hopefully this will be a non-issue in the next version of Illustrator.

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