Bitmap fonts - how to

anonymous's picture

Hi,
I would like to know how to make a bitmap font for 8pt. exactly, using Fontographer.
I used to make fonts with Photoshop, Illustrator and Fontographer, but as silly as it may sound, bitmaps fonts confuse me. They always appear antialiased.
And what about the bitmap codes? Which should I use?
I will appreciate any help.
Thanks,
Marcelo

Grant Hutchinson's picture

>I find no tutorial in that page.

It looks like the Atomic Media tutorial is missing in action. Maybe Matthew can shed some light on where it wandered off to. Craig Kroeger of Miniml mentioned during his presentation at TypeCon that he had a 'Crisp Text' tutorial on his site as well. But I'll be darned if I can locate it either. Still digging...

Mark Simonson's picture

The offset can be done various ways. The technique I've used is more or less what was described in Matthew's missing (or perhaps removed) tutorial: After you have finished the font, and it looks just the way you want, select all the characters. Do "correct path direction", "remove overlap", and "clean up paths". To do the offset, do "change weight" using a value of a few em units. Three usually is enough. Do "correct path direction" again for good measure.

Some other tips: Generate the bitmaps before doing the offset. Save your original unaltered version in case you decide later to make design changes.

As for the em size: 1000 is the normal amount for PostScript fonts and 2048 is normal for TrueType. Other values can be used. Ideally, you want a value that your target point size will divide evenly into. For example: If you want to do a 12 point pixel font, 1000 won't work since 1000/12 is not a whole number. In this case, you could change it to 1008, or 1200, or whatever, as long a 12 divides into it evenly. Once you have decided on an em size, set your grid spacing to the amount you get when you divide the em size by the target point size (e.g., 1008/12=84 for the grid spacing). It's probably a good idea to work this all out before you begin the font.

The thing about all this is there is more than one way to go about it. The major pixel font developers each seem to have their own particular tricks and methods. I began to experiment with these techniques after reading Matthew's tutorial. He seems to have removed it, and I never thought to download or printing, so I'm going by memory. But I know the techniques described here work. Good luck.

anonymous's picture

Hi Mark,
Thanks a lot for your help.
Sometimes, obvious things are not so obvious.
Allow me a couple of questions:
1)By "offset the outlines a bit so there are no doubled-up corner points (otherwise, the counters will fill in)." you mean that I should draw the squares separately, barely touching each other, as in a checkerboard?
2)In general, should I always use an em of 1000? (I understand that, speaking about bitmaps, this is not important, as long as I divide it by 8), but I always see that figure. Is it an standard, or there is another reason.
3)I've read that interview, but clicking in the tutorials links to AtomicMedia, I find no tutorial in that page. Where is it?. The interview is interesting, anyway.
Thanks again,
Regards,
Marcelo

anonymous's picture

Hi Mark (and Grant),
Thanks a lot for your help and tips.
I'll try to contact Matthew to see if he has the tutorial available.
Thanks again,
Marcelo

Mark Simonson's picture

You can do it all in Fontographer. For 8pt., if your em is 1000 units tall, set your grid to 125 units and start drawing "pixels", i.e., squares. If you want to make sure the font works in Flash, offset the outlines a bit so there are no doubled-up corner points (otherwise, the counters will fill in). You also need to use the font at exactly 8pt., or a multiple of 8pt. (16pt., 24pt., 32pt., etc.). Obviously, there is more to it than that, but that's the basic idea, and should be enough to get you started. See http://typophile.com/articles/bardram/index.html elsewhere on this site for more info.

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